Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Meet the Maker: Slashpile Designs

Freedom Clothing Collective is dedicated to celebrating independent Canadian design. With dozens of makers in stock we thought it was best for you to get to know them a bit better! Every other week we'll be profiling a different designer on our blog so you can know a little bit more of the who, what, where and why of Canadian style. 

Art and design is a family affair for the Toronto based Slashpile Designs. Twin sisters, Tara and Courtney Neray are the dynamic duo behind one of the most idiosyncratic and witty jewellery lines we carry. Their work is unique for its variety of styles, shapes, colours and materials.  It's safe to say that they're never ones to be pigeon holed! Tara an Courtney are just as comfortable working with technicolor gemstones as they are crafting earrings and necklaces from molecular structures. Tara was kind enough to give us a bit of insight into their influences and approach to jewellery design. Come by and have a look at their their work!

If you can't make it to the shop you can find them online and follow them on instagram here! 

1. When did you first start making jewellery?

Courtney and I have honestly been making jewellery since we were old enough for craft projects. In grade 5, we even started a club to make jewellery that we sold to raise money for charity. We both studied design at OCAD University from 2004-2008 (Courtney studied Industrial Design, and I studied Material Art & Design, specializing in Jewellery & Silversmithing). We officially started our jewellery business in October of our graduating year.

2. What is your favourite material to work with? 

For jewellery making we mostly work in sterling silver, although we also use copper, brass and gold in some cases. Silver is my favourite to work with though, since I think of it as the perfect balance between casual and special.

3. You guys are such versatile and prolific makers! And your work is so cheeky and influenced by humour. Is that something you wanted to incorporate from the beginning or did that come in over time?

I think handmade pieces really are an extension of the artist, and that our personalities show through in our pieces. When we first launched our business in 2008, we took a look at the kind of work we were already making and expanded on that. It’s important to us that our pieces mean something to the people who buy them beyond just aesthetics. Our tagline is “jewellery to start a conversation”. The idea is that if you’re wearing one of pieces and someone asks you about it, the piece (and the story behind it) gives you an opportunity to talk about something you’re proud of— whether it’s your crazy chocolate addiction, the number of trees you planted last summer, or the incredible bond you have with your dog. We try to create a body of work that’s lighthearted and quirky (like us) as well as beautiful.

4. Could you describe your heroes and influences?

We grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. Our grandmother on one side sold her painted silk scarves in France and then Montreal, while our grandfather on the other side was an antiques dealer in Scotland. Both our parents have their own businesses (branding/motivational speaking and dog-walking, respectively). This made it an obvious choice to run our own business, and having all of that experience and knowledge trickle down to us is extremely helpful. Our work is influenced by all of our varied interests and hobbies (karate, roller derby, snowboarding, quilting, gardening…just to name a few!). We usually come up with our new concepts while we are walking and talking about nothing in particular and an idea suddenly strikes. We’re always admiring other handmade designs of all kinds, whether is at craft shows, on Etsy, or in the stores we sell our work in. It’s easy to be inspired by all of the amazing things others are making, and it’s so interesting how there can be endless different takes on similar ideas!  

5.What's it like working as sisters?

We get along extremely well as sisters and business partners. Being twins, we have always been very close, and I think we make a great team! Interestingly enough, it’s our differences that made us such good business partners. Courtney is a bit more technical, and has always managed more of the efficiency/production side of things, while I take on more of the crafting and customer service side. Courtney has recently gone back to school to study Technical Apparel Design in Vancouver, so now I’m running the business solo. I am super grateful to still be able to talk to her almost every day about business stuff, and she still does our 3-d modelling and web updates while I adjust to taking care of all the daily tasks myself.

6. Do you feel like you're part of an artist community in Toronto?

When we started out, we participated in a lot of craft markets and shows, and that really helped create more of a community feeling. We would often see the same vendors at different shows and share business ideas and advice. Now I get my community fix from being part of Freedom as well as our other Toronto retailers. I love working at Freedom weekly and meeting the other designers my jewellery is displayed alongside, as well as seeing how customers react to the whole collection of handmade Canadian pieces at the shop.

7. What are you looking forward to these days?

The holiday season is always a bit of a whirlwind, and we have to spend the first few months of the year just catching up! I’m looking forward to the spring and summer, when I have a bit more time to develop concepts, work on our website and think about any marketing I want to do!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Make the Maker: R a m o n a l i s a

Freedom Clothing Collective is dedicated to celebrating independent Canadian design. With dozens of makers in stock we thought it was best for you to get to know them a bit better! Every other week we'll be profiling a different designer on our blog so you can know a little bit more of the who, what, where and why of Canadian style. 

Montreal's Ramonalisa perfectly encapsulates Freedom Clothing Collectives approach to fashion and design. Canadian made and eco friendly, Lisa Bobrow's line of dresses and tops are some of our most comfortable and fabulous pieces in the shop. In fact her spring dresses have just arrived and they are swoon worthy and she is this week's special of the week! Her spring and winter pieces are available at the store but if you can't make it in person you can always place an order at our new online store!  

