Designer lives in Luskville, from the Pontiac Journal

Brand new threads
 Kate Aley

- Trading the high end fast life of Torontos fashion district for some bucolic riverside Pontiac real estate, designer and fashion artist Wendy Ratcliffe has launched a new career path,  producing unusual and practical bags and children’s gear from home. The Journal caught up with Ratcliffe as she prepares to launch her new spring season designs.

Q: What is your design background?
 I attended Ryerson Polytechnic University's Apparel Design and Production program and spent eight years as Head Designer and Production manager for a Toronto clothing manufacturer.
 I also taught a number of courses myself including 18th century corset making.

Q: What materials do you like to work with?
     My favourite material is vinyl: it’s durable, versatile and comes in a vast variety of colours and finishes, plus it can stand up to anything our Canadian climate throws at us.  Marine vinyl is perfect for kids backpacks which always take a serious beating, while the soft hand of ‘leather look’ vinyl makes excellent shoulder bags.
I am a big fan of cotton prints and snap up the funky ones when I see them.  Once layered with vinyl, these cotton fabrics make great pencil cases and messenger bags.

Q: How did moving to a rural area affect your business?

     It was a love/hate relationship!  I hated that I could no longer walk out my door and immediately get whatever supplies I required.  But I love that my studio space now looks directly onto the river and that the sounds of the birds and slapping of beaver tails drifts in though the windows as I work.
Q: How do you juggle a young family and a small business?
     With great difficulty and lots of patience.  I constantly remind myself that the boys will only be young once and that my business has years to grow.  Everything I create is %100 made by me, and this requires time.  Our family are not a big fans of winter, so I spend the cold months sewing like a mad woman, allowing us to spend the summer outside together. 
Q: Whats new for you this season?
     Drawing inspiration from the Victorian Era, this spring/summer's line incorporates more supple vinyl, natural colours and softer appliques, such as swirls, wings and copper flowers.
     Currently I am expanding my line of whimsicle reusable lunch sacks to include sandwich wrappers and snack packs.
Q: Where can people purchase your products?
A variety of products can be found in Shawville, at Studio L'Artizan In Shawville; at Flock Boutique in Ottawa on Wellington St. West; and at the Workshop Studio and Boutique on Dalhousie.

 An even wider selection is available at the local artisan shows I participate in, and through the website:

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