Cultured Expressions with Lisa Shepard Stewart

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[00:00:00] Lisa Woolfork: Hello, stitchers. Welcome to stitch, please. The official podcast of black women's stitch, the sewing group, where black lives matter. I'm your. Lisa wool fork. I'm a fourth generation sewing enthusiast with more than 20 years of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax, and get ready to get your stitch together.
[00:01:10] Lisa Woolfork: Hello everybody. And welcome to this special episode of this stitch please podcast. I call it a special episode because this is an episode, a tale of two Lisas. I. I'm calling it to Lisas because I am Lisa, as you know, and my guest today is Lisa Shepherd Stewart. And this is an extra special episode because for Patreon subscribers, you will see the video recording of this episode, which is amazing because I'm in my studio wearing a blouse that I made.
[00:01:40] Lisa Woolfork: That is, uh, slightly too small in the bust right now. And Lisa is in her studio in Broadway, New Jersey, where she is surrounded by her gorgeous fabrics from her travels all around as well as a lovely prize. That is associated with today's [00:02:00] episode. She's got this gorgeous, which you can't, which if you are a patron subscriber, you see it right now.
[00:02:04] Lisa Woolfork: It's a 10 fat quarter bundle with a button and a postcard. And these have been hand picked by Lisa. For this prize. And so the prize giveaway, it's gonna be operating through her Instagram page, cultured expressions. There's a link to the page in the show notes. Also the giveaway will close on the 17th of October.
[00:02:31] Lisa Woolfork: So be sure to go to her page. It's a follow for follow. Giveaway. If you follow black woman stitch and you follow cultured expressions, and then you go to cultured expressions and tag a friend you're entered. And guess what? If you tag a friend, your friend is also entered. So this is a very easy contest.
[00:02:56] Lisa Woolfork: Go to Lisa's page. When you get there, you don't have to make a [00:03:00] comment about what you would make. All you need to do is tag a friend who would also be interested and you would, and you will both be entered in this absolutely gorgeous African fabric. Back quarter bundle. So I am delighted to welcome Lisa to the program.
[00:03:17] Lisa Woolfork: Lisa is she's an example of that phrase. We hear this phrase a lot community over competition, and this is meant to promote the idea of mutual aid, the principle of mutual aid, where people support and help each other. We hear people that people say they don't care about competition. They care about community, but few people actually.
[00:03:42] Lisa Woolfork: I think more people say. Than actually believe in it as a practice. And when it comes to business, there's so much competition and stuff like that. There's so much jocking. Even in Instagram, there's so much competition about, you know, who gets likes for this and likes for that. But when [00:04:00] I met Lisa. At a time when I needed help and support.
[00:04:04] Lisa Woolfork: And I didn't know her at all, a mutual friend, ly Shaw, who was on the program last week, introduced us, or she said, you need to talk to this person. And so I called her and Lisa from the very first hello. Was so kind to me and so supportive. And I said, you know, I wanna do a retreat for black women. I know you do retreats and you've taken people to Colorado and to, um, Ghana and to other places for your retreats, just gimme some advice.
[00:04:38] Lisa Woolfork: She didn't think, oh no. Why is this girl coming after my stuff? This is what I do. I don't wanna help. She was so generous. She was so helpful. She was. She really treated me like a peer, which I thought, which I was really honored by because I was [00:05:00] completely new and had no experience. She has decades of experience, but didn't hold that against me.
[00:05:07] Lisa Woolfork: She leveraged that for my
[00:05:09] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: benefit. And that's what
[00:05:11] Lisa Woolfork: mutual aid is supposed to do. Mutual aid is if somebody has something that you don't have. You use that to help that person get what they need. And I will be forever grateful. To her, to Lisa Shepherd Stewart for helping me get started with black women, stitch helping me get started with the retreats, supporting me with the podcast, like, Hey, have you thought about doing this?
[00:05:36] Lisa Woolfork: Have you thought about doing that? And I was like, no, you know, like things like that. It's, it's just been wonderful. So again, Lisa, welcome to the program. Welcome to this episode and thank you so welcome. And.
[00:05:50] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Well, Lisa, thank you so much after an opening like that, I don't even know what to say, but it's really just, it's been a pleasure to, to know you and to help you from that, that first event that I wish I could have [00:06:00] attended.
[00:06:00] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And I think a lot of it is just the passion that I have for it. I just want everybody else to have that same feeling and that same experience. So it's easy for me to share in that way. And it's just, it just kind of flows like through me even, it's not so much that I'm doing this and I'm doing that, but it just, the energy just flows and you have to release it otherwise.
[00:06:16] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: It's no good, you know, so you have to help other. That's so beautiful.
[00:06:19] Lisa Woolfork: The way you describe yourself. Almost like a conduit.
[00:06:22] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Exactly. Exactly. No,
[00:06:23] Lisa Woolfork: that's that's beautiful. So let's get started talking about your sewing story. How did you get started? How did you, how did you end up where you are now? What is some of your earliest memories of either sewing or how you knew that this was something you were going to be passionate about?
[00:06:41] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Well, my sewing story or a fabric story begins at the tender age of four. Literally I. Having a favorite blanket. It was like a very loosely woven, you know, one of these little acrylic, you know, blankets that you just have as a kid or whatever. My favorite one, it was like red and blue and like really deep colors.
[00:06:57] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And that was my first sense of my color sentence too. But anyway, [00:07:00] I was just enthrall by how all the threads kind of were held together, held in place, just like magically, they all, all the weaving of it. And I just thought that was fascinating. So, and I didn't really voice that at four, but I was just had an interest in it, always cuddled it.
[00:07:14] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And I always felt, you know, the. So that led me to just a love of fabrics. Um, at age 12, I learned how to sew. I went to singer, went back when singer had had actual stores in the mall, that kind of thing. And there were two things that happened at the same time. My grandmother was a seamstress before I was born.
[00:07:33] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And then she, she then went into nursing and healthcare when, after I was born. But she had that sewing gene, I guess, as they like to. Which kind of skipped my mother. My mother liked to sew by hand a little bit, but she didn't couldn't deal with the machine. So as they say, it skips a generation, I picked up the jeans somehow.
[00:07:49] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And between her winning a sewing machine and one of those puzzle contests, remember in the magazines, they have those little word puzzles. You could win a prize. Yeah. She won a sew way back way. Wait, I'm [00:08:00] a dating myself. But way, way back, she won the sew machine and said, oh, maybe Lisa would like this.
