As many of you are aware we have spent the last year constructing a building at GIRO that will become the main hub for our textile project C2C Threads. As the building is nearing completion (with the support of local volunteer labour), we wanted to share with the community what the space will be used for and what some of the milestones and challenges have been over the last year.
GIRO clothing manager Yarrow Koontz will be transitioning into the new Makerspace Manager/Program Coordinator position. Here she describes the Makerspace and how you can engage with the activities once we are up and running:
“Makerspaces are devoted to the teaching, learning and practice of fabrication. Our community shares tools and equipment, offers classes to the public, enjoys flexible membership and workspace, hosts speakers, special events and more.
Makerspace members will support improving consumer-to-producer re-skilling such as sewing, weaving, spinning, and mending; and uphold a grass-roots community-based Maker movement that adds value to discarded textiles through redesign, repurposing, reuse, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing, recycling, reiteration, and rethinking.
The Maker Movement offers the missing link in increasing economic resilience by decreasing dependency on the globalized economy, and empowers local value chains, skills, and knowledge; and holds the space for Makers who want access to resources, workspaces, materials, and opportunities to meet and collaborate with other Makers. The Makerspace has the potential to create more opportunities to work with young people as their worldview is developing; to inform them of the relationships to common political and economic concerns, such as ecological health, global environmental justice, social enterprise, and responsibility.
Some Workshops and events to look forward to:
- How to make a patchwork jacket
- Drop spinning for beginners
- Meet, Mend, Make – bi-weekly Fibre Happenings
- Discussion series – topics related to fast fashion, local wool and fibres, local cloth and food security, how mending clothes helps mend the planet, how do de-colonize fashion, creating a mindful wardrobe and more!
Keep checking for updates and opportunities to support”.
The other key piece of our project that we have been developing is our product line Relove Local. With the help of skilled local makers, we launched Relove Local in November 2021.
Here our marketing hire Paula Brent shares some of our milestones, activities, and plans for phase two:
“In the last year, we’ve sold thousands of ReLove Local products. The Everything Cloth continues to be our top seller – versatile for home use and popular as a gift. We’ve sold these and other products including our reversible denim tote bags and other products at vendors across Vancouver Island with transportation support from Gulf Island Food Transport. Kate Wood generously supports ReLove Local by hosting our products at Nova Gallery and we spent last summer at the Saturday Market sharing space with Yarrow’s microgreens.
We’re excited for the next phase of the project that will allow us to upcycle a more significant volume of textile discard with the Makerspace and shredder up and running. We’re working with new paid apprentices who are learning how to make our core products and with more local designers who are prototyping a variety of pillows and bolsters to repurpose shredded fabric. We look forward to offering opportunities for people who have purchased our pet beds to refresh and restuff their filling – stay tuned.
This summer, we look forward to returning to the Saturday market, visiting Silva Bay on select Sundays, and joining a market in Nanaimo. We’re also excited to hire a ReLove Local Manager who will be responsible for these and other aspects of ReLove Local’s development and continued success.
This project has presented an opportunity to ‘learn as we grow’. Implementing a circular economic model within a predominantly capitalist one has presented its challenges. As we collect feedback, train apprentices, and check in with our makers, we’ve learned that we need to make some adjustments to products and pricing.
In the first phase of the project, we tested offering products at a wholesale cost at GIRO – a perk of purchase ‘from the source’. We learned that offering different prices contributed to confusion for customers, added complexity to an initiative with many moving parts, and was not financially sustainable for products that have a much lower margin compared to similar products on the market that are manufactured overseas.
As of May 1, 2023, prices at GIRO, Nova, Gabriola markets, and off-island will be updated and consistent across locations. Our pricing will in some cases go up, so that our local team members earn a decent wage, and our non-profit can be sustainable, and in some cases, down, to enable more people to enjoy our products and the low-waste lifestyle. We will occasionally offer special pop-up opportunities to purchase discounted products (prototypes, singles, earlier stock, etc.).
Some of our products – the flannel napkins and wipes – will be discontinued or redesigned to present a price that is reflective of fair local labour and is affordable to consumers. We’re excited to add bunting to our line-up – a string of flags that uses textile scraps and offers an alternative to disposable, plastic party decorations. We’ve been asked countless times if the ones we have on display are for sale and now our answer is…yes! “
This project would not have progressed without the financial support of our various funders. The RDN got the project off the ground and has provided some of the funding for the building, the shredder and the first year of operational costs. Island Coastal economic Trust (ICET) provided funding for the Makerspace building, Pacifican provided support for outreach into other communities, creation of learning videos, marketing, and testing for the acoustic sound panels. GIRO provided the land and a new electrical service to the makerspace. Members of the community have donated funds and volunteer labour, the Gabriola Energy Coop is donating a solar system that includes both a grid-tied and an off-grid component and finally the Gabriola community have been supporting us every step of the way.
Thank you for your continued support, patience, and feedback as we learn and grow. Visit GIRO and Nova for updated products and pricing and visit us on opening weekend at the Agi Co-op Saturday Market!