Saturday, December 4, 2010

On Your Mark, Get Set, Plot

Well, month one has just passed. Here's where we are:
  • Have overhauled the spec packs used
  • Have gotten cozy with the sewing girls, who may think I am crazy, but still help me keep track of how much elastic is on hand and tell me when we're running out of snaps
  • Have broken the plotter (not really, but it broke down this week and I felt like it was all my fault...)
  • Have been entrusted with lots of Christmas party planning madness
  • Have learned and been involved in SO MUCH!
I am still terrified that the jig will be up so soon, I will get a 'sorry we don't need you' kinda sit down... I think thats part of the growing pains of being new on the job, newly trained, and still working with the training wheels.... there is the fear that your cost outweighs the pros you provide to your boss while still learning. It's terrifying and frustrating. But then...
  • I leave for Cuba in 12 days for my friends wedding
  • I have the weekend off from my second job
  • I am two presents away from being done both my and my brothers Christmas shopping
  • The owner told me to order business cards
  • The graphics guy is excited to do spec drawings as detailed as I have requested
  • I have started my professional Human Ecologist Designation paperwork
  • I have been asked to give feedback on my practicum experiences to assist in the development of the practicum course within my school
These are all things which make me feel I would be... OK. Fairly safe. A 'real' professional. Maybe these feelings are like newly wed jitters, or like a child entrusted with a new responsibility. I feel like I am maybe just afraid for nothing, or that it's normal. I HATE that, because one thing I pride myself in is casting off fear. This whole lacking confidence thing is so frustrating... someone please tell me it's totally normal and absolutely natural and that I am crazy.

I LOVE my job. That is the best news. The fact that I got here with my confidence and education and experience... fabulous. Not to quote Shania Twain (because I may hate her) but... it 'can only go up from here', right?


Thursday, November 11, 2010


I now have two workspaces:

The plotter room: This is the nitty gritty of my job. The Plotter table is there, a 6x8' megalith which i can move up and down or tilt to my hearts content. It can't plot yet, but it does have many uses:
  • Spreading out test garments for examination in big flat glory
  • Holding stuff /papers / other garments when I'm not ready for them at the computer desk
  • Being a catapult (Haven't tried this yet, but I'm assuming it would be a great game if I'm bored)
The spare room: If any one is a fan of C.S. Lewis, feel free to think of this as my 'Spareoom": a place where work often starts or finishes, but for much of the actual action, I have to head through the wardrobe.... or the door to the right that leads to the plotter room.

I am reminded of so many of the books I read as a child which involved reality, and a place where things are a little bent, a little skewed, and yet all the more real...

Monday, November 1, 2010

It Feels Like Work

So my job started today. I spent the first several hours going over an ordering system which will be integral to my supply chain management function. This was super important, valuable, and incredibly dry for 8 a.m.! but it was over by 11:15, and I had lunch with some of the other staff, trying to get the lay of the land.

Then I got to start on my office, or lack thereof. Since my position has been created as if from nowhere, there is not a space for me to move into... There is however a big room in the back part of the factory which houses a large pattern printer- it is about 8 feet long, and there is a computer which houses it's software... it's on a desk, and apparently, I sit at it. The printer is loud and the sewing machines clatter along. It's a little windowless, a little bleak, but I have some ideas of how to make it my own, hopefully I will share some pictures soon.

The fun part- I get to print patterns all day, and I will be learning how to manipulate and grade them on the plotter system which goes with the printer. The plotting and designing bit of my job will be basic, but the experience and practice is going to do phenomenal things for my job options down the road. The supply chain stuff will be important for me if I ever do start myself a small business- I will need to know the ins and outs of all this accounting and manufacturing software.

So... How are you?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Open to Experiences

My new job starts Monday. I am filled with fear, trepidation.

I worry that I will not know everything, that I will be missing key knowledge. While working at my other job, I heard people around me talking about programs that I have yet to learn, things which are important for moving up at The City... Things which I could have learned to further my career with them...

But this also excites me, and gets my motor going. If I am missing key info that I should know, I will have the opportunity to learn. That means that I am still finding something to do, something to jam into my head... If you're not growing, then you must be shrinking away right? Is there such as thing as static existence in regards to humanity? Learning is proof of vitality. People who are 'over' the thirst for knowledge... To me it comes off a bit like giving up. As long as you're pushing forward somehow, then you're making progress.

My new job involves communicating with factories in Mexico. I took some Spanish in high school and college, and traveled in south america, but I am no where near fluent. I am hoping I will have a chance to take some more school, or even some Rosetta Stone self learning to become better able to communicate with my counterparts. Additionally, I want to do some hard core learning of some things which I have not mastered to do with my field- further classes in Illustrator, Photoshop, pattern plotting via autoCAD type computer programs. These are all things which I have worked with for school, but I now have a paying reason to keep my head in the game and my eye on toning my big grey muscle.

Learn Learn Learn. This is my new mantra. Kind of surprising that this still keeps me going, and I am done school.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

New World!

Ok, so blogger uploaded these pics backwards. The blue coveralls are the original, and they look weird and orange when they are post burn. But cool, right?

That's right friends. I fell off the blog-wagon again. I will not be deterred, I will continue on as a fledgling online rambler, if not only for my own ego (or something) but to encourage myself to keep my design directives in mind in all I do.

I was offered a job in my field, and I took it. This adventure begins November 1. Currently I am working with the City of Edmonton, as a 311 operator. 311 is a great service that lots of cities have, they help you plan transit routes, they will help you get your kids into swimming lessons, call out zoning inspectors or advise you on permits, or renew business or pet licenses... anything that falls under municipal jurisdiction is handled at least in the preliminary stages by this call center. It pays well, it's easy, I could probably get on as permanent (I'm currently temporary) and work there or move up with the city and retire and ... be utterly bored with my job. So when I received an e-mail from on of my profs, I was eager to apply, but terrified of getting my hopes up.

The job itself is a mixed bag- I will be taking over responsibilities from the COO and design manager of a small apparel company which is growing, and to encourage that growth, I get to deal with smaller operations related to production. I will be doing a lot of the planning and maintenance in regards to production, ensuring that the spec packs (the information packets which contain all design details to the utmost minutia) are correct for each order, and communicating with the manufacturers in regards to delivery dates and product quality. There's a whole whack of other little stuff I get to deal with, but I will learn and chat more about that when I actually start the job.

It's a way in. It's technical experience related to my degree. My convocation is November 17, 2010. I have beaten the odds to have found (nay, be sought out to fill) a related career building position before I have technically even graduated. It is a matter of personal agency- do I see this as an opportunity, or stick with old reliable- The City and all the security it brings.

My family is a little scared for me. As a newer company, this is not necessarily a secure place for a new grad to be. If cutbacks need to be made, would I be on the chopping block? Maybe. Is The City a better choice in regards to guaranteed wages, the promise of benefits, security of just staying put and be paid more after time because I have seniority? Yes, The City is a safe route.
Recently, my regional manager at The Castle (yes I am still there too, for work clothes discount, the staff, and some money) mentioned that I could have my own store (as manager). I know that there are safe, fairly easy to access options which would provide a more secure position than the one I will be starting November 1, 2010. I also know that I would be capable of running a retail chain store with nothing but my high school diploma and work experience, and the same goes for The City. I am looking for a challenge. Something that actually utilizes my degree, even in the smallest way, or in a way that I wasn't expecting. And I have found that. Whether I work there for two years or twenty, this company is giving me the opportunity to geek out on fabric science and work in the apparel industry. The experience is priceless, because even if long term things don't work out, I will have something to put on my resume which shows I have kept up my skills, and am capable of working in this industry.