[00:08:03] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Maybe she'll get into it. And I'm 12 years. And I was never the type, you know, for summer vacation to go to camp. I was not that outdoorsy. I was like, give me a stack of paper and some crayons or pencils, or I'm good. I'll write a story. I'll sketch something, whatever. I like my light bright, my extra sketch.
[00:08:18] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So I was that kind of right. All light bright was the, with the black
[00:08:22] Lisa Woolfork: paper. And you had put the little
[00:08:24] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: punches
[00:08:24] Lisa Woolfork: in, oh, my
[00:08:25] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: lit up. Yeah. I mean, I could do that light bright and your sketch, like all day long. And like I said, paper and crayons. And, um, what were those, those little fashion plates you could, you could chase the little, yes.
[00:08:37] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: I remember fashion plates, you know, they're coming back now.
[00:08:39] Lisa Woolfork: That's why cuz you get, you get goddess and you would get a waist and a and
[00:08:42] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: a legs, right? It did come back for a minute. No, cause I saw a commercial anyway. I was just anyway, so that was my kind of thing. I didn't really like to do the summer camp.
[00:08:51] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So my mother, when my grandmother won the sewing machine and gave it to me, my mother saw an ad for singer saying we have, you know, classes for kids, you know, So [00:09:00] long story short, I took the eight week session. Loved it. And the combination of that was we did a, a fashion show on the mall of whatever we made and I made this green and white Stripe vest.
[00:09:10] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And I was just so proud of, I mean, button holes, the whole thing, first project. So it was great. And I learned what a facing was, you know, the whole, the whole experience we modeled on the malls, like little fashion show and everything. So that was great. And from there, I took off that first sewing machine.
[00:09:24] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: I burnt out, literally smoke was coming out of it. Cause I used it so much. Had no clue. You had to like maintain a soy machine. I'm just like having fun and zoom, zoom, zoom, and all that 12. Right?
[00:09:34] Lisa Woolfork: So 12, 12 year olds think that things last forever. Right.
[00:09:38] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Who knew, but that was great practice when I got my first car at 18, because I knew I had to actually take care of it.
[00:09:44] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: so the mechanics
[00:09:44] Lisa Woolfork: of things, you
[00:09:45] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: kind of retain the lessons. So it's better to burn out the sew machine than an entire car. Had that machine went through some other ones. I made clothes myself, my mother, I mean, I just made, made, made, so, so, so the whole thing, this is from age 12 to, you know, [00:10:00] high school.
[00:10:01] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Then I got an interest in, I thought, what can I do with this fabric interest? Cause I went in, I'm like just buying fabrics and not necessarily African so much. I hadn't discovered that yet, but just in the fabric store, enjoying life. So that led me to F I T. I studied marketing and, um, communications, which was my other interest was writing and, you know, communications and all that.
[00:10:21] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And I didn't really wanna study textiles as a hard study, but that came later with different jobs, learning on the job kind of thing. I always, I'm a big believer in learning on the job and you should get more out of a job than a paycheck. Like it should be teaching you something. So that was always one of my things, as far as, you know, choosing where I wanted to trying well choosing where I would like to work and that kind of thing.
[00:10:40] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So. Did that went to F I T couldn't wait to start working. So I went after my associate in advertising and communications. I got a job at a small company and in New York city. So I, I was still in the city every day. I said, well, let me go back and get the other two years, get the bachelor's in marketing.
[00:10:56] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And at least I'd have a little full package, but I couldn't wait to start and, you know, be an adult [00:11:00] and whatever. So , so I did. First job that I had was a Maxine fabrics, was a little, um, family business. And we sold fabrics to custom tailors and dressmakers around the country. So my job was to actually go into the markets of the manufacturers, buy their, buy their seconds and their overruns and all that, their, their leftovers, and make them into a fashion story.
[00:11:21] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And then we watched it and sent catalogs out. Great job. I thought I could be there forever. Love that. Okay. I'm gonna ask you to slow
[00:11:28] Lisa Woolfork: down a little bit, because this is all so exciting.
[00:11:31] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So you gotta go just to
[00:11:33] Lisa Woolfork: review. So F I T is fashion Institute of technology, is that. And that is a fashion and design school in Manhattan.
[00:11:41] Lisa Woolfork: And you were there for your associates and, but because you were so excited, you're like, you know, I wanna work and I wanna go to school. I wanna study and practice and sharpen my skills in the classroom, but I also wanna put that to practical application. All right. Now at the same time. So exactly the associates for the first two years, and [00:12:00] then you were also working and then you realized, well, I'm here.
[00:12:03] Lisa Woolfork: All the. I might as well, the train is going right past school,
[00:12:07] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: right? The same train fair. Right.
[00:12:09] So
[00:12:09] Lisa Woolfork: I might as well, you know, so you went and, and finished it. And so I, I guess that that's really amazing. And then this, this Maxine fabrics, like you creating fashion and style stories, going to manufacturers going to, I mean, I think that this is what you are talking us through is something really powerful in fashion history, because a lot of manufacturing now has moved out of the.
[00:12:34] Lisa Woolfork: So you got to go, fabric was being manufactured right here in the us and other places. But in addition to New York city, you would go in there and you would say, I'll take a little of this and this and this and this and this, and you would put it together. So can you just define real quick for us? What are seconds and what are overruns?
[00:12:55] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Well in man in clothing manufacturing, they may buy a thousand yards [00:13:00] of this print just to make it simple. Mm-hmm and they only use 700 for their run. You know, whatever they're making, say, they're making dresses for that season or whatever. They have another 300 yards left that they need to need to get rid of.
[00:13:11] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So someone like me or our company would come in and buy the what's by, well, that's not really seconds. That's just leftovers. That's overruns. Um, seconds are more like irregulars. Okay. But we would go in and say, okay, I wanna buy 100 yards of this red. And then I. Go through either that manufacturer or other companies, there were a whole bunch, again, seventh avenue at that time, all the manufacturing, you know, the, the companies were there and then I would scout the, the market through our regular resources looking for coordinates.
[00:13:37] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So maybe I find a bottom weight to go with it and a jacket weight. And I put a story together, being sure that we had enough of each, like at least say a hundred yards of each one, so people could kind of buy it together, buy it together. Right. So we sold to, like I said, tailor shops and, and dress makers all around the country.
