the real story: TEDx

WEEK 66 - OCTOBER 24, 2012

A couple of months ago, Matt and I accepted the kind invitation from TEDxAtlanta to give a TED talk.

With a massive amount of support from the TEDxAtlanta team and our team at imogene + willie, we spent weeks preparing for the talk. Formal outlines were submitted, the story was written, then… we had to put it into speakable words. That’s where the shit hit the fan!

Four days prior to heading to Atlanta for the talk, we locked the doors at our house and had a shut-in with Elise, Jonathan, Jessica and Joe from our team. We tried every which way to “speak” the presentation that TED had approved. And every which way just got worse and worse. I would get on Matt’s case, and then he on mine. Everything sounded so canned and scripted. We got in screaming matches trying to figure it out. Elise, Jonathan and Jess would just coach us through it and love on us, trying any way possible to get us to just let it flow.

But it just wasn’t.

So we flew to Atlanta on that 4th day. Matt and I sat separately on the plane, and just like studying for an exam the night before the final – we each madly scribbled notes in our own words, hoping that was the final solution to make it all come out right.

We arrived to the venue that night for our rehearsal. All I can say: you all would have crawled under your chair out of embarrassment. We bombed it. It was horrible. We just couldn’t figure it out.

The TED folks had chosen us for a reason. And we were letting them down.

We went back to the hotel at 10pm. Matt asked me to call TED and tell them that he was really sick and that we couldn’t make it the next morning, which was the day of the talk. Whatever! We could not give up.

So, sitting there in that hotel room, I ripped up any documentation either of us had of the presentation and we agreed to just tell another story. The real story, exactly how it is. We didn’t have an ounce left in us to talk it out that night, so we woke up at 6am and starting telling EACH OTHER our story. Suddenly, we got a good back and forth rhythm. Why? Because we were just telling it like it is. We kept talking back and forth to each other, even in the car from the hotel to the venue. When we got out of the car, the driver said, “Kids, I think you got it.”

We walked up on that stage with no definite plan, other than telling it like it is… TOGETHER. We had each other, so there was no way to fail. We started free styling a true story about the demise of production in America. All of a sudden, it came to us easily… it rolled off our tongues, because even in our short lives, we have both lived through and been directly affected by the really amazing boom of apparel manufacturing in this country. And then the painful crash.

If you have 18 minutes to spare, we would be honored for you to watch. It might give you better insight in to why we make clothes the way that we do… and why sometimes, they take longer to be made than both you or us would like. Almost 4 years ago, we made a commitment to each other, our employees and our customers to make things in America. But, there’s not much about that that’s easy. The situation that we share in the TED talk is why our men’s collection is later than we would like this year. It will make more sense when you watch. But at long last, the first of the men’s goods are ready today!

If you are an advocate or consumer of imogene + willie, take note: going forward, we are going to experiment a bit with how and when we offer new pieces to you. It dawned on us in the past months: why in the world do we have to follow the rules and make a “spring” and “fall” collection? What we make really isn’t a collection anyway! And we only sell it in our store! All our “collection” represents is just thoughtfully designed staple pieces that we love, in hopes that you feel the same. And with the manufacturing environment being as it is in the states at this time – why cram too much down the skinny pipeline and be frustrated when it gets “stuck?”

So expect things from us more often, not just twice a year. Don’t be surprised if it’s every month. Or just whenever we are inspired to make you something good!

We talk a lot in the TED talk about how the demise of production in America is killing our dreams. Well, guess what? We aren’t going to let it!

With love and so much thanks to all of you,
Carrie + Matt