The job itself is absolutely an adventure- I am a new addition, not a replacement, and the COO would like to keep building and growing, developing a team to manage the things I am doing, once they get big enough to merit more employees. Until then, I am going to get a lot of experience in a lot of things, and be a scheduling maniac and organizational genius. Naturally.

The pay is competitive- comparable to starting wage at any company here in Edmonton. I am making slightly less than I was at The City, but I don't pay union dues, I get full time hours (I was PT at The City), I will work office hours instead of shift, and I do get benefits after three months. All in all, not shabby for an almost graduate.

The rub: Professional life meets personal: I was not the only new grad who was up for this position. One of my favorite people in the whole wide world applied, interviewed, and was not successful. Sure, I am happy I got the job, but this was not a fun experience. It flat out sucks that one of my best friends didn't get her dream job, not to mention that I did, and that it was the same job. We had to reassure each other that regardless of outcome, there would be no hard feelings, we would maintain that as a professional issue. That doesn't mean the hurt isn't there, that she isn't affected by the opportunity going to someone else. It means she's being strong about it. Which is a lesson I would rather learn with her, together in this situation, because I know we are close enough to muddle through the awkward bits. Other friends I would worry about anger, or pettiness. So I guess that's the bright side.

Anyways, I have to get all fancy for my weekend job, slinging clothes to the masses. Have a wonderful day all, and there will surely be more to come.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Follow the Yellow Brick Road...

Well, this Dorothy is ready to be home, and she is not wearing any ruby slippers, she just needs to get in the car and drive. Maybe I am not Dorothy, I am on some kind of journey, but it feels more like a chase...

One more day of this world: Measuring, noting changes in specifications, keeping the fit model happy, trying to maintain the balance of just being 'the temp'

It's hard. I think I have had a hard time being the full time temp because when things aren't permanent, I don't sink my teeth into them the same way. Even if it was the BEST peach, if I know I have to give half of it to my crummy brother, then it's NOT the best peach, y'know?

So I have been extra homesick, I have been extra critical of the job, fellow employees, the system at my workplace, without really being honest to myself about the good things. I worked with an excellent team, and fell into rhythm with the staff very quickly, and if I felt secure in my position, I might have thrived on the challenges, the problem solving demanded, the lack of structure and support for matrices and tracking, because all those things are things I LOVE to deal with daily. But when you know that you solve their problem and then walk away, without any of the positive turnaround, without knowing if someone will unhinge all your work, without knowing that the process will be adhered to responsibly, it makes things just seem daunting, instead of hella awesome, the way I usually see challenges. It's weird that I get all jonesed up about organizing things, since I am a scatterbrain, but I also love puzzles, which is how i try to approach these things. I just want people to care about the solution. I guess it would be like giving up a puppy that you took care of- I'm not even going to think of equating it to giving up a kid, because frankly that's crazy (I don't think ANYONE loves their job THAT much and if you do, you have problems!) Since I knew my job was finite, it was easy to just see all these issues as issues- things which were wrong, and not have the time to fix it, and so I just saw it as negative features of the business. I will remember that this was a mindset to make it easier to let go, not a true reflection of the workplace.

I need to perk up my attitude for my return to The Castle (my old retail haunt, where I will be working part time to subsidize my picky job desires). I need to address my current job situation like a puzzle, and throw an amazing solution (i.e.: me) at all the problems (i.e. job openings) I encounter, with killer resume and kicking style (thank you The Castle, for giving me back my discount immediately, so I can rebuild wardrobe).

One person I love told me I look like Mae Whitman from a new movie where she plays a long lost love interest. She and another love interest fight for the spoils. I will turn this short lived job into a scorned lover, a fling that I not only think on, feel motivated by, and unwisely decide determines my whole life's unravelings. I will use this job to catapult to unreasonable successes, unmeasurable in the natural world. I will refuse to become a cartoon gravity statistic, and I will survive, move forward, and be awesome. Mainly I just wanted to shout out thanks for the compliment, because Mae is a fox, and I think I maybe have the hair. I'm feeling a little zany, so this turned into a ramble, a slightly determined manifesto not to give up, but not be discouraged either. The reality is that the coyote has always loved roadrunner, and I will love this job, when it comes to me at the right time. I will keep chasing it, and I will work harder on looking like a superhero saucepot while doing it.

That's all f.olks

Monday, August 9, 2010

Que Sera

These are a few little crafty goodies I have been playing around with, I bought a felting tool from a crazy quilt shop in the mountains recently, and these are a couple of things I made.... a work in progress, I am sure you all understand... (The one with the word says RUBY, but the camera flipped the image, and my photo editor doesn't have a mirror flip option, so just deal with it!)

I am encouraged in my pursuit of design by several things:
  • My art teacher in high school who gave many practical job listings which someone could do which involved art- he pushed you to pursue the marketable nature behind being a hippy dippy pie in the sky creative type
  • Watching FTV and, you learn that designers often dress far worse than their brains create for others- I have the first part down...
  • I love other things too. Meaning if I don't create the next big thing, I will still find something I love to do (I'm even okay if it takes awhile)
  • I can (and likely will) jump on board the Etsy train when I finally settle down enough to make some goodies
  • Some mischief making friends of mine have big plans for a weird creative statement, that I would love to take part in. Think 'Fight Club' project mayhem, but with PRETTY instead of DESTRUCTIVE
What keeps you going? How do you know you are doing what you should be doing?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Back to the Grindstone

Well. Abandonment makes the heart grow fonder I suppose...But I am back. and soon things will be 'back to normal' whatever that means...

After weeks of working with a design team, here are the things I have learned:
  • Measuring garments may be monotonous, but seeing things change each time the manufacturer sends them back is in the long run exciting
  • Different buyers have different expectations from Spec Technicians. Some of them want your feedback on things such as style, colour, relevance to the target customer. Others think they know best and don't care for feedback
  • Spec Technicians and buyers often don't agree on what the target customer wants
  • Some manufacturers never listen, never learn, and refuse to improve
  • Buyers should know their manufacturers, and follow through on canceling when they still have time to buy other product, instead of pushing through product which is not good because they have to have SOMETHING to sell.
It's interesting to see the politics and the decisions that have to be made in order to fill stores with clothes. The ins and outs of the work room, all the people coordinating the shipments, orders, and delivery from manufacturer to warehouse to store, it all is a lot more clear than it was in school. It has been the movement from the theoretical to the real, applied experience.

It has been invaluable. Really sad that it won't turn into something longer term, but not the end of the world, because I have been WICKED homesick and weekends have been spent just being lazy and hanging out at home because it's HOME. I think it has been worse because I get to come home each week. If it was farther, I think it may be easier, because I would get used to being away. Which is why I am expanding my search for textile related jobs to everywhere... if I have to be away, maybe it would be better to be FAR away, and stuck there for awhile.

I know that in order for my career to advance, I will likely need to be away from my world for a long period of time. I know that it will be lonely and sometimes discouraging, and the money will probably suck. Bear and I have not decided whether he would pack up and follow shortly after job is obtained, or if he would stay in Edmonton for long periods, or what may happen. We both know that depending on where this job may come from, and how much it pays, and where he is in school, and everything else in the mix of this, the answers may change. We're jumpers, not planners, so I think that deciding in the moment is just how we roll.

Have you ever lived away from what you consider to be your home, for work, temporary or to prepare for the permanent move? Words of wisdom?

