Mary- Ann: Chartreuse Style is a new venture. We opened our doors in May of this year and so far it has been a very positive response.
Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us a little bit about how it is environmentally friendly?
Mary- Ann: All the products in the store have an eco friendly and/or sustainable content. Many garments are made from organic cotton as well as blends of organic cotton and other organic or sustainable fibres such as hemp, bamboo, soy, wool, silk and even pineapple. There are items made from recycled content and repurposed or diverted fabrics as well as locally made garments. The accessories were also chosen based on their environmental impact. Most of the bags and purses are made from mostly recycled content, like bicycle inner tubes, chocolate bar wrappers, corporate banners and truck tarps. When creative people design sustainability and recycling into their products, the results can be amazing.
Sarah Velasco: What is the significance of the name?
Mary- Ann: I wanted a name that was subtle about being green, but indicated fashion. Chartreuse comes from the yellowy green liquor from France but is widely used in the fashion industry as a name for yellowy greens used in collections. This all fits with my goal to be a fashion boutique first, that happens to be eco/sustainable.
Sarah Velasco: How did you start the store? How did you get into this business?
Mary-Ann: I worked in design and production in the fashion industry for many years and wanted to pursue a more eco-friendly and sustainable existence. I felt there was a bit of a void in the retail market place when it came to fashionable eco-friendly clothing. Initially, I thought I would have to produce my own products for the store, but once I started researching, I found there were many creative designers making interesting and fashionable clothing and accessories, many of them are Canadian. I want to support Canadian and local.
Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us a little bit about a few brands that you carry?
Mary- Ann:The majority of the brands I carry are Canadian, some are made in Canada and some are designed here and made off shore in an ethical manner. I carry Lilikoi Clothing, they make some beautiful dresses from organic cotton and rayon from bamboo that are hand screen printed and made in Canada. Elroy is designed in Canada and produced ethically in Indonesia, they make some really wonderful sweaters and co-ordinates. Echo Verde is also a Canadian line, but produced ethically in China. I have a yoga line made locally in Toronto, called Ecogear, they use recycled cotton (from T-shirt manufacturing cutting) and recycled polyester (water bottles) in their fabrics. I have a few international brands, like Ethos Paris, that are produced ethically. I also stock the El Naturalista line of shoes that are made in Spain from eco leather and suede with recycled and natural rubber soles. And to round out the selection, I have some really nice jewellery designers that work with recycled content such as vintage beads, recycled silver, glass and other natural materials.
Sarah Velasco: I noticed the different fabrics listed, such as Hemp Blend, Bamboo rayon, etc how do these differ from the regular materials that are used at other stores?
Mary-Ann: Hemp is a sustainable fibre because it requires less or no pesticides to grow and it grows quite rapidly. It also requires a lot less water to produce. Bamboo also is a sustainable fibre for the same reasons. Organic Cotton is grown without pesticides and uses less water than conventional cotton. Clothing produced with organic fibres is also better for the all the workers that come in contact with the product because it lessens their exposure to chemicals. Recycled content keeps waste out of landfills.
Sarah Velasco: Are there any up and coming things that readers should be anticipating? (new brands added,collections etc)
Mary- Ann: For spring 2012, I will have a small selection of items for guys. I am always on the look out for new brands and new fabric choices that will look great, feel great and easy on the environment. Like any other fashion boutique, every season brings new and innovative styles.