Experienced seamstress , Dalia is a calm, simple and caring woman… besides being an excellent cook! She has a personal life experience and very interesting work, I encourage you to read the following interview.

– Dalia, what is your current role in Respecterre? What tasks do you perform?

I am currently a sewing machine operator (commonly known as “seamstress”!) I also dedicate a few hours a month to develop new styles of underwear, which allows me to develop the creative side of my personality and allows Respecterre to continue innovating.

– You are one of the most experienced seamstresses of the company and your working career (and life!) Is very interesting. Tell us about it a little.

When I see where I am today and the path I have traveled all these years, I can not help but smile, thinking that, initially, sewing was never a personal career choice . When the the ecovillage experienced financial difficulties at the beginning of the project I had, like many other families, children to take care of. So I participated in the creation of a sewing business where we were doing subcontracting for various companies. This was followed by a range of experiences of all kinds: day and night hours, overtime to deliver contracts on time, various job functions as floor manager or quality manager, etc. I became an experienced seamstress.

But in the early 2000s, the sewing industry was relocated to Asia for “cheap labor”. It was a turning point for me, so I left to help the development of a second ecovillage (La Cite Ecologique of New Hampshire) in the United States. I recently returned to Quebec. Honestly, I never thought to go back to sewing. However, seeing the Respecterre project with the creation of a line of environmentally friendly clothing, ethical and local, as well as the diversity the work offers, I decided to make the jump and share my experience with the young team in place. Two years later, I think I made a good choice. When I make a review of my years here, something I value a lot is that chance that I had to stay with my 4 children and see them grow. And for work, I wouldn’t change business for (almost) anything!

– What motivates you the most in your work? What do you like most?

Several aspects! First, Respecterre is still a young growing company and I am proud to contribute to its development by making clothes and design of new products. Speaking of development, I feel openness and desire for innovation of our team through research of new environmentally friendly fibers and comfortable models and fashionable; it is a constant source of motivation. Then living in an ecovillage has taught us all to improve our relationships and this is something that transpires at work: we are a small team with an atmosphere of good fellowship. Another thing I also appreciate is the flexibility of working hours. I can arrange my work schedule as I prefer, which is not customary in this area of work!

– What are you most proud of having developed as a personal or professional?

Perseverance is the quality I most developed: to have been able to pass through the many challenges presented by this work is quite an accomplishment! Also, before I was sewing, I had trouble staying seated over an hour to do work: so I developed my concentration over time. Finally, work on the machines of course allowed me to acquire some manual skill and precision, which I use in other aspects of my life.

– Life ins’t always seen thought pink coloured glasses, and your work brings a lot of challenges. What is for you the most trouble?

The years we spent living in sewing subcontracting have been hard for the majority of the ecovillage members. Under these conditions, leaving the sewing team to turn to different business has been for many a breath of fresh air. Many people here may not understand fully the choice that some of us have created a new clothing company from the ground up, remembering the hard work and low pay that the clothing industry brought. This is perhaps my biggest disappointment, as it comes from people who are closest to me. At the same time, I understand their reactions and I am still happy to see they evolve gradually as Respecterre proves to be viable model.

– The ecovillage has always had the tradition to make room for young people. It is the case for Respecterre, while today, young adults are being involved increasingly in the development of the company. What do you think?

I see a lot of positive. We operate in a very competitive sector and often singled out in the media. To see young people who have convictions in ecology, ethics, community and mutual support, and decide to put the benefit of a company like Respecterre in an ecovillage like ours, is for me a source encouragement and pride.

– I guess that professional dreams are changing over the years and become more focused on particular desires. Are there any particular projects you would like to see developed over the next years?

As you mentioned, our team in composed of several young adults and the challenge is to refine certain aspects of our business so that Respecterre can flourish and become a viable model. In this sense, the first challenge that we will be able to work in the coming years is to clearly define our goals better target our customers, and put the efforts in this direction. Also, I’d like a chance to get involved even more in creating new styles, and to be able to do it as a team.

– What is your favorite Respecterre style or fiber? Why?

I buy very little Respecterre clothes because the cuts do not go very well for me … it is not very good to say that, I know (laughs)! But this is reality, the styles cuts are meant for a younger clientele in my opinion.

– Work is not all in life. Do you have a passion or interests that motivate you in your personal life?

I am a simple person and this is reflected in my personal interests. I love to cook (the interviewer also confirms Dalia’s great culinary talent!) In the spring, I devote a little time to horticulture and cultivation of small fruits. My family also represents for me a great source of joy and love, with children and grandchildren who are growing everyday!

– Name me a word or phrase that represents you.

Improve: I like to continue to improve or enhance the things around me when I see that I can do better.

About the Author Charles Marceau-Cotton: With just a little more than a year of life in the ecovillage “La Cite Ecologique”, I’m the new room! Setting foot in such a community, and above all decide to settle here has its share of great moments but also challenges of all kinds. I therefore propose, through these texts, my views on various aspects of community life and personal observations of the gap that sometimes exists between the “mainstream”  life and the ecovillage life .