The pictures today and what they mean to me, and my upcoming choices:
1) This photo is full of symbology (that's a real word, it's just a terrible word... but it's an inside joke to me, so deal with it) all that 'it's not the destination, it's the journey' jargon....
2) My bear, giving his best puppy dog eyes. In this picture he's asking for a baby, but its similar to the way he looks when I come home- happy to see me
3) This is from a big long trip I took alone last summer, and some beauty that came out of it: sometimes being away from home is awesome- This photo helps me remember that
3) Some clothes I have made, they are an important part of who I am- I learned some important lessons about my design process with these items. Plus my buddy is pretty gorgeous, no?
4) The wind will take me where it may.

Goals: Blog twice a week- once about design, once about my endeavors to get back on the volunteer train with my old community roots. So I will see you guys soon! (For real this time)!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Looking for my Lilypad

So. I am working in my field. The position I have is probably not long term, which makes me sad. It is not perfect by any means, but the longer I work here, the more likely I will prove I have the skills to work elsewhere. I am right now working endlessly trying to find my next step...

At my workplace, many of the staff I work with have identified themselves as planners: they like to know what they're doing in advance. If they are going to a city, they want a hotel booked, with a plan of things to do each day and maps of how to get from each activity.

When I try to plan things like this (for myself) I usually do things like: make a big book of all the things I want to see in all the countries I want to see, come up with the schedule, use a back portion of the notebook to record addresses of the people I know and love to send them post cards- basically come up with my own little 'sho.estring' guide...

And promptly forget the whole thing on the plane, under my bed, or in the airport. I talk a good game, and can even plan the whole thing. It's the execution that i fail at. And I know why...
I'm a leaper. My best decisions come out of just GOING. Just BEING. Just DOING. When I sit around and think about it, I get muddled in the many decisions and decide to do all of them, leading to an overstressed time crunch, leading to pretty much NONE of my plans working out.

So I leap. I am Francois the frog. Or Sabine, because that's a way nicer french name in my opinion. Anyways. Back to it- I leap... From one decision to the other. All that matters is that this next lilypad I am headed to happens to be above water for the time being. By the time it starts to sink from my weight, I will be two lilypads away.... And it works, because if I stop and think about it, thats when my world crashes around me.

While discussing this in the design room.... One of the designers told me she was having anxiety just thinking about how she would react under these circumstances.

That is why the world is so beautiful- I need people like her to reign me in, point out logic, reason, all those things which just don't come to mind when I'm sink or swimming.... and she needs me because I bring the whacky, the unexpected, reminding her that scheduling fun into the mix is important.

So I am looking for my next lilypad right now, applying everywhere from the government, jobs in the USA, jobs east and west, and of course some that land me right back in my pond next to my favorite bear (the DH, who I miss like nuts until our weekends of reunion.) Of course, I would prefer the perfect job at a place which works with design, and they're eco, and they're fashion forward, and kind of sporty, and committed to ethical treatment of factory workers in a very hands on way... Whether I will find that immediately is not going to stop me from pursuing every avenue I can find. It's not settling, it's a stepping stone.

So that's my world right now. I will tell you more about my job next time. Sorry I deserted everyone for so long!

P.s> This picture is from last summer. This geese family tends to nest right downtown, and then has to slowly migrate through traffic and parking lots and past countless startled suits to make their way to the river valley where they take their babies swimming... It's so cute, and causes quite the ruckus. It looks like I am not the only one who doesn't plan ahead and things still turn out ok!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Done and Done

I have finished my placement, 200 hours of my life, most of it in front of a computer.
In the end, my report - the big project of my placement- ended quite well. I had contacted a few folk in the industry and actually got to talk to them about the challenges of their uniforms. I got to speak to people who make the fabric. I figured out all sorts of crazy connections that the makers of Canada's military everyday wear have to the Queen's Royal Buttonmaker (Yes. That's a real thing). I learned all sorts of crazy stuff about regulations and acts and legislation and standards. Boy oh boy. In the end, it was a lot of information to go through, and my boss' and my practicum supervisor all discussed how much businesses could benefit if companies made it a priority to assign workers to researching things. Of course, that's hard to do, which is why I am not getting a job out of this... but my research report looks pretty nice all fancy in a binder, and had some recommendations which applied not just to their niche markets (the big fancy pants industries out east) but also to the other markets they serve: Small based businesses within Alberta and BC need to know about all their weird sales (tonnes and tonnes of serger and sewing thread at $2-3 per giant spool [I think about 10000 m]). I told them about all my friends with small businesses making things like receiving blankets and purses and jewelry- things which need all the supplies they sell. My friends don't come to see the warehouse because they don't know about it. The cheap, easy, fun answer, which also helps market to safety associations and businesses out east? Twitter and Facebook. Ok, I'm not a genius, I'm just 10-15 years younger than they are, so I get how useful it will be. I suggested they post pictures of their customers goods- things made out of their goods. We serve a lot of First Nations bands who buy bolts of beautiful fabric to make dance costumes and flags for their celebrations. We sell high quality dance and athletic fabric for custom dance and figure skating costumes. We sell industrial quality fabric patterns which fit sizes 2 years to plus size (in ONE pattern. CRAZY!) I would love to see the end of all the things I packed up for people. In talking about these things, I think they finally started seeing the relevance of these different networking systems, and have already put someone on staff in charge of getting their profile set up. At least one thing changed from my participation!

One of my personal objectives was to compare the cost of goods to make some garments from this wholesaler compared to the fabric stores I actually used for the garments I made in class a few years ago. Much of the fabric within my site was better quality, and so was a little more expensive, even at the reduced prices of wholesale. Zippers, buttons, thread etc was much cheaper than in the other stores. In the end, the final cost of the garment was 10-15% more expensive to produce, but was made of exemplary goods, so I think my site still came out on top of the fabric stores.

I have a week to myself to pack and get my stuff together for my new job down in Calgary.
Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Decisions Decisions

Speaking of priorities…

How much loyalty do you have to your workplace? How much are you willing to change your life based on what you want to do?

I was offered a position with a design team for a men’s wear line. It’s temporary, it’s entry level. It’s three hours away from my current city.

The Pros:
• It’s an immediate job, in the field I want to work in, which is notoriously hard to get into as a newbie.
• My parents live in Calgary, where the office is located, so while working the temporary position, I have a place to live. (and my dad will probably change my oil for me… awww)
• One of my most fun fellow students is also working there, and we both have big dreams of working with fun outdoor camping gear etc. someday.
• I would have weekends off, so I would be able to come home to my Bear

The Cons:
• I have to quit my current job immediately, meaning I disappoint some very loved management, and fellow staffies…
• I have to live away from my home, cats, clothing that I know and love
• I don’t get to see most of the people that I know and love in Edmonton, because I will be gone most of the week
• I would be gone during the week, and would very much miss my Bear. We are very snuggly people, and it's very difficult to deal with not being together, although we have done it before, for longer stretches than a week

Then the next issue is if the job turns into a permanent job offer. That takes on a whole different whack of questions: my world is built in Edmonton, so when considering a move, one also has to consider what will not only change, but what will be better, what will be worse?

But for right now, that’s looking a gift horse in the mouth according to my husband (except he is terrified of horses so he would never use that phrase). A job offer, in my field, for any amount of time just days after I finish my practicum is pretty much a picture perfect ending right? So I am (we are) moving forward right now on this, with the intention of giving Cow-town (as it’s called) my best shot.

