Object: screen used to print Sara Selepouchin’s ”anatomical heart diagram”
Location: Girls Can Tell‘s studio/boutique off of East Passyunk Ave., South Philly
Background: Six years ago, Selepouchin started making diagram-style illustrations for friends. She was inspired by the instruction manuals that came with her grandmother’s sewing machine and with her own Holga camera. Trained as an architect, she was already skilled in mechanical drawing but she didn’t know how to screen-print. She asked some friends to teach her, then opened one of Etsy’s earliest shops to sell her merch.
Selepouchin has since left architecture behind (she also did a stint working for Etsy, building their Teams Program) and runs Girls Can Tell full-time, selling her tea towels, felt coasters, recycled cotton lunch bags, and onesies, wholesale to boutiques around the country. Selepouchin says she talks to the guy who supplies her 100% cotton, milled-in-the-U.S. towels more often than she talks to her mom (and she talks to her mom a lot).
anatomical sweet heart flour sack tea towels, $14/pair
Context: The screens are made by a mom-and-pop shop in Kensington. Selepouchin supplies the illustrations on tracing paper (like this burger illo, pictured below next to the same illo on a lunch bag).
Making screens for screen printing is this shop’s niche. They recycle the wooden frames, which range from pristine to beautifully battered. All lined up like this in Selepouchin’s studio, they’re a formidable, handsome symbol of body of work.
I think the screens are also a compelling contrast to the high-tech tools that made her success possible. Screen printing dates back to the Song Dynasty (960 AD), but Selepouchin built her business via Etsy (not to mention lots of old-fashioned blood, sweat, tears, and talent). Her mother and father studied, respectively, fashion and graphic design. “If the Internet had been around,” she says, “they probably would’ve been able to make a go of it.” Instead her father worked as a salesman and her mother as a housewife.
What would have the elderly Italian-American tailor who occupied this spot off of East Passyunk Ave. made of Etsy? His business was, presumably, hyper-local and neighborhood-based, like a lot of the older-generation businesses that remain in this slowly gentrifying community. Here, stores selling communion dresses coexist with artisanal sandwich shops. Selepouchin moved in nearly a year ago, but she says people still stop in to ask when he’s coming back.
[towels image from girlscantell.com]Pin It