“I’ve done a lot of things… been a lot of things,” says Bonnie Graham, owner of Evergreen. “I’ve been a floral designer, an LPN, a taxidermist, and an elementary school teacher for eighteen years. I should be retired now, but I can’t imagine retiring. I just love to learn and try new things.”
Trying new things includes opening Evergreen, an eco-friendly retail store. “That wasn’t my plan from the start. In fact, I had no plan,” says Graham. “I was interested in the building, though. So I bought it and, with the help of my daughter, had it renovated and painted. But I still didn’t really know what to do with it. Then my other daughter, who had worked in retail, told me about the sustainable fashion industry. That was just over two years ago.”
Globalization has made it possible to produce clothing at increasingly low prices and now many consumers consider clothing to be disposable – dubbing what some are calling ‘fast fashion’. “Girls especially need to have the latest fashion every season,” says Graham, “but this leaves a huge ecological footprint. Polyester is made from petroleum, and the process involved requires large amounts of crude oil and releases harmful emissions. Manufacturing cotton also leaves a significant ecological footprint. It accounts for a quarter of all pesticides used in the United States.”
With Evergreen, Graham is focusing attention on Canadian-sourced eco-friendly clothing lines that use organic cotton, hemp, and bamboo. “We carry some hemp bags from England and socks from California but, by far, we mostly stock Canadian designers who supply us with socially conscious fashion. Respecterre is a company out of Quebec and is part of an ecovillage that stimulates the local economy. Every step, from design to finished product, is done at the same place. We also stock clothing from Nomads Hemp Wear, out of Winlaw. The company was started by a couple from Quebec making hemp clothing from the back of their van, and now they’re selling their clothing internationally.”
The items at Evergreen include shirts, hoodies, tunics, leggings, active wear, and various accessories. “It’s all breathable, comfortable and stylish,” says Graham. “And the industry is so positive. It’s a growing industry and a growing movement, and it’s so cool to be a part of it. We also try to bring in what Creston is looking for, in cut and size and style. I do a lot of research into different suppliers and what they can offer. The response has been very positive.”
Graham admits she had no experience in retail, and has made “all the rookie mistakes” but has enjoyed learning along the way. “I’m having fun,” she says, “and the business is constantly growing. The prices may be higher than mass-produced big box store stuff but, once people try the clothes on, they love how they feel and fit. I tell people that the clothes here are for the young and the young at heart. And that’s how I describe myself – young at heart.”
Becoming a part of the community was important for Graham. “I joined the Chamber of Commerce and small business groups, and I enrolled in a bookkeeping course and met a lot of people. I love having one foot in Creston, where I work, and one foot in Boswell, where I live. Most importantly, though, I’m just having a lot of fun. Maybe one day I’ll learn how to retire, but it won’t be any time soon.”
Evergreen is located at 1012 Canyon Street.