It all started back in 2019, when Dr. Peter Fritz, a Fonthill dentist and periodontist, was in the Himalayas, hiking up to the Mount Everest base camp in Nepal.
“In Katmandu [Nepal’s capital] I discovered small stores selling beautiful Cashmere scarves, made from the belly hair of baby goats in the region. I bought a bunch of them for family and friends,” said Fritz. “I was back at the Everest base camp again this year on another adventure, and looked up my scarf guy, named Keisha, who has a Fairtrade factory with about 90 employees, where they make the scarves and distribute them all over the world. It’s a very ethical business which supports various charities.”
Fairtrade is a term designed to help producers in developing countries achieve sustainable and equitable trade relationships. The Fairtrade movement combines the payment of higher prices to exporters with improved social and environmental standards for workers and the home country.
Cashmere wool has been used to make yarn, textiles, and clothing for hundreds of years, and is collected during the spring moulting season when the goats naturally shed their winter coat.
“Keisha told me he was planning to come to Toronto in August for the Canadian National Exhibition, where he had reserved a booth to sell his scarves,” said Fritz. “However, he later contacted me to say that his inventory had been shipped to Toronto, but his booth space had been cancelled. I offered to run a pop-up shop at my practice in Fonthill.”
Fritz’s son, a commerce student at university, ran the three-day scarf sale — called Fleece and Floss — with help from a few friends.
“It was a big hit,” said Fritz, “but we still had a lot of inventory remaining. Instead of shipping it back to Asia, we decided to do a fundraiser for Feed Niagara, a consortium of 10 regional food banks which share the common goal of addressing hunger in our community. We have set up a cashmere scarf boutique at my office on Highway 20, which will run until Christmas. We also have some cashmere sweaters.”
The products on offer vary in price from $50 to $400. The boutique features strings of colourful Himalayan prayer flags adorning the walls.
“When you go to Mount Everest, these flags are hanging everywhere along the way. They are supposed to bring good karma. It's a very religious culture,” said Fritz.
All of the products for sale are certified 100 percent cashmere, said Fritz.
“To detect if it’s real cashmere, gently pull a few threads, and light them on fire. If it turns to ash, it’s real cashmere. If it burns more like a candle wick, then you know that the product contains synthetic fibres,” advised Fritz.
The boutique is open 8 AM to 4 PM, Monday through Friday, at Fritz’s dental practice, located at 165 Highway 20 West in Fonthill, across from Mossimo’s.