Closing Up Shop

Dear Local Buttons friends and family,

In joyful sorrow we bring you the news that Local Buttons is closing shop as of December 2014. The decision lived in our hearts long enough for us to be sure that we made the right final choice. We are eternally grateful for the extraordinary journey our “pepe passport” took us on. Unlike so many great ideas, ours lived for 4 years and breathed inspiration into us, and the community at large.

We humbly realize the action heroes we made ourselves out to be as two twenty-something overambitious and underprepared ladies, intending to change the face of fashion…all at once! We have led VERY exciting lives! We set out to change the system that drives the fashion industry to be socially and environmentally destructive. In all seriousness, despite our lack of preparedness, we are humbled by our incredible successes. Through friendships, trust, and skillful work we manifested an ethical clothing company.

We are so proud to say that we partnered with the Handal family, local to Haiti, to create our Design Lab that saw 10 full time tailors come to work in a facility that was safe, collaborative and offered a hot lunch program. We pride ourselves on having paid two times the national minimum wage, therefore pushing from the inside for reform within an industry that typically disregards those that produce the goods. We are delighted to have dressed people all over the world in tailored, up-cycled, fashion that respects people and the earth.

At Local Buttons we believe that the fashion industry MUST and will change.

We discovered the creativity, beauty and challenges that Haiti presents. We worked internationally with some of the most passionate, creative, compassionate and dedicated artists, social advocates, entrepreneurs, business owners, academics, and diplomats. We saw every side of the fashion industry. We were given an inside view into traditional manufacturing solidifying our belief that this form of manufacturing must shift. We were inspired by others pioneering with us in the movement for a more equitable industry and greater consumer consciousness.

So! How do we lay our dream to rest? Do we fold it up and tuck it away in a little corner in the back of our brain, never to be thought of again?

No! We put our dream to rest with a PARTY to celebrate the beauty that was and will continue to be Local Buttons. We invite you to party with us this December and we will release the grand details as soon as we have them! We are offering the last of our exclusive line to you. You can walk away with a UNIQUE piece, never to be made again. Come toast to an epic four years with us.

We would like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who supported us along the way. There have been so many that have been integral to making Local Buttons what it was. Over the past 4 years we made some amazing friends and created some of the best memories in Haiti, Canada and the US.

We could not have done any of this without the immense support of our families and roommates, who believed in our vision. We are both fortunate enough to say that our families and roommates stood by us the entire way, provided valuable insight, an endless ear for our stories, shoulders to cry on and promotion that only a proud mother and father can offer.

Our Haitian friends offered endless support. Hans Garoute openly welcomed us to Haiti back in 2010 and has been our biggest supporter in Haiti to this date. He plugged us as the experts in pepe and we will forever be indebted to his generosity. Geoffrey and Tony Handal opened up their space and allowed us to expand our facility. Geoffrey, Olivier, and “Madam” welcomed us in to their home while we stayed in Haiti. It never ceased to baffle us when we stood back in Haiti and looked at the project that took shape. Gaelle Coicou, our production manager in Haiti, was integral to making our facility run smoothly. Perez Fertil and Jean-Manuel saw to it that we could safely walk in to the Pepe markets in Port-au-Prince and leave with treasures in hand. We worked with AVSI, an Italian NGO that brought us to Cite Soleil so that we could work with talented and artistic metal workers to make our jewellery line. And none of it would have been possible without the 10 extraordinary tailors we worked with.

We began to compile a list of our helpers in Toronto and you guessed it…it went on forever! We are overcome with gratitude. Expect enormous shout outs and hugs at our PARTY to feel just how HUGE your impact has been in our lives and the life of Local Buttons.

Thank you, all, from the bottom of our hearts.

See you in December!

Love and light!

Anne & Consuelo

We would like to thank the following individuals for their support throughout the life of Local Buttons

Dr. Tasha Lewis, Dr. Luann Lafranz, Jim Beqaj, Dr. Anil Netravali, Dr. Huiju Park, Nick Parker, Helen Trejo, Vanessa Sanchez, Sarah Jurgens, Jianan Su, Sarah Portway, Nathan Monk, Marcelo Canario, Edmilson Rocha Lima, Brad Karjama, Trish Nixon, Dr. Webb, Navin Khanna, Lucie Dipronio, Vicki Saunders, Abigail Slater, Jenn Bannon, Danilo Ursini, Faderr Black, Kaela Bree, Dana Kandalaft, Kelly Drennan, Sarah Kear, Jane Wu, Joanna Kviring, Randi Bergman

 

Collaboration

We have had the absolute pleasure of working with two very talented and passionate tech interns for the past few months. We asked them to share a few of their thoughts about their time working with us and were thrilled when Marcelo agreed. It’s integral to Local Buttons success that we reflect collaboration at all levels of our company. From Canada to Haiti we know that we learn the most when we work as a team. Here in Canada Marcelo has been integral in helping us revamp our site, make our garment map and is working on a waste tracking system for us. If anyone is looking to hire a talented and ambitious web developer, Marcelo should be your choice!

