It was 2012 and, having finished school 6 months before, a young man (Dennis), constantly looking to define himself, decided he was going to learn to sew.
This is my story ….
Borrowing my cousin’s sewing machine, I set out to make something that was unique and practical. After two very trying weeks full of broken needles, late nights, and bloody fingers, this first bag was finished. As rewarding as the finished product was, this had not been an easy task. So after two weeks I decided it was time to hang up my thimble and needle in favour of more enjoyable activities.
Despite my best efforts to leave the sewing game in the past, once again in 2013 the game drew me in. My wife of less than one year requested that I make a bag for her, similar to the one I had been proudly sporting for the last year. Foolishly, I agreed. This time, however, in a further quest to differentiate myself from my peers, I decided not to borrow, but to buy myself a sewing machine. My first attempt at acquiring a sewing machine yielded what is likely a pre-WWI - 75 pound beast. While the former owner, a close friend of mine, continues to insist that I, the operator, am the one who is incompetent (and not the machine); to date, this machine has not sewn one stitch. My second attempt at purchasing a sewing machine yielded what was only a marginally better 1960s model, that I am sure was a delight for women like Betty Draper, but was long past its glory days. In spite of this machine’s lack of willingness to do the gritty and tough work that is the life of a sewing machine while in the hands of an early twenties male, I finished my second bag. In spite of being away from the game for one year I had not lost a thing. In fact, I came back stronger. This bag looked better than the first, had more features, and drew from me equal amounts of enthusiasm and joy.
Soon my sister would ask for her own handmade bag, and I would charge head first into this project. Sadly, my relationship with my sewing machine had become irrevocably strained and after less than one year we broke up. I went back to the original machine that I had borrowed from my cousin and finished the product. This third project was at that point my masterpiece, a carefully crafted purple, blue, and white bag that lit the spark for projects to come.
Up until this point I had been making bags to meet demands but now I reached a new point of inspiration and decided to create demand by making bags; this time not to be stopped by any sewing machine. After much research, I purchased a brand new machine ready to drive this budding enterprise to the next level. My skills were steadily increasing and this bag came together very quickly using many elements that I had never applied to any of my other creations. I had produced what I thought was a fantastic and desirable unisex bag that anyone would be glad to own. The completion of this bag coincided fantastically with the 2013 holiday season. I reasoned that all across my community people would be looking for unique handmade gifts to give to their loved ones. So I listed this bag on a free classifieds website, even purchasing premium advertising. I assumed it would only be a few minutes… maybe a few hours, before someone contacted me, ecstatic that they had found that special gift they had been searching for. The frantic calls never came: not one person ever asked. In fact, to this day this bag sits on the very spot I took its picture and listed it online. It sits there and waits for its would-be owner.
I would be lying if I said this failure was not disappointing. So I decided to think over this conundrum while doing my new favourite therapeutic activity, sewing. I became obsessed. I went to work, I came home and would sew. When I had a day off, I would sew. When I wasn’t sewing I was learning about sewing. For many days on end I would sew, for many hours neglecting to do simple household chores while I watched Netflix shows in the background. Alas, when you combine Netflix and sewing you can be led to strange places. For me, it was an obsession with a show called Downton Abbey, a period piece that my wife keeps insisting is a soap opera; however, I refuse to yield to this assessment.
Until one day it hit me. What was I trying to achieve with all this binge sewing and consumption of beautiful early 19 century drama? It was at this time that I truly confronted the question that led to the creation of LFR. The answer? I wanted to help create beautiful and ethical fashion for people. Stuff that in every level of its production paid special attention to the materials being used and the people who were making these products. I wanted to ensure that workers were being paid a fair wage and the raw materials were produced in a sustainable way. My hand-made pieces were created from up-cycled materials as much as possible and these fabrics were complimented with new fabrics that were made using environmentally conscious methods. Sadly I have found that there are far too few choices of products that are truly good and since I think, as people, we deserve these good choices, I decided to start a business.
My wife took notice of my new dream of starting a business and she decided that she wanted to join me in doing something that to us seems crazy, but totally right. So here we are trying to figure out how to be a fun, exciting business that makes great things that are desirable and affordable. We are not exactly where we want to be yet, but we are audacious enough to believe we can get there.
Kayla’s two cents: First of all let me just say that I am happy that the days of Dennis spending his time off watching Downton Abbey and sewing are behind us. Second, I would like to take a minute to express how incredibly thankful I am for my husband’s amazing desire to change the world. I truly believe that his passion for people is what brought us to where we are today and I am so happy that I get to go along for this exciting adventure with him.