Senator Gillibrand Visits MNY To Promote Manufacturing Legislation

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Visits MNY To Promote Manufacturing Legislation

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is coming to Brooklyn today, August 9th, to tour Manufacture New York, a woman-owned fashion design and production incubator for independent designers, and to announce her bipartisan Made in America Manufacturing Communities Act legislation.

The proposed measure would help grow the apparel, textile, and wearable tech manufacturing industry in Brooklyn by creating a permanent program that designates local regions as “Manufacturing Communities,” which would put them in the front of the line to receive federal economic development funding specifically for the purpose of investing in manufacturing.

The manufacturing sector in New York City has stabilized and is beginning to grow again after a decade of decline, according to the Center for an Urban Future. However, the number of apparel manufacturing jobs in New York City declined from 57,178 jobs in 2000 to 15,657 jobs in 2014.

Gillibrand’s bill would help create apparel and textile manufacturing jobs in Brooklyn by creating a permanent program to competitively award regions with the “Manufacturing Community” designation.

This designation would give these communities preferred consideration when applying for up to $1.3 billion in currently available federal economic development funding for manufacturing.

We are so excited to have the Senator meet all of our designers, manufacturers and technologists today! We appreciate her continued support of local manufacturing, and look forward to working with everyone in this region to create an inclusive consortium and apply for the designation provided in this great new bill.

Manufacturing is the backbone of the innovation economy, giving creatives + technologists the tools to commercialize their ideas and create new startups that fuel job growth in our NY metropolitan region and across the country.”
— Bob Bland, CEO/Founder of Manufacture NY

Join us August 8th for Maker Monday!

Last April, for Fashion Revolution Day we had a day of mending and repairing clothing that was so successful we've decided to do it more often. So if you missed all the fun last time you have the opportunity to join us again on

Monday, August 8th from 6:30-8:30 pm.850 3rd Ave, Fl 4, Brooklyn, New York 11232

Bring in well loved clothing and learn creative ways to repair it thus reclaiming the power over your clothing’s life cycle!

In partnership with Manufacture NY, Artifact Textile's Nica Rabinowitz and Adriana Lentrichia will share visible mending techniques and bring out the tapestry looms and drop spindles. Together we will help you repurpose old clothes and textiles and divert them from the landfill.

If you have another project you are working on you can bring it along too.

Oh and feel free to BYOB !

Register for the event here!

Ruth Spencer Talks Supply Chain Transparency, Sustainability & What Inspires her Work at Sourcemap

When we spoke I have to say I was very impressed by your diverse yet focused background. In addition to a degree in Environmental Economics from The University of Arizona and the Masters of Science in Sustainability Management you are just finishing at Columbia, you have been involved in and done some very interesting research projects of your own. Please tell us a bit about those projects. 

I kind of fell into sustainability as freshman at the U of A, thanks to a really remarkable professor I had named Dr. Michael Evans.  He gave me the opportunity to work in his lab when I was only 18.  The lab was using mass spectrometers to analyze the oxygen isotopic content of tree cores without the ring structures that usually allow scientists to measure seasons.  The lab worked with scientists from all over the world, including Australia and Norway, and the research I did with scientists from Norway eventually led to me applying and receiving a Fulbright scholarship to do more research involving tree rings in Norway.

It’s clear that, from early on, you were committed to doing meaningful work for the environment. What in you early life lead you in that direction? 

My dad has always been a pretty hard core environmentalist.  We grew food in our side yard in the suburbs, and he took my siblings and me on hikes all over Arizona growing up.  When I was a teenager, he took me to see “An Inconvenient Truth,” which really impacted my perception of what was important and worthwhile in life.  

After completing the climate change research in Norway, you took some time to reassess your path and ended up teaching algebra in Texas to high school students. How did your teaching experience help you define what you wanted to do long term? In Norway, I did a lot of independent scientific research, spending hours hiking alone on a mountaintop with a GPS to keep me company.  This was amazing, but when I thought about applying to a Ph.D. program to continue this type of work, I knew that my extroverted side would eventually revolt from such solitary work.  Teach for America represented an opportunity to follow another of my passions, education.  I was so fortunate to have really remarkable teachers growing up, and really felt a pull to try teaching because of my experiences as a student in a classroom.  Like seeing “An Inconvenient Truth,” teaching helped me to reframe my life priorities and see the world in a very new way.  Even though it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I loved teaching and it was difficult for me walk away after my two-year commitment.  In the end, I realized that despite the detour, I was still most passionate about sustainability. I still end up using my teacher training every day however, and am still in touch with some of my students. 