[00:13:54] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: There was also a spinoff company that we sold to home sewers with little swatch kits. There was the seventh [00:14:00] avenue of fabric club and Vogue fabrics. We tried to emulate what vog patterns magazine put out. Okay. Um, worked with them to try and say, well, they're using a blue Stripe. I tried to find a blue stripes, so you could make the same look, that kind of thing.
[00:14:13] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So it was really cool. This job
[00:14:15] Lisa Woolfork: sounds like your job was to do
[00:14:17] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: fashion. Yeah, I still, now 40 years later, like, that's like your job. Your job was like, okay, I'm gonna take this
[00:14:26] Lisa Woolfork: top and then this middle and then this bottom, and then I'm
[00:14:28] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: gonna sketch on it with the, make it, and then make it easy for the, the dress makers and tailors to present a look to their customer.
[00:14:35] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And maybe they like the fabric combination, but they want a different style, whatever. So they did that and it was the best, first job was the best job ever, still. I mean, You know, to be like 19 years old in the city every day, wearing sneakers to work and coming in at 10, leaving at four, I mean the whole package was crazy and say, go, I mean, for me to go into somebody's shop and
[00:14:54] Lisa Woolfork: say, I want a hundred yards of this, and I want a hundred yards of that spend somebody else's [00:15:00] money.
[00:15:00] Lisa Woolfork: Ma'am. My God, if anybody within the sound of my voice could manage to find me a job like that with my
[00:15:06] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: current salary benefits. I know. I mean, and that job couldn't exist today. Even if, if I wanted to go back to it because there's no more fabric in the city. Like there's no, there were no sample rooms, hardly.
[00:15:17] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: There's no sourcing, you know, there's so that kind of thing wouldn't really exist anymore. Yeah. And there's really no more overages because also the manufacturers buy so close to what they need. They'll sell the design first and then buy that much fabric. That whole business model couldn't even like exist today.
[00:15:32] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Right? Right. Cause your market, it kinda said to me, you know, it's like, uh, Wow, but
[00:15:39] Lisa Woolfork: that's amazing that you, that you were there for that, and you got to have that experience and that
[00:15:43] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: shaped, um, would you, or would
[00:15:45] Lisa Woolfork: you say that that shaped, that, that
[00:15:46] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: first job kind of shaped the
[00:15:49] Lisa Woolfork: rest of your career in the industry?
[00:15:52] Lisa Woolfork: Were there certain things that your next job that you felt like, okay, I've done this for a while. I'm really happy, but when I move to my next [00:16:00] position, I wanna make sure to keep these aspects, but also add this, like, was that what you were, is
[00:16:05] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: that was that part of the story? Well, one reason I left the company was, and again, it's like seven people, like small family business was because I was still on my parents' insurance, you know, after you graduate your parents.
[00:16:17] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And there was no insurance here cause it's a tiny, you know, little family company. And I literally, one of the reasons I left was to get a real job so I could have benefits and take care of that aspect of, you know, adulthood. I was there about seven years maybe, and no one stays seven years in their first job, you know, it's interest.
[00:16:33] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And when I read the description on the, the, the, at the boards at F I T the, the job boards there, wasn't a whole lot of interest that everybody wanted to go for the big name designers. And I didn't really care about that, you know, and the, the, the wealth of it, of the job was not in the name. It was just what I got to do.
[00:16:48] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And then I got to write about the fabrics too. I write the descriptions for the catalog. So I was writing, I was buying fabric. I was coordinating stuff. I mean, it was just, it was crazy. It was crazy. That's incredible. [00:17:00] Yeah. I loved.
[00:17:01] Lisa Woolfork: But it seems like you're kind of doing that now in your own shop. Right.
[00:17:05] Lisa Woolfork: You're buying the fabrics, you're writing the descriptions. You're ,
[00:17:10] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: you're, you're still like, but now I'm paying for it. I'm not, I Don want somebody else to pay for it. But yeah, it's kinda, a lot of my jobs have had either some combination of writing, sewing, selling, buying there's been a real ride. So that was part of it.
[00:17:23] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And then from there, I. Moved on to some other. I found that job that had the, the benefits, not as exciting, not as autonomous and all that, but you know, you, you learn to adjust and you do what you have to do, but that was always my golden job. That was great.
[00:17:37] Lisa Woolfork: I mean, it's really such a beautiful story, you know, and I feel like the way that you painted, I feel like I was there with you, like walking alongside you, going through the warehouses.
[00:17:46] Lisa Woolfork: You
[00:17:47] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: know, I wasn't glamorous cuz a lot of those warehouses were kind of gross and like, you know, you wear jeans cuz you didn't know what you were gonna run into.
[00:17:53] Lisa Woolfork: Now it's an actual warehouse, not like a Sam's club warehouse where everything is like all clean and you have giant aisles. These were
[00:17:59] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: [00:18:00] like an old, like 39th street buildings on the eighth floor, the rickety elevators.
[00:18:04] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And you didn't know if you were gonna make it out and you
[00:18:05] Lisa Woolfork: know, it was like, it was, there was some drama to it, but it was
[00:18:08] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: at 19. You love that stuff. Like now I'm not so hyped about, you know, a mouse went and BI or you know, but . 19.
[00:18:15] Lisa Woolfork: You're like, let's do it. You know? So it was fun. I took experience.
[00:18:17] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Look, there's rodents.
[00:18:19] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: This isn't anything
[00:18:23] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: oh my God, the memories. And then the guys in the back that cut fabric became like my brothers and we would all, it was just, it was a whole thing. Oh, that's
[00:18:30] Lisa Woolfork: so delightful. So after you finished with, and you ended up getting a, a different job that had had more structure and more benefits, how did you close the gap between that experience?
[00:18:41] Lisa Woolfork: To publishing your first book. Like, how did you, like that seems like a lot of ground that gets covered between these experiences. It is the job after
[00:18:51] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: that really didn't have any writing involved. And I still felt that itch to write about fabric and things. So I started doing freelance writing. Remember?
[00:18:57] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So news magazine. Oh yes, yes. Not to remember [00:19:00] them. They're still out. But do you remember when they were like a tabloid newspaper? Okay. Okay. Mm-hmm printed on newsprint and it was in a, I found it in a, in a fabric store once and I was like, so news and it was like, literally newsprint. It wasn't even like a magazine at that point, you know?
[00:19:12] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: I don't think you ever, I don't think I knew that. So news used to be an actual newspaper. I don't think I knew that it was, it was monthly, but it was on N print. So I was like, you know, kind of not cheap, but inexpensively printed, I guess. And it was, I think it was black and white with some color insert.
