Between 1990 and 2011, the U.S. lost approximately 750,000 apparel manufacturing jobs. And hence, The Whole Works was launched with the intention of reinvigorating American clothing manufacturing while creating sustainable, dignified jobs. To know The Whole Works is to experience their ecosystem — a passionate collective of sewers, designers, client-partners, educators and operators.
A Colorado collaboration. One stitch at a time.
Business partnerships can be the key to unlocking innovation. And when leaders from diverse industry sectors come together, the outcomes can be transformative. A project of Something Independent, CO:BUILT explores the collaborative nature of discovery by looking at relationships that began with a need for invention and have resulted in the development of new processes, products and partnerships.
“Rifle is the type of place where the community rallies to get things moving, and the appetite is keen for industries that are not as tied to the boom and bust of the extractive industries. We are all in on the idea of Rifle being at the forefront of a new model of american manufacturing.” — Rachel Pokrandt, Rifle Campus Dean, Colorado Mountain College
“We want to bring American manufacturing back to the U.S. We want to replicate what we are doing in Rifle. Rather than building one $40 million business, we want to build 40 $1 million businesses, lifting up 40 rural Colorado towns.” — Kelly Alford, Co-Founder, The Whole Works
“Apparel manufacturing is usually behind the scenes, people are fascinated by this little factory right on Main Street.” — Sadye Harvey, Co-Founder, The Whole Works
“It’s rewarding to see that this is working. To see our sewers, the pride they have when they finish these seemingly impossible projects and to see our work out there in the world is really incredible.” — Sadye Harvey
“When we found The Whole Works, light bulbs went off .” Darcy Conover, Co-Founder, Corbeaux, Aspen-based makers of stylish and functional, base layer athletic apparel
“I thought I knew how to sew. But, our work here is quite technical and unique. Everyday I learn new things and become more efficient, become a better sewer.” — Mayka Maloney, Head Sample Sewer and Production Sewer
“We want to be a very human place. But at the end of the day we are a production factory, we are running a business. It’s a fine line we walk.” — Kelly Alford
“We’ve seen what amounts to a generation passed, where this craft and profession has not been passed down. Valuable skills have been lost.” — Julia Monroe, Production Manager, The Whole Works
“I think the opportunities are evident. Small batch manufacturing is catching on across the state. Towns like Sterling and others down in the San Luis Valley are starting to see this as a viable opportunity for jobs and scaled growth.” — Luis Benitez, Director, Colorado Office of Outdoor Recreation Industries
“That we have clients right down the road, young companies themselves, committed to local and ethical production sewing, is an incredible validator. We are all partners in something bigger here.” — Kelly Alford
“It’s truly a gift to be surrounded by such beautiful scenery and work in an open and airy factory.” — Mayka Maloney
The Whole Works is the 2015 winner of The Wright Award. Presented annually by Something Independent, The Wright is awarded to a Colorado company recognized for their enterprising spirit and the role they play in inspiring the next generation of leaders.
The images here are the work of Colorado photographer, Jack Ludlam, and shot in special collaboration with Something Independent.
Through his images, Ludlam brings to light the people and processes behind the production of seemingly everyday goods or services. His work captures a deeper portrait of an approach to life and work that is meaningful, reliable and inspirational. His work includes feature galleries on behalf of Filson, Topo Designs, Avery County Cycles and Berkeley Supply Co. Ludlam’s photography is regularly featured at SVPER ORDINARY Gallery in Denver. A new exhibition of original works will go on display in June 2016 at Regis University’s O’Sullivan Art Gallery.
A special CO:BUILT photo exhibit featuring the works of Jack Ludlam and Chris Haugen will be on display at the Colorado State Capitol June-August 2016, as part of the Colorado Creative Industries rotating art exhibition program celebrating Colorado’s creative economy.
CO:BUILT is a project of Something Independent.
With special thanks to: