Hello! My name is Mika Nobles, and I’m senior English major pursuing a Japanese minor. I’m doing a year-long internship working as consultant for the director of Conservation through Poverty Alleviation, International (CPALI), Dr. Catherine Craig. While the organization works out of Madagascar, my internship is based right here in Walla Walla. The wild silk market is vast and thriving, so I’m proud to be an active participant in the industry. I do all my work with Cay at her home, ironing and photographing textiles. The long-term, multi-step project on which Cay and I are currently working is a portfolio we can send to potential buyers. We’re working hard to exhibit our textiles in museums since, though the textiles have practical value, they are also beautiful pieces of art. Marketing is a vital component to CPALI’s growth, which is why we’re putting together an intriguing, professional portfolio of textiles. We’re working to expand our options by sending this portfolio to a wide variety of venues, like wineries, hotels, and restaurants. Our portfolio will have around 20 professional-grade pictures of our textiles, sketches of the textiles, a team biography, and an artist statement describing our mission. This semester I’ve been helping Cay prepare the textiles for photographing, photoshopping the images, taking inventory of our textiles on excel, and preserving textiles in plastic wrap.
Ironing and selecting the best textiles to showcase is a delicate and long step in the process. Raffia, shibori weaves, brocera, and more varieties require special treatment, and different methods of photography are required to show the different stitching and textures. By showcasing our products in a clean, concise manner, we intend to get the attention of different museums. We can expand by making strong connections with and garnering exposure through niche galleries in Washington and Oregon. We’re starting smaller, networking within our means and sending our products to local galleries and academic settings in the Pacific Northwest, similar to the Sheehan gallery here at Whitman. WSU, Reed, Columbia Arts Gallery, and Lewis and Clark are only a few of the colleges we’ve contacted or are in the process of contacting about CPALI. An important aspect of my internship is learning to tailor the portfolio according to our audience, so we’ve been brainstorming different ways to market textiles, like modelling them as clothes or draping them over furniture for more compositional value and versatility.
Because the portfolio project is so time-consuming, we’re using Etsy to market our products on the side. The textiles can be used for interior decorating, display in galleries, practical usage (like table runners, place mats, or curtains), so Etsy is an ideal online marketing strategy. Facilitating these orders is hard work, too, but getting our message to the public is a rewarding experience, and one that leads to connections across the country, opening up endless possibilities for our versatile textiles. The portfolio is intended to elevate CPALI and allow the nonprofit to gain exposure as a member of the art world. Global interactions is a large part of our organization, and having a concise summary of what we do in the form of a booklet not only helps spread the word, but is essential to our growth as a non-profit.