Standing in the hallway of the Horwood’s Mall, looking into Climate
Clothing, you don’t immediately see the First Nation influence in the neat rows of clothing.
You see earth tones, trending toward the dark due to the season, and little surprises here and there in a comfortable store.
But First Nation teachings lives in the business philosophy of its owner and operator, Lorraine Stick.
“When I was old enough for responsibility, I got my own back pack, or pack sack as I called it, with my own snares and my own traps, and I was totally responsible for that,” says Stick, who is a member of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations.
“My Mom would just watch me set the snares and not say anything. If I set it wrong, it was a lesson for me to learn when I went to the snares the next day and didn’t catch anything… then she would tell me why.”
The traditional lifestyle is set in her bones.
“I was raised to live off the land; the land was my grocery store as a kid,” she says. “I am so comfortable in the bush. I can walk in the bush and not be terrified because I know the environment is going to take care of me.”
She laughs when reminded that the retail business can be a jungle. But she has a philosophical approach to the challenge of retail.
“Honour yourself and who you are and believe that your product is so good that it will sell and you will be rewarded for that… and your customers will be rewarded, too.”
Stick’s goal is to offer clothing that people feel good about wearing.
“All-natural clothing is better for you,” Stick says. “It allows your skin to breathe, it is more comfortable, your body is not absorbing all of those gases and all of those other chemicals that clothing can have.”
It is good for the planet, too.
“Synthetics never break down in the landfills, especially polyester, and are probably one of the worst things for the environment you can buy,” Stick says. “I believe in giving back to the environment for what the environment did for me as a child.”
Finding suppliers who feel the same way she does was as easy as a Google search. Stick now deals with agencies who deal only in natural fibres and can source most of her clothing from Canadian manufacturers because supporting our economy is important, too.
“They are really easy to deal with,” says Stick. “They are honest and they want to make you happy so they work with you.
“These (clothes) are good quality and they last a long time and I stand behind my products.”
Besides the soft-feeling fabrics of the clothing, there are also Blue Planet Recycled Eyewear, hand-crafted soaps, eco lunch accessories and baby clothes.
Under a wide window that looks toward the Yukon River across 1st Avenue sits a box of toys ready for young customers who want to keep busy while their parents shop.
A customer, Lorraine Hoyt, stops to chat: “I like to look at the clothes,” she says. “It is a lot of different stuff, intriguing stuff.”
Stick sees her retail neighbours in the Horwood’s Mall as a good fit. Whether it is cheese, toys or a good cup of coffee and scone, the shops attract customers who appreciate quality.
And Stick had a goal to ensure customers would find clothing that cannot be purchased elsewhere in Whitehorse.
“It is frustrating to go into another store and see the same products,” she says. “I wanted to offer something different.”
Growing up in the community of Aishihik she was never told that success was defined as owning her own business.
“For me, I was in residential school, and it was my determination to get my Grade 12 and nobody was going to stop me… that is where I got my determination,” Stick says. “I graduated at a time when a lot of us did not graduate. It was pounded into our heads to marry a man who is a knight in shining armour and he will take care of us the rest of our lives.”
Stick had other ideas.
“I set goals for myself and now I am building a successful business,” she says.
But how did she know that all-natural clothing would be successful in Whitehorse?
She laughs: “Because there are a lot of granola eaters here.”
Climate Clothing is open Mondays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information go to www.ClimateClothing.ca.