Read about our Interview below with Susan Cadman of Miik, and ethical and organic clothing line from Canada.
Tell us about yourself – familial/personal story, education, and prior work.
I am driven and active, and have a passion for fashion and the great outdoors. I am a 3 times Ironman triathlete and mother of two amazing young children.
I graduated from University of Western Ontario with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Statistics. I then went on to work at a large Marketing agency for many years, working with many large national and multi-national companies. When I had my children my priorities changed and it was important for me to focus on my family. I decided to leave the big agency and corporate world to be involved in something I truly believed in. Something that felt good in my gut. Something that had more meaning…something I could really help grow and that’s how I ended up at Miik.
What is the importance of ethical fashion to you?
For us, it starts with the people. All of our clothes are sewn by people. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect, paid fairly and in proper working conditions. The apparel industry is the second largest polluter in the world…only second to oil. I want to be part of the leading edge toward reforming the fashion industry. It’s a commitment to our belief in slow fashion and creating a healthier environment for future generations. I want my kids and their kids to grow up in a better place.
What is the importance of sustainable fashion to you?
Sustainability to me means renewing resources at a rate equal to or greater than the rate at which they are consumed. It is absolutely critical to protecting our future.
At Miik we of course use eco/sustainable fabric but sustainability is not just about the fabrics, it’s about the designs. We design our pieces to have a classic look, to ensure that they are going to be in style for seasons to come, not just for one season. We call it, Style with Staying Power!! It’s also about our extremely small footprint – we produce everything locally, cutting down on transportation and supporting local business. We strive to incorporate sustainability in everything we do, even to the smaller things like using recycled boxes and shipping bags. We also encourage our customers to focus on sustainability, knowing that even when our clothes leave us, they are still sustainable. 95% of the collection is machine washable in cold water…eliminating harsh chemicals and reduction of hot water.
What is Miik?
Miik is a Canadian luxury clothing brand that embraces ‘slow fashion’ in a world so consumed by disposable clothing. Milk strives to lengthen the time between the purchase of your clothing and its eventual disposal in two ways: by using sustainably sourced fabrics that don’t lose their shape, fade or pill like other natural textiles, and by designing timeless yet striking pieces that stand the test of time (or that can be enjoyed season after season).
Miik is challenging the status quo of fast fashion with our timeless pieces, commitment to sustainability, and custom milled luxury eco fabric that feels like first class.
It is style with staying power.
What makes the company unique?
We believe less is more. In fact, our philosophy is quite opposite of that of most other fashion brands. We actually want consumers to buy less, but to choose and buy quality.
What really sets us apart and makes us unique is our luxury fabric and the fact that we have an extremely small footprint. We custom mill our sustainable fabrics locally. From yarn to hanger we do it all in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area); design, mill, dye and produce under fair working conditions.
By custom milling our own luxury fabrics, we choose what goes in it; the weight, the “hand” and the finishing. Our fabrics are milled to last; they hold their form and colour while offering uncompromising stretch, softness and durability. For example, most bamboo fabrics are milled to a much lighter weight and usually with another fabric like cotton so they don’t have the same lasting power, softness or the luxurious drape of our fabric. As well, bamboo yarn takes to dye and holds the colour better so our colours are more saturated and won’t fade even after years of wear. Miik is sustainable by design!
Since we produce locally we are able to control the quality at every step of our production. At any given time I can personally go and see each step of the garments life…to ensure we are producing the best quality product.
What other work are you involved in at this point in time?
Miik is involved in many professional and charitable groups. Just recently we were a part of Fashion Takes Action “Design Forward” Fashion show. It featured Canada’s top designers who have made a commitment to ethical practices, without sacrificing style. We also work quite closely with local fashion schools and their fashion shows and various different projects. We also were one of the very first fashion brands to sign on with Canopy and their new Canopy Style to support ethical practices and preservation of the environment, forests and trees.
What meaning or personal fulfillment does this work bring for you?
My work brings me great joy and fulfillment. Not many people can say they love what they do every day! Knowing that I am making a small difference in the way we consume fashion and teaching my kids and the next generation about slow fashion really makes be feel good about what we are doing.
What is also so appealing is that Miik is a small company so I get to have my hand in both the design/creative side and then of course the numbers and the business side. I actually thrive on both sides of the business…and there are not a lot of jobs were you get to do both!
I also have some flexibility in my job. This is extremely important for me…it allows me to also be a Mom. I am able to bring my kids to school, work hard, make a healthy dinner, be active, attend field trips if necessary and balance work and life. Once the kids go to bed…I typically go back to my desk at my home office. J
With regard to ethical and sustainable fashion companies, what’s the importance of them now?
It is actually very critical now for fashion brands to think both ethical and sustainably. The rate at which the fashion industry is destroying our environment is much quicker than we are able to restore it. Too many people are dying and working in unfit conditions…the health concerns are astronomical. The time in now!
Any advice for women in leadership?
Embrace it. Have confidence and own it…lead by example. Take ownership of your own success.
I really want to make sure that woman young and old can “unpack their fears”. Fear is consistently one of the biggest challenges woman face in the workplace. The fear that having a family and raising children will reflect negatively on their commitment to their careers. It is possible to do both successfully.
I want to make sure my kids see, understand and learn that leadership has nothing to do with what gender you are rather it’s about finding the best person for the job.
The fashion industry disproportionately affects young women in developing countries. I would love to be able to be, at least, a small part of making a change in their lives. Supporting ethical and sustainable fashion is definitely a big step in the right direction.
Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion?
When it comes right down to it, the magic is in our fabric.