About LOCO: By connecting businesses that buy from each other and share resources, LOCO has grown into a province-wide network that makes it easy to support the small businesses comprising 98 per cent of the economic landscape of BC. Founded by Amy Robinson in 2009, LOCO recently launched a Live Local Buy Local campaign to create a dialogue between LOCO members and consumers. They are also working with leaders in the corporate and government world to define local, quantify the community benefits and adjust government purchasing practices to allow local businesses better access to contracts.
What are some challenges youve faced? We battle the culture of cheap. As consumers we are addicted to more, faster. Sometimes buying local means slowing down, walking, shopping in your neighbourhood, rather than buying in bulk or looking for the best deal. Cheap is costing a fortune. And the reality is, that when we shop at big box stores, we might get a deal on a sale item, but we also make impulse purchases that we don't need and that costs us in the pocket book, but also costs the planet as we race to use up resources to manufacture all that stuff.
Some surprises? The great things local businesses are doing in the face of increasing competition from big corporations. A recent CUPE-BC report shows that a 10 per cent shift in spending from chains to local would create 31,000 jobs and $940 million in annual wages for BC workers. A few of our members featured in The Tyee recently talk about how they started out in retail and then began manufacturing. That kind of dedication to BC has a powerful effect on our economy, our communities, and our people.
What has been your biggest milestone? I feel that our biggest success as an organization has been to offer support to small business that leverages the power of our numbers two examples are our small business extended health plan and our zero waste services association pricing. We are most proud that our members are like a tribe that feel proud to be involved, and tell other businesses they should join, helping us to build the movement. We work to collaborate whenever possible, and we encourage local businesses who would otherwise be competitors, to work together to grow the slice of the economic pie that is available to all small businesses, and see that the real competitors are big multinationals. A rising tide floats all boats.
Who or what are some other green leaders, in your mind? I'm inspired by leaders right here at home. Businesses such as Nicole Bridger, who are localizing production for ethical and environmental reasons; Adhesif clothing, who use 95 per cent recycled fabrics. Some of our founding members like Vancity and Mills Basics have shown incredible leadership by supporting community projects, greening their fleets, and buying from other local green businesses.
What is a Vancouver initiative you are particularly excited about? We are excited about Buy Local Week that we launched in the City of Vancouver and the Province of BC last December. We are working to sign on communities across BC to work with us on the 2nd annual Buy Local Week this year. We are hoping that mayors across the province will also sign declarations, and that community and business groups will work with us to increase the focus on local business each year.
We are also excited about the launch of our Zero Hero program this fall. We've been piloting this small business zero waste program in conjunction with Salt Spring Coffee, to help businesses get ready for the 2015 regional food waste ban, and to drastically reduce small business waste and greenhouse gases.
About Adhesif: Waste not, want not might be an expression you heard as a child, but when Melissa Ferreira puts it into practice, the last thing youre reminded of is mom. Started in 2003, Adhesifs vintage clothing is made locally with up to 95 per cent recycled materials. (And in cuteness Amy Robinson loved her photoshoot outfit so much, she bought the whole thing!)
What are some challenges youve faced? I represent the handmade revolution slow fashion. Im not in this industry for the money, otherwise Id be making 5,000 of the same black coat, from cheap fibres, produced in China under poor conditions. There is something to be said for choosing ventures carefully, growing slowly it surely wins the race and lets you sleep at night.
What is green design? If you use it, its not a waste, but I think quality is key in a cherished garment. I strive to make each handmade garment with as much reclaimed materials as possible because I love the unique personalities in every design but also because I believe eco is the way of the future.
Why do you participate in EFW? It represents some of Vancouvers finest design talent and Myriam Laroche, the founder, is so dynamic and upbeat. She gets everyone excited about being green! Adhesif has been on Vancouver Eco Fashion Week's runway for the last five seasons, and was the closing show last season. Aside from Berlin, Vancouver is the only other city in the world that has a fashion week specifically geared towards the eco-fashion movement. That's saying something.
Give a green tip: Support local when ever possible, whether that be checking out the amazing local farmers markets or shopping at the dozens of amazing local designer boutiques in Vancouver. A great place to start are two directories that showcase local businesses doing their part to be sustainable www.locobc.com and www.wearelocal.ca. The websites feature some of Vancouver's best local eateries and shops.
Why were you excited to take part in this feature? What an honor to be chosen as one of the several designers in this
feature! This article celebrates entrepreneurs doing great things in their communities and I'm very proud to be alongside all of these inspirational individuals!
Tell us about your photo buddy, Amy: Not only is Amy running a business very like minded with my own, but she was super fun to play dress up with! I've always believed in strength in numbers. I would not be anywhere as a business owner if it weren't for the other companies who are singing the same tune. Together we are creating a movement.
Name another green leader: I've had the opportunity to visit Germany twice now. and I have to say I'm SUPER impressed with their renewable energy resources as well as their recycling system. They're the only country in the world that actually buys garbage from other countries and recycles it for them. Hands down, amazing.
What is a Vancouver initiative you are particularly excited about? I'm very excited to see the progression and development for the proposed Greenest City initiative. The city Vancouver 2020 is a bold initiative that will address Vancouver's environmental challenges. Through a set of measurable and attainable targets, we will put the city on the path to sustainability, and make us the greenest city in the world by 2020.
What's next for you? I have Berlin in my sights...
EFW show time: Apr. 24, 9:30pm, Robson Ice Rink
Enter to win a pair of passes to Eco Fashion Week. Access to all shows, cocktail lounge and designer showroom included.
You can follow style reporter Kelsey Klassen on Twitter @kelseyklassen