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

 

The LB/Cornell Dream Team

Last year we were fortunate enough to commence a partnership with Cornell University (funded by the EPA) and the ‘dream team’ of professors and students to help us work on creating zero waste pattern design at our design lab in Port-au-Prince. Our team consists of fashion and design officiandos, fibre scientists, fashion historians and a whole lot of creativity.  After a few months of product development we welcomed  Dr Tasha Lewis, the chef of our  Cornell team, to visit us in PAP to see the progress. With her arrival we began to manufacture 4 new beautiful pieces designed by yours truly with patterns and technicals made by the Cornell dream team.

We are working to minimize our waste through the design process with the ultimate goal of zero waste pattern design. In the meantime we are looking for creative and innovative ways to use our scraps created from our design process. We are inspired to collaborate with other artists, designers and professionals in Haiti to create a network that allows us to share our resources and to find innovative ways to create sustainable business models in Haiti. This is merely the tip of the iceberg of where the dream team will go!

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3rd Annual ReFashioned: A Night of Live Fashion & Cabaret Show

It’s that time of year again. Time for our annual ReFashioned Show. We are excited to launch our new jewelry and accessory line with our biggest event yet!!

We look forward to seeing you and your finest on November 21st!

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Join us for the third annual ReFashioned: A Night of Live Fashion & Cabaret Show 

We bring you a night of beautiful clothes, local brews that include LB’s own crafted wine, an amazing DJ, body painting and a cabaret dance show all to celebrate an exciting year and to support H.E.R.O, an organization working with street kids in Haiti.
Come find out the how the year has changed the LB with the official launch of our JEWELRY and ACCESSORY line.
You will have the chance to shop our jewelry & accessories and a fresh shipment of clothing hot off the boat from Haiti. 5% of all LB sales donated directly to H.E.R.O.
Our silent auction will feature Toronto’s greatest in sports, arts, culture, food, transportation and indulgence with all  proceeds will go to H.E.R.O., a not for profit working with street kids and orphans in Port-au-Prince. H.E.R.O. provides housing, education, nutrition and rehabilitation of orphans in Haiti.
 Get your tickets in advance.
$20 by November, 2011
$25 by  November 20th
$30 at the door
Arrive before 11pm and have a glass of wine on us;)
We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Where: The Great Hall 1087 Queen W.

When: Thursday November 21, 2013 from 8pm-2am

 

https://www.eventbrite.ca/event/9020788421

Reinventing the Model

photo-6A little late to the plate, but we have so much to be thankful for this year. Our fantastic friends and family, our growing group of fantastic entrepreneurial friends, a fantastic team of artisans and tailors working with us in Haiti, each other, delicious coffee each morning, our vibrant city and Gimlet (my cat;) to name just a few. Beyond this I am so thankful to see that mainstream media is taking a more vested interest in exposing the shortcomings of the fashion industry and placing pressure through increased consumer awareness to change the industry.

This weekend saw major Canadian newspapers the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail highlight the dominant socio-economical issues created by the fashion industry in developing countries. WIth a specific focus on Bangladesh, the Star and the Globe spoke of the paltry wages, horrendous working conditions, environmental degradation and lack of ability to unionize that the world of fast fashion has created for factory workers around the globe. I hope this is the beginning of an ongoing engagement, investigation and conversation by the media.

Just shy of 6 months since the collapse of Rana Plaza, we are still looking for answers and adequate responses from retailers, manufacturers, governments and consumers. In 2000 after the BBC exposed the Gap for its use of child workers in sweatshops, consumers and advocacy groups placed major pressure on the Gap to address these issues. The Gap responded by implementing random, third party audits at overseas factories and the employing overseas investigators to ensure ethical standards are upheld. Despite the public outcry and the subsequent assurance through auditing measures that the industry was making strides to address the issue of child labour, the Gap once more found itself in hot water in 2007 under new allegations that they were linked to a factory with children as young as 10 years old working. Like many fashion brands, the Gap subcontracts their orders out to many different factories, thus deferring the blame or the responsibility for ethical labour standards upon their subcontractors.

In Haiti, the Caracol Industrial Park is now up and running. Despite the promise of 60,000+ jobs at its facility, as of September 2013 the park employs only 1,500. Caracol is located on 600 acres of land having displaced 366 farmers (each given $3,200 for their land) in Haiti’s Northern region.  The Caracol plant demonstrates how little the fashion industry has changed over the past decades. Despite fashion trends continuously evolving and changing, the way we create fashion remains the same tired model of exploitation.

It’s time for the manufacturing sector to catch up to the design aspect of the fashion industry. Let’s find ways to reinvent the exhaustive model in place that does not work.

Impact InVESTing

Impact8_2Impact Investment. A buzzing term in entrepreneurial world. Ventures with a social mandate are popping up at every corner. From local food companies, alternative energy solutions, sustainable fashion, education programs to health solutions we are seeing an influx of socially conscious entrepreneurs flooding the market. But how do these new ventures align themselves with mentors, investors and clients?

Enter Impact8 offered through MaRS.

We were lucky enough to be one of 8 ventures selected from over 150 that applied to be part of the first cohort to go through Impact8 at the MaRS centre. Impact8 is an 8 week incubator dedicated to helping emerging, existing and growing social enterprises succeed.

We just finished week 1 and I can already tell this incubator is going to be immensely beneficial for Local Buttons and personally for Consuelo and I. The other 8 ventures are dynamic businesses. It is inspiring to spend your time with others who are just as passionate about creating a space for social enterprise in the world. We have been partnered with two fantastic mentors who seem to instantly understand our business model and where/how they can help us grow and improve!

We spent yesterday at Miller Thompson law firm downtown Toronto learning ALL things legal. Helped clarify a lot for us. Sometimes a change of scenery can do you a world of good. We were on the 58th floor at 40 King St W and the boardroom had the most magical view of the city.

Can’t wait to see how the rest of the program unfolds!

 

 

Cornell Visit

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2 weeks ago we spent 3 glorious days at the oh so inspiring Cornell University. We knew Ithaca, NY was our kind of town when we stepped off the bus to see an organic co-op grocery store right across the street. Tasha, our gracious host, picked us up and whisked out for a scrumptious Thai dinner. We ate so well at Cornell. Honestly, half the time I go anywhere is really just to taste the food:)

Our first full day at Cornell started with coffee, fair trade & organic of course. Fuelled by caffeine we made our way to Dr Tasha Lewis’ Global Fashion Management class where we gave a lecture on sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry. This was followed by an overview of Local Buttons, a working model of sustainability AND ethics in the fashion industry. It was a great way to start off our trip and tour of Cornell.

What followed for the remainder of the three days was full of media, meetings, planning sessions, a 3D body scan:) and exploring the grounds. We met with our ‘dream team’ comprised of fibre scientists, pattern makers and design students.

We are so motivated and inspired by our partnership with Cornell. We can see how we can begin to look at the full life cycle of our garments so that we can improve our process and continue to look at ways to reduce our environmental impact. We cannot wait to return for our next meeting with the dream team, fingers crossed it will be the end of the month!

Here is a quick video of one of our meetings at Cornell.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=527046210698912&set=vb.297189750376555&type=2&theater

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