Oh quandary!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I am the queen of procrastination sometimes. Not because I like to be, but because I find I always tend to over commit, I also get very unmotivated until a few minutes before the end of the game- that’s when I get all inspired and energetic. I find it is also similar when reviewing my daily ritual. I don’t really get going until at earliest 11 a.m. and I am buzzing at the end of the day when I should be going to sleep. I am usually thinking about all the things I want to get up at 7 a.m. and do, but don’t bother when I finally drag myself out from under the covers at 9… One of the things I have put on the backburner of my summer has been a project I promised to do for the HEcol quite some time ago. It has buzzed at the back of my brain for months, and I think that once my practicum is over, I need to commit to getting it done. I am saying this ‘out here’ in the wide world of interweb because it is kind of a social conscience contract: I need to follow through because I told you (all 5 of you) that I would. Where I am working right now I have committed to finishing a project for them with a concise conclusion. No one knows what that conclusion will be just yet, because it is evolving as it develops. But I will finish it, my grade, my reference, and my pride depends on it. I need to prioritize and respect my commitments and follow through always, as if these important things were always on the line, because from the stance of my personal integrity, that is the case. Plus, maybe I will fall asleep faster.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Workin' in a Coal Mine

Okay. So... Channel the miner within.....

I have been in a mine once - I took a tour of a silver mine in Pitosi way back when I was a barely 18 traveller fresh outta high school. Thinking back on it, or admittidely, during that tour, I was very aware of how differently it must run than mines in Canada, and how incredibly unsafe the practices probably were within the mine. People worked independantly, in their own claimed tunnels, and would blast with open dynamite. The people who survived and made a good living were those who basically lucked out, or got a 'good feeling' for the mountain: inherent knowledge of how blasts would affect the tunnels, a sense of the physics of their operation, leading to continued life. Most chalked it up to leaving cigarettes and beer at the foot of their homage- a shrine of the old earth god in the middle of the mine. The fact that they even let the public into tour the mine was baffling, but was an experience I will never forget.

Now, I am working with the opportunity to help people who already have a tonne of safety on their side, comparatively. The level of safety improvements I can bring involve longevity of wear, the weight and fit of some accessories, as well as the quality of the reflective or fire protective gear provides. It's a big deal, and yet I can't help but feel proud that Canada already protects our mine workers the way we do. We already have put people in a better near environment than many other places do. Go Canada!

p.s. Two posts in one day. Go me!

Today! Good Day! I've Decided!

I bought some gluten free bagels and ate one for breakfast here at my practicum, celebrating the last two weeks of my journey. So far, I have learned a lot about industry regulations related to high visibility and arc resistant and fire retardent wear. For instance, I have learned that they take quite some time to find on the internet. I did it, and thats what matters. Go me!

My project has refined down, now I am trying to contact the end users of these garments: what do they like, what do they need? what could make it better?

Gosh. I wish someone would call me and ask that about my clothes. Then I really would have no time to blog.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Under the Weather

Well, as you may have guessed, I am not feeling well. I spent the weekend fighting a vicious cold, and ended up taking a day off of my practicum in order to rest even more. It was a long weekend to boot, so I spent 4 days basically laid up. I am back at it today, but I am not very enthusiastic, it's midway through the day and I am already tuckered out. That said, I did make a really great soup last night, which is helping me through... I figured I would share the recipe so that I don't forget it...
Alex's 45 minute Do Almost Nothing Chicken Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
3 strips turkey bacon
1/2 white onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 teaspoon cumin
2 chicken breasts, chopped into 1 inch peices
3 red potatoes, chopped into 1.5 inch peices
3/4 cup red lentils
6 cups water
6 branches kale, stem removed and chopped to bite size peices
Heat pot, and oil. Medium heat my friends. We can't all be heros.
Add onions, bacon and garlic, and seasoning until onions are sweating/browning.
Add chicken breast, allow chicken to brown a bit, cook about 1/2 way through. (10 minute nap)
Add lentils and potatoes, 3 cups of water, and allow the flavours to blend (10 minute nap)
Add the rest of the water, cover and let it boil a bit (10 minute nap)
Add kale and simmer for 5 minutes.
Makes: 6 cups of earthy deliciousness. Obviously, you can add anything you like- carrots, celery, not add the bacon, use different seasoning... there are variations of every thing... but this is what I did, and it sortof made me feel a bit better.
How does this make me a better human ecologist? Well, I am back at work today, and strong enough to survive till home-time, so I guess thats all that can be hoped for in this ill begotten situation. Get it- Ill? I'm Ill, and it's Ill begotten?
Ha! I crack myself up.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Work Work Work

Alright. So here it is.

I am working in an office of a big-little company. I say that because to be honest, there is a lot going on, there is a lot of work, but it’s fairly specialized- each person is an expert at their own thing, so everyone is in their own little corner doing stuff. There’s around 20 people working.

There is an office, and a warehouse. The warehouse is where they keep all the fabric (drool). They run a by the meter section for small business people (seamstresses and designers etc) and then all the big by the roll stuff is in the very back.

I am charged with a marketing review project. I have to do one big project for my practicum, so the company has asked me to review the markets of Eastern Canada, and then possibly the United States and Mexico. My main sources of information are a few contacts within our suppliers, and the web.

Do you remember when the internet was fist coming out, and people thought- ‘everything is going to be on the web. You want to read a book? BAM, on the interweb. You want to Watch TV? DONE- Next Top Model at your fingertips! You want the regulations for all the possibly relevant markets in Eastern Canada concerning the application of Fire Retardant or Hi Visibility tape? BOOOM. Roasted. Like butter. It’s so easy, it makes your momma look like a saint. (Is that appropriate? Probably not. I’m sorry for the ‘your mama’ joke, but honestly, my posts have been so dry lately. I mean- I told you guys about chicken chasing for goodness sakes. It had to be done).

Yeh. They make it sound so easy. So I amend my statement from yesterday. It is not boring, it is hard, and it is tedious. I find some things which may help us get into the markets, if we find out the markets are important, but there’s nothing really connecting the dots. I hope it will all come together and be fabulous, please cross your fingers for me!

How does this help me as a Human Ecologist? Well, it’s a lesson in hard work for starters. I chose textiles because I don’t think I have the mental capacity to withstand the heartbreak of the social work/psychology/family ecology world. But that doesn’t mean that textiles will always be a bucket of daisies, sunshine and puppies. The regulations I am looking for are out there, and they are there to ensure that people who work in construction, first response, electrical work and elsewhere are visible and protected. The company I am doing the research for is an ethical company that really wants to endorse the safest products. They desire to find solutions that will not just meet requirements, but withstand the rigorous life the garments will lead, and provide the protection until the garment is done with. They work with showing the end user and the manufacturer why their product is the right choice because it will last and will be safe. A lot of other suppliers feel they will provide something which meets the requirement and it is the onus of the consumer to ensure that it stands up. In this way, my work can benefit the people who put their lives at risk for their jobs every day.

So go me!
This is what I’m doing, but I always have other stuff on the go. For instance… I have had some follow up from a couture wedding gown designer who I will be meeting with soon to profile her work in Edmonton, so stay tuned!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Getting my Pheathers Wet

Things I have learned while working for a textiles supplier:

• Sometimes research is boring
• Becoming competent with technology and specs for technical applications is something I will need to do, even if it’s on my own time.
• Chasing pheasants is FUN

Ok, so here’s the story: The break room is really quite alright, it’s a little boring. Microwave, toaster oven, a direct hot spout so you can make tea fast anytime, coffeemaker, fridge, it’s all good. Spring has finally broken into some semblance of decent weather, and we are hitting 15-25 degrees Celsius most days. So sunshine is my friend! I realized (after my first day of sitting on the sidewalk ledge) that there was a rickety picnic table on the edge of our property. So then I sped towards it.

Enter my daily entertainment.