[00:19:26] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: It wasn't like a whole color. It wasn't like a magazine. Like it is, you know, now, like it's big. I saw that. And I started writing for them and they had a, a, um, column called updated and restated where you, you looked at an old fashioned, like a trench coat mm-hmm . And I would look into the history of it, write a little history of how epi epilepsy came to be and like a little history lesson kind of thing.
[00:19:46] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So the person writing that column left for whatever reason, then they asked me if I wanted to do that. I was like, sure. So I did that for a while and just did some other feature stories. Found other magazines to write for this is while I'm working full time. But just again, I felt that [00:20:00] itch to still write about sewing.
[00:20:01] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So I did that. So this is, and all the while still sewing my updated and
[00:20:06] Lisa Woolfork: restated. That was the name of the,
[00:20:09] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: that was the name of the column of the column, the column in.
[00:20:13] Lisa Woolfork: Do you remember anything, any particular? You mentioned the Ettes for example, do you remember particular garment from that series that what that you wrote about differently?
[00:20:22] Lisa Woolfork: I think a lot about that now, like about old clothes, old garments, old pieces, and how you can modernize them. Is that what you were doing? Do you, do you have any memories of like, Something that you might have talked about at that time,
[00:20:34] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: this was more just taking the current trend and finding a detail.
[00:20:37] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Like I did one on Sur, you know, neck lines, the crossover neck line mm-hmm . So it was more like just what's happening now and just tracing the history. Not so much trying to hack it so much. Cause we didn't really do that much hacking. Then we were like, so the pattern. Yeah, but it was more just like looking back on historical, you know, like the history, like I said, the epi edge were like a military, you know, touch on the, because they, I forgot what it was.
[00:20:59] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Oh, the, well, the [00:21:00] buttons on sleeves are so that the soldiers wouldn't wipe their nose on their sleeve or something like that. You're
[00:21:03] Lisa Woolfork: listening to the stitch please podcast. And I'm speaking today with Lisa Shepherd, Stewart owner of cultured expressions in Rawi New Jersey. When we come back, we'll talk with Lisa about.
[00:21:13] Lisa Woolfork: First trips to Africa and how that shaped her approach to the work that she's currently doing. Stay tuned.
[00:21:45] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: The stitch
[00:21:45] please
[00:21:46] Lisa Woolfork: podcast is really growing. Um, I wanna thank you for listening to the podcast and ask a favor. If you are listening to this podcast on a medium that allows you to rate it or review it, for example, apple [00:22:00] podcasts or iTunes, please do so. If you are enjoying the podcast, if you could drop me a.
[00:22:05] Lisa Woolfork: Star rating. If you, um, have something to say about the podcast and you wanted to include that a couple sentences
[00:22:12] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: in the review box of apple makes a really big difference
[00:22:16] Lisa Woolfork: in how the podcast is evaluated by apple, how it becomes more visible. It really is a way to kind of lean into the algorithm that helps to rank podcasts.
[00:22:27] Lisa Woolfork: So if you had time to do that,
[00:22:29] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: to drop a little line in the. Feature of the podcast that would be really appreciated and it would help us to grow even further and faster.
[00:22:53] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So for your.
[00:22:55] Lisa Woolfork: I'm really interested about the story about that, about what you wanted to communicate and [00:23:00] generate what your overall objective for that was, because I really definitely wanna talk about your travels and research and textile experience in on the continent, because I think that you have been such an important pioneer in.
[00:23:15] Lisa Woolfork: And communicating that and bringing those fabrics back from, from early days. Can you talk a little bit about that, about why you ended up writing a book to help home? Solars learn more about African fabrics.
[00:23:29] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: It goes back to just the passion in 19 was 86. I went to Senegal. That was my first trip to Africa.
[00:23:35] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And I went with a group that was, um, a culture group from Chicago, but they did like general cultural tours to Africa. It wasn't like a fabric tour so much, but it was a general culture. but they said, if you have a special interest, let us know ahead of time. We'll try to hook you up with people there and make it more meaningful to you and personalize, whatever I was like fabric.
[00:23:53] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: All I wanna see is fabric at the end. So they got me an appointment with the marketing head of a company called [00:24:00] sativa, which some of you might recognize, um, as one of the biggest African fabric mills, like west African fabric mills. And there was in Senegal. I think they had other offices too, but in Senegal, that's where the headquarters was.
[00:24:13] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: I went to meet the marketing director. Not only did he have access to African fabric, but he was cute and drove a white Phou. So I was all in. I was like, wow. And I'm like, what 20, how old was I? 22 at this point 21 something. Wow. So I'm, I'm just, yeah, again, I was just like, wow, this is apparently meant to be.
[00:24:31] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And he was just cute. It was just, you know, we were flirting. It was like so much fun. Now he can be like 20 pieces of fabric to take home and he is. Oh, don't go home. Stay of the week. You know, that's a whole nother podcast, but it was, it was a lot of fun. So from there I came home with the 20 pieces from him as a gift, and then whatever else I bought of boutiques and you know, all kinds of stuff and just loved it.
[00:24:52] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: I was like, I'm here. I have to get it. Now. That kind of thing. When you see something, you have to get it. So that's when that kicked. and [00:25:00] that's when my love for African fabrics in particular started because I just was again, amazed by the artists and the look and the quality, the fact that it wasn't a, an Africa is all famine and war kind of narrative.
[00:25:12] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Like there was actual artistry and I wanted to bring that to other people. And not that I didn't know it existed, cuz I wasn't a surprise to me. Right. But to really see it and be able to have a real, tangible way to show other people through what I love anyway is fabric. I thought that was a real opportunity.
[00:25:25] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So I started thinking about the book and all that, and which is African accents when I'm gonna grab it for you. Thank you.
[00:25:32] Lisa Woolfork: I, what I love about what you're saying, Lisa is the educational process. Right. That what you are doing is you are revising and intervening in all of these racist narratives that the us has
[00:25:48] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: propagated about Africa, the
[00:25:51] Lisa Woolfork: story of like a famine war, et cetera, et cetera, all of these things that create harmful impacts in one's [00:26:00] imagination.
[00:26:01] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Right. Um, make you afraid to go too and make, you're afraid to explore for yourself because it's like, oh, don't go there. And, you know, It's ridiculous. It's really ridiculous. So it's, um, mm-hmm, just AC that for myself. I said, well, and I wasn't thinking about doing tours at that point, but just bringing it to people in the form of a book that was manageable to me at the time.
