Interview by Laura Palmer | Illustration by Giuditta Aresi
As the holiday shopping season begins, Atlas tracks down designer-purveyour Shana Tabor. Her store In God We Trust questions, by its moniker and continued existence, the power of the American dollar. It’s a thought that’ll stay at the forefront of our minds in the coming weeks.
ATLAS: It’s quite a unique name, In God We Trust. How did you decide upon it?
TABOR: When I was first making jewelry, before I opened the store, I was sitting at the workbench for ten days straight and not talking to anyone, and getting rather philosophical. There were all these coins on the bench, and I was looking at them and considering the counties motto, and thinking “What is important to us as Americans and as consumers? How do we value our time and money?” There’s such a strong connection between these things, and I started to question, and wanted my customers to question, that connection: “What does ‘In God We Trust’ mean and does it matter?”
ATLAS: Tell us a bit about your background, how did that influence the aesthetic of In God We Trust?
TABOR: I’m from New England, and so there was just this environment of old things always being around, lots of rummage sales and vintage shops. I like taking elements from different things and bringing them together to create something new... things can have a different color, texture, humor and personality; they can be from different eras.
ATLAS: What’s one way that you find beauty in the mundane or everyday?
TABOR: Peg board to me is a basic natural material, that’s also very high function, people put it up in their garages to organize things, and there’s something just simple and beautiful about the pattern on it.
ATLAS: How would you define ‘craftsmanship,’ and where do you see ‘craft’ reflected in the line of wearables that In God We Trust produces?
TABOR: I feel like what is valid as ‘craftsmanship’ currently is not what ‘craftsmanship’ traditionally is... it’s not the man in the workshop who has dedicated his life to creating this one thing. It’s become anything that is not created in a large factory setting and is more hands-on. We fall into that current level of craftsmanship, and more so with jewelry than apparel, I’d say.
ATLAS: What do you think are the elements to the success of In God We Trust?
TABOR: Timing. I had a great community who was able to hold my hand as I figured the steps out. At the time, in 2005, domestic production wasn’t a high-powered trend as it is now, so people had more time and patience with me, they would tell me I couldn’t bring them an oak pattern, that I needed to take it to another place and have it graded, and so on.
ATLAS: What was one defining moment to you as a small-business owner?
TABOR: Moving the store to Soho felt more real, it was the difference between borrowing a few thousand dollars from my brother and taking out a business loan. It was really surprising, though, to have people come to us in Manhattan and already know us and recognize what we’ve been doing. We don’t bite off more than we can chew, as a business, we move slowly and organically, which is really how old businesses used to be, family owned-and-operated businesses, they were more about survival and happiness than cashing checks. I wanted to develop personal satisfaction and happiness, and I’m lucky to have the job that I do.