Cathy Jackson, co-founder of Edmonton-based craft biz Makers & Mentors, doubles as Flatter:Me Belt Hospital’s chief surgeon. (If you’re not familiar with our Belt Hospital - it’s our free repair and parts replacement program for Flatter:Me’s in need of TLC. We guarantee a like-new belt for up to 500 days after purchase, and can repair for a small fee after your warranty period runs out. Cathy’s the one standing by to perform the facelifts.) Lindsey sat down with Cathy to talk about her beginnings in crafting, how her work aligns with her values, and what her role as Belt Hospital Operator entails. You’re in for a treat, guys.
Lindsey: Thanks a bunch for chatting with us, Cathy! Can you tell me a little bit about how you got your big break in crafting?
Cathy: I’ve always been a maker. When I was younger, I had relatives who were able to share their skills with me. I had my first teaching session when I was in Grade Three with my friends, in my playhouse, knitting squares for blankets for the Red Cross. When I think back to that... the writing was on the wall.
Lindsey: That’s really great to see you not only creating things by hand, but showing leadership from such a young age. How do you think your values about manufacturing processes have changed throughout the years?
Cathy: My brain automatically goes to, “How can I make that myself?” I have a lot of respect for the way things are made and the materials that they’re made out of. I like to reuse things and incorporate that philosophy. I really dislike waste - I think that’s just common sense. I don’t think we should be throwing things away and abusing the luxury that we have. We’re very lucky to have what we have, but we’ve only got so many natural resources.
Lindsey: It’s a no-brainer that your experience makes you the best gal to run the Belt Hospital here at Flatter:Me! Can you tell the world a little about a day in the life at the Belt Hospital?
Cathy: *laughs* Yes - belt nurse speaking. I was quite excited to learn about Flatter:Me Belts and the fact that they can be sent back for repairs. I wanted to be the repair person - I think it’s a really valuable service and a remarkable thing for a company to do. Wearers clearly like their belts and they want to wear them until they’re worn out! If they’re repaired once or twice in their life, that’s really wonderful.
Lindsey: I love telling the story behind my clothes, especially when I know the makers and sources of the fabrics. There’s a real sense of pride in knowing where clothes come from.
Cathy: It’s a good feeling to look at something you’ve done and say, “I made that, and it’s beautiful.” It’s empowering, but it’s also unfortunate that so many people don’t know what that feels like. Less waste is created when we fix a few things and realize how great your garments really are.
Lindsey: Alright - you’ve got me convinced! I’m going to start personalizing my older clothes with unique buttons and finally hem those jeans I’ve left rolled up for months.
Can you speak a bit to how Makers & Mentors was founded?
Cathy: My daughter, Sarah, and I started meeting people who were saying things like, “I can’t put on buttons. I can’t do this or that.” I started interviewing people about what their attitude was towards making. They weren’t very confident that they could make and do for themselves. I think that if you can do up your buttons and tie your shoelaces and chop some carrots, then you have all the skills you need - you have the physical ability to hold a needle, thread it, and use it. You just have to be shown how. And that’s why we’re here. If you come for a short course and learn some things, it’ll lead to a greater sense of accomplishment and perhaps spark a sense of creativity that you didn’t know was there. We’re encouraged by the experiences people are having. It’s fun teaching people new skills.
Lindsey: It feels like, in my generation especially, certain skills are almost dying - I don’t know how to use a sewing machine, for example. Heck, I can barely sew without grafting myself to the fabric. But we’re so reliant on others to do things for us. Yes, this creates jobs, but it takes some of the power out of our hands.
Cathy: I was at a tailor’s shop awhile ago watching men and women come in with jeans that need hemming. And that’s great - just to know that manufactured things can be changed just a little bit to personalize them to your length or shape or whatever. Of course, tailors are here to do those things. But if you can do a few of the repairs yourself, I think maybe that’d lead to saying, “Oh, maybe I can do embroidery and personalize my clothing, too.” I really like things that nobody else has. Anybody can buy that shirt, but if you change the buttons up... Oh, that’d be fun - wouldn’t it? Change things up a bit and make them your own.
There you have it, folks - a first-hand look into the Flatter:Me Belts Belt Hospital! We’re huge believers in making the most of your wardrobe, so shoot us a message at any time to inquire about our belt repair services. Cathy and Sarah’s business, Makers and Mentors , posts their workshop schedules here - enter code FLATTERME15 for $15 off any course through July 31, 2017.