Christine Dubin believes in the vision of creating a better world. Her business MIOU is a socially and environmentally responsible knitwear company that stays true to the principles of producing fair-trade and eco-friendly products.
Tell us about yourself – familial/personal story, education, and prior work.
I am originally from France, but I now live with my family in the charming little town of Gibsons, BC. I studied fashion design in France, and have always gravitated toward classic, quality-made clothing. When I became a mother, I became very interested in children’s fashion and wanted to come up with a line of clothing that reflected my values.
What is the importance of ethical and sustainable fashion to you?
It is evident to most of us by now that our rate of consumption is not sustainable; we are polluting and damaging our precious environment, and we are starting to see some changes in weather patterns due to global warming. Sadly, our innocent children will suffer most from our mistakes, and this does not seem right to me. Also, being a mother in Canada, I have been blessed with a good standard of living. It is so upsetting for me that mothers in developing countries are vulnerable and suffer great hardships; they are struggling to earn a decent living and care for their children. This is why it was important for me to create a business that takes environmental and social issues into consideration and do my part in helping to alleviate these issues in the best way I can.
What is Miou – source of its title, and its mission, productions, and vision?
Miou’s mission is to have a minimal environmental imprint and improve the lives of the women we work with. We strive to grow and improve, create increased opportunities for impoverished women in Peru and worldwide, and also continue to reduce our environmental impact. We want to create a holistic business that has the balanced energetic flow of providing and receiving so we can help heal our people and planet while creating one-of-a kind, quality clothing.
What makes the company unique?
We have strong ethical principles that we prioritize over profit. We offer quality clothing that is unique and produced slowly and skillfully. Each piece is like a work of art, and we are very lucky to be working with an exceptionally talented group of women.
What challenges arise in founding a company?
It can be challenging to find a balance between juggling business and family. When I founded my business, my youngest was not going to school yet, so I had a limited amount of time to dedicate to growing Miou. Creating my business also added financial stress as I had to take on loans without a guaranteed outcome. They were many ups and downs, but through perseverance and learning, Miou is now more stable and continues to grow.
Any advice for women in business?
As a women, I am operating my business in the spirit of care for others and the environment. I think that this is an important characteristic; as more women own businesses, this can help us create a better world. My advice to other women is to stay true to their feminine principles while doing business so that we can influence the mainstream business world towards a broader perspective of harmony.
Any advice for new business owners?
To be patient. Success does not happen overnight for most business owners. It takes time. When starting a business there is much to learn, and the likeliness of making mistakes is quite high, especially for new projects. At Miou we have learned that if we are working on something we’re unfamiliar with, we invest small amounts of money so that if it does not work out it won’t be devastating, and can still be a good learning experience. We have also learned to take the time to contemplate what we have accomplished, even if we are not profitable yet. It is easier to stay the course when we feel passionate about what we do.
What meaning or personal fulfillment does this work bring for you?
I love going to Peru and meeting with the wonderful women who create our knitwear; these women are beautifully warm and also very proud, and they are grateful to be able to use their skills to earn an income, as the unemployment is very high in rural Peru. I feel privileged to have them work for me, and it is important for them to feel appreciated and respected, as Miou would not be what it is without their talent and perseverance. We have a symbiotic relationship—working with the knitters and being able to make a difference in their lives is very satisfying to me. Being creative is also important for me, and brings me deep joy; it’s my unique expression.
With regard to ethical and sustainable fashion companies, what’s the importance of them now?
We live in a world in crisis due to overconsumption. Products are often of poor quality, profit is the ultimate goal for many corporations, and environment and social rights are secondary. Now that consumers are becoming more aware and wanting to care for the earth and the people who create their products, they are looking to purchase from ethical businesses who share the same values. As more businesses work from an ethical principle we can tip the balance to create a better world.
Thank you for your time, Christine.