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I’ve been working for a long time as a freelancer programmer, and I’ve had with a wide variety of customers: a musician, an architect, an association, a bookstore and the list goes on, but still Local Buttons stands as an unique experience. Why? The fact that I’m writing this post is itself a proof that I’m being given the opportunity to do something different. Here, I get involved in more steps than just sitting there and programming. My opinion is valued and requested even when it doesn’t concern my field of work. I feel part of the company, not just a third-party who’s there just to deliver a service. This is the genuine Canadian spirit, in a country that thrived by welcoming people from all around the world, who were willing to contribute.

In Local Buttons, we (I feel like speaking as a part of the company) have nothing to hide; We’re proud of what we do and each step of the process is carefully designed (and constantly improved) to be respectful to people and to the environment, but none of this would have any value if the same idea weren’t applied to the interns. A great company is built from inside out, not the other way, and Local Buttons is a perfect example of that. It will thrive, just like Canada.

-Marcelo Canário, Intern web developer

Sustainable Fashion in Theory and Practice

LOCAL BUTTONS AND RYERSON FASHION STUDENTS TRAVEL TO PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI TO STUDY SUSTAINABLE & ETHICAL FASHION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE

Unemployment remains at an all time high in Haiti following the January 12, 2010 earthquake. Many skilled garment-makers and designers remain jobless due to the lack of exposure to international markets. The sparse garment jobs that are currently available in Haiti are often subject to poor pay and horrific working conditions. Local Buttons creates up-cycled professional wear and accessories that embody style and quality. Each piece provides sustainable, fair pay jobs in Haiti and breathes new life into old materials.

Local Buttons and the Ryerson School of Fashion collaborate to lead a select group of fashion students to Port-au-Prince, Haiti to learn first hand about ethical production and sustainability in the fashion industry. Students will be visiting Port-au-Prince from June 2nd-6th, 2014 visiting multiple factories, local designers and artisans and a bottle recycling plant that makes textiles in the US from recycled Haitian bottles.

Lu Ann Lafranz, program director of fashion design at Ryerson states  ‘As a strong supporter of experiential learning for our students at Ryerson School of Fashion, I saw an opportunity to ignite further interest in sustainable fashion through our hosts – Local Buttons. What better way to allow students to push the boundaries of their education than to reach outside the walls of our classrooms and create an international experience?’

The trip will provide an inside view of manufacturing to students whose education traditionally remains in the academic and design aspect. Opening the doors to ‘expose’ manufacturing will allow students to see first-hand the various levels of the supply chain and the human and environmental impact of our consumption patterns in North America.

Alec Hildebrand, Ryerson fashion student states: ‘By seeing first hand what the factories are like and what the ethical occupational standards are in a developing country, I will hopefully be able to design garments that not only fit my aesthetic and functionality, but also are able to be manufactured at a relative cost with upheld fair trade and proper safety standards.’

‘We are thrilled to bring students into our production process’ states Anne Pringle, co-founder of Local Buttons. ‘It has been our goal since day one to provide transparency throughout our line and encourage collaboration within the design community’.

For more information contact Anne Pringle: anne@localbuttons.ca

Fashion Travels

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Next week represents a milestone for Local Buttons. When we originally envisioned Local Buttons we had the grandiose idea to bring a group of students to Haiti to explore fashion and sustainability. We dreamed up ideas for internships and a way to connect emerging designers to producers in Haiti. We marched into Ryerson with a proposal in hand, only to realize we didn’t understand the first thing about curating a trip, nor did we have a strong enough grasp on the manufacturing industry.

We are so thrilled to say that we have come full circle and next week we take off for Haiti with an amazing group of students from the Ryerson Fashion department. We look forward to showing the students sustainable and ethical fashion in practice. We have a packed itinerary involving visiting factories, artisans networks, a bottle recycling plant & a training centre. Beyond all this the 4 students are working on both creative and academic projects focusing on fashion and sustainability.

We had each students write us a little note on why they are interested in coming to Haiti. Below you will find their personal accounts.

Shelley:

Like most 17-year-olds thrust into independence, I entered university with little direction. I developed a four-year bond with psychology, but I knew it wasn’t my passion. After some intense introspection, I realized that my interests in psychology could be reconciled with my true calling: fashion. Environmental and positive psychology taught me that connecting with nature increases happiness, health, and overall wellbeing. We are meant to be natural beings. But how could I relate this to fashion? The ideals of a “hippie” lifestyle are almost considered taboo to a culture rooted in consumerism.

