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At EPIC 2012, local businesswomen showcase passion for sustainable living

The 2012 EPIC: The Sustainable Living Expo hosted over 300 hundred exhibitors at the Vancouver Convention Centre this weekend. While chefs at the Whole Foods EPICurean Stage served up samples of banana kale smoothies to go along with this year’s theme of "local, organic and healthy", local businesses were actively promoting a wide range of eco-friendly products, showing how a business could survive -- and thrive -- while being respectful of the environment. 

Four female entrepreneurs featured at EPIC 2012 shared their insight on how sustainability could lead to profitability: 

LOCO's Amy Robinson (left) and member volunteer (right)


LOCOs Executive Director Amy Robinson has spent the past 15 years implementing sustainable practices across the Lower Mainland. Founded in November 2009, Robinson’s small business now helps promote, connect and support 85 local businesses. One initiative to highlight LOCO members’ sustainable businesses is by hosting fun and local monthly networking events.  

At this past weekend’s EPIC convention, Robinson and member volunteers modeled “new” LOCO t-shirts while promoting an eco-friendly lifestyle.

“Did you see that our t-shirts are turned inside out?” Robinson asked. She explained that they had turned extra t-shirts from Salt Spring Coffee’s (also featured at EPIC) inside out to hide the original print and printed LOCO logos on the front and back. Small initiatives such as recycling clothing show that implementing sustainable practices can be as simple as turning fashion inside out.

Robinson offered advice for people interested in starting up a business, particularly a sustainable one like hers. 

“If you love what you’re doing, you’ll remember why during those late nights and it’ll continue to motivate you (to work) at three in the morning,” she said.

GoGo Bag founder Anahita Shahrvini

GoGo Bags

When Anahita Shahrvini’s son was starting kindergarten, the school had a strict no-garbage lunch policy. Unsure of how to store food that kept it fresh and easy to use, Shahrvini and her mother made a Ziploc bag replacement pouch made of 100 per cent cotton that was both long lasting and washer/dryer friendly. Shahrvini’s solution to her son’s lunchtime rules was the “Ah-Ha” moment that inspired GoGo Bags.

After two years, the North Vancouver company has expanded its products to offer fabric replacements for snack bags, cutlery bags, toothbrush holders. At EPIC, GoGo Bags featured their newest product: a cloth-based version of paper towels to tackle the issue of waste created by the use of paper towels.

Shahrvini demonstrated how the fabric roll fit on the same paper towel dispenser and that snap buttons were used to connect the cotton “sheets”.  The products come in a wide variety of colourful fabrics, showing that sustainability can be both fun and easy to use in everyday tasks.

New women's wear line We3 was featured at the twigg&hottie booth 


Glencora Twigg, Christine Hotton and Jessica Vaira met as students of Helen Lefeaux School of Fashion Design (which closed down in 2009) in Vancouver and opened twigg&hottie in 2003. 

Nested among other local designer boutiques on Main Street Vancouver, twigg&hottie offers women’s ready-to-wear clothing with an avant-garde twist with accessories and make-up to compliment the clothing.

On top of their house lines, twigg&hottie also offers designs from over fifty young Canadian designers. The company’s newest house line, We3, features collaboration designs by Twigg, Hotton and Vaira. Pieces of We3’s newest collection were displayed at this weekend’s EPIC and well reflected the West Coast style: “comfortable, stylish and environmentally sensitive”.

As a business run by mothers, designers and businesswomen, Twigg&Hottie is a full supporter of sustainable, ethical and handmade clothing.

Mickey McLeod (left), Robbyn Scott (right), and their daughter (center) at EPIC 2012

Salt Spring Coffee

As self-declared coffee lovers, husband and wife Mickey McLeod and Robbyn Scott were particularly interested in coffee roasters – so they bought one and started experimenting with it at their home on Salt Spring Island B.C.

The couple soon realized that there were people thirsty for organic and local coffee. The first Salt Spring Coffee shop opened in 1996 and is now one of three operating Salt Spring Coffee in B.C.

The company shows no sign of slowing down – it expanded facilities by moving to Richmond, and recently earned a spot on B Lab’s “Best of the World” in March 2012 list for effectiveness of Salt Spring Coffee’s commitment to the environment.

The company continues to source certified organic coffee in a socially responsible and environmentally conscious manner. It doesn’t stop there – Salt Spring Coffee hosts weekly “cupping” (the coffee equivalent of wine tasting) event at its Richmond facility to further educate the public on great tasting fair trade coffee. 

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