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“We quickly learned that there’s not a lot of options in Canada for building clothing these days, which pushed us to open up our own factory here in Victoria,” Gauthier says. “We used to have more of an industry here. And we lost a lot of that expertise and that talent. But, we can build it back. It can be built back.”
In November 2020, Ecologyst moved into a larger factory space in Victoria at 2110 Store St., becoming “more or less operational” there, according to Gauthier, by Dec. 1. The location is home to the head office, which boasts a 10-person team, with plans to open a new space there that will allow buyers to purchase products and “see the goods being made.”
“It’s going to be a really unique experience for people, it will help them get a little bit more connected to the products that they’re buying and that they’re wearing,” Gauthier says.
Currently, the Victoria-based entrepreneur says 30 per cent of Ecologyst’s products are made in the Vancouver Island factory, a number he wants to maintain as the company grows. The rest of the products are made through partnerships with Canadian factories — a few in Vancouver and Ontario, and one in Quebec — as well as one in the U.S.
Access to and transparency of the manufacturing process are positioned as important components to the growth plan for the company, which offers a community ownership model for customers to become stakeholders in the brand.
“We’re a direct-to-consumer company, so we’re talking to our customers — a lot. And, that was something that we heard from them, that, if there was ever an opportunity, that they would be interested in being investors,” Gauthier explains. “Unfortunately, it’s really only the uber-wealthy that, traditionally, have been allowed to invest in private companies. Everybody else just gets to invest into public companies. So, we were able to find a way to allow our customers to also be investors in the business.