Inspiration for “Rising Together”

Rising Together tank

July 14, 2020

In early June, I received a phone call from my aunt and uncle as they drove cross country after a very long stay in Arizona, due to unexpectedly being forced to shelter in place during the pandemic. We were visiting about mask making and I mentioned that prior to the COVID shut down I had been working on a business plan to start printing custom fabric.  My uncle, who is a self-made businessman, suggested a book, the Lean Startup, by Eric Ries. I immediately downloaded the book and listened over the next few days. While I have never claimed to be a business savvy person (I taught middle school Health & PE, about as far from business classes as you can get), a lot of what Eric said made sense. Yes, I call him Eric because he read the book himself, so I feel like we’re friends, work with it ;-). Anyway, a bunch of ideas started to click, and I knew exactly how to get my business up and moving! So, two weeks later, I had 12 strike sewists and designs on the way to a printer! And now a month in, my designs are all over social media and my strike team feels like old friends as we look toward our second round of fabric. Bizarre!

But, back to these “Rising Together ” designs… I have had a number of people ask me if they are designs I’ve had in my head for a while or if I had drawn them a while ago and finally put them on the computer. The answer is no! I honestly had never even thought of these designs before in my life. Once I decided that I was ready to actually do this, I sat at my desk and started to think about what message I wanted my fabric to share with the world. I am an overthinker by nature, an emotive to a fault, and immediately started reflecting on the state of our world.  How this coronavirus pandemic has left us lonely and isolated, desperate for human contact, and then how on top of that how the death of George Floyd had plunged our country into a state of division unseen in decades.  And yet, within all of that unrest and division, there has also been a beautiful uprising of love and support from all sorts of angles for our beautiful People of Color, and an image formed in my mind that sort of just flowed out of me onto the screen.

To me a bird in flight has always been representative of freedom, and I believe, while possibly naively, that freedom is what all Americans are striving for. Freedom to pursue what makes them feel whole and loved and valued. That is the purpose of the bird silhouettes that grow from tiny birds with fresh wings to full grown adults with wings that soar.  The stripes of the rainbow are the varying shades of our skin tones that must work together to raise up those who have been oppressed for too long. That is where the Rising Together collection began. The coordinating designs for the rest of the collection were inspired by the rising and the setting of the sun and the colors that nature provides each morning and evening. Here’s hoping we can all recognize that only together can we make this the most beautiful life.

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