The Virtues of Buying Local


There has been a lot of news in the press lately about the horrible factory collapse in Bangladesh. The images of the dead and injured garment workers were awful and shocking. These are the people who provide us with a lot of our clothing. What a sad price to pay for their $0.24/hour pay.  

It got me to thinking about how when I was a kid in the 70”s, when all of our clothing and almost everything we had was labelled Made in Canada or Made in the U.S.A. I remember wearing Levis and North Star running shoes, all Made in the U.S.A.   Our appliances, cars and household items also domestically made. They lasted forever so you could keep your avocado green fridge for 20 years ;)

After the early 90”s a Free Trade Agreement allowed manufacturers to produce in other countries with cheaper labour quite easily. We were able to buy more items for the same amount of money as it would cost to buy one item that is domestically made. We all know from experience though, that the quality is always worse which leads us to constantly having to replace what we bought.

As they say, hindsight is 20/20. Here we are today with high unemployment rates and sluggish local economy. I am a true advocate of keeping jobs at home. When everyone is employed, people have money to spend which keeps our economy strong.

I had a great experience over 9 years ago when my husband and I decided to have our next home built. We had the pleasure of meeting everyone who actually built the house! We were very excited about our new home so we visited the building site several times a week. Seeing a home built was different than I expected. It is not a big crew of tradesmen milling about. Sometimes there is only one worker on site. They take turns: first the Framers do their work, then the Brick layers come, then the Roofers, then the Electrician, followed by the Drywaller, etc. It was a great experience to talk with and get to know each tradesman.

The Drywaller was a very philosophical sort and loved to have spirited conversations with us. The team who laid the tiles was clearly led by the aged Mother of the family run business. She meticulously cleaned the grout off each tile while she told us in no uncertain terms not to return for at least 4 days since the tiles needed to settle and she didn’t want anyone walking on them. The painter, we see on a regular basis since he lives in the neighbourhood. We know each other by name. All of these people live in our mid-sized city and take great pride in their work. They were hand-picked by the Builder, a soft spoken man originally from Sault Saint Marie where he was a Carpenter by trade. He actually did all the baseboards and door jams himself in our home. Many people say that a new home is cookie cutter and has no personality, but ours actually contains the personalities of all of our fellow Londoners who took great pride in putting it together.

Domestically made products are definitely more costly. Our workers do not make only pennies an hour.  I do think the benefits are something to reflect on though: the quality is better, our friends and neighbours have jobs and keep our economy strong, and we are not participating in manufacturing in a place where polluting the air is not a concern. I recently spoke with someone who visited Beijing. What a sight she said it was to see people walking around with surgical masks on since they were concerned about the extremely bad air quality and its effect on their health.

Back in the 60”s (OK that was before my time) they used to say “Vote with your dollars” . Consumers really do dictate what shows up on our store shelves.




Sandra Maniago
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Designing Loko Sport: one hundred small decisions

Ah, the fabulous life of a Fashion Designer! Drawing artful sketches, draping luxurious fabrics over 6 foot super models and having minions bring you espresso while you’re planning for your next celebrity packed party :) Sure, maybe if you’re Karl Lagerfeld or Armani.

This is definitely not my life. As a London, Canada based small business owner/designer; my days are spent addressing details. After dealing with the day to day runnings of a small business, I get to actually design! This part is fun but packed with making a hundred small decisions. I'd like to take you through my process:

One new design I have my mannequin wearing right now, is a fairly simple, loose, long bamboo top. I was very excited to find a mannequin that is my size, a Medium in Loko Sport. This way I can work on her and try it on as well. There’s colour blocking in this one. I love the way colour blocking is so cool and bold and it instantly creates slimming lines when done vertically. Every woman loves that! I play with where the lines should go exactly and whether or not they should be straight or curved lines. Where the line curves is VERY important! I aim to flatter always! I am also deciding whether or not I should put a zipper in this top. I think I will. Again it's an instant vertical slimmer, and zippers are so hot right now. I try it on to make sure the armholes are nether too low or high and to make sure the hem length is right. Longer lengths are "in". Also looking to make sure the neckline hits at the right spot above the bust.

