Dolores called this morning to tell me that she misses me and the mornings that I would come in and tell the team “Good Morning Beautiful People!” This made me smile. I loved going into our facility. I always looked forward to my day even during the hard times. Our team made some grand memories in an industry plagued with horrific practices.
I dreamt the Nana Atelier vision. I remember going into small studio facilities in New York and Los Angeles when I first arrived back in the US after working in Asia for 10 years. I refused to believe small brands did not have the same options as the large ones. I was speechless at the reality of most small factories. When Dolores came to me with the idea of taking over her factory nearly five years ago, the possibility of a space to execute my vision began to form.
We had tough production order a few years ago. I remember trying to find a way to hold the team together, trying to find a way to push through and help them cope with the stress. I’ve always had random team building ideas. This was a skill I learned from teaching for over a decade. One rough production day, I decided to ask the team to form a team circle, raise their hands and take a deep breath. We repeated this a few times and I gave some corny speech to help them build muscles for that specific production stress we were all experiencing. I asked them to take a fabric nearby and scream into it as loud as possible, the team looked at me in shock as I screamed into my crumpled fabric. As I looked up and ask everyone to try, a few silently screamed, most of all, we laughed and our tensions were released. Our team circles helped us embrace the tough parts of working in the manufacturing sector of an industry that is plagued by so many abuses.
One of my other favorite team circles was when our entire team attempted to do a tree pose. At this moment, some of our machinists started to speak in Spanish really fast and laughed so hard at their ability to try the tree pose. It broke our tension, it forced us all to be present and visible to each other.
And one more…I had everyone grab a section of a roll of spaghetti straps, hold on and pull. This exercise made us all realize the weight each one of us holds. I asked them to pull hard, then asked one to release. It was a simple illustrative moment for the team as we go through our work day tunneled in our own tasks.
We had a lot of good memories producing beautiful garments. I’ve always wanted to build a manufacturing facility that provided garment machinists / technicians a safe working environment and help them cope with the stresses of sewing and assembling garments all day long.
We had a good amount of laughs, a good amount of time building skills and creating beautiful pieces that people would enjoy wearing around the the world.
I’m looking forward to the day that I can go into a working space and have a chance for beautiful morning greetings.