Young fashion designer set to travel province
By Janice Keels
At the tender age of 22, Marie Routhier is making a name for herself in the fashion industry. A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Routhier now calls Newfoundland home.
As a child growing up in Manitoba, Marie was involved in figure skating – an expensive sport, to say the least. Being from a poor family, Routhier’s mother could not afford the prices being charged for the practice dresses and competition costumes. As Routhier explains, her mother tried to make an outfit for her to wear, but she’s quick to add that her mother’s no seamstress.
“My mother made this god-awful dress, with an exceptionally long skirt. There was no way i was going to wear that in public, so I taught myself to make the skating costumes that my family could not afford”
It didn’t take long before her fellow skaters were asking where she bought her costumes. They were all astounded when she’d reply “I made it myself”.
The rest, as they say, is history. Before long, Marie Routhier was taking orders for skating costumes, and from skating costumes came orders for graduation gowns, evening gowns, and wedding gowns.
It was during this time that the young lady envisioned opening her own home-based designing/sewing business in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
“I took courses in Bridal Consulting and Floral Arts,” explains Routhier. But as she explains “Winnipeg is not friendly to young people opening businesses.”
“They are not eager to help out. The support is not there, unlike Newfoundland, where they bend over backwards to try and help you start up your business and keep it going.”
Routhier moved to St. John’s in 1998 and started making a name for herself.
“I was doing great, my name was getting out there, and things wee really starting to work out for me”
Then tragedy struck. Routhier was in a car accident which took her off the ice forever, and sidelined her business here in Newfoundland. She found herself heading back to Manitoba.
“I couldn’t sew, I couldn’t work, I lost everything. I headed back to Winnipeg to recover.”
Not being able to what she loved best – designing an sewing – Routhier was in limbo. In an effort to make ends meet while recovering, Marie wrote “Sewing for Skaters and Dancers and Gymnasts… Oh My!”. This was Routhier’s first book, and it was released online in July of 2000. Her second book soon followed. “The Skating Dress Style Book” was released online in December of 2000.
“Both books are currently enjoying international sales as the only books ever written on the subject of skating costumes,” Routhier says excitedly. “Over the next year or so, I’m planning on releasing another three or four books.”
While recuperating in Winnipeg, Routhier longed to return to her new island home. “I knew when I first came here that this is the place I wanted to call home. I love it here, and I haven’t even seen much of the province.”
That’s about to change. As Routhier explains “If I wait until I can take a vacation to travel the island, it will never happen. I’m too busy.. So I’m calling this a working vacation.”
The working vacation that Routhier refers to is the tour she will be taking across the island in January to meet with graduates and brides-to-be.
“I will be accepting appointments with brides and grads, to discuss and fulfill their gown needs. I will conduct one-on-one sessions, interviewing prospective clients to get a feel for their personality, and will design on the spot.”
Routhier will take the grad/bride’s measurements on the spot, and the gowns will be created in Mount Pearl, where she currently resides. A subsequent tour will be booked at a later date to conduct fittings, do any alterations, and deliver the final pieces.
“A lot of my clients have driven into the St. John’s area from very far away, just to get a gown.. I’m talking eight or ten hour drives. While that’s very flattering to me, I thought I’d do this tour as a service to brides, grads, and skating moms across the island. Specifically in the case of skating costumes, there really aren’t all that many places that a person can go. As a former figure skater myself, I know how expensive the sport can is. Having readily available outfits, rather than making a cross-island trip, should really help. Same for the brides that either travel to St. John’s, or go away for gowns. Weddings are expensive enough as it is, without factoring in road trips to buy gowns,” states Marie
Routhier is really looking forward to the trip, having never been to several of the communities on the itinerary.
“I’ll be taking a day off in Rocky Harbour, because I’ve never been to Gros Morne. I’ve heard so much about the fjords and views and everything, I’m really excited about the opportunity. I’ve driven across the island a few times, but never really strayed off the TCH. I’ll be visiting places like Fogo island, Moreton’s Harbour, Bonavista, Marystown.. It’s going to be a lot of fun!”
Routhier’s schedule begins January 13 at Nageira House Bed and Breakfast in Carbonear, before heading onto the following destinations: January 14th – Island View Hospitality, Clarenville; January 15 – Poplar Inn Bed & Breakfast in Grand Falls-Windsor; January 16 – Corner Brook’s Bell’s Inn Bed and Breakfast; January 17 – Hotel Port Aux Basques; January 18 – St. Anthony; January 19 – Shears House Bed & Breakfast, Rocky Harbour; January 21- Hull’s Riverview Bed & Breakfast, Springdale; January 22 – Garden by the Sea bed & Breakfast, Moreton’s Harbour; January 23 – Quiet cannon Hotel, Fogo Island; January 24 – White’s Bed & Breakfast, Bonavista; January 25 – Dock Point Bed & Breakfast, Marystown; January 26th – Rosedale Manor Bed & Breakfast, Placentia, and January 27 – Gander