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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