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Category Archives: Making Changes Association

Happy New Year 2016!

We posted this one year ago, but still a good story to illustrate a point about the value of couture sewing skills…Happy 2016! I’ll leave this one with you as well: Without Craft, inspiration is a mere weed in the wind.

Once upon a time there was a very rich man and his wife spending some quality time together on their private south pacific island. Even with its remoteness it had every modern convenience. Solar panels for electricity, running water, and even 4G Internet access. Everything you could possibly need was there. A beautiful house, airstrip, dock, boat house, deep-sea fishing boat, and several guest cottages on its beaches.

He arrived following several strenuous business trips with his wife, who had completed a major shopping spree from Paris, Milan, London, to Tokyo. There was nothing that the couple could not buy. His wife had just procured lengths of the most elaborately hand-embroidered French silk, the softest Kashmir wool, the most luxurious Italian silk velvet, and the finest English worsted. The best that could be made, very expensive and all quite unique.

Because this man was also very generous he regularly invited friends and relatives to his island, but he also invited strangers from time to time to share in his good fortune. This time he invited three young, and very promising, fashion designers to the island as a reward for their contribution to one of the many charities he supported.

Each of the three individuals saw this opportunity differently. One was very ambitious and viewed each day as potential for new business and so brought an iPhone, laptop, latest look-book, and a few new design ideas to present, just in case. The other viewed this as a good time to get on with a project or two without distractions, and so managed to pack a compact sewing machine, sewing kit (thread, pins and scissors), and some new patterns but decided to investigate locally made materials on the island to experiment with. The third accepted this, as a time to relax and not worry about anything. To absorb, and enjoy this once in a lifetime experience.

While on the island, which was very tiny indeed, it became apparent just how remote it was from civilization. The owners of the island were very hospitable and made time to visit with each of their guests, making sure that everyone was quite comfortable. One night they invited the three young people to dinner at the big house. Nothing but the finest was offered, the freshest fish caught just hours earlier, the best quality vegetables and most exotic fruit flown in from the nearest islands, and the finest wines.

The conversation turned to each guest to find out what their hopes and aspirations were for the future. One was confident that someday they would become world famous, so that everyone would want to own one of their designs. The other was hopeful, that with experience and some help, they would be able to manufacture highly popular collections selling around the world. The third confessed to wanting to be creative every day, to being content, and wanting to make other people happy. The others all sniggered at the third’s response, and privately thought how impractical and unrealistic that would be.

Curiously, the rich man’s wife asked more questions about why this would be a considered career choice. After all, doesn’t one need a lot of money to be able to have everything one’s heart desires? “For instance, we have everything one could possibly want, a good income, good health, and access to the best of everything. This doesn’t come without hard work and sacrifice of course”. All had to agree, and continued to enjoy a pleasant evening of good food, conversation and exchange of ideas.

Later, the rich man’s wife was delighted to show the three young people her exquisite fabric finds, knowing they would share in her excitement. As expected, all three were indeed thrilled. Also, as an almost instant reaction, they offered to design something for her using these fabrics. “Oh, but, I couldn’t just let anyone touch these precious fabrics, only someone with considerable experience”. They asked who she knew, that had such experience. “Well, I don’t really. I’m a bit hesitant about asking anyone!”

The first young designer offered to create the most fashion-forward designs, and would start on it straight away. The second, began to research the latest trends to present. Meanwhile, the third asked questions about what the rich man’s wife dreamed for herself, what were her requirements for the coming year, and what type of things she loves to wear. “This is all wonderful, but it still leaves the dilemma of who will make these amazing designs for me?”

Not to worry the first designer said, “I have some really good people behind me who will get it done right”, the second designer remarked, “I will make it myself, it won’t take long. I can usually run things up in a few hours, a couple of days at most!” The third’s reply was “I would love to make it for you, it will take some time. I want to make sure everything fits just right, and makes you look marvelous. Your fabrics will deserve the utmost attention, for the most part they will be hand-sewn”.

That night a tropical storm knocked out the 4G Internet access, the docks were damaged, and the airstrip was littered with debris from broken branches. Fuel supplies were so low that the generators couldn’t be run for more than just the bare essentials – such as pumping fresh water. Repairs would take some time.

The first designer conceded, “Well that pretty much finishes my plans, without the internet I can’t communicate with my team, my laptop battery is low and in need of recharging, but I can’t do it without electricity”. The second designer complained that without power the sewing machine was useless, and it was too late to order patterns on-line. The third said, “No problem. Let’s get started”.

In wonderment, the rich man’s wife asked how this is possible without any equipment! “I have my hands, I never travel without my emergency sewing kit, and if you have a ball of string somewhere, that’s all I need.” And so proceeded to take her measurements with the ball of string, sketched some ideas on paper for her approval, and drafted the patterns on old bed sheets. After assembling the mock-up designs, they were fitted exactly to her figure. Then used as the pattern to cut her prized fabrics.

