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Handmade, Natural Clothing Shop Opens Storefront In Moncton

By Sam Macdonald Oct 19, 2022 | 6:07 AM


Boutik Tunik Unik is Lucie McGraw’s bid to spread the good word about natural textiles to the people of Greater Moncton.

The boutique business, of which McGraw is the owner and sole employee, recently set down roots at a new, permanent location at 3-B Cross Street in Moncton in August, after testing the water with a two-month pop-up shop last year.

McGraw, originally from Tracadie-Sheila, characterized her handmade clothing as “everything on the opposite of fast fashion.”

“I do everything from scratch. I buy my fabric locally and wash my fabric before cutting for shrinkage and to test the fabric,” she said.

Specializing in handmade clothing that she sews herself, McGraw makes everything she sells.

She said the business stems from an interest in using and promoting the use of environmentally friendly natural textiles.

“I’m trying to educate people about how if you buy something in linen and cotton, those are natural fibres and it breathes, you know, in the summertime, especially when it’s 30 degrees out. That’s the type of fabric you want,” she said.

McGraw told Huddle textiles are not necessarily the most frequently discussed subject in conversations about the environment and sustainability.

“We don’t hear it as much in New Brunswick, I’ve found,” McGraw said, noting the local environmental discussion on more focused on flashier steps toward sustainability like electric cars.

People in general are not often educated about the fibre content or the origins of the textiles their clothes are made from, McGraw said.

“Textile industries are one of the most polluting on the planet, and there’s a lot of waste, and a lot of cheap fabric out there,” she said.

“Some people don’t know what a natural fibre is, and what a synthetic fibre is. They cannot name a natural fibre and don’t know what polyester or nylon are made out of.”

McGraw is aiming to educate younger generations – the main target for fast fashion brands pushing cheaply made clothing, made with environmentally unfriendly textiles.

“They should be taught to read labels in school, and how to differentiate fabric and what is good and not good out there,” she said, noting labels can be deceptive about where the clothing is made and by what means.

“You really have to look for a good piece of clothing. The new generation needs to know that if you buy a good piece of clothing you can mend it and it’s going to last.”

McGraw doesn’t calculate the time she puts into making her garments, noting that she aims to offer everything at an affordable price point.

“I’m not in New York or Toronto, and I can’t ask for big money – I do it because I love it,” she said.

“All the remnants are reused into bags, socks, hats, shoelaces, you name it. Everything I can.”

McGraw, 63, who used to teach high school art, said the old-fashioned sewing machine she’s owned since she was a teenager is the only item she uses to create clothes for Boutik Tunik Unik, adding that no two pieces of clothing she makes are the same.

“I’ve always been creating, using the machine to create,” she said.

McGraw said that the pandemic slowed the process of finding a permanent berth for the boutique, noting that she pivoted hard to mask-making before the pop-up shop.

In spite of eye issues that eventually resulted in ophthalmic surgery last summer, McGraw has been going strong, regularly making clothes.

The time it takes to make clothing varies, but the shortest turnaround for a garment is about four hours, while sometimes the process can take up to a week.

“I’m always starting from scratch on a new thing … which is why I don’t calculate my time in,” she said.

“I don’t buy a whole bunch of fabric, just a meter or two and you know, hope for the best.”

Sam Macdonald is a Reporter for Huddle Today, a content-sharing partner of Acadia Broadcasting.


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