Jason Faulkner grew up in Somerville, recently purchased a home here and has a business based in the city. But it was a trip halfway around the world that provided the inspiration for that business, Printed Village, a scarf design and retail/wholesale company based out of Vernon Street Studios.
Faulkner went to China in 2004 on a school trip, ended up meeting the woman who would become his wife and decided to stick around so they could travel. It was during this adventure that Faulkner become enamored with the idea of “being independent and not having to work for someone else,” he said.
He began working with scarves, but quickly realized he would need to do something different to stand out from the crowd. “The only way to get started was to do our own thing,” Faulkner said.
So Printed Village began creating its own designs and selling them to retailers like Anthropologie and Barney’s. And now the company has tapped into the vast resources of the online design community with monthly scarf design contests.
Each month Printed Village comes up with a theme, like tribal or nautical, that designers use to create a new scarf. Printed Village began testing the contests in March and so far they have generated 300 to 400 submissions each month from around the world. The entries are culled to three finalists and put to the crowd to pick the winner, who receives $300 and will have their design featured on an upcoming scarf.
“Different is what buyers care about,” Faulkner said. “It is something new. We put all our energy into doing it.”
One of Printed Village’s employees, Vincent Rivera, agreed, adding, “We really benefit from the designs. We’re amazed by the interpretations.”
While designers from around the world are entering Printed Village’s contests, the company does outreach to local colleges and universities to attract budding designers to the competition.
The Printed Village Team, from left: Ethan Walker, Ashley Bard, Vincent Rivera and Jason Faulkner.
“We’re a bridge between fashion labels and designers,” said Rivera. “We’re a conduit. We’re getting fresh angles and fresh approaches. Anything could come out of it.”
The contests provide Printed Village with a never-ending supply of fresh scarf designs and an outlet for designers to get their work out into the world. Ethan Walker, a designer at Printed Village, knows how important that is and sees the contests as a way for designers to break out. “Getting published is huge,” he said.
And while the inspiration for Printed Village may have come from halfway around the world, all of its employees live in or near Somerville. And they all draw inspiration from the city.
“It’s a fun, vibrant, cool place,” Faulkner said. “It’s full of young fresh energy. You can just feel that momentum.”