At the beginning of the 20th century women were still not allowed to paint anywhere apart from their family homes, their male contemporaries were portraying a far wider repertoire of subject matter, from nudes in brothels to plein air landscapes, needlework and sewing however were very much the realm of women’s expected pass times. Emancipation meant not only did it become possible to see the inner workings of a woman’s mind through her art in a gallery space, women were starting to lean in to take the double prize- to be mothers and get onto career ladders (minus cross stitch, as time became scarce). Today we see a slow shift from aspiring 9-5 corporate jobs to women choosing work which allows them more flexibility and meaning. Sewing, weaving, embroidery are the ‘new’ creative empowering tools which no longer define a woman’s boundaries, but quite on the contrary open up new communities and with them opportunities that enable change and unity. Today we talk to Raven Stralow, an NYC therapist who runs a Lavender farm and a sewing blog by the name of Paloma Projects.
Tell us a bit about yourself and why you sew.
I am a psychotherapist and life coach in NYC. I also own and operate a small Lavender Farm. Sewing is my self care. It’s how I relax, disconnect, and unwind after a long day.
My home is my farm. I get to live a life where I have a lovely office in Manhattan, and the rest of my time I get to spend on a farm, tending to my lavender, and in my studio sewing and creating things.
Can you talk us through a failure or a setback in your business that you learned from or an experience that helped improve your business.
Running a farm is hard! Bad rains and bad weather can delay plans for up to years. When we bought our farm we had a timeline for when and how things would get done. The learning curve is so steep whenever you are doing things for the first time. Having consistent, weekly meetings is key to staying on the same page and adjusting plans accordingly. Otherwise you risk miscommunication and that can cost your time, effort and money.
Name a book that you’ve recently read which inspired you and why?
Janet Mocks ‘Redefining Realness’ was amazing. She is such an inspiring person. My husband and I went to see her read from this book when we first met. It took me years to buy it though.
What was the first thing you ever remember making on your own? Tell us about this memory.
Both my grandmothers were seamstresses. I learned from sight and made my first item at 5 years old. With the needle and thread, and some scraps, I made my barbie a dress. I remember sticking my fingers a few times too.
How important is social media to your business?
As a therapist social media has been somewhat helpful. I have an ongoing advice column that I write. Wellness is huge on Instagram. Personally, social media has been really great in terms of helping me connect with other makers and helping me connect with wonderful companies such as this one.
What does success mean to you?
Success is something that I continuously strive to redefine for myself. When I started doing Social Work I had a very set and very idealistic idea of what success meant. In order to keep my sanity I continue to do good work I had to realize that people make changes at their own pace, and on their own time, and sometimes they never make those changes. When I’m having a bad week or a bad day sometimes getting out of bed feels like the success. For me, flexibility around the concept of success has been key to helping me feel successful.
What have you chose to make out of FS linen and why?
I chose to make a Zadie Jumpsuit by Paper Theory using FS Agave Mid Weight Linen fabric. This fabric was absolutely amazing and I wanted to make sure that I made something that I would absolutely wear all of the time. Unfortunately sometimes we make patterns that are popular but not necessarily practical; they don’t always fit into our regular lives. This pattern was getting a lot of buzz and people seemed to really love it. I saw women of all shapes and sizes wearing it and I got excited. What’s crazy is that at first I really didn’t like the pattern, it was only until I wore it a couple of times I realized I was absolutely in love and I’m so happy that I was able to use the super soft linen, as its definitely an every day wear.