Each day, I scare two little pheasants out from under the table. I don’t know if they are just hanging out, I don’t know if there is a nest of babies, I don’t know if they’re always different pheasants and Alberta has this secretly huge population of this pretty and kinda larger than average bird. The funniest part is they don’t fly away, they scuttle. They just run to other bushes nearby. I don’t know if they’re like chickens and they can’t, but they look hilarious wobbling about, quite sad that I have disabled their shaded liaison for the next half hour…

How does that help me as a human ecologist? Well, right now, it is the brightest part of my day, I get to relax, I am outside in the sun, and I just mull on the delicious things I am eating. It is improving my near environment, which is what Human Ecology is all about.

I will tell you all more about the nitty gritty of my placement soon!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cozying up to the players

First posting in regards to my practicum.

My week was spent in Banff Alberta. I was at the Petroleum Safety Conference. I think this was a great introduction to my practicum: The first day, I was able to basically walk around and visit all the other displays at the trade show. My two 'bosses' were taking care of our booth, or going to the many different proceedings offered: discussions of new safety standards, management issues affecting safety, and more. I was given free reign, to explore. Boy oh boy! Do I have the SWAG (Stuff We All Get)
to show it. There was tonnes of goodies; some free samples for cleaning stuff, glo strips (which I attached to my friend K for safety's sake), a level/screwdriver/flashlight, a sweater, all sorts of stuff. Our company supplies awesome fabric and more to many awesome companies, so instead of giving out pieces of fabric, they gave out something which would connect with the people who were at the conference. This is apparently the 'fun' conference, the conference which gets business done after hours, and the morning after to show it. These are relaxed people who also come to have a good time, make some deals over dinner, and check out what everyone has going on at the trade show.

Enter the 'Tradeshow Survival Kit' a branded, pocket sized packet of goodies, free for everyone: hand sanitizer, painkillers, antacid, band-aids, and finger protectors (insert slightly inappropriate joke here). The truth is this: the many suppliers my practicum site uses are present at this show, but are already working and communicating with our site on a regular basis. All the manufacturers who use this business as a supplier were also at the conference, showing their wares, and again, communicate with us regularly. The importance of this conference is brand recognition, having people who purchase from all the manufacturers knowing and equating our company with quality product. They (We?) are there just to be recognized and be present.

I visited and talked to all the different competitors and partners. Most people were super friendly. Some competitors saw my company name and weren't very nice. Some manufacturers were missing information, stuff which I would think was key :
Me: Why would i choose you as a safety clothing provider
Them: Why wouldn't you? (nervous laughter) Uh... I guess we focus on service
Me: (in brain) Wow. That was a terrible answer. If service is what you offer, sell me that, don't just say "why not"... because my thought is "because I want the best, I don't want to catch on fire."

Later in the conference I got to work the booth, handing out our fabulous nifty gifties, I got to lunch with my main practicum coordinator, and unfortunately, turned down a fabulous dinner invitation because of my dietary restrictions (it was an evening meeting at a fondue place. I basically would have been eating a piece of meat...)

The best part of this was the informal conversation I got to have with my practicum overseers. There was no formal organization of my participation, and we had lots of time to chat when the booth was slow. I think it overcame a lot of the usual awkwardness a person encounters in a new situation, before the real work begins. Monday, (aka today I guess) I will show up and already have a rapport with the bosses! Horray!

I camped with my husband and besty for the week, we had an awesome time, I had a rough time keeping my work clothes from smelling like campfire, but other than that it was amazing.

Boy have I missed blogging! Pictures to come!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Like Pulling Teeth!

Ok. So. I am done all my EXAMS, now just my practicum left.

It seems so easy right, thats nothing. Just a month and a half, and I am home free.
But that seems like so long to me right now. This is what I'm dealing with:

1- The number of years my husband put off school so I could finish first
2- The number of cats we have that I can't be away from for a long time
3- the number of months of an internship with the store I work with now may be able to give me
4- the number of countries I would like to visit if I had the opportunity to go on a trip
5- the number of job postings just within my stores corporate office that I think would be fun
6- the number of months I think it takes (at least) to find jobs within my field of practice when graduated

I am so anxious to be done, but I have no idea what will happen when it occurs. I want so badly to be there already! I want to work work work! Building success starts with a first step.

I still feel far away.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Grad Night!

Yesterday was my Graduation Dinner, which is more exciting and emotional for me than my actual convocation, which will occur in November. My parents were there, which was fabulous, and I ended up with a whole table of people on my side: my husband, his parents, my sister in law and my grandma in law... It was a big turn out! The food was good, the ring ceremony and pledge of human ecology was good, and I made a toast to the textiles grads, which went... OK. I was super emotional, because I believe so strongly in Human Ecology as a positive approach to the textiles world, so it was a little shaky. I persevered, and here's what I said (more or less):

Good evening grads. I was asked to toast this evening because I am inspired by the human ecological perspective and its role for Textiles graduates. Some may call into question the relevance of the `fashion designers´, the 'merchandisers´, the `museum conservationists´ and the `Interior designers´ within Human Ecology. This is where I feel that it´s important to remind all of us grads where our responsibility lies.

The fashion and design industry has always played a formidable part in bringing about change and social understanding. Think about the feminist movement, and how strongly fashion influenced, was influenced, and continues to evolve based on the changing roles of women.

Consider the landmark awareness campaigns:
The red ribbon for AIDS in the 90´s
The pink ribbon for breast cancer
The live strong bracelets
Campaign Project Red
Each movement is strongly supported by designers worldwide, and is integrally linked to clothing, style, and aesthetic to market these important awareness and fundraising tools. As graduates of a program which fosters the idea of bettering humanity as a whole, we are the new generation entrusted with continuing this support.

As innovators, motivators, and passionate professionals, we are being handed the responsibility to forge ahead into our careers as responsible agents for change.

Interiors minors: you have an integral impact on how people interact with their environment everyday. You can influence peoples ethical choices for design in regards to sustainability, choosing to encourage choices such as LEED building.

For conservation graduates: you are the people who will represent and acknowledge the changes which have occurred, and tell the stories through the things which remain.

Merchandisers and Product Development minors: it will be up to you to convey conscious messages from whatever company you work for, and advocate for equality and dignity from design, sourcing, down the line to delivery to the consumer.

We are qualified for choosing safe reliable textiles in all our endeavors, and this knowledge should not be wasted.

In short, it is our job to work together, and make the world better.

To our families, friends, and beloved faculty members who have met with us tonight: for the past years you have supported and cheered us on through the ups and downs of group projects and unending lab hours. You have watched our projects come together, or be ripped apart. You have seen us at our best and our worst, and now you watch it come to fruition. Thank you so much for your unfailing support, and please continue to challenge us to live our lives to our full potential. Please raise your glasses and join me in toasting the graduating class of 2010.

I toasted the Textiles grads, and a Family Ecology grad toasted her side of the department. It went well, and (hurray and thank goodness!) it's now over.

The next step of the journey is my practicum. The good news for you all: I have to blog at LEAST eighteen times about my transition from student to professional. Aren't you guys excited? Check back soon!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Textiles Full Steam Ahead

Soooo..... Today is the second last day of class. I worked closely with two other girls on some fabulous papers... and we started to call ourselves the Textiles Team... but when that's on a wiki page address it looks like textilesteam which could also be textiles steam... steam... steam engine.

Like a train. Moving forward.

I Like it.

Congratulations everyone who has finished some big stuff lately- onwards to the next amazing destination.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Putting Stuff in the Room!

Here are some photos and a link to the blog describing my class where we are building an exhibit about material culture in the home. It opens after the weekend, so we are so tight for time! A few other students and myself decided to do a big push today, so lots of the goodies are in the room. This means I only have to worry about two other projects, dinner with the in-laws and my parents and sister being in town for the weekend.

