In 2010, American Express founded Small Business Saturday as a way to help small businesses gain local attention, and in turn, more customers. Small Business Saturday falls between Black Friday and Cyber Monday—two of the biggest (and busiest) shopping days of the year, occurring at big box retail locations and e-commerce platforms, respectively. The day encourages consumers to make an impact in their neighborhood and community by shopping at small businesses instead of major retailers. Over the past several years, this shopping day has grown into something of a movement. Small Business Saturday has been officially recognized by the U.S. Senate, and politicians all over the nation (including President Obama) have expressed their support. Each year, more and more communities and businesses get involved and promote the importance of shopping “small”. It is the hope of all those participating that this, the fifth year of Small Business Saturday, is the biggest one yet. For the first time since opening last November, The Factory Store + Café at Alabama Chanin will be open on Saturday, November 29th, as part of Small Business Saturday; and, per many requests, we will begin keeping shop hours each following Saturday. This decision came about in order to make our storefront and café more easily accessible to those who may work during the week or live too far away for a weekday visit. (Weekend road trip, anyone?) Continue reading
Join us this Monday at The Factory for the second lecture in our conversation series: On Design. Last month, Natalie spoke on the Bauhaus and the creative process. This month the conversation continues with a lecture about Charles and Ray Eames, husband and wife designers, and mid-century design. We’ve been finding inspiration from the timeless furniture, interior, and design details featured in Mid-Century Modern, by friend Bradley Quinn.
On Design is part of our ongoing Makeshift conversation about design, art, business, community, and much more. As one of our educational initiatives, the lecture series falls under the umbrella of The School of Making, a new arm of the Alabama Chanin Family of Businesses. We continue working to give The School of Making an active voice in our local community, our state, and the making community, at large. We hope you will join the conversation. Open-to-the-public with limited seating, the cost includes admission, participation, and a cup of The Factory blend coffee, a cold drink, or tea. Registration required.
On Design: The Eames + Mid-Century Design
Makeshift multimedia presentation by Natalie Chanin
November 10, 2014 10:30am – 11:30am
The Factory @ Alabama Chanin
462 Lane Drive, Florence, Alabama
Open-to-the-Public with Limited Seating
Registration Required $7.00
Look for more information on this and other upcoming Makeshift events on our Journal and/or join our mailing list.
Join us this Thursday evening, November 6th, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm in Austin, Texas, for a reception celebrating our Alabama Chanin pop-up shop inside the Billy Reid store at 1122 West 6th Street. The Austin store features our Heath + Alabama Chanin collaboration, Alabama Chanin Essentials, alongside our hand-dyed Indigo, books, and more.
For more information, contact: austin (at) billyreid.com, sales (at) alabamachanin.com, or call, +1.512.354.1884.
See you there,
Alabama Chanin as a concept and a company began as a DIY enterprise. I made the first garments by hand, to fit my own body. Our entire business model was created because I couldn’t find manufacturing for the sort of garment I wanted to make—and so, we created our own manufacturing system, one stitch at a time.
Because those first garments were made from recycled t-shirts, many of our customers took the concept and re-imagined it for themselves, making their own patterns and clothing. Others felt that—with just a little help—they could create something similar, something that was their own. Almost accidentally, our garments were stirring in others the desire to make. Slowly, and as the internet became more robust, sewers formed groups on the internet to share their Alabama Chanin-style garments and swap ideas. This was the beginning of a more formal DIY presence in our company.
These things were happening at the same time as I began writing our first Studio Book, Alabama Stitch Book. Writing that book helped me crystallize my thoughts on making, open sourcing, and education. It was, in essence, me putting voice to what was important about sharing ideas and creating a community of makers. Throughout the writing process—and as the company grew and evolved over the years—I returned again and again to the idea of keeping the living arts alive. It’s the belief that survival skills for food, clothing, and shelter, are important arts that we live with every single day. And these arts—often considered secondary arts—are equally (and perhaps more) important as the “primary” arts of painting and sculpture.
The t-shirts for Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q read, “You can smell our butts for miles”. This was certainly the case on Friday, October 10, as their giant meat smoker nestled up to Alabama Chanin’s front entry and sent out the signal for our final “Friends of the Cafe” dinner of 2014, featuring chef Drew Robinson and Nicholas Pihakis. The two were in town—along with members of the Fatback Collective—to provide lucky diners with an exclusive, elevated barbecue experience.
Good People Brewing Company provided craft beers for each course. The Birmingham, Alabama, based brewery showcased a few of their “Ales from the Heart of Dixie.” There may not be a dinner more currently in demand across the United States than beer and barbecue; on this night, we had the best of best.
Alabama Chanin will host our final “Friends of the Café” Dinner of the 2014 season next Friday evening. The creative team from Jim ‘N Nick’s Community Bar-B-Q, including Nicholas Pikakis and Drew Robinson, will be on hand to direct the menu. I find it amazing that Jim ‘N Nick’s currently operates over 30 restaurants across the South and manages to maintain consistency and high standards. Their commitment to sustainability at such a large scope is outstanding. They care about every detail—from the farmers and hogs, to their choice of wood, to every seasoning and side dish…it seems they do it ALL. We caught up with Nicholas and Drew and persuaded them both to answer a few questions.
