Jess Turner is a badass. As COO and Studio Coordinator of Alabama Chanin, she has been the right hand to founder Natalie Chanin in building a reputation as a leader in the world of sustainable design for over two decades. Jess and I have gotten to know each other over the past two years as we shared a dream of a future collaboration that gave a new life to old textiles, which came to life as the Reclaimed Collection in 2023.
Alabama Chanin is in the midst of a revolutionary transition into Project Threadways, a 501c3 (read more on that here) that aims to "connect people, places, and materials through design, making, and education—with cultural heritage, craft preservation, and creative placemaking at the core" of their work. I sat down with Jess to ask about the visionary move the company is taking, and of course to get her to answers to a few of our favorite questions.
Tell us about the changes and growth happening at Alabama Chanin and why it’s important.
Talk about a plot twist. At the start, I was envisioning a sea of tasks, thinking, "How on earth are we gonna pull this off?" But guess what? As these changes unfold, they're turning out to be a breeze. They're not just simpler than expected; they're elevating us and bringing us closer to our mission. The whole ride has been like a rollercoaster of momentum, and it's all because we're staying true to our core purpose. That's the magic ingredient that makes this change not just necessary but a game-changer. It paves the way forward and unites us in a common purpose, making work feel like a thrilling adventure. It's important that as the organization continues the vision and mission embedded in the preservation of craft and community comes to the forefront, and that the business model has an opportunity to inspire others that it's possible to do meaningful work and still drive positive social and environmental impact.
Personal motto: "Love the one in front of you."
Dream car: 1956 Jaguar XK140 Roadster from "Cruel Intentions"
Favorite bumper sticker: Don't bumper stickers make a car look dirty?
Vacation read: My Powersheets planner - Quiet time for organization and creating margin in life is, in my opinion, one of the best sources of relaxation.
Next trip: Paris
Coffee order: Americano + steamed heavy cream
Road snack: Peanuts + popcorn
Early bird or night owl: Night Owl
Driver’s seat or shotgun: Driver's seat
Soundtrack: If I'm in a bad mood, Dolly Parton. If I'm commuting to football practice, gymnastics, dance classes, baseball tournaments, or driving to yoga, it's Hip Hop. And if I'm alone and the windows are down it's Trevor Hall, Punch Brothers, and all the folk and bluegrass that comes to mind - and loud.
Epic travel story: When I was just 14 years old my mom allowed me and a friend to move from small town Alabama to Brooklyn Heights by ourselves for a whole summer. We took the train every day into Greenwich Village to dance at Joffrey Ballet and toured the city on weekends. Crazy.
Far West favorites: The Far West robe is iconic. Alabama Chanin x Far West's indigo tote for every day. The gorgeous Traveler bag for future inspirations. And the batik duvet and fringe linen throws are dreamy. I love the signature and bold colors of Far West's textile greatness!