Here's to making it work!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spotlight on Sabrina Butterfly

Photo Courtesy of SBD

This is my first designer interview, so forgive me if I didn't ask any of the things you wanted to know, and concentrated on things I have always wondered about when it comes to the wonderful world of retail, and transitioning from designer to small business owner, and finding balance for it all.

Sabrina Butterfly
is a beautiful store located in one of my favorite areas in Edmonton. There is no doubt that the location suits the store, with a small collection of other quaint shops nestled in the north east of our city. What took me by surprise was when I was at Edmonton Fashion Week (way back when) and saw a show of incredibly balanced, innovative and flattering clothing, and did some digging to find out that it was designed by someone right here in Edmonton, and that I had been missing out on beautiful clothes. Even better, the designer behind the line was the first to agree to talk to me about why and how she makes the magic happen.

I was drawn to her clothing because of her historically inspired fashions with sophisticated colour schemes. I queried if this was the evolution of her personal aesthetic or a response to the Edmonton market? (Click on the picture above, it will take you to her blog showing her line- clothes for everybody!)

My designs are timeless, which means I am drawing inspiration from past collections or silhouettes from the past and putting a new twist into them. This makes them feel very classic and easy to wear but yet truly unique with the fabrics I chose and the details I add.
I love many eras, from the 1920s - 60's.

It's sometimes nice to play with design concepts that were once very flattering for certain body types. I am definitely all about fit and making clothing for the average women. I try to size my clothing a little bigger than your typical size run. I feel it's more real.

Sometimes my inspiration starts with fabrics that I have around in my studio. And then I build on that. I tend to buy fabrics whenever I see something I like. I don't usually buy all my fabrics at once for a certain season. I may use it a year later when I see a color trend or have decided exactly what I want to make with that fabric. So to say the least, I have a pretty big fabric collection!

I do have many basic designs within my line, that I repeat each season in different fabrics.
This really helps with designing a collection, as I always know those designs will be my foundation and whatever new designs I bring forth that season will stand out even more. My customers seem to love this because when they do have a favorite pant, skirt or top, it's really nice to have it in different fabrics which creates a whole different look but yet has the same great fit.

I do sometimes draw inspiration from other designs that I see, through fashion magazines, websites, on the street, etc. I will take small design concepts from many different places and compile them into a garment. It's funny because sometimes something I originally saw, which could have been a picture, evolves into something totally different in the end result but yet it started with that idea. So what I am trying to say is it's not like I am copying a design completely I may just take certain aspects of that design and make it my own or transform the idea to make it work with the fabrics I am using.

Designing a collection is definitely the best part of my job, and I wish one day this is all I that I can be doing!

I wanted to know what are her biggest challenges as a small business operator? What are her successes, what makes her keep going? Does she attribute some of this to her Edmonton market? Sabrina also does some travelling sales. I am mystified at how she maintains her balance as a designer, a store owner, a sales person- what does she most enjoy? How does she manage it all?

The biggest challenge has been transitioning from designer to store owner; staying organized with of all the small stuff: including customer requests, items to bring to the store, thoughts I have about merchandising and then taking out the time to go and follow through with it. It's a whole other job!

Managing the store, communication being #1 with my staff, letting them know what's going through my mind and how I would like the store to be run or what sales and specials are happening. All 3 gals who work at the store are really great and definitely each bring their own creative ideas to work. I feel very confident that I can trust all of them to keep the store running smoothly.

And lastly is balancing my time between everything!!

Working in my studio, designing, pattern drafting, doing all my cutting for my line, ordering fabrics and notions, staying organized with the manufacturer....
And all jobs in between that include ordering product for the store, marketing, advertising, trying to come up with my next idea to get customers to come to the store more frequently.

These jobs are endless and it's a day to day process when trying to accomplish these tasks.

I try to make lists, so there are days when I work through them but there are also days when they are thrown out the window because something needs to be assessed immediately.

It takes a lot to have my mind rest and not think about work.

So then I asked her about what her aspirations are for the line and the store…Her goals are prepared, her vision is clear, the spring is coiled, now it’s just time for it to happen…

• To sell my clothing line to boutiques across Canada.
• To develop a solid line and catalogue so I can approach these boutiques in a buying season, to kick start my Wholesale collection…
• To bring my days as a traveling store to an end but then give my customers abroad a simple way to access my line…
• To create an on-line store. (But I would first have to figure out a standard size chart, as my line is pre-shrunk. I would only be able to sell certain garments, that customers know the fit of that fabric.)

Sabrina’s aspirations for her store:

• To continue as home for my clothing line and many other designers…
• Possibly expanding one day, so my studio and store can be all in one location.

Do you wake up every day and feel pretty awesome about making your passion your life?

Here's to my 12th year in design, I am still fulfilling my passion. Back in the Fall of 1998, I started designing my first collection under the label Sabrina Butterfly Designs. I remember how exciting it was to start seeing customers trying on and talking about the clothing. And to this day I still get the same sparkle in my eye when customers truly appreciate what I do and how my clothing makes them feel.

I love what I do for a living.

I am grateful for all the support I have received from my family and friends! It's been a long journey and they have helped me in so many ways along my path.

Because my blog delves into the idea of sustainability and (tries to address at least some) things Eco and ethical, I had to ask what her perspective was on the matter. Sabrina’s business uses Canadian manufacturing facilities. I wondered if she believed this commitment to Canadian manufacturing contributes to some of her business:

I think many consumers today want to know where the products they are buying are coming from and how they are being made.

I believe that "Made in Canada" products are very important to Canadians…Taking the small steps of letting go parts of my production has been hard and a big learning curve.

To still be involved, whether it's someone sewing from their home or having the product made in Canada, is something I can wrap my mind around.

I am a cottage industry.
I have always liked the idea of a community working together and supporting each other.

I do work with natural fiber fabrics but this only includes cotton and linen (some hemp). I haven't gone into organics, soy or bamboo. Love the fabrics but the overhead cost for the small amounts that I use double my retail prices. I try to keep most of the clothing I make affordable, I know there are a lot of designers using these materials but I just haven't found any of these fabrics within my budget.

I try to recycle what I don't use, so I pass on my scraps and larger pieces of fabrics, to other designers who make hats and handbags.

When talking about the other names and goodies in her store:

Many of the designers I first started carrying in the store were friends and fellow crafters, who I had met at through the shows I had participated in. Our lines complimented each other and we had a similar customer market. This was an easy decision to make, as I knew we all had the same standards in quality workmanship and uniqueness.

When I source out new designers today, I look for those same qualities. I also love to find products no one else is carrying too. This is a tricky task. As there is a lot of stores who carry handmade items but many have decided to only carry Canadian Designers. I think this is great but if I wanted to have different designers in the store, I need to look elsewhere. So I look for designers who really stand out with their own individuality and innovative designs. I also look for different price points, to be able to offer the customer different options. I try to keep each category of designers down to a minimum so I don't saturate the store in a one similar product. Plus I want to give each designer their maximum exposure in my small 400 square foot space

Her words of wisdom for people who are looking for this adventure themselves:

My advice for an aspiring designer would be:
Baby steps are good.
• Research avenues that you can sell your work, whether it be through small or large craft shows, stores or festivals.
• Or if you have the financial back up go straight for some of the independent clothing stores. They are always great supporters of new designers. Some will consign your work, so this is a good way to start.
• Get out there to find out who your customer market is. Sometimes you must flow with what sells best. Embrace those designs as your "bread and butter" and then develop the rest of your line around it.
• Keep an email list, a wise soul suggested this to me and I am sure glad he did. This is the best way to keep in touch with your customers. This way you can keep them informed with what you are doing and where you are going to be next. They will follow you.
• Stay focused, this is probably the hardest part; especially if you work from home.
Goals are important to have. Keep them near, as the quicker you reach them the more positive you will feel about what you are doing.

