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.