[00:26:18] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And I just felt like, again, it's my passion just kind of jumped out. So mm-hmm, . I think that
[00:26:23] Lisa Woolfork: being able to kind of look and to see the
[00:26:26] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: artistry, to, to
[00:26:28] Lisa Woolfork: see the creativity, even, you know, I think that this is becoming like, right, right now in our current moment in 2020, people are doing more with this now, like helping to revise these racist narratives, helping us recognize that what we are looking at are actually racist.
[00:26:46] Lisa Woolfork: That we have to take deliberate steps to revise and to hold accountable. So I keep thinking about
[00:26:53] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: what's that that's important. Tell your own story. Tell I was saying to tell the story and then I haven't told to you, but to explore [00:27:00] for yourself is really important.
[00:27:01] Lisa Woolfork: Exactly. That's exactly what I was thinking.
[00:27:03] Lisa Woolfork: Absolutely. And to recast this it's very much like what I think this might have been William Lloyd Garrison talking about Frederick Douglas. And he said, when Lyons write history, The hunter will cease to be the
[00:27:16] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: hero. Mm.
[00:27:19] Lisa Woolfork: Okay. And so the idea of the lion's writing history, that this idea of seeing this from an African perspective, from a black perspective, from a perspective, that's not a colonizer's perspective.
[00:27:32] Lisa Woolfork: Right. And it, and that's something I just love that you are. Undoing these narratives, as well as building something really beautiful through textiles and empowering us to use our own imaginations, um, and opening up spaces to us in a way that is so beautiful and affirming. And so that's something that I really appreciate very much about what you're doing
[00:27:55] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: and it's fun.
[00:27:57] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So, I mean, it's like everything, you know, I like something that's [00:28:00] practical and, you know, decorating your house, obviously that's as bad practical as you can. So I just, that was just, again, my passion and I thought people also would be, you know, coming to where I lived and say, would you get that mud cloth pillow?
[00:28:13] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And or if they even knew it was mud cloth, first of all, some, some people did, but some people, you know, where's that, what's that fabric and all that curiosity. I said, well, there's probably a book idea here. Cause I hadn't seen any other DIY books, right. With African fabric focus. It just didn't exist. It was all like a Martha Stewart kind of a take a plat and a check and a Stripe and a, you know, whatever.
[00:28:33] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Boom, there's your living room, but, you know, cute. But it wasn't, I, there was no feeling in it for me, so, right. Be the only one who feels like that, who wants to have a more personal, whatever, you know? So the warmth of these fabrics and sometimes the symbolism or the, the meanings behind them or how they're used traditionally, all that kind of becomes part of the story.
[00:28:52] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And I felt like that was really, really cool. So I, I thought again, I can't be the only one who liked this, you know, so that's my litmus test. [00:29:00]
[00:29:01] Lisa Woolfork: I think that's a great litmus test, right? That I think it's funny because something that my therapist said to me once she's like for black women, we often have to build the things that we need.
[00:29:10] Lisa Woolfork: That means that even though we are loving something and appreciating something, it's also a form of work, you know, that we, so like you writing the. Was an example of creating this really important archive, but also this opportunity for other people to step in and try things that they might not have tried or that they might not have known about.
[00:29:35] Lisa Woolfork: And so you're like you're teaching and you're also providing opportunities for participation in really beautiful ways. I was gonna ask about how this turned to. Like how the, you know, your first trip to Senegal in 1986, how did this end up leading you to do your own trips that were fabric focused or [00:30:00] fabric and wine focused?
[00:30:01] Lisa Woolfork: Like, how did you, how did you get that started?
[00:30:04] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: It came a lot later, actually, because from 86, I didn't get back to Africa until I went. Ghana in 2001. So it was a long stretch of time. And then in that, in that space, I'm still collecting and finding things locally. But I hadn't been back to the continent until 2001.
[00:30:21] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And I went with a company called nava.com and they actually promote artists from all around the world. So it gives artists same small villages, that type of thing, you know, a platform to sell all around the world to get their pictures, you know, their, their picture and pictures of their work and all. So I'm writing the second book global expressions, which is fabric's around the world, still a decorating focus.
[00:30:42] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Yeah. And I , because I saw they had some photography, I was hoping I could borrow for the book and just, you know, some shots of this and that. So they said, oh, you are a writer. Would you like to come to west Africa with us and, and cover? And I think I was packed before I hung the phone up. I was like, hell yeah.
[00:30:58] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: You know, so, and [00:31:00] I mean, they paid for it and it was just a, it was a, you know, simple kind of thing. It wasn't, you know, three, five star, whatever. It was myself representative from Nava name's Catherine and Daniel, who was a videographer from California. They invited him also. So we all just kind of did the trip and I got to meet a lot of the artists that I now see.
[00:31:19] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Like every trip when I go back, I see a lot of them still. And the whole thing that was just a great experience to just really take in the culture. Then that's when I realized that Ghana has the most fabric, especially for quilts and sewers. Mm-hmm that? The African Mecca is Ghana, because there's so much there.
[00:31:35] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: I haven't been anywhere else since, because there's so much I have to like still explore, oh wow. I haven't gotten Toma yet. I haven't gotten to Nigeria yet. And they're on my list, but Ghana, I always find a new thing I have to kind of work with. So I mean, crazy, crazy resources. Everybody's talented there and just a lot.
[00:31:52] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So almost every year, since 2001, I've been in Ghana for myself, you know, shopping and, and developing and finding people and [00:32:00] connecting with. So that's kind of how the trips began. And then in 2003 was the fir my first group trip to Ghana that I did with another woman named Laura Johnson. Mm-hmm , that was more of a general culture trip, but my part of the trip, my part of the itinerary planning was arts and crafts fabrics.
[00:32:16] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: That whole part, there was a music track. There was an education track. So depending on your interest, we had different tracks ready for you. So that was the beginning of sojourns, even though they weren't called sojourns back then. Again, that sharing of it and seeing other people's eyes light up when they see like, this is really what Africa is like, it was amazing.
[00:32:34] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: It was like really amazing. So that gave me energy, you know, to kind of do it again a few, few more times and everything. And it's just the whole, this whole soldier thing has just been like, again, I go back to, I can't be the only one who would love to go someplace and do textile related, you know, classes.
[00:32:50] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And I can't be the only one who would like that. And by then I had a little bit of a following when I had customers and things and the website. And guilds. So I had people that were interested in things already, [00:33:00] right? Like a, so I just developed the base and which time I added something to the business, it just was like the next logical step.