During the following days, the rich man’s wife witnessed how the garments were being created piece by piece, all with the greatest care and attention to detail. Every pattern was skillfully matched at each seam. The garments were fitted a few times making sure they were comfortable and flattering to her figure. Then – one day the clothes were complete! “Oh my, I have never in my life seen such craftsmanship, such beauty, but mostly I have not felt so comfortable in my clothes, and felt so good about the way they make me look! I could see your joy while you worked, and why you love creating such wonderful things! How can I thank you enough for what you have done for me?” The young Couturier replied, “The opportunity you’ve given me has been priceless! Here is a detailed invoice of what you have received in exchange for my expertise.” The rich man’s wife never again wanted what everyone else could buy! Do you?

(Not The End) Just The Beginning – Cheers J

Ecole Holt Couture 2015 Fashion Event opening welcome

Ecole Holt Couture 2015 Fashion Event opening welcome

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EHC – Calgary Richmond Knob Hill Community ‘business of the month’ October 2014

As we plan and prepare for the fashion event we also sometimes have other news to share. Ecole Holt Couture has been selected as ‘business of the month’ for October, in its home community of Richmond Knob Hill in Calgary.

Ecole Holt Couture’s Founder, Elfriede, has owned and operated her Couture and Tailoring business in this community for 60 years, and 7 of those years as Ecole Holt Couture. The school is well rooted and plans to stick around right where we are.

As with Making Changes Association, EHC’s community partner who we are raising funds for in support of their programs, it is a well rooted organization that has been active in Calgary for over 32 years.

Making Changes Association is one of the few remaining volunteer run organizations with only a handful of full and part-time employees in Calgary. Community donors, corporate retail and service partners along with volunteers help MCA to thrive. Their business model is proven sustainable and still feels like a large family, which is one of the reasons we love to work with them!

This time of year is very exciting for us at Ecole Holt Couture not only because of this annual event, but what the event means to us. We primarily experience working with the volunteers of MCA and witness how this helps others. It also gives our students a chance to expose their skills and talents to others during their school learning experience – not having to wait until they have graduated.

Speaking of Graduation, this is the time for EHC’s presentation to four year graduate’s of their well earned Diploma! Because we are a small school, this is the perfect opportunity to have an official convocation ceremony with like minded individuals who can appreciate what has gone into this award.

Many returning guests of the event may have been following our students for years through this event, and have an insight into their skills and talents ahead of the game.

Hoping that you will consider joining us on Sunday November 16th! Thanks Great News Publishing and Cheers! J

the knob hill review 2the knob hill review 1

 

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ECO GLAM 2013 – EHC Runway show turned into standing room only event

ECO GLAM 2013 Sponsors

ECO GLAM 2013 Sponsors

Thanks to all the 40 plus volunteers from Making Changes Association, EHC students, friends and supporters, and our event Sponsors, ECO GLAM was a standing room only event after all the seats were taken.With a clear westward view over the City of Calgary to the Rocky Mountains, Los Morenos sounded the Latino beat, champagne and strawberries for the guests, and a great line up of Couture made Vintage, simple to sophisticated pieces featured on the runway. The best turnout yet as Ecole Holt Couture students showed their work from beginners to graduates. It turned into an emotional Graduation Ceremony for two of EHC’s first ever Diploma recipients presented to the audience with all the grace of an elegant debutante affair on a cold snowy but sunny November Sunday afternoon.

Show in Memory of Neil Edward White

Show in Memory of Neil Edward White

 

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ECO GLAM Fashion Event and Fundraiser Nov 17th 2013

The fashion event is two days away and we are all chin deep in tasks and organizing final details! Tickets are available online at www.ehcecoglam.com until Saturday November 16th 9pm MST. You can still get tickets for the event on Sunday Nov 17th at the door at the Calgary Winter Club, 4611 – 14 St. NW Calgary, AB – CASH ONLY.

Thank you to our sponsors for their generosity and support for this event and great organization Making Changes Association Calgary helping women in transition by providing life skills learning services, and free work wardrobes to re-enter the workforce.

ECO GLAM

ECO GLAM

Link to Ecole Holt Couture’s Fundraiser Fashion Event “Dress Code” Video from 2012 and subscribe to our Youtube channel…

Stay tuned for pics of ECO GLAM….thanks!

 

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Get your tickets for ECO GLAM Fashion Event 2013

Eco Glam fashion event website is now live or you can get there from EHC’s website at or facebook Ecole Holt Couture – School of Couture Sewing and Design!

ECO GLAM

ECO GLAM

 

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ECO GLAM – Save the Date! November 17th, 2013

Ecole Holt Couture – School of Couture Sewing Tailoring and Design’s 4th annual Fashion Event Fundraiser for Making Changes Association Calgary – ECO GLAM – is on Sunday November 17th, at the Calgary Winter Club from 1pm to 5pm.

