Translated with the help of Lucie Battaglia. Thank you Lucie!
– Noëlline, what is your current role with Respecterre? What tasks do you perform every day?
I am responsible for the boutique adjoining our sewing shop, the online boutique, and inventory management. In Respecterre’s early days, we decided to open our own shop in the rural areas! This allows us to receive guests on the wonderful ecovillage site while working in the shop. Increasingly, people also like to buy online, so I work on the online boutique at the same time.
– You are the person with the most life experience at Respecterre and one of the company’s most experienced seamstresses. Tell us about your career path.
Even if I have somewhat abandoned the sewing machines to handle other functions in the company, I have gone through so much in the past 30 years almost! I started sewing in 1990. At that time, I had already sewn with a sewing machine for my personal clothing and that of my family. When we created our sewing subcontracting company at that time, I had to learn all the basics of industrial sewing: line production, tight deadlines, individual work and “cells” (teamwork including both seated and standing tasks), and operation of sewing machines with very different functions. All these experiences made me discover some very routine and boring aspects, as well as some very interesting and educational ones. I often refer to my experience as “the school of sewing”, a bit like the school of life; it allowed to embark on a positive inner journey for which I am grateful today. And since 2007, thanks to the creation of Respecterre, an ethical and ecological component was added to my work, and it makes me very happy.
– What motivates you the most in your work? What do you value most?
I feel blessed in many aspects. What motivates me is to constantly have “a comprehensive goal and local actions.“ The current global situation is critical, both ecologically and human-wise. I firmly believe that each one of us must do his or her part every day to change things. Respecterre is offering me the opportunity for a comprehensive goal: providing an alternative to conventional clothing, for which the environment and working conditions are often overlooked; but above all, the opportunity to act local, working every day to create better ecological and ethical clothing.
I also like many other aspects of my work —I have a privileged contact with customers, our work is related to my values, my schedule is flexible, and the tasks are diversified.
– What personal or professional quality are you most proud of having developed in your line of work?
I can confidently say I’ve developed my teamwork skills. In the kind of business we have built, it is unthinkable to work alone. During our early years, we had spent a lot of energy just to educate and inform people about the type of fashion we wanted to advocate for and about the development of new products. Today, we design our collection, cut fabrics, sew garments, and take care of sales. Few companies in the fashion industry can boast that they take care of all these aspects while offering ecological, ethical, and locally made quality clothing. Without this ability to work in team, we would not be having this discussion today!
– Life It’s always easy, and your line of work is full of challenges. What is the greatest difficulty or frustration for you?
What I find the most difficult, curiously, does not come from outside but from myself! Working hard to be in touch with my own inner limits (both personal and professional), accepting them, and striving to transform them is my daily challenge, and I’m progressing slowly but surely,
Professionally, I sometimes have trouble with accepting a low pay while working so hard and never giving up!
– Is there something about your work that you would like people to know?
Sure! As head of our boutique, I am the person who has a privileged contact with our customers. Through many bright discussions, I have seen in their smiles and gratitude a glimmer of hope for a better world. Each customer does a lot for me and comforts me in the role I have accepted.
– I guess that professional dreams evolve with years of experience and become more focused on specific desires. Are there any specific projects you hold close and would like to see develop in the coming years?
Recycling is a big part of my environmental values. After each new Respecterre collection, crafted twice a year, we always end up with a large amount of unused scraps. Svetlina’s small company, 2e Chance, reuses much of it. But what often occupies my thoughts is how to achieve zero waste. So, I’m part of a team working to meet this challenge. We are striving to create new underwear from these scraps. On the same subject, I’m also nurturing a project to upcycle certain end-of-season products into new ones, adapted to current trends.
– Young adults today are called to get involved more and more in the development of the company, especially two of your children. What do you think about this?
My children are actively involved not only in developing Respecterre, but also in caring for the ecovillage in which we live. I think this comes naturally to them as a way to put their values in action, and it is also a part of themselves that wants to manifest for the greater good of humanity. I can only be proud and be confident of the wonderful life they live.
– What is your favourite Respecterre garment or fibre? Why?
Bamboo is my first choice for comfort. However, eucalyptus, flax, soy, and hemp also have interesting characteristics that work for me depending on the type of garment. Just the fact of wearing natural fibres is a joy in itself!
– Do you have a passion or interest that motivates you in your personal life?
My biggest passion is to continue to transform myself personally, as well as to offer greater openness to my children and my future grandchildren. As you can see, my children have an important place in my heart. They are my greatest gift.
– Give me a word or sentence that represents you well.
Faithful to my commitments!