An article about Lumi Co. as the service was just getting rolling. Originally published in 2010 in Scion Magazine. Story by Maud Deitch.
Jesse Genet was just your average 17-year-old, making T-shirts in her basement “as you do,” she says. Possessed with an entrepreneurial spirit that didn’t allow her to be satisfied with keeping this activity a hobby, however, Genet developed her T-shirt company into a full-scale business model and approach, selling her wares at local boutiques. This is no small feat for a young artist and designer, but for Genet is wasn’t enough. On the advice of an apparel executive who told her that she would only be successful if she did something nobody else could or would, Genet set out on what would become a five-year quest to find a new and different way of printing.
She knew that she wanted to move beyond the limitations that traditional screen-printing imposed upon her, primarily in regards to printing images onto natural fabrics like leather. When she approached established printing houses and asked if there was any way to do this, the response was a unilateral “impossible.” After much basement experimentation, Genet discovered, she says, “the seed of something that [she] thought could become a very interesting new textile printing process.” Still very young, however, she “didn’t have the resources and know-how to make it happen at the time.” Genet didn’t give up, but slowed her investigation in favor of attending design school in Los Angeles. It was there that she met Stéphan Angoulvant and took “two steps back to look at the tools you’re using and re-imagine them.” From this, Genet and Angoulvant started Lumi Co.
Due to a pending process patent, Genet is unable to go into detail about how exactly Lumi Co. produces their photo realistic prints on natural fibers, such as raw leather. Genet says her success is largely due to the fact that she based it on her research into printing techniques outside of textile printing (although again she can’t tell us what those techniques are). Genet will say that her and Angoulvant, with the help of engineers and friends, built every element of the machine that they use to produce their images themselves. “We have just been building things from scratch and figuring stuff out” she says, and makes it very clear that the process of optimizing this technology has only just begun. Apparently this drive to create a new tool “isn’t exactly normal for designers” and it was something that Genet recognized in Angoulvant immediately. “For a lot of designers, this would be too technical for them—they just want to use the tool,” she says.
Check out the Scion Music(less) Music Conference segments on the Scion AV YouTube channel for insights from industry leaders and small business owners.