[00:33:06] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: It seemed like, you know, no five year plan. I don't, I can't do a five year plan if you, if I try it but things evolve. So, and they worked out pretty
[00:33:16] Lisa Woolfork: amazingly, well, I would say. Pretty well overall. Yeah. I mean, I have
[00:33:20] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: some things that didn't work out, but you just, you know, you do things, you do something else and something else works out and you pay attention and you just go from there.
[00:33:27] Lisa Woolfork: So learn and you do things a little differently next time. Nope. I, I just love this. I love this all so much. This is so exciting. And what I love about it is that as you're telling your story, it reminds me of that blanket that you had as a four year. Because when you look at the fibers, you know, when, how weaving works, like you have the warp and then you have the we, and it's like, you really have woven.
[00:33:53] Lisa Woolfork: I'm making this very strange hand gesture because my
[00:33:55] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: fingers, I know I really can't wave my fingers, but I can't do
[00:33:59] Lisa Woolfork: that either. [00:34:00] But, but what you're, which what you've done is like you've woven together. This gorgeous. You know, that is so filled with, from the outside looking in and just this glimpse of a conversation that is so filled with your purpose, you know, that like, it feels like you've been able to people talk about walking in your purpose or whatever.
[00:34:20] Lisa Woolfork: It feels like you've been able to do that since not just since you were 12, but since you were four, you know what I mean?
[00:34:26] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Like, oh yeah. It's really beautiful. It's really
[00:34:30] Lisa Woolfork: beautiful. And that's why I'm so glad to be able to talk with you today. Let me ask about what it's. to take all this information.
[00:34:38] Lisa Woolfork: You've got the training from F I T you've got the wonderful first job where you were in there with manufacturers. You've traveled to Ghana and Senegal. You've written two books. You're very committed to African textiles. And in some ways, decolonizing the racist imagination about the whole [00:35:00] story of Africa as a continent, you're supporting Guild.
[00:35:04] Lisa Woolfork: You're supporting local businesses. You're helping to build up these new institutions. How do you move from that to opening up your own brick and mortar shop? Like how did that, like, I'm just, did you not think you were busy
[00:35:17] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: enough? That's what I, well, I guess there's a couple answers to that, that, you know, how things just kind of, you have different situations that all kind of happen at once and it leads to something and that's kind of what happens.
[00:35:29] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Never thought I wanted a brick and mortar a retail shop because I was into traveling and I, I wanted to be free in moment notice kind of thing. And I thought, oh, well, if you have a store, you have to be open, you know, every day, you know, that just that mindset of retail life. And I was like, gotta do that.
[00:35:44] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: But then one of the things that happened was people began to get used to the idea of popup shops. The idea that retail doesn't always mean certain set hours, and you may need to check first people, especially with a specialty shop. People are got more accepting of. So I think, well, [00:36:00] maybe it may work in a space where I could actually do my own hour and still the hours are pretty regular because I think that's important.
[00:36:05] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: But when I do have to close, I don't feel like, oh my God, you know, the world's gonna end, whatever. So that was, that was happening also where I live in Broadway, New Jersey, where we are now, the downtown area was being revitalized and getting more artsy. And they really had a whole, a real hold on like specialty shops and the restaurants were popping up.
[00:36:24] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: We have an art center performing art center. We have theaters and, you know, just really a really nice artsy vibe. And I said, they need some African fabric down here. It's the one thing that's missing. Right? Well that in Indian food, but I think that's coming. So I decided that maybe it would be a nice way to go.
[00:36:39] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Also, my part-time job at Marcus fabrics was beginning to change a little bit Marcus fabrics for those who may not know they do traditional quilt fabrics and crafting fabric. I've been there. And that was, that was another part of the story I've been there for 20 years. Part-time just as a little, you know, as a, as supplemental, whatever, you know, before I got married, even I had that.
[00:36:56] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So that was helpful. So things began to change at [00:37:00] Marcus where I felt like I really need to maybe up my, the cultured expressions game and see what else I can do about it. and grow it rather than try to find another part-time job. And I, you know, I just kind of, so here, long story short, I'm still at Marcus.
[00:37:11] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Things are still great. We were bought out by another company, so I'm still there just, again, nice to keep my, an eye, a hand in that end of the industry, the more generic industry. So that's great. But so the, tho those three things, the change in retail attitudes about retail shopping, the artsiness of downtown and the changes at Marcus that may or may not have come at at, in the end, they were sold, but I'm still.
[00:37:35] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: All those things. I thought maybe I could find a nice little spot in RA. And then also I was teaching in my house and I could only promote my classes to people on my mailing list that I kind of knew because you can't just invite, you know, people to your house. So that kind of got a little old and stifling and limited.
[00:37:49] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So I thought if I had a space where I could do some classes, put the fabric up, you know, I have some such special events, all in that raw vibe that was coming about and all those things that came at the same [00:38:00] time. And I started to think maybe I should do a retail spot. So that. The long short answer and that was December of 17, 20 17.
[00:38:10] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: I decided to do it in April and then found a space. Another space fell through and, you know, I just kind of plugging along, signed a lease for this place in October. And I had the brand opening in December. So it was pretty quick. It wasn't a whole, you know, 10 year mission. Wait,
[00:38:24] Lisa Woolfork: so you're saying you had the idea in April of 2017 and then you had a space.
[00:38:32] Lisa Woolfork: That didn't work out. But then by the
[00:38:34] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: time you got to December ,
[00:38:37] Lisa Woolfork: by the time you got to December of 2017, you had a shop with stuff in it and people could come and buy things.
[00:38:45] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Yeah. That is not a lot of months
[00:38:47] Lisa Woolfork: between April and December.
[00:38:50] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Well, I, and I, I found the place in September. I signed the lease. I just wasn't ready till December.
[00:38:54] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Cause I had to do some little bit of carpentry and some electrical. So I really didn't open hard till December, [00:39:00] but I signed the lease in September to start for October 1st. Landlord, let me come in two weeks early because we had this thing called culture crawl in raw, and he let me come in just so I could put out cards and say the coming soon.
[00:39:11] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So he was really cool. He let me come in two weeks early. So really from April to like September, I was literally in the space in December was more like technically opening like a firm. So, and I just felt like, like the space, it didn't fall through, like I said, thank God, cuz this one is like so much better.