What led you to Sourcemap and what does your role as Sales and Marketing Manager entail? 
Sourcemap had been on my radar as a really interesting company doing innovative things in the sustainability world, so when I decided to organize a panel at Columbia University about sustainability in the fashion industry, I invited Sourcemap CEO Leonardo Bonanni.  He agreed to join and was so insightful and thought provoking that when I saw that Sourcemap was hiring, I applied.  At Sourcemap, I’m in charge of Sourcemap content and working with companies who want to use the software for sustainability and transparency.  This includes everything from demo calls, to training, configuration, etc.  Working at a startup is great because you get to see the entire process.   



Where did your interest in sustainable fashion come from? 
Quite simply, I really cared about the environment and I really liked clothes.  Sustainable fashion was a way to bridge these two passions that had always felt contradictory.  The more I researched sustainability in the fashion industry, the more I was shocked that this huge industry, with an enormous impact on the planet, had received so little attention.  In that way, it also felt like an opportunity to influence a new field, which is really exciting.

You spoke about the dead end you kept running into as you explored sustainable fashion. Describe this and how does Sourcemap solve that problem? 
The dead end in fashion supply chains (and I later learned most supply chains), is that, for the most part, companies don’t know where their inputs (materials, components, etc.) come from.  When I started researching sustainable fashion, I thought that companies were hiding things from the public, but pretty quickly realized that it wasn’t that they were hiding things--they just didn’t know and there was no meaningful way for them to find out.  Sourcemap’s development had a very similar trajectory, when our CEO realized that supply chain maps were not very useful if they only had first tier suppliers.  Now, most of Sourcemap’s clients use the Request for Information (RFI) module of the software to discover their sub-suppliers first, before they begin mapping their supply chain.


Sourcemap works with a variety of industries but you are particularly interested in the fashion supply chain mapping projects. Why is the mapping of the fashion industry supply chain so important?  
Supply Chains in the fashion industry are particularly complex and difficult to penetrate. They also happen to conceal extensive environmental and human rights abuses. On the other side of the coin, providing transparency into the fashion industry presents an exciting opportunity because of the cultural power of clothing.  People feel connected to their clothes in a special way, which, in my option, will make the environmental impact of a transparent supply chain even more powerful.  

Can you give some examples of companies Sourcemap is working with? 
Our clients’ privacy is very important to us, so we only share information when we have been given permission.  One company who has agreed to share its experience is Eileen Fisher--they have been using Request for Information surveys to fulfill their 2020 goal of mapping their supply chain. Their commitment to making clothes in the most sustainable and ethical way possible is really inspiring, and it has been an amazing opportunity to work with them to make that ambitious vision a reality. 

There are endless barriers to trying to reverse engineer the supply chain but can you describe a few of those barriers for us? 
It’s important to remember that a lot of complexity was added to supply chains to lower the cost of making things.  An early source of complexity was moving the manufacturing of clothing overseas.  From there, second and third tier suppliers lower costs by using secret factories to avoid legal requirements, like minimum wages and safety measures.  And these are just two of the major reasons. Trying to get to the bottom of supply chains that have been in existence for many years is really like peeling an onion--it can be done, but it might make you cry. 

How does Sourcemap gather information? Do you encounter language or cultural barriers to gathering the information; how do you manage that? 
We use our Request for Information (RFI) modules to gather information from suppliers deeper in the supply chain. Surprisingly, we have not run into many issues with language or cultural barriers.  With Eileen Fisher, we took surveys that they had been sending out to suppliers and improved and digitized them.  This made the transition easy for suppliers, because the questions were familiar to them.     

How transparent can a company's supply chain be? What are the misconceptions about creating a 100% transparent supply chain? 
We laugh at Sourcemap a little bit about the idea of a 100% transparent supply chain.  If a company were truly 100% transparent, they would need to map the supply chain for everything they buy, from the computers they use in their offices, to the soap they use in the bathroom, even the fertilizer used on the cotton, etc.  That level of transparency is not reasonable or even useful at this point, but it does make you think about all of the inputs that it takes to run a company.  It’s important for companies to think about when they begin a supply chain mapping journey is the scope of their transparency endeavors.  Saying 100% transparent is less clear than saying something like map our supply chain from the farm to the consumer, for example.  Supply chain mapping is so new that these little things will work themselves out and in the end, what we really need is for more companies to at least attempt making these types of commitments.    

