Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Meet Moira of Moira Coughlan Handmade Bags

Moira Coughlan is the maker of functional, durable - and downright fashionable - handbags. Currently based in Toronto, Moira designs and creates all of her handbags by hand. Originally trained as an Architectural Technologist, Moira decided in 2008 that designing handbags was way more fun than designing buildings and the rest is history! Moira believes that durability, functionality and simplicity, are key to sophisticated and timeless design. Combine these with environmentally sensitive production and you have a winning handbag.

Moira starts the design process with sketching and more sketching. Once she finds a design that works on paper she makes a prototype then edits and re-edits that. Once a winning proto type is found, production can begin – hooray! Moira cuts and constructs all bags by hand and sews everything stitch by stitch! Whew! What a job, but she loves it and hopes that you love your handbag as much as she enjoys creating it!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Meet Hannah of Foundlings

Hi, I'm Hannah of Foundlings, a treasure trove of unique vintage-inspired garments specially designed with the trend-setting green shopper in mind. Many pieces in the collection are crafted from vintage and upcycled materials and supplies. Whether it's cute or camp, nifty or nerdy, silly or stylish - you may just find the perfect fit!

I began my fashion journey ten years ago, and got my start in the costume design world as a sewer for "Mamma Mia". Shortly after completing my studies in Fashion Design at George Brown College, I entered the REVAMP competition - an annual environmental fashion show put on by the Recycling Council of Ontario. As luck would have it, my papier mache dress made of Archie comics was selected as a finalist in the Wearable Art category! This was the beginning of my interest in repurposing materials.

I launched my first clothing line in 2000 under the moniker Bork and began selling at Peachy Fresh (Fresh Collective's precursor in Yorkville). After several years of peddling my wears, I decided to return to university and complete my degree in Fine Art History and English Literature. Now, I've resurfaced with a new clothing line after seven years out of the fashion loop! I really missed sewing and designing, and I'm absolutely thrilled to be part of Fresh Collective!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Meet Mandy of Mandala Design

I think I’ve always been interested in fashion. As a kid, I remember having very strong opinions about what I would and wouldn’t wear. In high school, I taught myself how to sew on my Grandmother’s sewing machine. Thinking back, some of the outfits I created were probably a little silly, but they were unique and that seemed most important at the time. My Dad encouraged me to pursue fashion in college and I founded Mandala Design in 1991, after graduating from Sheridan’s Fashion Design program. I ran Mandala part time, in addition to working in the fashion industry, until 2005, when I took the leap to focus all my energy on designing. I design two seasons each year and spend a great deal of time getting the fit right. Most of my clothing is able to transition from a casual working environment to dinner to the weekend. I am inspired by classic styles and simple lines with a bit of whimsy thrown in. I use unexpected details, interesting fabrics and vintage touches to make my clothing stand out from the many options available today. Being unique never goes out of style!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Meet Stefany of Whirl Girl!

I've been hooked on sewing ever since my mom taught me how to use a sewing machine so I could make a series of skirts for my high school art show. Ever since, I have had a passion for creating unique clothing using vintage/ recycled materials and eco-progressive fabrics. Last winter (2008) I couldn’t resist buying a cute bomber winter coat. The coat was great, but from the waist down I was freezing in the face of winter. Because of this I was inspired to create a warm winterized wrap around skirt that could be worn like a jacket, but for your lower half. Sewing had always been a hobby of mine, and I would often make skirts and other fun things for myself and my friends. When I started wearing my warm wrap skirt around Toronto I was amazed at how many people (total strangers) would stop to ask me about my warm skirt. I loved mine so much and wanted to wear it everyday (and still do) - that I though 'hey, maybe I'm onto something here.'

I do a lot of walking, biking and waiting for the streetcar to get around town and also recently adopted a cute rescue pup named 'the dude' - so I spend a lot of time outside - and when it's cold out I love being able to 'whirl' into one of my skirts, it always makes the weather seem just a wee bit warmer. I also love to hike, canoe trip and travel, and know how essential versatile, quick-dry clothing is when you're living out of a backpack.

