Hello, I'm Michelle. I am a Small Business Owner & Operater of Copper Bowl. So to clarify, I am basically the CEO, Marketing Director, Website Developer, Content Developer, Buyer, Merchandiser etc... You name it, I am probably doing it. Oh... and blogger too LOL.
My life has taken many paths and this path is one that I have been dreaming of travelling on for a long time. It hit me one day in 2010 when I picked up a friend of mine from college at the airport; she was visiting home from the US. The day I picked her up, her sister was also arriving home from Delhi, India and we met her at the passenger pickup for a few moments before being on our way. She had with her a large crate on wheels and I had learned that she was working with individuals in India designing ladies fashion made from up-cycled sari silks. I thought that was the most incredible thing to do and when I arrived home I remember telling my partner | now husband all about it.
I worked for years in social services and at the time I was looking into international development as a possible career path. I had just completed my 200 Hours Yoga Teacher Training and had a dream of visiting India one day to study and work. The idea of working with communities, in helping them build sustainable income and importing Indian Traditional Handicrafts was a dream that only dreamers could have. My husband and I both share the same love of old textiles, vintage, handmade goods that this sparked a desire within us both for years to come.
Fast forward to 2020,
Dreams have a funny way of coming to fruition at the strangest of times. Picture this... It is April 2020 and we are in a world wide beginnings of a pandemic and my husband and I had just taken over an Indian Restaurant that we were both involved with for over 8 years. In the 10 years between 2010 to 2020, I have lived in India for both studies of Yoga Therapy in 2014 and again in 2016 to work. This is when I fell in love with the country, the people and culture. It is truly my souls home. I have owned and operated a small yoga studio that opened the doors to my travelling to India and connection to the Indian Restaurant that we took over the ownership of in our small town of Alliston.
As a result of the pandemic we had to shut down our dining room and move to a Take-Out model. With our dining room empty, I had the idea of bringing in some Indian block printed table cloths, napkins, table runners and all things dining to offer our Take-Out customers the option of creating the Dine-In experience at home. This idea exploded and we ended up creating a small store in our restaurant, now known as Copper Bowl.
Our Beginnings - Copper Bowl Inside Our Restaurant
In January of 2021 we decided that in order for Copper Bowl to thrive it needed to have its own main street location and found a great space with good bones to call it home. Copper Bowl opened its doors on May 5, 2021.
What is the purpose of COPPER BOWL?
Beauty through sustainability. I read somewhere and it stuck with me. Unfortunately I don't remember the source to credit them, but it spoke of
Sustainability is viewed as three pillars: economic, environmental, and social; and that these three pillars are referred to as people, planet and profits.
Social The People:
Our purpose is to help create sustainable livelihoods for the women/men + communities primarily in the rural areas of India. We purchase fashion and home goods, much that are made from repurposed and up-cycled materials such as Sari Silks, embroideries and embellishments from wedding and festive gowns. By using up-cycled fabrics helps to lessening the carbon foot print and therefore creates a more sustainable practice fitting into the three pillars as listed above.
We want to create value from the artisan who does the embroidery, weaving and stitch-work to the individual who wears the item or enjoys it in their home. Kantha's as an example, the technique of the small precision stitching used to make these beautiful blankets creates a gorgeous and unique look in fashion and home goods. There are so many wonderful ways to recreate and up-cycle vintage + pre-loved fabrics to be valued and appreciated.
With regard to items that are made from new fabric we apply the principles of Slow fashion. This means items are made in small batches and small orders; therefore, we only have made what is needed for the order. With being small orders the employees / artisans are not over worked to meet large demands and deadlines and with us at Copper Bowl being a small boutique store, we only order what we need. When using new fabrics, we work with block-printers, weavers/loomers and artisan who specialize in these practices. Helping to keep century old tradition alive that have been passed down in families for generations and while employing and offering them dignified work and a sustainable living.
We apply the same priniciple when dealing with local artisans here in Ontario, and North America.
Economic / Profits:
We conduct our orders and work from a Direct Trade & Fair Trade principle. Dealing directly with the individuals, Collectives who make the goods allows for us to agree on a fair price to the artisans without having middle men in keeping our retail pricing lower and approachable making it equatable for everyone involved.
When dealing with larger brands and/or distributers, we ensure that such brands are likeminded and have the same mission and purpose in their business practices. It is important that the businesses we connect with are working from the same value system of direct trade, fair trade, ethically soucrced and sustainable / Eco-friendly.
Environmental and the Planet:
The textile industy is one of the leading contributers to our earths Air Pollution, Water Pollution, and Landfills Waste with the most negitive impact on our environment and carbon footprint.
- " The textile industry uses millions of gallons of water everyday. That's because to produce 1 kg of fabric, typically, 200 litres of water are consumed: washing the fiber, bleaching, dyeing and then cleaning the finished product."Green Of Change
When using upcycled fabrics just in the water and washing process alone, you can save up to a 1/2 to 3/4 of the water used if not more.
It is also keeping these fabrics out of the landfills with having them repurposed into new garments, quilts, wall hangings etc... As well, because we work with small cottage style business and not large manufacturers - there are not being created in factories with heavy machery using up major resources to produce them. The majority of items made are being done by hand in small communities and by individuals in their homes.
I say that one of the major challenges is the 'perceived value of a product'. Because a lot these items are made from pre-loved, traded material, there seems to be the notion that their value isn't as great as an item made from newly manufactured fabric like you would receive from a known commercial brand. As well, the process from the collection + bartering for the fabric, the cleaning and designing the new items, organizing of the fabrics, patterns, colours and embroideries etc... and then the constructing and manufacturing. It is very different from that being done by a fast fashion manufacture. The pricing may end up being of a premium pricing. There's a lot of work that goes into the re-using of materials that most people do not understand. However, once they understand what it takes and the process behind it and how it impacts the communities... they then appreciate the piece all the more. It is an absolute treasure.
Up-cycling Fabrics - This here in the photo is a Kimono / Duster made from Vintage Kantha Blankets. Made By Wander Bird Co.
At Copper Bowl we seek to create beauty to elevate your everyday
through sustainability. We inspire to work with women + men
and small collectives in rural areas of India and sourced locally
to build sustainable income and livelihoods through the use of direct
trade and fair trade principals in providing our CB Living Co.
community a beautiful assortment home goods and fashion
honouring traditional + sustainable techniques that have
been passed down through generations + with the use of pre-loved
fabrics and Eco-friendly practices.
~ Michelle Joyce
Copper Bowl Textiles + Home Decor