AC: What role do you play in the oversight of those individual locations? How involved are you in the day-to-day operations?
Drew Robinson: I don’t oversee any one restaurant. We have a lot of talented local owners, general managers, chefs, dining room managers, and very dedicated staff that operate great restaurants every day. I’m engaged in culinary development—new recipes, products, menus—for the company. Operationally, my role beyond that isn’t to oversee a restaurant as much as it is to continually convey the standards of our food and coach what our chefs and cooks do so that we are, hopefully, always improving.
AC: I once heard that you have no freezers—whatsoever—at any of your restaurants. Truth or legend?
DR: Truth. The “no freezers” rule is one of our core values that started with Nick and his dad, Jim. They believed in bringing all the ingredients in fresh—we start fresh and prepare fresh. They were closely joined at the hip with that value of theirs, so there was no question about doing that across the board in each of the stores. Continue reading
Join us at The Factory on October 10th for the last “Friends of the Café” Dinner of the year, a fundraiser for the Fatback Collective’s Fatback Fund, featuring Drew Robinson and Nicholas Pihakis of Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q.
The evening will include cocktails and a four-course meal with craft beer pairings. The menu features regionally and sustainably-sourced fare, like Pickled Gulf Shrimp, Fatback Pig Project Porchetta and White Oak Pastures Guinea Hens with vegetables from the Jones Valley Teaching Farm.
Friday, October 10, 2014 6:30 Cocktails 7:30 Dinner
$88 per person (includes drinks and dinner) Purchase tickets here. Pre-paid reservations must be made in advance online or in-store. Casual attire
Alabama Chanin @ The Factory 462 Lane Drive Florence, AL 35630
For more information, contact Alabama Chanin: +1.256.760.1090
My love for barbeque is no secret. Though I might be partial to our local fixings, I can honestly say most of the barbeque I’ve experienced throughout Alabama and the South is both distinctive and delicious. Each region and territory has its own unique recipes and tastes. One of the most well-known barbeque establishments from our state is Jim ‘N Nick’s, founded in Birmingham in 1985 by father and son team, Jim and Nick Pihakis. The company is rooted in community (with claims that it is “the key ingredient in any good bar-b-q”) and their belief that good food brings people together. Each Jim ‘N Nick’s location is locally owned and operated, which encourages every restaurant to develop relationships within their respective communities and advance the company principles of education, health and wellness, and local farming.
I’ve known Nick Pihakis for several years now. He is one of the most generous folks I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting—always in good spirits (and never one to turn down a good bourbon libation). In fact, Nick and several other renowned Southern chefs, writers, and farmers formed the Fatback Collective while discussing barbeque competitions over glasses of bourbon. The Fatback Collective has participated in competition barbecue events, while keeping the focus on quality flavor and sustainable techniques; members include John T. Edge, Ashley Christensen, Angie Mosier, and John Currence. The collective, as well as Jim ‘N Nick’s establishments, all source their pork from the farms that are part of the Fatback Pig Project—a collaboration that supports pasture-raised, heritage breeds.
Alabama Chanin’s Friends of the Café Piggy Bank Dinner for Southern Foodways Alliance, featuring Ashley Christensen, was a singing success last Thursday. Not only did the ingredients sing on the plate, but our diners have adopted the habit of singing to our featured chefs. This time, Ashley Christensen was serenaded with a round of Happy Birthday after an enthusiastic round of applause for her inventive take on Southern cuisine.
Last Friday night, we hosted our second “Friends of the Café” dinner, which also served as our first Piggy Bank Dinner fundraiser for the Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA). Chef Vivian Howard of Chef & the Farmer restaurant and the Peabody-award winning television series A Chef’s Life traveled to The Factory from North Carolina for an evening of delicious food, cocktails, much laughter and lively conversation, and music, performed by friend and songbird, Shonna Tucker.
Vivian’s show, A Chef’s Life, focuses on regional food traditions and explores classic Southern ingredients. Friday’s dinner highlighted the story of our own local farmers and their fresh ingredients, with Vivian’s Eastern Carolina twist. Each course was accompanied by a wine pairing, chosen by Harry Root (Bacchus Incarnate) of Grassroots Wine.
I love what Christi Britten—one of our dinner guests and the author of Dirt Plate— writes in her review of the evening:
Pretty much, Vivian Howard gives a damn. She gives a damn how the food she serves is raised, prepared, cooked, presented, eaten, enjoyed, and thought about. She gives a damn about her community’s food culture and wants to suck up as much knowledge as she can about where their food comes from and how to make it. She gives a damn about the farmers that work hard every single day to feed a community as well as their families.
She has, with her own hands, butchered whole animals to use from snout to tail in her restaurant. She speaks with a tone of reverence and authority over the food she creates. And basically she is a food medium. She is confident, yet humble and puts us all into a place where we can visualize the care taken to prepare what we put in our mouths.
This farm to table dinner celebrated local farms and Southern food culture by bringing together the summer bounty into one meal among a diverse community of eaters.