I've expanded my line to include hand dyed hooded jackets (like the one I'm wearing in the picture), scarves, tops, and have a new wrap skirt in the works for this winter so stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Candice at the Candi Factory!

Candice Levine is a maker of pretty things who hails from Toronto. In the 90’s Candice earned a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Western Ontario and a degree in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design, NYC.

Since she makes a funny face when attacked by an itchy piece of fabric, Candice created the candi factory to experiment in super-cute softness and occasional polka-dots. These lovable underthings and other things are made from scratch in her High Park studio.

Our little factory runs smoothly thanks to Shreve, factory advisor/husband, and to River, our wild 1 1/2 year old son who mostly keeps away from the sewing machines.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Meet Jenn of Paper People Clothing

Jennifer Fukushima grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario, where the only clothing options were cookie cutter fashions from the local mall and second hand findings from the Salvation Army Thrift Store. In search of something different, she began surfing the internet, perusing crafty DIY sites like Sparkle Craft and Epitome Girl. At the age of 17, she decided to launch her own line, Paper People.

Fukushima moved to Toronto to study fashion at Ryerson University and soon her line was carried at local downtown boutiques. She sourced second hand t-shirts and turned them into funky, eclectic tank tops. Paper People has since evolved to include eco-friendly options such as bamboo, hemp and organic cotton garments. The line blends colour, texture and pattern for a DIY, handmade appeal.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Meet Laura-Jean

This is me- Laura-Jean! I'm the proud owner of Fresh Collective and the designer behind the line Fresh Baked Goods! I started my business in 1994, specializing in knits, and quickly became known as Laura-Jean the Knitting Queen. Since then, I've added a lot of printed cottons, cute corduroy dresses and skirts, but I still love making sweaters too! I've also fallen in love with running my two collective shops. It's a lot of fun to meet our customers, and work with such an amazing group of designers- all of whom provide endless energy and inspiration and add so much to our great shops.

In my personal life, I live in Parkdale with my husband, musician Steve Singh, my wonderful little son Dexter, and our dog Jefferson. My studio is in our basement, which makes for a pretty busy household, but it's a lot of fun!

Meet Charmain!

INTEGRITY DESIGNS, created in 2006, by designer/manufacturer, Charmain Bertram, specializes in classic denim designs, bags, comfortable knit wear using sustainable fabrics, recreated recycled clothing designs and unique silk screened prints.
Having studied Fashion design and techniques at
George Brown College while working at Leo's textiles, Charmain learned the fundamentals of garment design and an in depth knowledge of textile application. Subsequent to graduating with a diploma in fashion design and techniques, a designers’ assistant position with custom jeans designer and tailor, Sydney Mamane, was acquired. This created and nurtured a love for classic denim design and a passion for detail. Following this, Charmain was employed by Cathy Cooper of Urban Bride. Where she learned the science of delicate fabrics and the tricks of the trade in formal wear.
Following the closure of Urban Bride, INTEGRITY DESIGNS was born. Becoming a member of the Fresh Collective, on trendy
Queen St. West in Toronto Ontario , INTEGRITY began, with hand painted knit designs, classic jean cuts, patchwork doupionni silk bags and an overall devotion to the environment.

Think BIG

Live small

Live with INTEGRITY……

Monday, January 26, 2009

Meet Tricia!

Here's Tricia Mulhern from Spruce Clothing- our newest member!

Tricia writes "Taking a sewing class in high school got me hooked! I immediately started experimenting, taking apart old clothing, making something new, and loving it! A few years later I found myself in Victoria B.C where there were a few local markets that were perfect for testing the market, so on my days off from my day job I sewed in my living room to build up stock. I began successfully selling my clothing every weekend.

At the time I did not own a car, so I took an old lady cart, extended the handles and packed up my entire booth in it for the 20 minute walk to the market. People were always amazed at how I was able to get my entire booth - tent and merchandise all into this little cart! What a girl will do to get her business going:)

After about a year, I decided I wanted to learn more about making patterns and sewing, so I enrolled at George Brown and moved back to Ontario. After graduating from design school, I decided I was not yet done with my education and pursued a degree in women's studies.

