About Fashion Activism

by Celine Semaan Vernon

"Fashion means more than clothing here. It's about defending a choice."


"Fashion means more than clothing here. It's about defending a choice."Hailey Gates explores global fashion scenes and addresses many issues the industry often ignores. STATES OF UNDRESS premieres March 30 on VICELAND - watch online now for free

Posted by VICELAND on Friday, March 18, 2016

Filed under: fashion activism

The One-Woman Syrian Rescue Mission

by Amina Suleimamagich

Meet Nawal Soufi, a Morrocan-Italian woman living in a town in Italy where a high number of refugees arrive. Since 2013, she has been travelling to places in Syria most affected by violence to help families in danger. Read more about how they call her "Lady SOS" and how she manages two cellphones for her cause.

Filed under: fashion activism we are home

Up-cycled Bags Made from Boats and Life Jackets of Syrian Refugees

by Amina Suleimamagich

Watch how this Dutch Fashion Designer went to Lesbos, Greece and developed a method to up-cycle boats and life jackets of Syrian refugees. Her method includes only 3 simple steps to make these bags and she led workshops with the refugees to teach them how to make the bags.
Bags Made From Boats and Life Jackets

From boats to backpacks: volunteers in Greece are turning discarded boats and life jackets into bags for refugees.

Posted by AJ+ on Monday, March 7, 2016

Filed under: fashion activism universe we are home

Portraits series - Marwa

by Celine Semaan Vernon

“I was in seventh grade and I’d passed the official exams but I knew it was the end of my schooling,” says Marwa. “We are a family of six and my parents want to give a basic education for my other siblings too. So they couldn’t afford to pay my high school fees. That’s why I dropped out of school.”
When Marwa saw ANERA’s vocational education poster in a community center in Beirut’s southern suburb, she says it changed everything and renewed her dream of finishing school. She didn’t hesitate to apply. After Marwa got the scholarship she wanted to enroll in mechanical engineering. “But the supervisor told me this specialty was only open to men, so I chose architectural drawing,” Marwa explains. “Even though architecture was not my first choice, I managed to be the best of my class for all three years!”

She is now at the American University of Science and Technology studying mechatronic engineering.


Filed under: anera fashion activism from the ground stories we are home

What do you want to be when you grow up?

by Celine Semaan Vernon

This post is via BuzzFeed

The United Nations has registered almost 4.6 million refugees from Syria since fighting broke out in the country several years ago. Of those, almost 2.4 million are 17 and under.

The International Rescue Committee recently sent photographer Meredith Hutchison to meet with young girls in two refugee camps in Jordan and ask them about their hopes and dreams.
The project, called Vision Not Victim, saw the girls draw pictures of what they want to be when they grew up, now that they have escaped war.
Each girl then participated in a photo shoot based on the drawings to pose as their grown-up selves. They were even given copies of the photos to show their families and keep with them as a reminder of their goals.
Here are some of the photos, along with words from the girls writing as their future selves:

Haja, 12, future astronaut

Meredith Hutchison/International Rescue Committee

“Ever since we studied the solar system in primary school, I have wanted to be an astronaut. I would imagine myself up in the sky discovering new things. I love being an astronaut because it lets me see the world from a new angle. In this society my path was not easy — many people told me a girl can’t become an astronaut. Now that I have achieved my goals, I would tell young girls with aspirations to not be afraid, to talk to their parents about what they want and why, to always be confident and know where you want to go.”

Rama, 13, future doctor

Meredith Hutchison/International Rescue Committee

“Walking down the street as a young girl in Syria or Jordan, I encountered many people suffering — sick or injured — and I always wanted to have the power and skills to help them. Now, as a great physician in my community, I have that ability. Easing someone’s pain is the most rewarding aspect of my job. To be able to give them relief and make them smile — this is what I love most.”

Muntaha, 12, future photographer

Meredith Hutchison/International Rescue Committee

“Since I was a young girl I loved taking people’s photographs. I loved going to different events and documenting what was happening — both the good and bad. Now, as a professional photographer I use my images to inspire hope in others — to encourage love and understanding.”

Filed under: fashion activism from the ground stories we are home

portrait series - Adnan

by Celine Semaan Vernon

Putting a face on the anonymous 1.14 million crowd of in Lebanon.

In this new series in partnership with ANERA for our We Are Home campaign, we share from the ground stories of Syrian students in ANERA's Education program based in refugee camps in Lebanon. We Are Home helps fund this initiative. Proceeds from our sales will provide desperately needed job skills training for refugees in Lebanon.

