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Blog | Art and Culture

Sophie Marino: fibre in her blood

This is one of a series of articles on the artists taking part in the various Christmas markets in Brome-Missisquoi

A flair for business and the know-how of a remarkable family are ingrained in Sophie Marino. With her company, La fibre et moi, she is immersed in elegance and softness, and she’s very far-sighted. Who said arts and crafts isn’t conducive to major success?

The village of Frelighsburg is experiencing a stunning return of effervescence and Sophie Marino is a part of this refreshing vitality. During the interview conducted in her La fibre et moi workshop, in the heart of the village, the telephone rings almost incessantly – and conversely – material is being delivered, an employee arrives and people are bustling. There is constant movement. It’s a virtual hive of activity.

Sophie Marino set up her boutique workshop here two years ago. In the workshop she designs and makes high-end knitwear from alpaca fibre and silk. Her modus operandi, the cornerstone of the Marino system, is the convertible and reversible nature of her creations. By doing just a few things, a scarf turns into a cardigan. Turn the fabric again and suddenly the cardigan becomes a cap…to which you can add a pompom. “It’s four items of clothing in one,” Sophie explains.

But Marino’s clothing products aren’t just polymorphic, they’re lovely, soft and comfortable. They contain 80% very fine alpaca fibre imported right from Peru. Sophie Marino uses some 30 different colours and does tailor-made creations.

A family tradition

“I come from a family where everyone was creative in making things,” remarks Sophie. Her grandmother, Denise Verdun, was famous for her workshop boutique Josée de Montréal, where she designed everything herself, even the hats. Even though she’s a well-seasoned 95-year-old, Denise still eagerly inspects her granddaughter’s finished products and imparts her advice. Sophie’s mother used to own the Julie Langlois au Féminin boutique in Cowansville.

Sophie Marino previously worked for a high-end clothing import agency, where she did some selling and made presentations. Sophie confides that in her spare time she spun yarn on a spindle, but then she inherited a vintage, half-century-old knitting machine. She received the machine from her aunt Josée, another fan of textile making who was previously associated with the Atelier du Mouton Noir workshop. But it was member of the Sutton Weavers Guild, Philippa Bessette, who taught Sophie how to master the machine. “My first line of scarves bears her name,” notes a grateful Sophie Marino.

As one thing led to another, knitting developed into a passion for Sophie Marino. Not just the production aspect, but the sales and business end, as well. “I’ve never really seen myself as being an entrepreneur, but I love it,” says Sophie.

She loves it, and she has her sights set high. La fibre et moi’s creations are sold in the boutique, online, in 10 sales outlets across the province of Québec and in fashionable clothing shops. She is looking at going international and she will soon be hiring another employee to help her attain this objective.

You can meet Sophie Marino and buy her clothing at the Christmas Market in Frelighsburg, which will be held at the anglican church of Frelighsburg December 17-18, 2016.

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