In late spring, local engineer Chantel Goutier opened Comfe Coze – a homemade clothing company. She sells the clothes at Grateful Heart in downtown Slave Lake.
Goutier started sewing when she was around five, so has been sewing for over 25 years.
“I like that it (sewing) is totally opposite to what I do on a regular basis,” Goutier says. Her full-time job is as a civil engineer. Sewing gives her an opportunity to be creative.
In junior high, Goutier moved from High Prairie to Slave Lake. She studied civil engineering at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, then returned to Slave Lake to work.
“It primarily started because I have a son, who is just over two,” says Goutier, about her business. She received a gift of ‘grow-with-me’ clothes for her son. They worked well and she realized she could make them. She made some for her son and friends.
Goutier’s son is still wearing the clothes she made him last year.
People encouraged her to sell them, so she took a booth at last year’s Christmas market. The ‘grow-with-me’ clothing sold well. She planned on selling them again at the Easter market, but COVID-19 meant that no Easter market could happen.
In the late spring, one of the Grateful Heart owners suggested Goutier sell the clothing in their store.
Infants and young children tend to grow longer, not necessarily wider, says Goutier. This means that shirts and pants get too short, but still fit for width. ‘Grow-with-me’ clothing has cuffs on the sleeves and pant legs and strips at the waist. These can be rolled up to different heights depending on the child’s size.
“I make girls stuff and boys stuff and gender neutral,” Goutier says. She varies the fabrics and styles, so there are usually only four of each outfit.
Goutier uses cotton and spandex or bamboo knit fabric, which stretches. She buys all of her fabric from Canadian companies. One of her favourite fabric stores is in Spruce Grove. It makes its own fabric based on prints that are hand painted or drawn by people in the store. The cost of each item is higher than clothing at other stores, Goutier says, but since it covers multiple sizes the price over time is less. This also makes the clothing environmentally sustainable, as the smaller wardrobe over time means less clothing in the landfill when people are finished with the clothes.
Goutier’s also found her clothing works well for children who are between sizes.
Comfe Coze offers two basic sizes: ‘three to 12 month’ and ‘12 month to three years.’ Goutier also makes custom orders.
“I will also sew adult sweaters,” Goutier says. She’s currently working on a ‘mom and me’ set.