CUT is the most important thing! This is why some style flatter and others don’t. I pin out the back neckline. This is a sleek, simple style. It has to sit perfectly around the neckline and on the shoulder: nice and smooth. I decide on the next sample I must add a little width to the side seams. I want this style to drape over the tummy and hips not grab or cling. So back to the drawing board as they say. Each design usually takes about 3 samples before its ready. I pull out the hard paper pattern I made in the first place, trace it onto fresh paper and make all the very slight adjustments. Should they colour block seam line move over 3/8"s of an inch or a 1/2? (The garment industry still uses Imperial in pattern making but metric in fabric usage: good think I know both) This goes on for every change...

When this pattern revision is done, I cut out a new top from last season’s left over fabrics and set it aside for sewing. After it gets sewn, I will wear this top for a day or workout in it if its activewear. This way I assess its performance and wear ability.

Patternmaking is my love and specialty, It’s like working on a puzzle. I joyfully spend hours making my hundred small decisions when creating a pattern. One of the few times I forget to eat :) I received my first pattern making training at 15 when I took 2 night courses at Fanshawe College. I was thrilled that I could then actually make patterns that fit right! I tried to make them on my own before with no training. It didn’t work. After Grade 13, I set off the Ryerson University in Toronto to study Fashion Design. I learned allot. They had high standards and were tough but they taught us well. After my 3 years there, my first job was on Spadina with a company that offered Pattern Making Services to local Toronto designers. We made and graded patterns for Wayne Clark, Sunny Choi, Hoax Couture, Louben and more. My boss, Brenda was great at what she did and she demanded perfection from all of us. It was necessary. The patterns could not go into production if they weren’t done right. That would have been a very expensive mistake!

Sandra Maniago
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How to stay motivated to exercise: a hat tip to fitness instructors!

Ah, New Year. Many of us resolve to get fit and take better care of ourselves. By mid-January though, we start to loose steam, and the couch seems more appealing than the gym. I am here to cheer you on and share how I have found motivation to workout consistently for over 25 years: I do group fitness classes. They are fun! The music, wonderful instructors and the energy of moving with a group is motivating.

Here is where I tip my hat to Fitness Professionals. I am grateful for those smart, energetic and eternally positive men and women who stand up in front of us and lead and encourage us to be our best selves. I have heard many instructors start the class by congratulating us for getting there, since it is truly half the battle. There have been many days when I have dragged myself to a class. I do it because I know that the music will elevate my mood, the endorphins will kick in and that bubbly instructor in front of me will cheer me on. I always feel better afterward.

Try to put variety in your routine so you don"t get bored. I do spin classes, Body Pump, yoga, core or Pilates classes and I go for long outdoor walks and bike rides. No running for me due to knee issues.

Not everyone likes the gym. Walking, swimming, running, home fitness videos are all great options. Remember, we all need exercise to be healthy and strong at every age. My kids are teens now, and it is satisfying to see that they turn to sports and fitness for fun, socializing and to help them achieve strength and technique in their chosen activities.

Make exercise a priority in your life. It will keep you feeling and looking great and positively influence everyone around you.     


Sandra Maniago
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you are what you eat: how I brought my energy back and slimmed down

 I am very excited about how great I feel after I simply changed my diet!  My energy level is much greater. I sleep better. My rosacea prone skin has improved. My workouts seem easier, and my stomach and waist are diminishing.

By general standards, my diet before wasn't really that bad, but my energy level was an issue and I was gaining weight. I decided to finally commit to doing something about it. I work out too hard at the gym to accept a middle aged pot belly and weight gain. Clearly I cannot just eat whatever I want and still be slim like I did in my 20's. I now 'eat clean' : lots of fruit and veggies, lean proteins, and good carbs. No junk. There lots of tasty foods to choose from, but they are not deep fried, salty, sugary and high fat. Check out this link: for more info. I know many people who have gone on a similar plan as this, recommended by naturopaths. 

