I’ll admit it – I love shopping at the mall and even more if I can score a great discount. But I also love browsing independent stores and shopping from local makers. There are times when I just want a trendy bag or shirt seen in a store window so I buy it. This even goes for basic household items you have to buy at big box stores. Which I think is okay, as long as I understand the value of shopping locally and make an effort to do so when I can.
Living in Pakistan for a large portion of my adult life has taught me to appreciate local charm. I was big on name brands before but I’ve come to own and love things made locally by small businesses. This could be as simple as supporting a street food vendor (we’ve got tones of those in Pakistan – making the most delicious snacks) or appreciating the work of an embroidery technician who decorates your clothes (something more common in Pakistan and somewhat prevalent in Canada).
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Someone who does that and more is Beverly. For her bag brand, ByInabe, she single-handedly makes patterns, measures fabric, prepares the leather and stitches each of her bags. For this reason, I understand paying more money for a product I know was created with care, using quality materials and through sustainable means. And if that still means nothing to you – in most cases, only a handful of the same design is created so your piece is unique.
I shop local because it makes me feel good. As a DIY gal, I get so excited when someone appreciates my whacked-out necklaces or random do-dads. The same goes for small business entrepreneurs. They have put their heart and soul into creating something and even a like or share on Instagram means the world. It shows them you’ve supported a single person or a small group of people and their creative idea.
Makers are passionate about where they’ve come from and their craft. They’re actually excited to share their stories with anyone, be it a stranger – just watch the pitches on Dragon’s Den. You can tell how much they love what they do and this inspires me to continue and excel at what enjoy. At the recent Citizen’s Collective market, I was busy reading the quirky statements on Tribe Chocolates’ packaging when the owner Judy, without asking, began explaining how their chocolate was made stemming from the huge maraca-shaped nuts (cocoa pods) on the table. The process was so intriguing that I sampled the ground nuts from the pods and even bought the chocolate!
Moving to this city had its challenges but getting out there and meeting creatives has really helped me. Apart from being more confident to talk to strangers, I’m more aware of my surroundings. I understand the importance of supporting the local industry and small businesses. The money you spend gets put back into your industry – generates work and livelihood for your country and community.
So, how can you support a local maker and shop local?
Go to local events! This could be food truck festivals in the summertime or the ever prevalent holiday markets right now. If you’re in Toronto the biggest and best is the One of a Kind Show starting this week! As well a number of smaller ones like the Trinity Bellwoods Flea and Etsy markets happening throughout the year. It’s your chance to meet bad-ass entrepreneurs, hear amazing stories and of course shop local. Trust me, you cannot walk away without liking something.
Follow my insta -stories because I’m always heading to a cool local event and would love to take you along.