Marie-Michelle, Calgary (Alberta).
What you sell and why?
High end, one off, handcrafted children's garments made up in lush, unconventional and couture fabrics. I was fed up with mass produced, homogeneous and standardized retail offerings. I couldn't stand seeing clothing made entirely from synthetic fibers and knowing full well in what subpar conditions it might have been made on the other side of the world. I'm no revolutionary but I wasn't going to mimic systemic practices I don't believe in. It was important for me to be able to sell clothing that was different, unique and that I thought had soul, if only because it was loved and made by human hands.
When and how you got started?
Back when we were still living in France and my son turned three and started going to preschool, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. I had always been fascinated by fashion and costume but couldn’t sew anything to save my life. I had been a French lit major with a minor in Drama but my costume skills were limited to the sketchpad. I managed to convince my mother-in-law to teach me the basics and she lovingly and very patiently taught me everything I needed to know about hand sewing and embroidery. She also sat me down in front of her old Singer and off I went! The experience was contagious as I’ve been sewing and designing ever since.
How did you decide on your shop name?
“Rastaquouère” is a 19th century French word with a pejorative connotation coined to describe exotic looking individuals, usually strangers, who shamelessly exhibited their wealth and loud clothing. Far be it from me that I should singlehandedly attempt to rehabilitate words with an objectionable past but the political incorrectness and the rich and satisfying phonetic soundscape of the word seemed a match for my practice of a marginal sort of luxury.
Is there an item in your shop you enjoyed making the most and why?
Every item in my shop represents growth and a unique kind of journey. If I had to choose just one item though I think it would be the Neobarroco jacket. The making of those sleeves was quite a roller coaster ride!
What’s your favourite part of the selling experience?
I was surprised by the sheer exhilaration brought about by my first sale. It was a real confidence boost, which I needed, being new to the selling world and sometimes feeling that I’m groping blind. I really love packing an order. It has become quite ceremonial really… the choice of paper, the careful wrapping, the addition of a handmade and stamped card, the trip to the post office, the hope that the customer will be just as pleased with the purchase as by the fixings.
Do you have a day job?
I write short stories and freelance as a translator out of my home. I've also worked as a literary critic for a weekly and as an actor, a PR rep and translator for a local theatre company. I have the good fortune of having a husband with a "real" job as a university professor!
Are there other crafts you’d like to try?
I would love to be able to knit. My attempts so far have only resulted in Gordian tangles but I’m confident that with a little patience and time I’ll eventually be able to get my head into it!
Please provide 5 random facts about yourself to help the team get to know you better. Thank you!
Red is my all-time favourite colour.
I have a passion for pastry making and once debated if I shouldn’t become a pastry chef.
I have lived in Cyprus and France and miss Europe and the lifestyle dearly.
I am a fabric addict… at this point it’s probably a clinical condition.
I enjoy biting social satire, theatre, art in general and in particular, books, the absurd, prolepsis, Celine (the writer not the diva), Ducharme, Perec, Queneau, Jarmusch, Hendrix, Supergrass, the Pink Floyd and other geezers of rock, the molecular properties of cotton candy, cashmere sweaters, snapdragons and peonies, vintage pressure cooker gaskets, comic opera subterfuge, and lists...
Blog - rastacuero.blogspot.ca
Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/48329342@N06/
Facebook - Rastaquouere