Three years ago in Homs, Syria, a stray bullet from a sniper hit Adnan in his spinal cord. It put him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. His family fled the war and moved to Lebanon, where Adnan had several surgeries to keep him alive. 

He started at a public school in northern Lebanon, but the building was not designed for students in wheelchairs. He dropped out.

Last year,Adnan joined ANERA’s program to pursue his education and his dream of becoming an electrical engineer. The courses are held in a friendly space designed to be accessible to the most vulnerable. He also gets reliable care and assistance and transportation to and from class.
"Everything about this program makes me happy," says Adnan.


Learn more about our partnership with ANERA and how you can join our cause.

Filed under: anera fashion activism from the ground stories we are home

The Key

by Celine Semaan Vernon

We manufactured these keys in #Beirut molded from the key of our home. This key is an homage to refugees who wear their home keys around their necks. Proceeds from this key will fund training and education initiatives for syrian refugees in #lebanon in partnership with ANERA
?? #wearehome #slowfactory#spring2016 #fashionactivism Available for preorder on March 1st to our #guestlist only! So *sign up* #whitegold #fairtrade#madeinlebanon #lebanesedesigners

Image by Meredith Truax for Slow Factory. Model Amina Suleimamagish.

Filed under: collection fashion activism we are home

We Are Home - SS2016 Collection

by Celine Semaan Vernon

Introducing: WE ARE HOME our SS2016 Collection.

We will be launching this collection over the course of the next two months on our Instagram account! If you aren't following us, you totally should now!

Rainbow of #clouds part of "We Are Home" our 2016 Collection. A poetic voyage around the #Earth ??

A photo posted by Slow Factory (@theslowfactory) on

We have our head in the #clouds today ☄How was your #monday ? #artist #michaelchase

A photo posted by Slow Factory (@theslowfactory) on

Interrupting your feed with a #sneakpeek of our SS16 #bts "Les voyageurs de l'espace" #georgesperec #thinkpink

A photo posted by Slow Factory (@theslowfactory) on

This collection of NASA images of 1) clouds as seen from space in the hopes to inspire an Overview Effect*, a mental shift that happens to astronauts when they see the Earth floating in space for the first time, 2) people looking in awe at the Apollo lift off 3) images of the Earth taken from space.

In an effort to infuse social responsibility with empathy and respond to the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, Slow Factory has created the WE ARE HOME Fund & Collection to support humanitarian aid to refugees across the region.


The overview effect is a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts and cosmonauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from orbit or from the lunar surface.

Join us on Instagram!

Filed under: fashion activism made in italy overview effect silk we are home

How to run an ethical fashion business in New York as a mom, without credit or investment

by Celine Semaan Vernon

I am 3 days away from going into labor with my second child. Three years ago, shortly after giving birth to my first child in 2012, I started Slow Factory; an online design boutique that creates limited edition silk scarves with digital prints of NASA images. I had been rejected from all the design schools I applied to, from Paris to Montreal because I was considered “too artsy, too fine-arts”. After I graduated from Cyber-Arts and Computation Arts at Concordia in Montreal, I realized that being coined (labeled) as “too artsy, too fine arts,” was actually a blessing in disguise. It meant that I understood one or two secrets in this world;

1) L’art c’est la vie - Art is life.

2) You can be anything when you believe it (this I learned from my performance and video art days).

I ended up as a successful self-made interaction designer and user-experience designer for HUGE Inc. in Brooklyn, New York and thereafter, onto start my own consultancy Le Design Team inc.

I started working as a designer and used Google to figure out anything I didn’t know, from fonts to typography, layout, interaction design and documented everything on a personal blog that got me to be discovered for this new job in New York at HUGE inc. in 2008. Later on that same blog got me to become a UX Design instructor at General Assembly for two years. I taught students and professionals such as an entire department at Condé Nast, Trip Advisor, and AXA France (I am fluent in French so that was easy). I went from an interaction designer to a fashion design entrepreneur while still keeping my clients and working on Slow Factory during my free moments (evenings mostly). I did this for two and a half years and up until recently, I have shifted my efforts towards Slow Factory full-time since June of this year.

Slow Factory was a young company, when I moved back to New York from Montreal, and because I am Canadian, I didn’t yet have any credit history, so couldn’t really get myself a credit card or a line of credit. The 3 C’s, that I am sharing below helped me save money, focus and use my time wisely and my creativity to get my company off the ground. In a year our products were sold at the MoMA Store, worn by style icons that I admire such as Nadia Abulhosn, TK and Ciprianna Quann, and Samar Serqui de Buttafaco, featured in Vogue and closed a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund to help preserve our oceans.