If a company wants to create a transparent supply chain from the beginning rather than reverse engineering an existing chain, how does that change the scope of the project? Does it allow for the use of any exciting tools or technology in the process? If a company starts building a sustainable supply chain from scratch, things become a lot easier. These companies don’t need Sourcemap to help uncover the supply chain and can instead focus on using Sourcemap to share the transparent supply chain they’ve designed.  Companies like this often end up using Sourcemap’s free tools, like the soon to be released Open Sourcemap.   

In your view what are the risks and benefits to further saturation of technology, access to the internet and social media in the supply chain? 
Ufffff… This is a big question and I am far from the best person to answer it.  I can say, that from my experience, technology has only helped to make supply chains more transparent and equitable.  Hopefully, this will continue into the future.   

Sourcemap has a very exciting new project Open Sourcemap. Can you tell us about that project? 
Open Sourcemap is a platform that will allow anyone to create a supply chain map for free and share it with the world.  It will start a new era of supply chain transparency by creating a social network of supply chains, and allowing suppliers to map their own supply chain.  Encouraging transparency has always been a part of Sourcemap’s soul, and we are excited to continue offering a free platform for companies who want to share their supply chains and individuals who want to learn about the supply chains of the products they buy.   

The sharing of information, technology and resources are not practices that have grown within the traditions of the fashion industry; if anything, it would be the reverse. Do you see this as a barrier to Open Sourcemap? How could the success of this project change the future landscape of the fashion industry?   I agree that sharing information has not been a common thing in the fashion industry in the past, but it is becoming more common.  Open Sourcemap is simply a way for companies who are proud of their supply chains to share them with the world in an interactive and engaging way. Being transparent about your supply chain is a risk, and we want to help celebrate and promote companies who have taken this risk.

Right now, companies are using transparency and supply chain mapping to differentiate themselves.  As time passes, I believe that the holdout companies will feel compelled to map their supply chain as well.  Eventually, being transparent about your supply chain will become the norm, and being opaque and secretive will differentiate companies in a negative way.


-Zoe Smythe

Originally posted on Zoe's Fashion Fix

Meet the Creators of WOVNS, the platform that empowers anyone to create their own textiles

WOVNS is now live on KICKSTARTER. Click here to visit their campaign.

Dena, you have a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and Masters in Technology from Harvard Graduate School of Design. Chelsea, your identical twin sister, also graduated from RISD and has an architectural and interior design background. How have your diverse yet complementary backgrounds led to the creation of WOVNS?
C : Growing up we were both really into painting and used to work together late at night on art projects. I remember if Dena made a piece I liked, it would inspire me to begin something new myself. The process was reciprocal and she would work off of my ideas as well, so we each informed each other in a way. Later on in our careers, the idea of a potential partnership was natural, as we knew we liked working together and our paths overlapped in NY design world. We didn't know exactly when the right time would arrive to converge on an endeavor, but I think the thought was always in the background.

Although the architecture and textiles industries are quite different, there are similarities when it comes to the processes of design. For example, both fields drive the assemblage of patterns and systems while utilizing form and materiality to create a cohesive means to an end. They are also each creative, but highly technical on the day to day. This basis of connectivity along with one's personal voice, allows for lateral movements from one discipline to the other even when the design goal may be different. So when the right time came along for us both to delve into WOVNS, merging our knowledge of separate fields to inform what we were going to build and then working off of one another, made a lot of sense.

Dena Molnar

Dena Molnar

D: We both greatly value our industry experiences. We were fortunate to have worked for some very innovative companies. Coming from the textile and (interior) architecture industries, we've seen textile development from both the manufacturer and end-user perspective. WOVNS gives us the chance to reimagine this relationship between producer and consumer.

My industry experience focused on technical textile development and manufacturing logistics, while Chelsea's experience emphasized material specification and interfacing with clients. At the Harvard GSD, I researched the ways in which changes in technology allow for a tighter coupling between digital design and manufacturing. With WOVNS, we’re combining this rapid prototyping approach, prevalent in architecture, with the textile industry to provide users access to Jacquard weaving.

