Vendor Spotlight: Ali and Xime from Shadowplaynyc talk NASA, Inspiration, and Nebulas

by BUST Magazine

The BUST Craftacular @ World Maker Faire is fast approaching (Sat & Sun, Sept 20 & 21!) and since we have loads of pent up excitement about it we’ve been chatting with some of our wonderful vendors to bide our time until then. We recently sat down with Ali and Xime from Shadowplaynyc to find out where they get the inspiration for their mind blowing cosmic designs.

B: Tell us a little about yourself and your wares. What’s your main goal for your business, why did you start, how would you describe your brand’s personality? How did you get your name? You get the gist.

A&X: Shadowplaynyc is a Brooklyn-based clothing label that brings the marvels of the universe to carefully crafted garments and accessories through beautiful prints. Our goal is to incorporate the beauty of the universe and our shared love for space into our passion for fashion. Each piece in our label is digitally printed with real images from nature and space, many from NASA’s Hubble Telescope, which captures the cosmos thousands of light years away. The name Shadowplaynyc was inspired by Joy Division’s song titled “Shadowplay” from their 1979 album “Unknown Pleasures.”

B: How did you get started? What was the first thing you made/sold? What prompted you to start making?

A&X: Shadowplaynyc was founded in the summer of 2012 by Ali Bennaim and Ximena Chouza after studying together at Parsons. Our brand originally started as a passion project, and thanks to online retailers such as Etsy we had the opportunity to grow into a business. We have always been in love with Hubble images and, naturally, as fashion designers our first thought was to print them on textiles. We were just having fun printing fabric and making things here and there. After a couple of month none of it fit in our tiny New York apartments, so we decided to open an Etsy store to try and sell the garments we had made. Our first product ever sold was a puffy skirt printed with an image of the Small Magellanic Cloud Nebula. Our brand has now expanded into a wide range of product, offering a full collection of women’s swimwear, tights, accessories, and unisex tees.

When we first started making garments, our fabrics were so beautiful that we didn’t want to cut into them or waste any of it. As a result, we developed a waste-saving technique, carefully designing many of our garments so that we use up almost every inch of fabric and leave next to nothing for the landfill. We also source and produce almost everything locally. As we expand our brand, we aim to continue to produce locally and remain environmentally conscious.

B: What’s your current inspiration? Are you loving any particular thing or influence that’s showing through in what you’re making right now?

A&X: We find inspiration in images of the Universe, which can range from photos of Galaxies millions of light-years away, to images of the amazing things found on Earth. Everything we make is printed with imagery of our beautiful universe.

B: What would be your one bit of key advice to anyone starting out as a maker?

A&X: The best thing we have learned is to take things slowly and with patience. Small businesses are very likely to make mistakes that can be hard to recover from. Our best advice would be to approach every problem in an inventive way and never give up on trying to recover from a set back. Also, follow your instinct; it always knows what’s up!

B: What are you most looking forward to about BUST Craftacular @Maker Faire?

A&X: When we attended the Maker Faire last year, our first thought was “We need to get a booth here next year!” We are very excited to be surrounded by all of the other vendors, check out the amazing products, and join the community of makers in this event. We are also looking forward to exposing our product to such a great audience.


Images via and Shadowplaynyc. 


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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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