Stephanie Schneider is the founder of Glasnost, a line of ethical rainwear in classic designs that might actually turn your rainy weather dread into something more like glee.
Stephanie will be showing her wares at Circle Craft show this weekend (November 7-11) so we thought that now would be a great time to catch up and learn more about her story and the insights she’s gained since starting up her business 13 years ago. Plus, they say rain is in the forecast…
When you first started Glasnost in 2006 your mission was largely to “find your own voice”. What circumstances initially inspired you to search for that voice through designing and sewing rainwear?
I have always been a maker rooted in practicality, and so when I needed a raincoat I decided to make one. I was on a bit of a kick to see if I could make all the things I needed.
How has your mission changed over the years?
Well I suppose the mission changed from making myself a raincoat to making them for others!
What have been the most significant self discoveries that you’ve made since beginning Glasnost?
Probably how persistent and stubborn I am. Really nothing is more challenging than running a small business and being a mother of two. I suppose I have proven to myself that I am resilient.
How pertinent is the Russian translation of glasnost (“openness”) to your brand today?
Openness is just as important today as it was when I was originally inspired by the word. The transparency of my business is the core of its operation. I make all the garments myself and sell them direct to consumer. I build relationships with many of my clients, and invite them into the studio. There is something refreshingly simple about my process as compared with most fast fashion culture.
Tell me about the experience and/or garment that triggered your conscientious attitude towards consumerism.
It was a combination of things in my 20’s that lead me down this path, but I always knew I wanted to contribute to our local manufacturing industry. I took an environmental studies course that really rattled me and made me realize that I wanted to make changes to help with over consumption.
You reference your upbringing in interior BC as inspiration. How is your current urban setting reflected in your designs?
The urban setting can be pretty overwhelming and hectic. This is why I design coats with minimal details. I have leaned into natural fibres in opposition to the constructed world around me.
Producing items that are made to essentially last a lifetime is a great model for sustainability but it’s also kind of a catch-22…how do you reconcile the realities of running a successful business with your environmental ethos? What are the compromises that you’ve had to make?
The sacrifice I’ve had to make is that my coats are made of natural fibres, and as such they won’t last forever. But the alternative is something plastic that never goes away. It means a lot to me to be involved in the slow fashion approach which combines ethics, the environment, and lasting design.
Tell us about the most memorable story that you’ve inherited along with your materials.
Well, there was the day trip to Vancouver island to visit my old leather supplier that now, in retrospect, changed the course of my life. Vern picked me up at the ferry in his RV full of leather and I bought a few hides for some bags I was making. He asked if I was interested in some waxed cotton he had. I hadn’t heard of the textile before and I was intrigued. I guess it’s safe to say I liked it.
What sort of changes do you hope to facilitate through Glasnost? What changes have you witnessed so far?
In addition to being a sustainable local option for rainwear, I am trying to help break down the gender barriers that exist in the clothing industry. I hope to make clothes for all people, and have been really satisfied seeing so many folks interested in my simple designs that fit a variety of bodies.