The eco-entrepreneur who captured our hearts: La Fabrique, a co-operative of workshops and communal spaces

La_Fabrique_SherbrookePhoto credit: La Fabrique

  • Type of organization: Solidarity co-operative
  • Services provided: Access to community workshops (woodworking, mechanics, electronics and 3D printing, fashion, screen printing, pottery and general artwork); lease of spaces for project development; a range of training sessions on the tools and creative approach.
  • Membership: You need to be a member to obtain a subscription for the collective workshops and/or lease a workspace. Both members and non-members can take part in training sessions.
  • Workshop location: 400 Marquette Street, Sherbrooke, Qc.

 

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David Allard Martin, co-founder of La Fabrique and events and visibility co-ordinator, agreed to answer a few questions for us.

 

How would you sum up the purpose of a community workshop such as La Fabrique? What are the advantages of such a scheme?

La Fabrique, and other workshops like it, draws inspiration from the three spheres of sustainable development. Our purpose is primarily social: we are creating a community that is passionate about things like creativity, innovation and handicrafts.

From another perspective, environmental and ecological awareness are also very important. We want to reduce the number of unused tools by sharing them and getting as much use as we can out of them. We also encourage members to reuse and recycle what they already have to create something new.

Finally, we want our co-operative to be an enduring organization that will enable its members to develop their own businesses. Our facilities are there to serve as a platform for entrepreneurs (artists, artisans and all other kinds of entrepreneurs) to launch prototypes and begin production so that eventually their activities will become sustainable and they will be able to make a living from them. We are therefore trying to balance these three ideas, making sure that the member (the human being!) is always at the centre of our approach.

 

We’ve heard that you will soon be opening a larger and better-equipped workshop. Can you tell us more? What’s the latest?

We have now been growing for almost two years, and the plan to leave our little garage to set up in a much bigger space was never going to be plain sailing! We have been working to finalize the project for almost a year now. We have settled on a building in the city centre. In the next few weeks, you will certainly hear about it. Thanks to a partnership agreement with Espace-INC, the new innovative business incubator in Sherbrooke, we now have 8 500 sq. ft. of space for our activities at 400 Marquette St.

 

At La Fabrique, you really are a green bunch. You use a lot of recycled material and promote adding value to material too. Can you give us some examples of your more unlikely creations that have been put on the market?

Recycling and reusing materials is an integral part of what La Fabrique stands for. From projects that are as simple as making mudguards for bikes from coroplast electoral campaign signs and plastic bottles, to producing furniture from reclaimed wood and turning old wine bottles into bedside lamps. Soon we’ll have done it all! The technical challenges are often greater, but these projects are always the most rewarding!

 

 DSC_3252Photo credit: La Fabrique

 

A visitor who has never set foot in a workshop comes to La Fabrique. What can you offer him to introduce him to handicrafts? Where do you start?

For someone who is not comfortable starting out with handicrafts by themselves, be it due to a lack of skill or a lack of knowledge, the best thing to do is to start taking part in the training sessions. There are many aims of the training sessions, the main one being to put participants in a position where they feel safe, where they can share with their peers and truly benefit from a positive, enriching and rewarding experience. These sessions are needed to learn essential safety principles for the machines used and help to develop the logic of design.

After just a few hours’ training in a specific area (woodworking, for example), people usually feel at ease working alone with the basic machinery and from there can start turning any of the ideas and projects that pop into their heads into a reality.

We give regular training on a wide variety of subjects! To see our training calendar, click here.

 

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About the Author
Noémie David

Noémie is an intern at the Cascades Communications Department for the 2015 spring session. A student in the Bachelor of Marketing Communications program at the Université de Sherbrooke (Cooperative program), Noémie takes every opportunity to learn new things and take on new challenges: “At Cascades, I get to put my skills to use every day. It’s a very open-minded company that really puts its employees first. What first caught my attention was the importance the Company places on sustainable development and the efforts it makes to implement best practices and to innovate.

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