[00:39:25] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: You know how things happen for a reason? Yes they do. Yes they do. And I just put my one foot forward and you know, the. It, it came to me in, in part, in large part. So it was, it's been great. So now it's going on three years already and, um, it's cool stuff. It's cool stuff. I, I love it here. I spent more time here.
[00:39:44] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: If there was a shower in the back, I'd barely even go home. So ,
[00:39:49] Lisa Woolfork: that's probably for the best of this, not a shower back there
[00:39:51] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: because then joke by the way. But , but it's true. I mean, all I need is a shower. I have a kitchenette, I got the bathroom, you know, and my office is in the [00:40:00] back. I feel very safe, but I mean, I sometimes I'm here till midnight.
[00:40:04] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Like the, the height of the pandemic business was great. Thank God. Cause everybody was sewing the mask and they were home and they wanted to finish that quilt finally. And right. I was until midnight, some nice filling orders, so, wow. You know, and I, I mean the fact that I can feel safe here late at night, I just, there were two apartments upstairs, so it's residential and commercial kind of space.
[00:40:23] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Oh, okay. Like a mixed
[00:40:23] Lisa Woolfork: use type thing. Oh,
[00:40:25] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: that's the area's quiet. I'm across from city hall and the police department. So I mean it's and the post office for shipping. So I mean I'm oh, wow. I saw the spot. I was like, this, this can't not be, I mean, this cannot not happen, you know? So that works. That's
[00:40:38] Lisa Woolfork: amazing.
[00:40:39] Lisa Woolfork: That's and that you feel secure and that you got able, you get resources to like the post office. Like when I say I'm putting it in the mail today, I mean it, because
[00:40:49] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: likely across the street and ship your package. Wow. And oh, and the other big thing with the whole downtown Revit, uh, rep was it revitalization or whatever [00:41:00] Broadway train station is a block away.
[00:41:02] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So my New York and Philly and all those folks can take a train. That was part of the reason too, that I did this because again, but now I had, I had customers and I had like a following. Or do you wanna call it? and so those people could easily, you know, kind of come here and, and go here and there and, and, and also have a nice meal around, you know, so it's like a nice little spot, like a destination day kind of thing.
[00:41:22] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Yes. So it's like a
[00:41:23] Lisa Woolfork: nice little outing, right? It's like, you can go, it's like, it's a day trip. I'm gonna do a day trip. I'm gonna go and I'll be there all day and I can get something to eat and I can maybe take a class. I could do some shopping. I can, whatever. Yes.
[00:41:36] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Oh, I there's a black owned yoga studio and there's a couple other black owned businesses.
[00:41:40] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So we all share, you know, send people to each other. There's also a hotel, not black owned, but there's a hotel. So if you wanna go from the train station across the street to the hotel, come here, you can actually do a whole weekend. I mean, it's crazy. Oh my gosh. That's incr. So like have you have, this is a
[00:41:55] Lisa Woolfork: perfect location and I'm very glad that your other one fell.
[00:41:58] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Me too. Me too. [00:42:00] And I was down the street, but just, just, this is just better. This is better.
[00:42:03] Lisa Woolfork: Does the walking distances and all of those things make a really big difference for people who like don't wanna drive or if you or don't drive and yeah, no, that's wonderful. Now, now I'm playing ahead about when, when the outside outside opens up again and I get to, oh, that's
[00:42:17] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: when are you coming?
[00:42:17] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: I know cuz the virtual visits are great, but I mean, being here is like even better. So the virtuals that's another thing that we, that I started and really, I started doing those in 2018. The virtual visits. So people, because again, I had people when I opened the studio and put it in the newsletter, Hey, we're opening a, a brick and mortar studio in raw.
[00:42:34] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And people are like, well, I'm in California. And I buy from you. So, you know, I started to think, how can we still service people and get them? You know? So a woman came in one day with her husband and she's like, oh, my daughter would love this. She FaceTimes her daughter in, in the studio. And so I can't even say it's totally, it's completely an original thought, but I, it spurred.
[00:42:53] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: She's like, oh, the daughter's like, oh yeah, gimme two yards of that. And I'm thinking, oh shit, look at this. You know, so daughter spends like 50 bucks, like over [00:43:00] the phone with the mother and I'm like, okay. So I went home that night. I said, I needed a little cute name. I was like, Glen, we, I gotta get this.
[00:43:07] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And my assistant Edie, who was helping me at the time, I was like, what do we call like a virtual visit? And then people, we can do this net, but FaceTime is only on, on iPhone. I'm not an iPhone girl. I don't I anything. So I'm an Android girl. So I had to find an app that was like that, that worked over.
[00:43:22] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Found Google duo WhatsApp. And now everybody's on zoom. So that's our third option. Yeah. And people it's almost like being here with no NOF refreshments. That's what I said, no snacks. bringing on. Can you usually we have like fruit or something and tea and all kinds of stuff hanging around, but it's like that, but no snacks, you can actually see everything we can do closeups.
[00:43:42] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: You can, you know, you can count the weave if you that kind of thing. We were doing that. And again, pandemic time we were set up for it. And now since then, I've gone to booking online for those cuz it was too much to kind of be on the phone, trying to figure out whatever. Right,
[00:43:57] Lisa Woolfork: right, right. So people can still set appointments with you to [00:44:00] do a virtual visit where you walk through and um, you'll show people things, and people can ask questions.
[00:44:06] Lisa Woolfork: And I think that's just really genius. I am absolutely loving. I, I wanted to ask just a couple of last questions. And what do you see as the future of, of African fabrics for those of us in the us? I feel like now that, that, you know, I know there's so many different, like controversies or like, Is this real, is it authentic?
[00:44:32] Lisa Woolfork: Is it, you know, like, you know, I've seen some pieces at Joanne fabrics and some which was alarming, frankly, I saw them at Joanne's and I was like, this looks like it's on some colonialist nonsense. What am I looking at even?
[00:44:44] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Well, yeah. So I don't, I
[00:44:47] Lisa Woolfork: don't know. So that's why I was asking, like, how do we, I think actually it's funny cuz the first time that anyone that in, I was in a class that anyone ever even mentioned.
[00:44:57] Lisa Woolfork: What could be considered some of the ethical [00:45:00] elements or ethical dimensions of African fabric was at another black owned fabric studio. This is one, this one that's closest to me. This was, um, so creative lounge with Cecily. I dunno if you know her, but she, yeah, actually she and I did an event together a couple years ago, but it was, I, I went to the shop in like maybe 20, I think it was 2018.
