Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Presented at “Textiles and Settlement: From Plains Space to Cyber Space,” Textile Society of America 12th Biennial Symposium, Lincoln, Nebraska, October 6-9, 2010. Copyright 2010 Textile Society of America.


Two entrepreneurs from North Carolina went to the International Textile Machinery Association exposition in Paris, in 1999. Opening their own mill was a possibility. However, the “state of the art” in industrial textile machinery was not to make interesting fabric, but to make a lot of it, and fast. Of course the machine manufacturers would cater to the demands of the textile manufacturers, but those manufacturers had begun failing in “western” countries—North America and Europe.

By mid-2000 the American textile industry would be unrecognizable. The two went to the next exhibit, in Birmingham, England, in 2003, and saw more of the same, but greatly diminished. And so the inevitable has happened, the industry and its capital have fled the continent. In the race to produce goods as cheaply as possible, advanced countries will always lose.

Being entrepreneurs, and wanting to do things better, the two saw an opportunity. One of these entrepreneurs is an economist, the other a Jacquard specialist. Both had been educators. The answer, they were convinced, was to start a mill:
• Having a variety of looms, each set up differently, maximizing flexibility;
• Utilizing and valuing real skill in workers;
• Organizing a sane and cooperative workplace to create beautiful fabrics;
• Making business decisions in support of sustainability and the highest quality possible in all areas.

I will tell their story.