What is it like getting to work with your twin sister on a project like this?

C: Often we are on the same page, even while being in different geographical locations, and it's very powerful as there is minimal explanation required to get things done. It's a lot of fun and having two minds bring the pieces together can make the work much more obtainable than going at it alone. We are both really tough editors though, and as the saying goes you are hardest on the ones closest to you.

Is there something, that you can think of, in your early life that could have begun to point you in this direction? D: Our parents were both creative, and very much free spirits. They encouraged us to pursue our own path and I think there is a certain rebellious individualism that creativity, technology and entrepreneurship share. We attended a high school for the arts, with teachers that had a great impact on us, and with whom we are still close with today. Our father grew up in New York, and our grandfather attended New York Textile High School on 18th street (now called Bayard Rustin Educational Complex) and was a textile salesman. These layers of experience have definitely pointed us in this direction.

Grandfather and Father

Grandfather and Father

Textile design has not traditionally been a medium that is open to exploration. Most people don’t have the necessary access to or relationships with textile mills let alone the capital required for minimums associated with custom textile design. With WOVNS the customer can order as little as one yard of custom designed jacquard fabric. How does WOVNS enable this exciting new level of flexibility and scalability?

D: We started from a deep understanding of the possibilities and constraints of Jacquard weaving, then set about to translate those into a form that would make sense for people without industry experience. We've developed some novel approaches that allow us to offer a wide range of options while maintaining an efficient manufacturing process. This allows us to offer small volumes of fabric at a reasonable price.

“Part of the problem with today’s fast fashion is that people have no connection to the way that soft goods and garments are made. With custom fabric production, there’s a personal narrative in its creation that fosters a deeper connection with the material. What one chooses to create with it furthers that narrative.”

— Chelsea Molnar

When we spoke you described WOVNS as a “medium for exploration”. I can see this platform being exciting for many different applications. Is there a certain type of customer who is most interested in WOVNS?
D: I think the answer to that is evolving. We’ve seen a tremendous response from the fine art, graphic design, and coding communities—groups you may not expect, as well as from interior designers and architects. Ideally, we'd like to serve creative people in the DIY market as well as independent designers, and interiors firms. The small minimums allow for fast prototyping, while our knowledge of standards for the interiors markets allows for us to provide testing services and to produce something custom and in volume.

Does WOVNS currently have any limitations for certain industries (hospitality for instance) and how are you working with these limitations?
C: We think there are many communities that are excited to be able to design custom woven fabric for the first time. Still, offering fabric to the fast paced Hospitality and Contract industries arrives with an expectation that performance metrics have already been established. With custom fabric the metrics need to be tested each time and will vary from design to design . Should an interior designer want to create something unique for a contract project, they will have to plan ahead and allow time for both designing the pattern and testing. We are working on solutions to this including offering testing services and partnering with companies that offer production ready digital designs to license or sell on an exclusive basis.

Can the customer develop a tapestry style woven as well as a repeat?
What are the fiber contents and weights of fabric that are currently available?

D: Yes, for launch, we offer two qualities:

Talma, our rayon and cotton quality, has a full width repeat, meaning one can create a uniquely engineered design across the width of the goods or create a design that repeats. This equates to a lot of freedom. It is about 14 - 16 oz / yd. depending on the design, and is suitable for light weight upholstery, home goods, products, and some apparel. This should not be confused with a “tapestry quality” however. In weaving, a tapestry construction refers to a multi -colored warp used to create pictorial effects. “Talma" has a full width repeat, but is ideal for duotone or tritone designs.

Divan is a cotton, polyester, rayon quality with a 13.5" repeat and averages about 13.5 oz a yard. Divan ideal for upholstery and products.

WOVNS has a number of implications in the sustainable fashion industry. Fifty years ago people didn’t dream of throwing clothing or textiles in the garbage. Even a tea towel had value and was mended or repaired. Today, largely due to the low cost of fashion and home goods, our landfills are overflowing with textiles. How can a platform like WOVNS change the customer’s relationship with textiles?
C: Part of the problem with today's fast fashion is that people have no connection to the way that soft goods and garments are made. With custom fabric production, there's a personal narrative in its creation that fosters a deeper connection with the material. What one chooses to create with it furthers that narrative. Plus, woven fabrics have an inherent integrity and durability that knit and printed fabrics do not. We think this will make people want to hold on to their WOVNS fabric for a long time.