I think the last point she offered was too pretty to add to this bullet list- its so apt for most of life…
Be patient, if it's in your heart and soul to do this, it will unfold for you in a loving way!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lots to do!

Well, this is just a post regarding why people work the way they do.

As I have mentioned, I recently was elected to be VP academic on my student association. I unfortunately had some issues clearing my work schedule, so today was the first meeting I was able to attend of the whole executive council.

There was a lot to go over, and I think my eyes are way to big for my stomach- there is so much I want to do, so much I feel I can accomplish, and so much I think I can help, or change.

Other people on the council seem to be more moderated. I don't know if its personality and they just take things slow, or from being overtired, or just that the meeting seemed like old hat... I am trying to let it make me even more enthusiastic, allow my passion to overrun or at least add some vivid colour back into this crew! We are all working together on this ship and we all have the ability to make it sail, or to make it sink.

How do you develop big vision or inspire big works from people who don't feel as passionate as you? Am I destined to be overwhelmed or burnt out?

I think attitude is capable of changing a situation. Perhaps that makes me an optimist, feeling that believing is half way to doing. I also think that even if it really isn't, at least one person in a collaboration needs to maintain that mantra, in order to provide the vision and inspiration for the people who are more realistically grounded or whatever you want to call it (cynical?)

So... here I go. Being the motivator. Horray Horray Horray!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

'I've Had Three R ed Bulls in 15 Minutes!'

That's not true people. It's just a quote from one of my favorite movies to watch when I need help being motivated. (Kn.ocked Up). I actually think that particular brand of energy drink tastes like cough syrup. If I am going to overload myself with caffeine, it will be with a patriotic slam of Beaver Buzz. Now that stuff is delicious jittery goodness. I am just being proactive with my blog because I have let it fall by the wayside.

So here's what I have done: I am embarking on a new journey of networking and self education. I am contacting independant shops- small businesses throughout Edmonton, to see what makes them special, to highlight why they are the successful little jewels of ingenuity in our little metropolis. I started with just one which really impressed me at Edmonton Fashion Week, and am expanding to hopefully make the interviews and highlights of these stores somewhat of a feature series for this blog. I hope it will be exciting, and even if you're all bored to tears, I am certain I will learn all sorts of goody information. (So there.)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Back to Being Accountable

So, I have been quite neglectful of this little corner of my world. Then this morning, while walking to my car, I realized that it was muddy and gross and needed a wash. Which made me think... "Wow. It's been almost a year since I started off with my car wash of just water... Go me!" When I am motivated to do one thing, I tend to get motivated about all the things going in my life. The past few months have been spent just treading water, mainly because I was trying to find the balance again, but now that things are in a good place, it's time to be 'Postive Positive Positive!' I hope you will see stuff from me more often, and hopefully be relatively entertained!

I took a position as VP Academic of my departments student's association. Since a lot of the academic issues are handled by profs, I have instead contacted the recruitment coordinator, and she asked me to do a short DVD that she can send out to schools so they know what our program is about and hopefully recruit students. I took several film classes back when I was a psych major drama minor (I know, how useless would that have been!) and am really excited to work on my editing skills again... I have totally twisted the arm of every prof and student I know, in the hopes that whenever and whatever I show up to film will be super... and I really hope I can put the video up here for you guys to watch- how exciting!

We had a stuff swap this past week for our department- Human Ecology students bringing in all sorts of goodies they don't want and sharing them, and taking others goodies if they want them. We ended up raising some money (by donation), and donated more than 8 garbage bags of clothes and household items to The Bissell Center which is a fabulous organization in Edmonton which helps pretty much anyone who needs it. This was a fabulous fit for Human Ecology: A beneficial community minded fund/stuff raiser fits with the Family Ecology side of our program, and the clothing swap fits with the fashion/design/sustainability side. Go us!

One of the classes I am in is putting together a gallery exhibit that challenges the concept of Authenticity: What is it, where does authentic start and fake begin? It's still fairly ethereal right now, but it definitely starts your brain thinking: a knock off designer purse is still a purse, so is it fake? Faux wood panel is obviously faux wood so do people just like the look of faux? This will all be a way longer post when the exhibit starts coming together and I have some artifacts to show you, but until then... just think about it. What makes an object authentic, or what makes it possess it's authenticity?

Friday, February 26, 2010

EEEEK! Project!

So I did my site visit for my practicum today. I will be working at a textiles distributors, specializing in industrial goodies. I found out some really interesting information, which makes me excited.
  • They are working on an aramid recycling program for all the specialty fabrics being used for protective fabrics, which is right up my sustainability alley
  • They don't just sell things, they research the standards and safety regulations of each industry, and then deliver information back to the production companys with not just recommendations, but samples and criteria of what will be best received by that industry, and that set of standards. There's a lot more design than I originally knew.
  • The Boss (et. al.) thrive on the challenge, it doesn't seem like too much of a boring office job
  • The back shop is full of FUN stuff: sequined fabrics, reflective tape, embroidery thread, weird ugly clearance 90's workout pant material

Friday, February 19, 2010

Textiles East

I am escaping. I am getting in my car, with my husband, and running away for three beautiful days.... I have been the ultimate hermit this week anyways...

I have started working on one of my final assignments: a report responding to one of three scenarios regarding the wear and usage of textiles... and I think I am going to geek out and do all three.

Horray for three days off.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


How much less
could a use less
if a use less

This is my new mantra.

Love the simple reminder to reduce.

Friday, January 29, 2010

No More Whining

Ok, I apologize for the grumpy befuddled "I hate big trucks" rant. Today is just a fun catch up posting, about where I'm at, what I'm doing, and how it all applies to *you guessed it* my life as a burgeoning Human Ecologist.

Today is a new day, and I am POSITIVE POSITIVE POSITIVE.
"I have had about three Red B.ulls in the last fifteen minutes."
(Not really, I think Red B.ull tastes like cough syrup, which makes me throw up a little, but I am caffeinated, and I slept through my first class this morning so I'm a little more peppy than usual... thus the run on sentences. My energy drink of choice [or my caffination process when all nighters with energy are required] is a Canadian brand called Beaver Buzz [weird I know, right?] which tastes pretty good, but then I mix it with Powerade and pineapple juice. Pineapple juice prevents your tummy from getting super acidy, which is always a problem when I pull all nighters, and Powerade keeps me hydrated, which is the worst part of energy drinks, aside from all the caffeine, weird colours and crazy ingredients they pretend are good for me but actually aren't. That's my trade secret, so keep it on the down low, but feel free to use it amongst yourselves and your loved ones.)

What am I up to? Well, I have been working a lot, and getting paid, which is fun! I am definitely feeling the pressure of less time than before, but it's not the same as when I worked on the other end of the city and had to drive there for 8 hours after my school, usually short shifts with some really fabulous girls who respect me, and I in turn reciprocate. I am totally trying to study or work on school junk at least a bit each night when I get home. I also have been working on my personal work project- finding a non profit organization willing to accept the 'damaged' goods from our store. Otherwise they just cut them to pieces so no one can pull them out of the trash and try to return them for store credit, and this whole theory makes me sad like a small emo-child in the corner. I came into the back room one day and I felt this huge ball in my stomach as the manager explained that we could prevent the slaughtering of all these relatively perfect goods if only we had someone with the time to make a few phone calls.


