TEDxToronto 2019: Sage Paul, Costume and Fashion Artist; Artistic Director of Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto

As an award-winning artist and recognized leader of Indigenous fashion, craft and textiles, Sage uses her work as a platform to amplify the visibility of Indigenous people, their culture and artistic practices. She’s the Founder and Artistic Director of Indigenous Fashion Week in Toronto that launched in spring 2018.

(To see Sage live on the TEDxToronto stage on October 26th, purchase your tickets here.)

What’s the wildest idea you had to sell somebody on? How did you do it?
I really haven’t had to sell anyone on anything either, I’m a really bad sales person. When I was a pre-teen, I had to convince my mom that my siblings and I were mature enough to have a dog. I wrote her a letter proving this, and we got a dog!

Name a big idea in your lifetime that you can’t believe never took off?
Get rid of extracting and commodifying fossil fuels.

Name one thing, as a society, we aren’t spending enough time thinking about? What would be a good first step?
Climate change. What can change are consumer habits. A first good step would be to buy locally-designed & made.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your day-to-day work? How do you take it on?
Balancing my time to “do business” and “making stuff.” Both take a lot of time and thought to complete—and are of equal importance. I’ve found that not trying to do everything alone helps a lot; asking for support and collaboration from those I trust. I love sharing and fleshing out my ideas to make something cool happen.

Where do you look for inspiration?
I find inspiration in everyday things that move me—to laughter, to tears, to concern, to curiosity. It could be a book, an article, the way a friend laughs, how the trees leaves shift to look up before it’s about to rain.

If you could achieve one goal in the next 18 months what would it be? And why?
I would love to hire a small team of women full-time. I would like to ensure they are mostly Indigenous women, including those who are young and emerging designers who could benefit from training in working in fashion and textiles so I could create my collections and other projects surrounded by awesomeness! But also, I would ensure the Sage Paul team could benefit from the environment that encourages and fosters the development of their own work.

(To see Sage live on the TEDxToronto stage on October 26th, purchase your tickets here.)

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