One Photo Shoot Away

We present to you: Sarah Portway. Sarah, like Tanya, is interning with us for the summer. Sarah is helping us get ourselves in gear in terms of research and the logistics and creatives of our photo shoot. Sarah brings a lot to the table with her dedication to eco-fashion, intellect and creativity. She is an excellent compliment in our Local Buttons family and we couldn’t be more excited to work with Sarah. Here is her first blog in a series of three.

Hello Local Buttons blog readers! I am new to this blog so I thought I would take a moment to introduce myself and explain why I am here.

My name is Sarah Portway. I am currently working on my masters degree in fashion at Ryerson University. The program is new to the university, and new to Canada. I am one of only 19 students currently involved, although our numbers will balloon to at least 39 in September 2011. I came to Toronto specifically for this program, and after a few new apartment mishaps (including a narrowly dodged bed-bug infestation, cruel landlords, and exorbitant rent prices) I am settling in nicely. My background is in fine art and retail management, and my future holds many teaching opportunities in sustainable fashion design based on localized Toronto practices – hopefully.

I’m focused on a triple-bottom-line: people, planet, and profit. This is why I became interested in Local Buttons. The summer semester of my program requires each student to complete a 140 hour internship. Local Buttons came and spoke to my class during the winter semester and I fell in love instantly. I knew right away that I needed to work with these remarkable women. A few of my classmates echoed my sentiments and signed on for the summer as well. I felt inspired by Consuelo and Anne’s passion and their commitment to social and environmental activism was very compelling.

As someone who is also interested in sustainability and social responsibility for garment workers, I have read a lot in the field. What struck me about Local Buttons is their focus on positives. A lot of literature and countless ‘green’ products present their case in negatives:

‘This shampoo is free of chemicals!’

‘Paraben free!’ ‘Contains no dyes or fragrances!’

‘This product is sweat-shop free!’

While this is a great start, I believe in focusing on positive solutions and changes. Local Buttons talk in positives when they are presenting their business model. They focus on what they can do to be responsible; they want to create an ethical and environmentally sensitive clothing line. They are not subtracting from their supply chain, such as removing the possibility of low-wages. Instead, they are forging positive relationships with ethical factories in Haiti. Rather than sending technical drawings and specs to this factory without seeing the conditions or overseeing production, they have gone to INDEPCO to work with the designers there and create the Pep look. They have actively sourced local talent to design these garments. They don’t waste time and energy discussing all that is wrong with the contemporary fashion industry. They take productive steps towards change.I have a great deal of respect for this approach and I hope to be a part of it in whatever capacity I can.

Right now, I am working on some research for Local Buttons and preparing for a fashion shoot with the samples that are ready. The research will help inform Local Buttons’ approach to fashion in Toronto as I will be reporting back on what they need to possibly start another production hub here in the city. The fashion shoot is going to focus on the theme of ‘transportation’ and the three of us met yesterday to discuss possible shooting locations and inspirations. After our chat, I went out on my bicycle and scouted some possible shooting locations in the Toronto Port area, just west of the beaches. A pleasant day for a ride, I felt once again that I had been touched by Consuelo and Anne’s positive influences. They had me so excited to get involved that despite working a full 8 hour day before we met, I felt compelled to put in some over-time for them. As I result, I’m now feeding off my own positive memories of the two-hour trip and I’m feeling very inspired going into this process… although my legs are a little tired from peddling around.

Tired legs aside, I’m looking forward to working closely with Anne and Consuelo over the next ten or more weeks. If you have not yet had the pleasure of meeting them and basking in their positive glow, I highly recommend it.


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