Hand & Hooks is a representation of many creative outlets. In my mind most things that are esthetically pleasing or not, rather it be architecture, garments, jewelry, etc. all come from the (Hand) of an artist. Some creative mind somewhere has come up with the idea.
But in order for that idea to come to life you must have a team or labor force (Hooks). They all may be individually talented, but come together for the greater good of the big picture. Rather it be transportation of raw materials, picking cotton, constructing a building, sewing clothes, etc., it’s all done by many. It takes a team effort to make a project come to life.
Let me introduce you to Mrs. Lou Anne… She was introduced to me by a man named Gary that grows cotton and sells T-shirts in Texas. I was looking for a high quality, heavy weight T that I could use to kick off a brand idea that I had. As I got to taking with Gary, I asked if he ever come across any old industrial sewing machines, please let me know… I wanted to teach myself to sew. A week later he rings me up saying that a friend of his was interested in selling her equipment, she’s no longer is using them.
Throughout the eighties and early nineties Lou Anne would sew heavy duty work t-shirts for Gary. He would grow the cotton and have it milled and then Mrs. Lou Anne would cut and sew it with her handful of local sewers in North Texas, WAY North!!!
That was just one part of Lou Anne’s business… She was also a dress maker for JC Penny’s up until they decided to take their production to China. As the story goes, she was delivering a production run of dresses and with out any heads up they said that would be her last delivery. They were taking production elsewhere. That pretty much put the end to her factory and the jobs that she was providing for her community. I’m sure this story can be told many times over across the U.S. As you know, jobs have been lost in many different areas by the thousands. The United States lost more than 900,000 textile and apparel jobs from 1994 to 2005(United States Department of Agriculture) We are one of the largest consumers of finished textiles, but those garments are made overseas, somewhere. I don’t want to get on the band wagon and bash these other countries for taking jobs away from Americans because that is not their fault. We as a society have become accustomed to instant gratification and disposable living. They are just doing what they are hired to do. Hired by American companies… Crazy right!?
After spending sometime with Lou Anne and getting an affirmation from John Wayne, Yes John Wayne… Before lunch I walked into restroom to wash my hands and I started to question myself saying “What are you doing here?” As I go to dry my hands there was a sign with a quote from the Duke himself saying, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” I knew that I was in the right place at the right moment.
Lou Anne’s story was not only sad, but also inspiring. In fact it gave me a new direction in which I wanted to go into business and in life. I met Lou Anne in late 2012 and I started to develop Hand & Hooks in 2013. For the past two years I have been designing and sewing accessories in small batch runs. I didn’t buy that equipment from her at the time because I wouldn’t have been able to properly put them all to use. In time, my hopes would be to purchase that equipment and get them back into production. In the meantime, I will continue to cut and sew my own products and partner with other like minded people.