We got in touch with Lisa of Ramonalisa to talk; inspiration, fashion ethics, and what it's like to be a Canadian designer. 

When did you start making clothes?

I learned how to sew when I was 15. I loved the feeling of power that came with being able to create my own style, a la Molly Ringwald of Pretty in Pink! Many years later in 2008, I made a few pieces for a local shop on consignment. They sold right away so I decided to keep going and the rest is history! 

What compelled you to make eco-friendly clothes?

When I first created my clothing line, the most important thing for me was to offer an alternative to sweatshop-made clothing. Montreal has a long history of garment manufacturing but in the past 10 years most of it has moved overseas. I saw an opportunity to draw from the past and build a new kind of future for fashion, one that is based in creativity and sustainability rather than large-scale industry. A few years in, I began to learn about the process of fabric production through friends and colleagues. The more research I did, the more I understood that while fair labour practices are a must, for clothing to be truly ethical it has to extend also to the choice of sustainable fabrics. From disease caused by pesticides to pollution of waterways and everything in between, it's clear that was best for the earth is also best for all people. 

What are the benefits of being an independent Canadian designer? The drawbacks?

Being an independent designer in Canada is great because Canadians love to support fellow Canadians! I don't find any drawback that are specific to being a Canadian designer, I think the same challenges apply to creatives everywhere. 

Who are your heroes and influences?

My hero right now is Michelle Obama. She has great style, unparalleled grace, and every time I hear her speak I am moved. With the current world situation being what it is I'm really channeling my inner Michelle and hoping to connect with and empower women everywhere. 

When you create a line how much changes from initial brainstorming to the final product?

It depends! My most satisfying moments are when I have an idea in my head and am able to bring it to life just the way I imagined. On the other hand, sometimes things don't go as planned and through the process of construction I get a happy surprise in the finished product. That's fun too!

What is your favourite material to work with?

I have two: the yarn dyed organic cotton/hemp, and the hemp/recycled polyester fleece. Both of these are A+ for sustainability and are an absolute joy to work with and also to wear! 

What is the design community in your city like? Is there anything specific that you draw from it that you can’t find anywhere else?

Montreal in general and my neighbourhood of Mile-End specifically is a haven for creatives of all kinds. It's fantastic to work within the community here and people are very supportive! 

In your current collection what were you inspirations? How do you think you have grown as an artist in recent years?

For Spring 2017 I was really inspired by the idea of moving forward in community an growing something together. I think the time for women to really lead the way is here, and that is reflected in the very feminine nature of this collection. I've grown a lot in recent years: I hit my 40s, my kids became teenagers, and my business is maturing. I feel a new kind of calm sense of purpose that I haven't known before. And I like it! 

What are you looking forward to these days?

Right now I'm looking forward to the snow melting so I can start wearing these new Spring dresses! 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Pssst ... We've Got a Sale Going On

Alright - I'm not sure if you guys have noticed this but autumn is on its way. Despite the heat of the midday sun there's a slight chill in the air come evening. When you were a kid this was the time you would get a new set of pencil crayons and oodles of notebook. Not all of us are going to be hitting the books this September ... so what's a gal to do? Stock up on discounted Canadian made fashion of course!

There's a store wide sale happening right now! With pieces marked down from 20%-50% 

With jewellery from Melanie Leblanc, pieces from KooCoo Carillo, Ramonalisa and Twiss and Weber all on sale! Don't delay. We need to make room for new Fall and Winter threads. So if you've had your on something for a couple of months now is your time before they're gone! 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Tea Party Etiquette

A little while ago we had a tea party and we thought we'd share a few tricks of the trade.

Tea parties are like weddings but less stressful. You can revel in all the twee pageantry but avoid the family drama.

What makes tea parties so much fun? Well it gives you a reason to dress up. Always fun. Eat comically small versions of what's usually larger food (who doesn't love finger sandwiches?) And you get to enjoy the company of your friends under the summer sun.

We like tea parties here at Freedom, and have a couple of suggestions of how to put a twist on the  your next one to make it really special!

Toronto based RC BOIS Joli's pieces are so effortless and elegant. Whether you're into pink squids or want to indulge in a western theme, his hand-crafted ceramics are a stunning addition to your table.

Craving something a bit more traditional? These up-cycled vintage china pieces are all the buzz from Andrea Ragusila

Want to add a bit more whimsy to the proceedings? Well then look no further than Anna Eidt's gorgeous hand painted plates!  

But the real question is what you are going to wear?! With our swoon worthy selections of dresses with bold prints, from batik to bees and everything in between! Freedom will keep you cool as a cucumber.

Happy tea-partying! And don't forget the croquet.

- The FCC team

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Tea Party

We decided to show off our beautiful wares at a garden tea party! Here are some fun pictures!

Left: earrings and Hair flower by Rae Designs. Right: Dress by Twiss & Weber

Bracelet by Sophia Tamar

Left: Earrings by Rae Designs Right: Card by Green Bean Studio

Dresses by KooCoo, cardigan by Tangente, spruce earrings and knitted heart necklace by Slashpile Designs