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CHEmlab – A Story of Collaboration And Friendship Through Tough Times

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collaboration, fashion

CHEmlab – A Story of Collaboration And Friendship Through Tough Times

Being an artist or maker, and owning your own small business can be incredibly exhilarating, but the flipside is, it can also be incredibly lonely. I have always yearned to collaborate with another maker, but finding the right partner is not as easy as it seems. Turns out, finding a good match for collaboration is as tricky as finding a great life partner… or a well fitting swimsuit (don’t even get me started). You have to find an equally matched person when it comes to enthusiasm, work ethic, and spirit. And you have to genuinely like each other. It takes a lot for those puzzle pieces to finally click.

How Chitra met Emily

In September 2019 I took part in the Crafty Arts Festival, and my booth was right across from the Scout and Indiana booth. I looked across and thought
“Her set up is so sophisticated, everything looks so cool, how does she do that? I wish my booth looked that good, ooh I want to buy a couple of those shirts, OMG LOOK AT HER HAIR!!! I wonder if she is nice?”
So, I walked over, bought a couple of shirts and introduced myself. Turns out that Emily (the owner of Scout and Indiana and very cool hair) followed Noctiluna on Instagram, and was very, very nice. I asked if she wanted to come over to my studio, and she did a week later. The jigsaw pieces just clicked. We both got on really well, bonded instantly over the same nerdy interests and (bonus) didn’t live too far from each other. We even liked each other’s kids. I mean come on.
Whenever Emily and I get to meet up (or, more recently, FaceTime) there is squealing and jumping up and down when we see each other’s faces and share ideas. Over the past year or so, the partnership has got me through the isolation and hardship that Covid bought, and saved my motivation to work from total collapse.
Despite not being able to meet up anymore after March 2020, we had so many ideas for collaborations that we came up with a separate label for them. CHEMlab is a mashup of both of our names (CHitra and EMily) and has a nerdy sound that fits both our personalities. The lab part also alludes to the idea of us cooking up all sorts of creative experiments together, like mad scientists. Our husbands both responded to the name with an unimpressed ‘meh’, so we took that as very good reason to just go with it.

I print, Emily sews, and we make masks, jackets, and now…

The Latest Project

Our latest project is a collection of the CUTEST rompers, pinafores, and aprons. I hand print and heat press yards of fabric, send it to Emily, and she whips up these beauties on her sewing machine.

These are available for preorder on both of our websites, and I hope it is the start of something big, because we LOVE making them, and have recently been able to meet up again in person (yay!). We would really appreciate any feedback you may have for us. What should we make next?

About Author

Artist, Educator, Parent, Small Business Owner, Big kid from a big city, in a small town.

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