We had the good fortune of connecting with Galadriel Mattei and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Galadriel, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
I struggle with the question of continuing on or moving in a different direction regularly. It relates to other overarching life questions and concerns. I have an endless list of ways in which I want to be a part of and contribute to the larger world and community. I studied feminist theory at UCLA, and remain keenly interested in bioethics as regards gender, natalist policies and the environment. This is the existential struggle, how one decision potentially, precludes other possibilities. Given unlimited time and resources, I envision an endless flow chart of different careers/endeavors. But, neither do I want to move away from my business which has grown exponentially since its infancy in 2006. When I started doing trade shows no one else was offering shibori / hand-dyed reclaimed cashmere accessories and sweaters. Unlike other lines, I was the entire company: the designer, the maker, the accountant and the rep. To this day, I am all of those things and I still dye each piece; not a single garment leaves the studio without passing through my hands. Running a micro-business is completely immersive and challenging. The all-consuming nature of the process and the work is simultaneously, the most invigorating and frustrating aspects of the entire experience.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am equal parts excited about the changing conversations around post-colonialism, gender/sexuality, and terrified about the environmental prognosis. I believe the challenge is to create a nimble and relevant personal/work environment and culture, which speaks to these concerns and disavows the schizophrenia of either/or. How do we/I best engage with resources in a way that reduces the impact of human material practices on the planet? Constructing “things” makes this an ongoing dialogue and a real concern. I love the process of reconfiguring, rethinking, and reanimating material things. I take immense pleasure interacting with the folks who adopt the cashmere kids from The Threadbare Lab. But, at times, I am unclear if the joy I experience in the making of material things can be justified in the greater global context. For these reasons, I am deeply invested in utilizing eco-friendly fabrics, reclaimed and natural, and following an ethical business ethos. I am inspired and thrilled by the new generations, new humans, and new technologies fighting to save the planet.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The poor folks would be exhausted! From hiking in the Santa Monica mountains and Beachwood Canyon, to Venice and the Huntington Dog Beach, we would be traipsing all over the place. I think Watts Towers is a must for all visitors. As regards food, I like to support small local businesses like the Metro Cafe and La Cevicheria. For music and community, nothing compares to the Cinema Bar and the Last Bookstore in DTLA. And of course, no trip would be complete without a tour of my home the Threadbare Lab. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am surrounded by a remarkable group of folks, from family, to friends, to my crew. Contributions from this network range from the random abstract to the minute concrete. My mother, Amaya, is among other things, a mehndi artist. Her unconventional choices have directly informed my own understanding of survival, and the straddling of the financial/life-meaning conundrum. During intensely busy production cycles, she will come and help with hand-sewing, but mostly she is their to shift my brain away from the stress. My extended family has made their diverse skillsets available to me throughout the development of this endeavor: Giorgio, Mitch, Dave & Keith. This crew has orchestrated trunk shows, photographed line sheets, and offered advice, unlimited encouragement and humor. Additionally,I have been fortunate to work in the studio trenches with, incredibly bright and talented folks both in the past and the present: Janne, Jessica, Viktor B, Katie, Dahlia, Courtney and Sheryl. Lastly, and of the utmost importance, is my current partnership with Stork Lawrence. Together we have relocated and built out two studio spaces, travelled across the country and overseas for trade shows, and reconfigured the online and physical functionality of the business.
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