KYLIE JOHNSON OF FORMER FIBRES
I'm just one boss lady, trying to do her little bit for the environment.
I have always been creative. By day I am a marketer and graphic designer and by night after I get home from my long commute from Toronto I pour my passion into my business creating. Handmade has begun to play a big role in my life. I am currently battling severe anxiety and have rediscovered my passion and creativity in my new business. With the love and support of my friends, family and especially the maker community, Former Fibres has allowed me to grow my confidence and re-find myself.
AN ECO IDEA: HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Former Fibres started as a Christmas gift for my father, who dislikes the commercialized season that Christmas has become. Instead of gifting him something bought, my family does acts of kindness in his name and surprise him with our contributions. I knew that I wanted to use my creativity and make something, but what could it be? I had been very aware of all the environmental impacts that plastic has on our planet, and stopped using single-use plastics in our home. Every time that I needed to get rid of something I would think of where it goes and how it can be used. So then one day it came to me, I was going through all of my sheets, matching up odds and ends finding a few complete sets that I wanted, but a whole lot of extras we didn’t need in our little home. A light bulb went off in my head, what if I used upcycled fabric to make pet beds! I went straight out and found myself a sewing machine and remembered those sewing skills that I learnt in Girl Guides many years ago.
I made a few extra so that for every bed that I gifted that Christmas to my family and friends, I was also able to donate one to a pet in need in my dad’s name. Nine kitty’s/small dogs, and one large dog got a new comfortable bed to sleep on that holiday. Best of all was the look on my Dad's face when he saw what I had created. In the same spirit, I continue to donate beds to shelters using up odds and ends of my fabric, ensuring that nothing goes to waste. My friends and family gave me the courage to begin selling my eco-friendly pet beds. They told me I found something unique and that I had to share it with the world! I love the idea of creating something unique and educating people on the benefits of eco-friendly products.
THE RIGHT STUFF(ING)
When it came to the part to stuff my beds with filling, I was hit with a surprise. Unknown to me at the time, polyfill is of course PLASTIC! After doing some research I discovered how polyfill is made, the harmful chemicals used and how it is horrible for our pets, yet every bed you find is filled with it. I had to find a better alternative, I went searching high and low and even after calling almost every fabric supply store in the greater Toronto area, I was at a loss, no one carried an environmental alternative. To the internet I went and ended up stumbling across Kapok. So there I had it, a lovely environmental pet bed that was lovingly handmade by myself and stuffed with all natural fibre harvested from the seedpod of the Kapok tree!
As a maker we constantly struggle with the value of our products, we feel pressured to get our prices down and to be equal to what you can find in your local big box store. When I was researching to find a natural alternative to polyfill, I decided to take a chance on a more expensive solution. I battled back and forth with the cost over quality and the impact on our environment. But in the end, I choose to stick with my values and instead work extra hard to educate my following on the importance of choosing all-natural and environmentally friendly alternatives.
Everything from the products I create to the packaging that they're shipped in is made with the environment in mind.
I love nature - Preserving our earth is important to me. If I’m not at my regular 9-5 or making pet beds, you’ll find me camping at an Ontario Park. I have given up single-use plastic, and try to live a zero waste lifestyle. I am still learning but enjoy sharing my knowledge with others, and love my reusable straw. I have also brought my passion of Zero waste into my businesses. Everything I have gets used into something else, like our scraps of fabric and thread get made into cat toys and doggy poop bags.
My favourite part about being a maker is the community, I've never met such a supportive and encouraging group of like-minded people. I am a strong believer in the maker movement and community above competition. Whenever I have a question or need advice other makers are the first to offer a helping hand. I love the feeling of being part of something bigger and contributing to my community.