I started my mission by thinking about people I know who work with kids etc who would be willing to use the goods. One of my buddies is working with at risk youth teaching them to sew. Her organization doesn't have the storage capacity to take the goods right now, and since her program just started, the kids don't have the skills to rework the goods yet, so my search continues. My next choice was a shelter that has halfway houses which helps youth get into their own stable living situations, because they may need clothes for interviews or special events and they are just the kids who couldn't afford them. Often the items can't be sold because they have been worn and were returned by persnickety customers who were upset with a tiny problem. So they are SUPER nice clothes, but they have been worn. I still haven't heard back from them yet, so I will be moving on to some other groups soon if that doesn't pan out. Who knew it would take so much work to find people who want to take free stuff? WEIRD. But I will DO it.

(and yes, I am typing this all really fast, and feel like I'm talking at a million miles a second. Feel free to speed read to get the full on Alex P. on coffee experience.)

My Gluten Free World has benefited me as I am no longer covered in leprous splotches. This is a vast improvement. I have discovered that usually the only thing I can order at most restaurants is salad or nachos, and if its a pub or cheaper restaurant the nachos are usually the better choice because no one ever orders salad in those places, so its usually brown and gross. Nicer restaurants often have lots of neat options, but I am finding it way better if I just eat at home. This is good for my pocket book, and just my personal understanding of my body. I also use it as justification to have coffee from the green demon more often, because mocha syrup non fat americano mistos are practically the only yummy thing I can still have without a tonne of work. (Except for the gluten free chocolate covered donuts I found in the freezer aisle at the market down the street. I don't really like donuts normally, but these little bundles of joy were the only thing that kept me from having a melt down a few weeks ago when chocolate was an absolute necessity. And PROPS to my DH who went out and picked up a box this week 'just in case' I want more soon. Because he's Awesome. [capitalized for effect])

I am working on a group project related to hollow fiber sports wear, and this of course involves a lot of petroleum and unnatural based fiber usage. This usually makes me upset, because it's hard to think of all the stuff we are creating which doesn't break down and is just thrown away or not used to it's full capable extent. The other side of the argument is that this clothing is technical, and increases a persons comfort and is very appealing for many reasons, its wicking and durable, it makes exercise a more enjoyable experience. Awesome because health and body awareness are important. This particular Literature review has made me a bit happier. On the downside, I'm having trouble finding the exact papers I need, specifically about hollow fibers in sports wear. Since Human Ecology is such a small portion of the University, a lot of the textiles periodicals which may be useful are ones we have to request on Inter Library Loan, instead of having direct digital access. This is so frustrating since they have to ship the papers from whatever library in our network actually subscribes, which takes more time than we have, since we present on Wednesday of next week (EEEK). Wow. I digress. The good side of being really particular about my search parameters is that I am finding a lot of research about specialty fabrics which are being designed to have these technical aspects, but also to provide additional benefits to the environment like being recyclable (WOW) or even biodegradable (double WOW). The research itself is inspiring, because the textiles industry has long been a little behind in being socially responsible in pretty much every way shape and form (ethical labour practices, environmental procedures in development of textiles and garments, etc. .)
It is so good to see that not only does the industry understand that these items will help the world in the long run, but also that they need to be tested and shown to be just as effective as the articles we are using at this time. Because the research will lead to the production value.

OK. So that's where I am. Onward, Upward.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Squeezing Into the Green World

So, usually I leave my car at school in my parking garage, and use the light rail train (LRT) system or the bus to get around the city. Since I have recently gotten a job, and the LRT hasn't set up that far south yet (to be completed this summer probably) I am unable to do that, since the buses aren't fast enough. This means I drive my car to and from work many days, which is about a 5 minute drive. It's not great for the world, but keeping my car at the school still saves about 15 extra minutes of driving my car to my house, which is across the river.

Sometimes I think the world has become so accustomed to wealth that they now just equate 'doing well' to being a normal standard of living. People don't HAVE to have a truck, but it is a status symbol, a representation of where they are in the world, not caring if it uses more gas in the 20 minute drive home than my little hatchback uses in a drive to Red Deer (yes, Red Deer is a city, it's about 1.5 hours away, and my car uses less than a quarter tank to get there).

Case in point: the parkade I park in is an absolute hazard with the number of exteded cab giant trucks parked within it's walls. They block the driving lane because they stick out so far, and they often take up more than one space in the parkade to protect their precious paint jobs. There is no need for this many students to have vehichles this large, worth tens of thousands of dollars to get too and from school. The attitude that comes with them is what bothers me most. The air of entitlement and lack of common sense and moderation hits home. I also just hate the lack of courtesy to other parkers when they take up too much space. Today, two large trucks were both parked just over the line on either side of a parking space. This is my pet peeve. It takes 20 seconds to adjust your placement of your vehicle, it would take nothing to move over so that you are respecting your own space. These two trucks choose not to, eliminating the possibility of a parking space... except for a wee little car like mine. Now, I can assume that these people were just being negligent and rude, or I can assume they were late for class and so adjusting didnt seem important in the grand scheme of time... Either way, their need to have a huge truck and not be parked well outshone the needs of others, including even common courtesy. So I folded in my little side mirrors and slipped my car into the demi-spot that was custom made for my lil car balancing out the monoliths beside me.

I am hypocritical, ranting about a personal peeve on a page which is meant for eco and ethical ponderings of human ecology. But I can't help but think that this lack of thought for other people may have a larger impact, or reflect the larger scope of things: When a person chooses a product, is it a larger reflection of themselves? Or am I just blowing things out of proportion? The further I write about this stupid occurence, the dumber I feel about how gross it makes me feel, because it is just silly. That said, I just don't understand why people need such huge vehicles when they are usually just getting from A-B, and why these two individuals chose to park so rudely... Do they litter, swear loudly in public places, and unseat the old woman on the bus (oh wait, they don't take the bus... they have the giganta-mobile, my bad). If we cannot deem to take the time to be decent to neighbors, fellow students, etc, how are we to find the capacity within ourselves to be decent to the world, which many regard as a fairly inanimate object?


And grumpy. Sorry about that. I will be adorable later.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Foot Loose and Gluten Free

So.... I have been away for quite a while.

I took a job at a store. I dont hate it, I don't love it, but it's still very new. I am optomistic that things will be beautiful there soon, and I will be loved and adored by all (naturally.) I need to increase my communication with my direct supervisor, because I think I haven't made the best first impression with her. I think I need to up my a-game in regards to clothes...I am a little on the casual side for what they mandate... That said, I have been doing well in my actual responsibilities, so I guess that's fine....

The exciting aspect of this job is that they have internships with their design team or buying team for employees. Which isn't that helpful for normal high school student employees, but for me, who is looking for a way to get into the garment industry... Perfect! Now, all I have to do is impress and impact all the management, and everything will be... fine. Right? (fingers crossed)

Since I took that job, I have received maybe 10 calls about other jobs I applied for. When it rains, it pours! None of them has the same kind of career potential, although many of them pay more, so I have been a bit torn. Maybe somewhere down the road I will regret my decision, but at this time, I am just going to stick to the plan.

The other side of my world, personal and internal:

Over Christmas break, and leading up to that time, I had been having really bad bouts of hives pretty much every day. I have terrible food allergies- seafood, nuts, soy, etc, and am quite careful to avoid all of these things. So the hives were leaving me flumoxed. My sister has celiac, and has been bugging me for quite some time to just get rid of wheat because it's likely the root of many of my problems, and I decided that maybe now is the time.

So I am gluten free. I think it's been two weeks. My hives have been steadily decreasing in occurence. Some mornings I wake up and find patches of them, but they are WAY less itchy.

It may be related to wheat, or it may be just that I'm eating more whole and fresh foods. I don't know, and I'm so relieved that I'm willing to stick with it.

How are you?