Second Hand Economy Inspires Another Creative Business!

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The hand economy is fresh & fertile ground for entrepreneurs, especially crafty ones.
Nooks Design was established in the winter of 2012 when the owners’ daughter was learning to walk and needed some footwear to keep her warm during long outings in the cold. There were a number of criteria that they wanted, including having the shoes made from natural materials, a slip-proof soft sole, and they had to be easy to get on yet hard for busy little feet to kick off. After coming across a discarded cashmere sweater in a thrift store, the idea of making the shoes from upcycled wool sweaters was born.

Four years later, the company now makes 250 pairs of their one-of-a-kind (that’s right, they’re still made from sweaters and are therefore all different!) felted wool booties every week with the help of a team of talented artisan cutters and seamstresses. The demand for the cozy and wooly booties has garnered attention from shop owners across the country and they can now be found on the shelves of 40 boutiques throughout Canada. Interacting with customers face-to-face to help them find the perfect pair for their little one is such a fun part of the process that the Nooks Design team can be found at dozens of markets and craft shows throughout BC and Alberta every year.

The booties can also be purchased online through their Etsy shop and shipped anywhere in the world. Want to keep up with what’s new and fresh at Nooks Design? Visit their website or follow them on the Facebook and Instagram and prepare to have your feed filled with photos of cute kids wearing some adorable vintage-inspired clothing and felted wool booties! Have any questions and prefer email? They can be reached directly at info@nooksdesign.ca.

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Mail-In Outfit Rescue Service Is Born

Textiles only comprise approximately 6% of landfill volume, and as such it was the last priority of waste management experts compared to things like tires, lightbulbs, e-waste – a far bigger problem that needed to be tackled first. Stewardship programs have done that brilliantly, and now textiles is next on everyone’s agenda. It is rumoured that in 2017 stewardship for textiles will be a real thing – and we are seeing hints of that happen in the marketplace.

Textile Waste Diversion was the first to be publicly supportive of industry shifts and we set up our infrastructure years ago to be ready when this time inevitably came.

The free market is very wise in picking up future trends, and large businesses have already popped up that for the first time deal with used clothing as a useable commodity as opposed to just a problem. Old denim is being used to make insulation, old sweaters are being used to make baby shoes, and the list continues.

This trend has also created a resurgence in small home based businesses that extend the life of products. Cobblers and seamstresses are back in demand! We celebrate the positive impact this trend is having on family businesses.

We came across one such homesteader in Wisconsin that turned her love of tie-dye into a home based service that artfully gives new life to your old favourite pieces that have become stained or colours out of date. People from all over the world mail Happy Hippie Husky their favourite pieces they just can’t bare to part with, and Sonia rescues the items & mails them back. This isn’t just your random tie-dye fun, Sonia is truly an artist that custom creates pieces based on the creative input of her clients.

Sonia told us, “The art of tie dye has witnessed its own resurgence in recent years. While most professional artists absolutely encourage at home experimentation there is a certain caliber of artistic quality that can only be met through many dedicated hours of practice.”

The Happy Hippie Husky is looking forward to launching their new website soon but in the meantime, you can arrange for an outfit rescue by reaching out to Sonia here:
Facebook.com/thehappyhippiehusky

Here are some photographs of her more recent rescues.

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The Consumer Shift to Sustainability

shutterstock_171069521Consumers are becoming more aware of the environmental, economical and social consequences of the purchase choices they make. They are also learning that they communicate with the market through these choices. The  market is very responsive, and consumer buying trends is a science manufacturers and retailers pay very close attention to.

The recent corporate sustainability and ‘green’ advertising movement is the perfect example.

Textiles waste makes up only 5% of North American landfills, but it’s a very problematic 5%. It’s also totally unnecessary that this number is so low, as 98% of used textiles are recyclable. Public policy makers have rightly prioritized establishing recycling measures for the high volume or hazardous waste material first-aluminum, glass, plastic, tires, e-waste and hazardous waste became the focus of legislators and sustainability organizations everywhere. Outstanding improvements have been made in these areas.

Textiles are now slowly becoming the new priority. Instead of waiting for laws to dictate better textile waste management, the market is already shifting based on consumer demand. At TWD, we are getting more questions about how we manage the waste in terms of sustainability than ever before. We are researching and implementing waste tracking processors so that public sustainable annual reports can be available. We are also producing educational videos and partnerships in an effort to educate the public. It didn’t take a law to push us in this direction. You did it, every time you called or emailed us or one of our clients a question asking for information.

How Canada currently manages its waste stream is antiquated and unsustainable in this changing global economy. Europe has far more advanced methodology that uses textile waste as a valuable resource. Besides properly recycling textiles, there is another important factor, and that is the European consumers buying style.

The average Canadian will discard the same amount of textile waste in their first six months of life than a person in the developing world will discard in their entire lifetime. North Americans have a disposable shopping mindset – we tend to update our wardrobes every season. We look to buy the most stuff for the least amount of money. It doesn’t matter if an item gets shoddy after a few washes, we are happy to dispose and buy something new to replace it.

Until the tragedies in Bangladesh were exposed, most never gave a second thought to working conditions and environmental damage that our ‘need for cheap’ caused. Thankfully, people know better now, and the market is responding.

The difference in European shopping, is that there is a focus on quality vs quantity. European fashionistas seek out classic pieces that stand the test of time. They wear the same clothes season after season, and update accessories to keep the wardrobe current. Because these classic pieces are expected to last, the focus is placed on type of fabric, craftsmanship, and quality. Price is not really a consideration. The quality that discerning European shoppers demand come at a cost, a price a European is proud to pay. How long an item lasts is a source of pride.

A European’s closet might not be bursting like a North American’s, but you can bet every piece is fabulous, and much of it designer. A European would rather have 10 absolutely stellar outfits than 50 average ones. Europeans are also much more aware of toxicity in textile production. Their demand for sustainability puts environmentally responsible designers at a competitive advantage. This motivates other manufacturers to do the same in order to remain competitive.

The new trend in textile production is reducing toxicity, and water conservation through using recycled material as opposed to raw base materials in fabric production.

Did you know that you can now buy clothes made of recycled plastic bottles? You would never know to touch it. It looks and feels like ‘normal’ fabric – and when you are sick of it, you can just donate it to be recycled gain.

Textile Waste Diversion are industry pioneers, finding better ways for Canada to manage its textile waste stream. We feel privileged to be part of this positive shift .