If you wonder how ecology and glamour could possibly synchronize, then you might want to see this year’s fashion event.  Ecole Holt Couture’s shares its view on how using high quality materials, extreme craftsmanship, and on how focusing on individual style can sustain the well-being of the planet, take care of people, and produce a profitable bottom line.

It may still be a secret to most, but it is no surprise that true Couture and Tailoring have honoured these concepts for a very long time. Wouldn’t you like to do something that you really love doing, know that you are doing your best to do the right thing, and earn a living doing it?

Let’s look at ‘Glamour’. Something that most of us can only aspire to, is really expense, and is totally impractical. Right?

The idea of supporting Fair trade practices, paying living wages, working and living conditions, global well being, “blah, blah, blah”- well is so – totally not about fashion. Right?

Wrong! We only don’t care about what we don’t know about, doesn’t affect us, or can’t change, but once we become aware of something it affects our consciousness and we can see and look at things from a different perspective, and affect change – even at our own seemingly insignificant level.

For most of us wearing clothes that actually last longer than a few months seems a bit weird because we  can’t imagine anything that is really worth hanging on to – other than for sentimental reasons….

We haven’t always needed to be so conscious of saving our planet using Green materials and who makes things and how things are made. If you’ve grown up in the last 15 years ‘repurposing materials’ is a new idea, but it is an ancient idea.  But, why would anyone spend so much money on clothing when you can pick up the latest and newest at the big box stores or at places like Top Shop really cheap? Why would anyone care to pay more?

What seems even more strange is that some people really love spending long hours creating something that totally engages their minds and hands, working on something that is not only beautiful, but also something that has more  purpose and meaning behind it than what appears on the surface, and that has taken years to learn and master!

Come and see what we experience:  a satisfying world, one of full of opportunity, beauty, fulfilment and sufficiency. Stay tuned for more…..

Eco Glam Fashion Event

Eco Glam Fashion Event

 

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How to start a revolutionary idea!

A lot has been said about social entrepreneurship lately, but maybe some of you, like me, haven’t really been paying much attention. This sounded an awful lot like what we do and how we do it, and frankly what many have been quietly doing since the beginning of time. After reading what it’s all about, broadly speaking it is doing something good for the benefit of many using a different (than what is commonly used) business model. This can be applied to fund raising as a non-profit or for-profit  organizations, and to what you can do as a single individual to create change in the way things are done – for the better. Follow the link below this article to a great story…

What sounds so appealing about ‘social entrepreneurship’ now is the meaning of it in the context of our time. What we are not prepared to put up with now is in reference to the well published stories today of big businesses buying out other businesses just to rid themselves of their competition putting local economies into wipe-out mode, and the excessive level of transparent greed where there is only one bottom line – which is profit at any cost.

We are all buying into and paying for the rampant abuse of cheap labour and disregard for the environment for example, when we buy GM foods, yes they are cheap and they do feed us but they do not nourish us. And in the end we all pay the higher price for illness and disease caused by these foods, unharmonious growing methods, and insecticide and pesticide use, which destroys our single life giving earth.

Similarly, we are buying clothing that is cheaper than it has ever been, and we have access to more and more stuff than we’ve ever had before. What price for this? Very high in the end because the cheap manufactured products that come from overseas at the lowest quality they could be, in effect puts our local economy in a very vulnerable position.  We are not supporting ourselves and the money spent does not circulate in our own economy.

Cheap clothing materials are making us, the environment and the real people who handle them ill (from toxic chemical products, toxic by-products and toxic chemical coatings). We pay for products over and over again because they are literally only good enough to toss out after a short while. The multitude of people who actually make them can barely earn a living wage by it, and the few individuals at the top of this golden food chain benefit from this for now, but everyone suffers in the end.

You may well ask how one person can change the whole world. Why can the intentions and integrity of a single person change the way things are created, the way these things are traded, and the effects on the environment? The great change makers of the past such as Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Tommy Douglas or Florence Nightingale – the people who are recognized for their contribution to change – actually represent less than 1% of the total movement or number of people responsible for effecting that change.

These ordinary people started a reaction of great change with other ordinary people who thought the same way and together, eventually created the world of change for the better. We don’t need to be well recognized leaders, just leaders of change by making others aware of what we believe to be good and beneficial and how we achieve that. We believe in doing and showing people how to do things teaches valuable lessons, people actually practicing something is how skills become well developed and that mentoring is a great way to encourage new growth.  

Starting a business should be based on at least one set of solid skills, add to that an active continual learning quest to update your knowledge, and staying in business of any kind, should be based on a triple bottom line. ‘Profit’ should only be one of three indicators of your organization’s well-being or success. The second one is ‘you and the people’ – are you and your staff, colleagues and clients happy with what and how you do what you do. Is it possible to support your local economy, are you making a difference for the betterment of your community. The third is ‘doing no harm’ to the environment – by using environmentally sustainable and green technologies and products -this one has monumental impact in the long term.

Yours truly… J

 

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social entrepreneuer

social entrepreneur

 

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