All the while in school I continued selling my clothing during the summer months at the Hillside and Mariposa folk festivals.

Over the years I have sewn and set up shop just about everywhere! I have taken over numerous communal living spaces as my sewing empire grew and grew...I even sewed for an entire summer in a friend's garage!

I am now working on my business full-time and have an actual studio space on Queen St. West that I share with 3 other fun, creative people.

I named my business after my Grandmother's last name - because she had a big influence on my life and was really into fashion. She is the woman featured on the front page of my website

I live in High Park with my husband Peter and I love riding my bike, indie music, cooking and makin' stuff."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Meet Haji!

We are the only store in Toronto who has a visting Japanese engineer installing the window display!

It's not only the designers at Fresh Collective who help to make the store awesome! Haji is our newest intern! Here from Japan to learn English, he approached me because he's interested in fashion and wants to learn to sew. He's so easy-going and ready to help out with anything. After he did an amazing job on the window, we were starting a photo shoot, and I asked him how he felt about modeling. After a little laugh, he shrugged and said "Whatever!" so we put him to work modelling the Yasmine Louis men's tops.

Here's how the window turned out. (I'll post the modelling shots later!)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Here's our very own Odd Bird- and her bird, Loki!!

Tara Campbell is the designer behind the label Odd Bird Designs. She's famous for her hand-printed, hand-coloured domino pendants with a range of images from the very off-beat to pretty to funky and everything in between!

She's our most senior member, being with Fresh Collective for years and she is absolutely crazy about birds! (Whenever I talk to her on the phone, I hear the squawking in the background.) She works full-time at her day job, yet seems to have endless energy for being involved in the shop and working on her line.

She is a one-woman show in her work on Odd Bird Designs, printing, colouring then glazing all the dominos. She has other styles of jewellery too: the "bric a brac" line, Scrabble bracelets and more, and she has recently added tee-shirts!

She wholesales her line to other stores too, and top of this she works every other Saturday in the shop, some Sundays, plus takes on other jobs like working on our website, planning our sale parties and general organizing and planning to keep the shop running smoothly. She's a fun, funky gal with a great attitude and a lot of creative energy!

Here's Fred (and Sam! ) from Utility Grade

Frederica Tomas was born in Toronto, Canada and attended the Ontario College of Art, where she studied printmaking and won a scholarship for Book Arts.

After graduation she started Utility Grade to distribute her handmade cards and original prints.

Her linocuts are primarily portraits of Saints, Sinners and Strange Beasts, with a bit of Pop Culture commentary. Linocuts are printed onto japanese paper using a vandercook SP15 proof press and rubber based inks, then painted with watercolours.

In response to many customer requests, she recently added a line of t-shirts and tank tops with imagery derived from her original prints. These are screen printed onto cotton using black ink, then hand pinted with fabric paints, sewn onto the back of the t-shirt with a window cut out to reveal the image. The shirt becomes the 'frame' for the print.

Frederica lives in Toronto with Jim and her canine companion, Sam. She listens to Bob Dylan everyday.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Introducing Nicole Boudreau!

Nicole is one of our many fabulous designers at Fresh Collective. She's been with us over two years now, and her business just keeps growing and growing. When she joined us, she was "just" a jewellery designer with her line Precious Pink Designs.... I say "just" because she's since expanded into skirts and aprons for her line "Desserts and Skirts". She recently moved her production into a gorgeous studio, and I'm sure I'll see Nicole go full speed ahead throughout 2009!

Here she is at a photo shoot for her aprons, goofing around as usual! Nicole is an awesome lady- super fun, funny, positive, hard working and all in all just a cool person to be around. I love it when my schedule gets switched around and I get to spend a Tuesday working with her at the shop!

And Nicole is just one of the many personalities that keep Fresh Collective the fabulous beehive of creative energy that it is! With almost 20 local designers sharing the space and selling their work, there's always something going on in the shop, and if it's a Tuesday when Nicole works in the shop, it's often something funny!