In the Revelstoke Makers series we profile local makers — people who have honed a craft and are skilled in creating things by hand. The series will explore areas of tension in a maker’s process and examine how each person overcomes challenges unique to their art.
Meet Mel Parent, owner and main creator of Aparent, a clothing company that specializes in hoodies. When Parent was 29 she went back to school to follow her childhood dream of owning a clothing company and working for herself. Her leap of faith worked and she fell back in love with sewing. At first she was only inspired to make women’s clothing. Her idea was to target female skiers and snowboarders. But from a business perspective, she learned, it makes sense to sew clothes for both sexes since there are often more men than women in ski towns. As an experiment, Parent made a custom hoodie for a male friend in July 2013. The day she finished, she was flooded with ideas for other designs. She made a special edition for two friends that were DJing together at the time, then word spread and suddenly she had six custom hoodie orders. Parent was passionate about the experience and when a friend suggested starting a Kickstarter campaign, she jumped at the chance to make sewing her full time gig. This other leap of faith paid off. In May 2014, the Aparent project was fully funded. That summer and fall, Parent went through the hard work of learning how to start a small clothing business. Finally, she launched her online store December 1, 2014.
Revelstoke Mountaineer: What do you make?
Mel Parent: I make one of a kind hoodies with new and upcycled materials. I use fabric as an artistic medium to create unique quality garments made in an ethical way. I intend not to follow trends but encourage slow fashion over fast fashion instead. It’s easy for fashion to become wasteful and harmful to our planet.
It’s important to me to support our community so I try to source everything locally as much as possible. All my zips, threads, labels and hangtags are produced in Canada.
I’m working toward being a sustainable brand and I’ll be introducing some eco-fabric in the next month to slowly shy away from non-sustainable materials. I also make totes out of my left over fabric and upcycled cloth.
RM: How did you learn to express yourself with this medium? What inspires you to create?
MP: I went back to school while I was living in New Zealand five years ago and did a two-year program in fashion design and technology. In my second year, I loved experimenting with different types of fabric and had a particular interest with vintage materials. Lots of our design projects were based on a particular theme to spark the creative process.
I am still inspired by themes but mostly by materials. I can go fabric shopping and hoody designs or particular people will pop in my head as I go through the different kind of materials.
RM: As a fashion designer, what do you consider your greatest achievement to date?
MP: My greatest achievement to date has been to follow my dream of being a fashion designer, respecting my values while doing it and do what I’m passionate about for a living. The whole process of starting Aparent was very challenging and still is. My biggest obstacle so far is to make people understand the values behind my higher price range and to encourage people to make sustainable choices while buying garments.
RM: When did your craft transition from hobby to profession?
MP: I started making custom hoodies in July 2013 as a hobby while employed full-time. It became a profession last May when I was successfully funded with my Kickstarter project. I started making sales when I opened my online store to the public on December 1, 2014.
RM: What are some new directions your creations are taking?
MP: This year is an experimental year for Aparent so I’m trying a few different things to see what works and what doesn’t. I’ll be doing weekly markets, festivals, working on my website to simplifying custom orders, getting on Etsy and maybe looking into putting some of my creations in a few stores. I want to slowly shy away from non-sustainable fabric and will be introducing new designs.
You can find her clothes at aparentclothing.com, or email Parent at firstname.lastname@example.org for custom orders. She’ll be at the Revelstoke market twice a month through the summer season and at Art in the Park in Kamloops on July 1st.