This is a diet that we should all be using as a guideline simply for good health. Preservatives, processed foods and junk foods are taking a toll on all of us, making us tired and sick. I would never consider going hungry, and I never am following this plan.

I love food and I believe in enjoying the good things in life. My Italian parents fed us well. They raised us with 'la dolce vita' approach. The sweet life, all things in moderation. I do enjoy my favourite food, a piece of chocolate everyday and I plan on having a piece of my Mom's birthday cake next week on her 79th birthday.

My parents were great role models for health. My Mom walks a minimum of one hour every day as well as doing light weights several times a week. She also does yoga and aqua fit. She and my Dad used to grow a large garden in the backyard where a lot of our vegetables came from. Growing up, we ate lots of vegetables, healthily prepared meats, home-made everything including soups and pasta sauce. Fruit for dessert, no pop. 

My dad hated restaurants and we never ate out. He thought the food was awful. I still laugh at the day that we actually ate at McDonald's as a family. We were all starving and far from home after spending several hours in the emerg when my sister broke her arm. My dad was actually physically ill that night. Just the other day my daughter was begging me to take her out for fast food. We never go. I am not a fan.

I am grateful to my parents for teaching me how to eat healthy, but good intentions slide when you're a working mom in a busy world. My kids are teens now, which makes it easier for me to pop out to the market and even prepare a later meal. I have taught them how to prepare simple snacks and meals to hold off their constant teen-aged hunger :)  I hope that my kids will remember when they are adults what I taught them about picking good foods and keeping active.

It is true what they say: 'you are what you eat'  'your body is your temple'  'your life is a gift'   

as the Italian toast goes:

'salute' (to your health) 


Sandra Maniago
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my first ever blog: a little bit about Loko Sport...

Well, I have finally decided to write a blog. This is my first ever! I thought I would start by sharing a little bit about what I have been up to lately at Loko Sport.

First off, I have to tell you that I just added some 50% off sale styles to my shopping site:

We have been super busy as of late getting ready to supply some exciting new vendors. We are providing T-shirts and jackets for men and women for the Alberta Summer Games ambassadors and commitee. Yes, I am pleased to bring some sporty style to these lovely volunteers.

An excting new store called Terra 20 is opening in Ottawa this June/July. This is the flagship store with more to be opened across the country. It is a new concept since it will essentially be an eco-friendly superstore. Everything in the store is eco-friendly: food, clothing, cleaning products, household items and more. The order I am producing for them will be entirely made from eco-conscious bamboo/organic cotton/lycra.     

I am aslo involved in another new concept store, this one being on-line and selling across Canada called

Some cracker jack programmers and marketers in Toronto have come up the idea to create an Amazon for Canadians. Starting in June, we Canadians can shop for millions of products on-line without the products having to cross borders (no duties). Everything will be shipped from Canadian warehouses. Shipping and returns are free. They will be doing a big promotional campaign. I'm sure you will hear about it. They will be selling products from large brand name suppliers as well as small suppliers, such as Loko Sport.

My Plus-sized friends will be happy to know that all of these suppliers will be carrying Loko Plus as well.

I am very happy and grateful that an increasing number of women are discovering and wanting to wear my designs.  It gives me great satisfaction when women try on my clothing and are pleased with the way it looks and feels. My little way of spreading happiness hopefully :)

As most of you know, Loko Sport is produced in Ontario. I have worked in this garment industry for over 20 years, and I am now witnessing manufacturing coming back home to Canada which is great to see. What a great way to keep our economy strong.  

Well, that is all for now. This is kind of fun. Kind of like a diary. I took a stab at a diary once when I was about 8 years old. That quickly came to an end when my older sisters found it and read it out loud. Now they're my friends.

have a lovely Mothers Day weekend. I am seeing a play in Stratford :)





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