A shipment of beautiful merino fabrics arrived this week, and I'm spending the day cutting pre-orders. I cut three garments (sometimes four, if I'm feeling cocky) simultaneously, because it's the best way to reduce waste. That little leftover bit there, between the two pant leg halves? That's the spot for a cuff for another customer's sleeve. It goes like that - metres of customized puzzle pieces that suddenly resolve *fingers crossed* into tidy stacks of ready-to-sew garments. And beside those stacks? Just a tiny pile of scraps to go in the compost bin (DYK wool is a great fertilizer?).
Emily and I are both thrifty by nature and by necessity. Our brains love the challenge of figuring out how to maximize output while minimizing input. We're also two women who raised three kidlets on a tight budget, self-employed in a creative industry that runs on notoriously underpaid and undervalued labour. So thrift is paramount. Our goal has always been to pay ourselves a living wage, maintain high standards of quality in our products and services, while also keeping our prices as low as we can. Because our customers are often on tight budgets, too. It's important to us that people have access to durable, well-fitting clothing that they can afford, without sacrificing their conscience.
But I realized today, cutting away at this gorgeous wool - thrift isn't just about stretching a dollar. It's also about respect. About truly valuing a commodity and all the folks who produce that commodity. Because this is WOOL. From a SHEEP. A living creature grew this. A farmer is feeding, sheltering, and caring for that sheep right now. People sheared that sheep; washed and sorted the wool; spun, dyed, and knit the fibre. Our supplier spent countless hours communicating with the mill and with the shipper. A ship's crew transported the fabric across an ocean, and then a trucker drove it across the country to reach our studio.
That's a whole lot of miles and a whole lot of hands. So much time, labour, and resources invested, so much care and attention, before I even make a single cut. How could I bear to waste even an inch?
(BRB, crying about fabric again)