There's a reservoir of talent tucked away in every corner of the community, according to Ian Martin, co-founder of local cycling apparel business, 7Mesh Inc.
“There is nothing about living and working in Squamish that hinders our business,” he says. “It seems like we keep meeting people doing great things.” Formerly an intern turned 13-year-employee of Arc’teryx, Martin met his two co-founders — Calum Davidson and Tyler Jordan — on the job where they worked for years and left for different reasons.
“There was a great opportunity to make something in this space that would really improve your time on the bike,” he explains of starting the company in 2013.
“At a very young age, I was sewing and making things from fabric,” Martin continues, citing examples like chalk bags and a climbing harness he used for years. “I was usually breaking [my mother’s] machine.”
The idea to outfit cyclists with quality gear sprang from the well of conversations commuting to North Vancouver and noticing products that were not quite right. Now boasting 10 employees, 7Mesh Inc. is a classic example of the design talent pool in Squamish.
Blending simplicity and function makes for beautiful design when done correctly, Martin says. “I believe that this beauty or design elements need to have a functional component that truly makes them work better,” he explains. “I credit any success we’ve had to our process of building many prototypes [...] and iterating until we are happy with the results.”
That’s why it’s all about the small details. “How to get a garment to fit on the bike is tricky, and you can really feel this when you try on the product,” he says. “A lot of time goes into our fit.” Development is done in-house and at Corsa Cycles, and testing is always out on local trails.
“When we see someone around town wearing one of our products in the wild, it is super exciting,” he says, noting it makes him smile.
Local designer and co-founder of MahaDevi Design, Julie Emmerson, says there’s a sense of pride in seeing people wear the company’s sustainable clothing. “We want women to feel confident in all their shapes and sizes and be able to move freely,” she explains.
“To help bring out whatever a person is inspired to feel or do.” Emmerson met her business partner Frejya Skye at a music festival in 2004. Two years later, while she was enrolled in a fashion design course to further her self-taught skills, they decided to fuse their talents.
“The rest is history,” she says. Their creations have been featured at dozens of festivals, yoga conferences and grassroots markets around the world. Getting to choose their own adventure authentically is a benefit, she adds. But there are challenges too.
Finding and affording the help they need can be difficult while balancing work demands with family time, can slow things down. “It’s a tough market, and we don’t have any corporate ties or training,” Emmerson explains. “It’s also tough to keep up with the crazy pace of social media and the online marketing world.” Despite that, business has grown steadily over the years, and new inventory is expected online soon.
“We keep our production low but quality high and make sure we’re eco-conscious every step of the way,” she says of the company’s refusal to use individual poly bags in shipping. “Squamish is unique in that it’s growing so quickly,” Emmerson says. “Hopefully, we can grow just as quickly too.” •