Our names are Joelle Workman and Justin Arawjo, and Fennec Design is our line of apparel and accessories. We specialize in hand-pulled, screenprinted goods featuring our unique style of original illustration and design, and we pride ourselves on using non-toxic, water-based inks, sweatshop-free apparel and recycled paper goods as the starting point for all of our pieces.
Fennec began in the fall of 2010. We were living in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, adrift in the milieu of twenty-something indecisiveness and in the midst of a particularly memorable stint as seasonal workers at a haunted house. Justin had been screenprinting part time for the better part of a decade post-college, and I couldn’t sit near a piece of paper or stray napkin without doodling on it. We didn’t anticipate that our first collaborative t-shirt – designed for a band we were playing in together – would elicit such a positive response. Four years, several moves, and more than a hundred craft fairs later, that single design has served as the catalyst for an ever-expanding collection.
On any given day you can find Justin in the studio, audiobooks in the background, pulling screen after screen (and drinking cup after cup of coffee). I’m usually bent over my desk, inking the finely-detailed pieces that will eventually be burned into a screen. Rather than strict divisions of labor, we both enjoy the complicated and rewarding challenge of a truly collaborative process; most of our pieces are drawn together, with each artist contributing elements to the overall design.
One of the true pleasures of working for ourselves has been the ability to prioritize lifelong learning: to be able to rearrange our schedule to make time to read; to take those necessary deep breaths; to spend quality time together; to encounter and find comfort in silence. Mutually creating work has become an intrinsic part of our romantic life, and an opportunity for growth, vulnerability and honesty. Owning a business with your partner is filled with challenges — some days you’ve never felt more in love, and some days you really need a break. But it is always an adventure.
Whether it is designing shirts for causes we care about, decorating our home with handmade goods bartered and bought, or shouting along to a favorite band at a punk show, we believe in feeding back into an atmosphere of mutual care, collaboration, and the celebration of the creative in all who want to participate. Etsy has given us the chance to expand this circle beyond the local, in a way that is personal in its expression and international in its reach. We love that the platform allows us to share with those down the block or on the other side of the world simultaneously.
The future of Fennec is expansive and open-ended, and we like it that way. In the coming months, we are preparing for our July wedding and an August move to a new studio space in town. There are exciting collaborations in the works with some of our favorite artists, as well as plans to expand our wholesale offerings. We hope that no matter how our project matures over time that there will always be room for play, space to pursue small whims, and a desire to nurture an ever-deepening love of printmaking as craft. Keep up with our adventures on Facebook and Instagram.
All photographs by With Love & Embers.