Another problem is the vast amount of pre-consumer waste (strike offs, prototyping, cuttings, scraps) from manufacturing. What are some of the ways WOVNS could help to limit this kind of waste?
D: What we are offering users the ability to prototype a fabric, keep it and apply it to their own products or creations, without the design necessarily going through an extended development arc before it reaches the market. Users also only create what they need; there are no bolts being inventoried in a warehouse.

You are manufacturing in the USA. Why is this important to you and what are the benefits?
D: Communication and lead times. Most people are surprised to learn that when I worked in the textile industry, I mostly worked with manufacturers in the U.S.A. That meant that I could iterate rapidly and solve problems quickly as they arose. Now that we're weaving custom fabric, manufacturing close to our customers is essential for getting orders to them quickly.

Also, we think that all areas of textiles and technology will converge, be it innovating a manufacturing process or integrating electronics, and the U.S.A still has a hold in the performance and custom sector of textiles.

There are currently customizable, on-demand platforms for printed textiles on the market but WOVNS is the first to allow for customizable woven fabrics. The difference may not be obvious to some customers. Tell us how the design and finished textiles are different with a woven than a print.
D: Unlike digital printing, weaving integrates a design into the very construction of the fabric, yielding a textile rich in both color and texture. In other words, the design is not topical; it is inherent to the material.

This has implications for how one’s digital design gets re-created as fabric. In digital printing, the translation of colors from one’s file to printed cloth is direct. In weaving, the colors in your digital design each get translated into woven structures. The interlacing of warp (vertical) and weft (horizontal) threads, plus the ratio of warps to wefts appearing on the surface, create an appearance that approximates the colors in one’s graphic.

The power of Jacquard weaving lies in the ability to control the structure, texture and "surface" appearance of a fabric; the raising and lowering of thousands of warp threads can be controlled individually, enabling just about any design that you can dream up. The challenge arrives in having to coordinate these outputs, that is, the warp, weft, and weaves.

What excites you most about the project?
D: We are of course interested in seeing what users create. But we also think it's about seriously changing the conversation of how textiles are produced. Also, on a personal level, it's about seeing an idea come to fruition. We are both advocates for working in one’s profession of choice, seeing how it is done, and then reflecting on how to change or optimize it. Things change quickly— why not be a part of that change?

Not that customizable woven fabric isn’t enticing enough but do you have any future plans for WOVNS that you can share with us?
D: We were pretty excited when the head of Google's Project Jacquard tweeted about WOVNS. We think there are a lot of amazing possibilities for integrating technology into woven fabric.

C: In the near term, we're focused on improving the platform to make it easier for people to design their own woven fabric. Think custom design tools and lots of step-by-step tutorials. 

-Zoe Smythe
Originally published on Zoe's Fashion Fix


A very special announcement from CEO Bob Bland

On behalf of the entire MNY team, I am so excited to announce the launch of our 501(c)3 non-profit, The Manufacture Foundation.
Built on the past 4 years of effort to create a transformative, equitable ecosystem for New York City's fashion designers, manufacturers, makers and entrepreneurs; we are creating this non-profit to give our most meaningful programs the dedicated support they deserve. 
The Manufacture Foundation's mission is to develop and implement innovative, inclusive programs that allow diverse, underserved urban populations to create and build businesses in apparel, textiles and wearable technology.
How will we do this? Through expanding programs in:

Since 2012, MNY has helped to launch over 100 fashion, manufacturing + wearable tech businesses, creating high quality middle class jobs in underserved neighborhoods like Red Hook & Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Our model has also been an inspiration for like-minded projects throughout the USA and internationally. Until now, all of these programs have been 50% subsidized by our revenue, with occasional support from local and federal government agencies.
Together, we have the opportunity to combine resources through The Manufacture Foundation to take this positive impact to the next level. I'm so inspired by everyone we've met over the past 4 years + know we are on the verge of a transformative revolution in the American fashion industry.
We want everyone involved.
All contributions are appreciated- click below to donate, share the news with friends, or find other ways to get involved!
With gratitude,
Bob Bland
CEO + Founder, Manufacture New York