Painting an ethical future with The Canvas.
Interviews
20/10/2020 @system.social

Painting an ethical future with The Canvas.

What’s your background and what do you do now at The Canvas?

I'm co-founder and Co-CEO of The Canvas. We empower rising, ethical fashion brands of the world through brick and mortar retail opportunities and access to technology and resources.

I worked across media, fashion and PR throughout high school, eventually having the chance to work at Milk Studios in New York City.

My co-founder Tegan Maxey and I started Querencia Studio in 2016 and, since then, we’ve been working to create a new platform for emerging brands.

The mission has evolved but the core idea has stayed the same: to reimagine what retail can be.

What is Querencia Studio?

Querencia Studio was our first effort in creating a product and brand that reflected the opportunities and challenges facing fashion. Tegan and I saw a unique opportunity in our respective backgrounds, networks and interests to create a brand focused on ethical products but keeping aesthetics and style as a critical component to creating a great product.

We started with t-shirts, but shortly after our Lead Designer Kate Walz joined Querencia and has been leading our cut and sew and fashion design efforts since. The brand now primarily focuses on “Earth Suits”, or what we describe as space suits for this planet. As climate change accelerates, we must keep in mind that our garments must adapt to the climate too.

And what is The Canvas?

We first opened The Canvas in June 2018 as an opportunity to do something unique in a space that was formerly a textbook store.

Since then, the mission has evolved but the core idea has stayed the same: to reimagine what retail can be in a time where in-store experiences do not provide an amazing and inspiring connection between the brand and the guest.

Painting an ethical future with The Canvas.

How are Querencia Studies and The Canvas connected?

The challenge of being a small brand with Querencia Studio, and the observations we had about the state of retail, brought us to launch The Canvas. Decisions we make at The Canvas are informed by that journey as a brand and so Querencia Studio serves as our own evolving, in-house case study.

The Canvas has grown into a community of over one hundred and fifty fashion, jewellery and cosmetic brands from around the world focused on ethical processes and design. The criteria for entry to The Canvas are the Sustainable Development Goals, which serve as our framework for brand selection.

What are you most proud of achieving with The Canvas so far?

We would like to think we have laid the groundwork for a community that is growing quickly, but we try not to consider any part of The Canvas as a final achievement as we believe we have so much potential to grow, improve and expand our efforts to help more brands around the world bring their products to larger audiences.

Painting an ethical future with The Canvas.

What are the biggest challenges you've met?

By far, the most challenging moment we’ve had is opening our Antwerp location after six months of preparation only to have to temporarily close weeks later as COVID-19 hit Belgium.

Having just had a successful grand opening and feeling optimistic about the new location, it was a blunt reminder that in this world you can never feel too comfortable.

How do you currently see the subject of sustainability in your industry?

Overdiscussed but misunderstood. The term “sustainable” is a general one, and it should not replace specifics, metrics, data and a plan. Unfortunately, the larger businesses have felt comfortable throwing the word into marketing campaigns and calling it a day.

The subject is more complicated than that, and it's one of the reasons we use the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for The Canvas’ curation of brands.

What are your objectives moving forward?

The Canvas mission is to address the vacancy problem while supporting the rising brands of the world. This will allow us to lower the financial barriers associated with bringing products to a market like New York City, while simultaneously raising the sustainability standards. We feel this is a way forward to move the needle on ethical standards in fashion and design.

We saw a similar opportunity in Antwerp, and connected with our partners KUNSTGEZIND and MADE there to make it a reality with our now Manager of The Canvas Antwerp, Steff Vermeesch, leading the way.

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