The 3 C’s that inspire me:


Cooking can be therapeutic and help you save a lot of money!

I learned to cook from my mother who cooked throughout my childhood despite the fact that she was a young immigrant with three children and working full-time at her own restaurant. We had homemade Lebanese food 24/7. At the time we always complained, us kids wanted to eat out or eat regular food like the others, but looking back I am so grateful I grew up far from my country, Lebanon but yet, very close to it through the taste of my mother’s daily authentic Lebanese food. So cooking has become a big part of who I am, and part of my child’s life in New York while running a company with very little budget.


Curate your life, your closet, the kind of food you eat, the people you hang out with. Curate to enjoy life better.

    Have you read the book ‘The life-Changing Magic of Tidying up’? This book teaches you how to keep less than 30 items in your closet that bring you joy. Apply this rule to everything else: books, music, objects you keep around, and even food! When you feel good about it, keep it, eat it, hang out with it. Curating, is the art of making collections, telling stories and better defining who you are.

    In the online open-knowledge culture, we say that curating and dj-ing are pretty much the same thing. The time when you used to create a mixtape cassette for your friend or your crush: that was curating 101! Moving back to New York after Montreal with a one year-old was a big deal! I had to curate our life’s inventory to fit a New York sized apartment. All the lessons I’ve learned curating my new life and embracing minimalism, I applied to my business. The “less is more” mantra can be relevant to running your business too. For example, when deciding on the upcoming collections, (aside from having constraints like wanting to use eco-friendly dye and material, fair-trade production, materials with minimal impact on the environment, and quality) I also had strict constraints about the meaning and the story of the product itself. I am very mindful of a product's ecosystem. From its inception through its life-cycle. While in Paris, studying in art school I quickly learned: “Knowing when to stop” is a valuable insight and in Brooklyn, as a designer at a major design firm I quickly learned that “self-imposing constraints” is something I have control over. Good design is knowing how to gracefully navigate constraints and come up with a delightful experience and product. Define and create your own constraints, whatever values you have, that can help you better create products that will bring you joy.


      Channeling your insecurities, fears, creativity is key in maintaining a productive rhythm as an entrepreneur

      Make up your own rules, do what you need to do to find what’s best for you, but the goal is that you must channel positive and negative emotions in a constructive way. First lesson I learned is don’t take anything personal! It’s easy to when you get a bad attitude from a sales rep, or someone hanging up in your face. Perhaps it’s also the kind of wisdom you acquire when raising a two year old. These emotions are tourists; they come, they go and they shouldn't leave a trace, shouldn’t pollute your well-being. Let it go.

      Fear. Fear is your friend. If you try to push fear away, fear will become this needy annoying creepy friend that will keep calling you and drive you to the verge of a nervous breakdown. Talk to fear, sit down with it over coffee, have a chat like in a David Lynch movie. Fear is complex. It comes in many forms. Sometimes it can be in the form of a voice recorded in your brain (the brain is an amazing recording machine!). Listen to the message. Accept it. It’s shining a light on something you must deal with from within. Rumi comes to mind here, “The wound is where the light enters”. I find myself talking to fear so many times a week, and out loud sometimes too. “Hey okay, I heard you! Thank you! But I’m going to jump anyway because I am more afraid not to jump then to actually go for it, so I appreciate your input there, Fear, but I’m okay.” And Fear understands. Mindful meditation helps.

      Creativity. Hi Creativity! What an awesome idea! I’m so excited! I can feel it working! I know exactly how to make this work except we don’t have the budget for it! OMG Fear just heard me! Okay Okay, let’s break it down together and see how we can work it out. I’ll go for a walk.

      These are some of my experimental methods dealing with channeling these genies into productive work and I am nowhere close to having found the holy grail. I feel that we all go through these emotions and talking about it with peers and sharing our own homemade remedies can be very inspiring and helpful.

      These are the three C’s that make it possible for me to run an online company from a studio in Brooklyn. Building my network of trusted collaborators and peers, creating collections that both raise awareness and funds to support causes that are important to me and raise my little family with the culture that I come from despite the fact that we are millions of miles away.

      I really wanted to share the 3 C’s with you and somehow as a message in a bottle to my future self, the one who will try to figure out how to balance life again after giving birth to a second child. I’m hoping this will help me in the future focus, laugh, and keep on keeping on growing Slow Factory into a sustainable - slow and steady - online business that creates a bigger and bigger impact each year.

      Filed under: dear diary entrepreneur life fashion activism fashion revolution inspiration