In the United States, the resurgence of handmade, artisan goods is hard to miss. Thoughtful, human-made products have gained so much popularity that they’ve begun to supersede their industrial rivals. It’s a post-Industrial Revolution equipping talented makers in this country to make a living at an art or a craft. They’re risk-takers and subculture heroes, inspiring anyone with a dream of making things by hand, or pursuing a slower, more deliberate career. But in most of the world, efficiency and high volume still yield the biggest bottom dollar, and handmade crafts don’t carry the same hardwon hype.
In a way, Molly Babineaux stands out among the makers, artisans, and craftsmen who daily risk their livelihood on the popularity of their craft. She doesn’t make furniture or jewelry or some one-of-a-kind art. She makes decisions, and ones that help keep an ancient art alive around the world. She’s a testament to the impact of handmade products, and their innate worth. A savvy adventurer with an eye for beauty, she’s made it her career to revive the heritage of handweaving families in Istanbul, Turkey, and cultivate a market for a rare art on the brink of extinction.
“Alice you in your Palace?”
A tiny, graying pup springs out of a built-in shelf as we swing open the door to Loomed NOLA, Molly’s shop in New Orleans’ Garden District. It’s snugly tucked in a renovated ice skating rink that once also served as a barn; open, airy, and lit by the mood of the sun. Alice holds rank as a sort of mascot for Loomed, and we can see why as she excitedly shows us around. Graphic cutouts of her in plush scarves hang from overhead, decorating the space with holiday charm. It’s almost Christmas, and they’re ready for it.
Stacks and stacks of folded cotton fabric line the shelves. Tassels jut out in various arrangements, neatly texturizing the simple white walls. The shelves that house the honorable “Alice’s Palace” also host a large
line-drawn poster, demonstrating the use of these beautiful mysteries populating the shelves below. The amount of cotton in the room overwhelms, like a tidal wave of clouds to the senses. It’s in this mesmerized state that we learn how Loomed NOLA began.