[00:45:21] Lisa Woolfork: And it was the very first time that someone had said. We need to think about like who we are buying from, what we're buying, who we're supporting each purchase is giving money to some people, et cetera, etc. I dunno. It was just, it was just an interesting conversation. And to me it was a sign about how some fabric folks take a holistic approach.
[00:45:45] Lisa Woolfork: It's not just about buying what's cheapest. It's not about buying what's on sale. It's about trying to have an ethical. Sensibility about one's fabric acquisitions. Do you have any thoughts on that? I do. [00:46:00]
[00:46:00] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: It's thinking about the prints just in particular African prints, you know, that's a take a term, everybody uses and it's, it's just accepted at this point, but they had an, an origin that was completely outside of Africa.
[00:46:13] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Long, long story short, the Dutch were creating boutiques and different wax prints and things for the Indonesian market. The nation market said, we don't want this. We don't like it. It's not our style. Get outta here. They took it to Africa to kind of dump it and Africa accepted parts of it, but changed parts of it too.
[00:46:29] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: They kind of injected their own style and their own, you know, kind of like flavor to it, you know? And, and so there was, it's a real, kind of a hybrid kind of thing, and there's all different levels, different types, different makers, you know, different mills. And even to this day, when I go to, to a cry in Ghana and I'm in the markets and I'm buying.
[00:46:50] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: There are Chinese imports there. So you it's almost unavoidable. I mean, to say, I'm, you know, where was this print made? Somebody may come into the studio and say, well, where was this print made? And [00:47:00] I'll say, I honestly can't tell you, you know, I know who I bought it from. And I know if I got it, whether I got it from Ghana directly or from one of my suppliers, you know, around the country that shipped to me and I know them, but a lot of times in the market, there's, there's arguments over among the vendors of over who's, you know, who's who made what?
[00:47:18] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And where'd this come from? And I think I almost started, I thought I almost started a riot once in the market. Cause I asked somebody something and the other vendor said, that's not from there. And they had this whole big and I was like, oh my God. So I'm like, I'm done standing back watching this and another one comes over and they're like, that's not from, and then they all, they all crack up laughing.
[00:47:36] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Cause this is like just a thing for them, you know? And I was like, oh my God. I started world Wari right here in the. But it's part of the culture, but they just were like into this whole heated exchange and they're like, you know what you're talking about? And then I was like, oh my God, all I said was where's this from, you know, so a lot of discussion among them, a lot of different ideas and opinions.
[00:47:54] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So my thing is, if you like a fabric, go more for the quality than where it's from, because you may not [00:48:00] know you may not ever really know what mill came out of. There were also mills in west Africa that are Chinese owned. Mm. So what's that doing for us? You know? And then they're bringing their own workers.
[00:48:10] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: It's like a whole, that's a whole nother podcast, but there's, there's just, I feel like if, if a fabric speaks to you, the design and everything, my thing is more so is it a quality fabric? Cuz you wanna always work with something that's quality and not a piece of junk, you know? Right. So you have to kind of weigh that.
[00:48:25] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: And if you are of African descent, you're, it's becoming African because you're infusing your creativity into it. Right. Right. That's really the best you can hope for. I mean, if you're gonna not use a fabric, cause you don't know where it's from, you're denying yourself a whole lot of creative pleasure.
[00:48:39] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Yeah. And even if you're that tight, tight with it, now what I can say. When I buy the, the Jack art boutiques from Ghana, I work with four different ladies. I know they are making it. They and their artists do the boutique right there. They don't make the base cloth, but that's important. The plain base cloth mm-hmm, , they're again, infusing their, their creativity and their African look into it.[00:49:00]
[00:49:00] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So that's what you have to really kind of focus on and then just enjoy the fabric, cuz yeah, it's not gonna change overnight and it, you know, it's, it is what it is. Just enjoy it, you know? I mean life short . Hey, I like that. Enjoy it. Life short on that load. Lisa, I'm gonna wrap
[00:49:16] Lisa Woolfork: up. Thank you so much. Can you tell us where people can find you on the socials?
[00:49:20] Lisa Woolfork: I'm gonna be sure to include all of your links for this.
[00:49:23] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Okay. Uh, the website is cultured expressions.com and to keep it easy, we're also on Facebook and Instagram at cultured expressions. And what else? Those are the main one. I mean, they're the important ones I would say. And then on YouTube it's CE fabric videos slash videos.
[00:49:41] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: So CE for culture expressions. Fabric videos slash videos. We have some head wrapping videos. We have some quick sewing tips and some little stuff like that. So, oh. And I saw the mask videos
[00:49:51] Lisa Woolfork: too, and I think you had some mask
[00:49:53] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: ones as well, mask video. Yeah, that was, that was, that was epic. yeah, it was pretty
[00:49:58] Lisa Woolfork: epic.
[00:49:58] Lisa Woolfork: And, and remember [00:50:00] y'all, there is a contest that you still have time to enter to get these lovely and absolutely. 10 fact quarters and a button and a postcard. So you get all these treats that are available to you. If you follow black women's stitch follow cultural expressions and on the cultural expressions page tag, a friend, and you all can both be entered to win this amazing fabric, bundle it up with the button.
[00:50:29] Lisa Woolfork: It is gorgeous. Lisa, thank you so much. This has been amazing.
[00:50:34] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: Thank you. It's been fun.
[00:50:46] Lisa Sheperd Stewart: You've been listening to the stitch, please podcast the official podcast of black
[00:50:51] Lisa Woolfork: women's stitch, the sewing group. Where black lives matter. We appreciate you supporting us by listening to the podcast. If you'd like to reach out with, to us with [00:51:00] questions, you can contact us at black women's stitch@gmail.com.
[00:51:03] Lisa Woolfork: If you'd like to support us financially, you can do that by supporting us on Patreon, P a T R E O N. And you can find black women's stitch there in the Patreon directory. And for as little as $2 a month, you can help support the project with things like. Transcripts and other things to strengthen the podcast.
[00:51:22] Lisa Woolfork: And finally, if financial support is not something you can do right now, you can really, really help the podcast by rating it and reviewing it anywhere. You listen to podcasts that allows you to review them. So I know that not all podcast directories or services allow for reviews, but for those who. Do for those that have like a star rating or just ask for a few comments, if you could share those comments and say nice things about us at the stitch please podcast.
[00:51:51] Lisa Woolfork: That is incredibly helpful. Thank you so much. Come back next week and we'll help you get your stitch together.[00:52:00]

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

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