Acknowledging the N’Quatqua + Lil’Wat First Nations land we live on
Written by Rachelle Love, owner and designer of Earth and Elle
While most fashion entrepreneurs inch in as close as they can to the hearts of major cities, I did the exact opposite. My fashion career began on fairly loose terms - in high school, I fell in love with creating my own clothes that the sewing room is where I spent all my free time. It was enough to get me a scholarship in fashion design. Grateful and excited that I was, I couldn’t wrap my head around going to fashion school, though marvelled at the idea. The expense of moving, loans to go… not fathomable. Instead I used the scholarship money to buy fabrics and learn pattern making on my own.
As I grew up, I knew I wanted to have a clothing brand and studied business accordingly.
My dreams evolved into having that social and environmentally responsible brand without having to live in a city like Vancouver for instance. Not even on the cities borders, and hardly in the distant outskirts, I landed an hour North of Whistler. See, it was the person I met on a trip to Maui that drew me so far into the forest. He had been living there for close to a decade as an organic farmer. The more time I spent there with him, the more I knew this was the place that aligned with the person I had aspired to be.
Pass through BC’s beautiful Sea to Sky highway, Canada's famous ski resort at Whistler, and then a bit more than another hour North on beautiful mountain terrain and you reach the beautiful forest country where Elliot and I reside.
During the time we lived in Pemberton, there came an opportunity to participate in Eco Fashion Week in 2016. The challenge was for 8 designers to save Fairmont Waterfront Hotel bed sheets from going to waste by sparing them, using hand dyes and creating a design inspired by a Pierre Balmain ball gown found in history. Of course I was all over the challenge and dove right in. Seeing my dress be so well received on the runway was not only exhilarating, but a moment that confirmed my dream. I could live far away in the forest yet still contribute to the fashion scene. Because I did just that, right there.
"I chose this life because the conventional system of living to work and working to live would crush me. It just wasn’t made for a soul like mine... I need to feel the trees everyday."
I chose this life because the conventional system of living to work and working to live would crush me. It just wasn’t made for a soul like mine. I prefer the somewhat quiet life we’ve created out here on a whole mind, body, soul level. I need to feel the trees everyday. It does sound charming and romantic, and it can be. But it's not that we aren't challenged, the challenges are just different. The road is long, long power outages and windstorms happen in the winter. The water might freeze. Cabin fever is real -you can't just go out and get a coffee or a grocery item you forgot because everything is 40 minutes away. The financial challenges of our millennia are no different than anywhere else. I paint this picture because most optimize the country as a paradise where you garden and listen to the birds indefinitely, where everything is easy and beautiful all the time -and sure, there are beautiful, enthralling moments, though it's not all that. You can live anywhere with expectations and be disappointed if you're not willing to go through intense inner growth. Creating this lifestyle (because we do in fact create our reality by the choices we make) is not easy by any means, but I wouldn't trade it.
Living this way also came with understanding the way my business would be; I had to know that while it can certainly grow, it will always be a small business. There’s no room for immense greed in the fashion industry, and the planet really doesn’t need Earth and Elle to be huge. I’m perfectly happy making a perhaps smaller, yet more profound impact in the world.
In the atelier, getting ready to prepare samples for the upcoming launch. I'm talking and doing undergarments for womxn, locally sewn in BC made with organic fabrics.
All into the garden thing
The snow coated mountain in early spring you can see from our porch.
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