My original idea was to create clothing that increased the wearer’s connection to nature solely through the properties of the garment. Through careful research, however, I realized that the benefits of nature-friendly clothing are far more reaching. In addition to connecting people with nature, sustainable fashion can include fair trade wages for workers, water reduction, and less waste during production. The key to unlocking all of these benefits is getting the consumer on board.  For long-lasting effects, consumers need to adopt sustainable fashion for internal reasons. Otherwise, sustainably becomes a trend that can’t even sustain itself. This grassroots movement starts with a small amount of eco-minded individuals and eventually spreads until the consumer-base as a whole internalizes sustainable fashion and garment producers are forced to react to consumer demands.

While this movement is driven by individuals and the extent to which they adopt sustainable fashion, it starts with a product. Haiti will provide me with the opportunity to experience sustainable production firsthand, absorb its benefits and relay them to consumers. Consumers need to buy into sustainable products and production. To convince them, I will collect video footage from the Local Buttons factory that clearly documents the production process and arrange this information as an attention grabbing, call to action video to foster a positive perspective towards sustainable fashion – the first of many steps towards an internalized preference for sustainable fashion, and eventually, a sustainable lifestyle.

 Alec:

What I expect to gain from this trip to Haiti, is a solution to a problem I’ve been having since starting my education in fashion design. I understand the creative and technical creation of designs, as well as the business side, but the manufacturing segment is some unknown world. By seeing first hand what the factories are like and what the ethical occupational standards are in a developing country, I will hopefully be able to design garments that not only fit my aesthetic and functionality, but also are able to be manufactured at a relative cost with upheld fair trade and proper safety. Being within an actual factory will ground my ideals and forward my perspective from just being based on theory.

Danielle:

I’m unbelievably excited to travel to Haiti and to get the chance to be on the ground! It’s one thing to purchase a product that supports development from friends or even just a company, but its completely another to actually walk through the process with those facilitating it! I know this is going to be a very eye-opening experience for me & I’m really happy to be travelling with Local Buttons for this journey. I’m also happy to be travelling with 3 other students in my program who I can share the experience with when we are back. I think the ethical & sustainability issues we face in the fashion industry today can be tackled by us together – it’s really great to have a team of such like-minded and passionate people!

 Stephanie:

As a student going into fourth year at Ryerson University for Fashion Design, this will be my second time travelling to Haiti. In February of 2014 I completed a mission trip to help in orphanages and schools. This is when I fell in love with Haiti. I experienced a great deal of love and kindness on my travels which will forever touch my heart. Since then my goal has been to help Haitian people. Local Buttons has opened a door to helping Haiti establish fair trade jobs with a sustainable and ethical business model. I am so excited to be a part of this amazing group and contribute in anyway I can!

It doesn’t Interest Me…

Last night we took part in the SheEO Purple Carpet Premier celebrating female entrepreneurs. It was an inspiring evening. The Berkley Church was teeming with talent, passion and heart. We heard from a number of powerful women throughout the night, both young and old. At one point Oriah Mountain Dreamer read her poem ‘The Invitation’ to the crowd. It resonated deeply with me so I would like to share it here.

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon.
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayal or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it’s not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else fails away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

-Oriah Mountain Dreamer

 

Fashioning the Mind

“The only real elegance is in the mind; if you’ve got that, the rest really comes from it.”
-Diane Vreeland
The integration of fashion and academia is not something that immediately springs to mind when you start speaking about clothing. However, the two are closely linked. Fashion integrates architecture, engineering, chemistry and art. It is this integration that allows for the greatest creations.
The fashion industry, which must constantly reinvent itself, is undergoing a massive change as consumers begin to demand more from their clothing. A shift away from fast fashion and towards ‘slow’ fashion is the only way forward. We are beginning to place greater emphasis on understanding the impacts of the fashion industry on our natural environment and those who create our garments. But in order to succeed, it is vital that equal attention is paid to aesthetic, functionality and impact.
Just last week we got to be the fashion nerds we really are as we watched (like proud mamas) our Cornell dream team present to a team of judges in DC for the 2014 P3 Competition and National Sustainable Design Expo at the 3rd USA Science and Engineering Festival.  The team presented the findings of a year-long study/project focusing on waste reduction in the clothing manufacturing sector based on our model in Port-au-Prince.  The dream team won an honourable mention and we are thrilled to know the partnership with Cornell will continue!
Oh, we also met Bill Nye on our DC adventures.
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Spring Pop Up @ Senisi’s

We’ll be popping up at Senisi Fine Foods this Friday to help you jump into spring looking your best! We promise the snow will fade away just in time…

Come by for NEW spring fashion fresh from Haiti and Joe’s deliciously inspired treats of sandwiches and coffee! 

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