Keeping sustainability in the community


Allison Martens

The motto of L’Arterie Boutique is ‘keep it local.’ Formerly known as El Corazon, the airy shop on Bernard St. has been one of Mile End’s premium purveyors of new and vintage clothing since its rebirth in 2003.

“We generally don’t accept [clothing] submissions from out-of-town designers as a rule, but there are some exceptions” like products from a women’s trade co-op in Peru or Montreal ex-pats, affirms co-owner Danette MacKay.

A Concordia Theatre graduate, MacKay climbed on board last fall, and has since poured her heart into L’Arterie's recent renovations and sourcing its collection of ethically made, vegan footwear. She also remains committed to producing and emceeing the Kiss My Cabaret, which she founded,

After discovering vegan footwear in New York City, she realized there could be a market here for sustainably made shoes. She now carries glamour-puss heels fashioned from an organic cotton/polymer blend, and Blackspot sneakers with hemp uppers.

“I’ve been a vegetarian for many years and was intrigued. My eating politics were carried one step further: It’s now about what I put on my body, as well as in it.”

A professional actor, MacKay has slowly been weaning herself from the industry. “When you’re in your forties, you just disappear for a while, until you’re ready to play the old crone or grandmother,” she laughs. “Priorities change. Right now, it’s about being true to myself and continuing to be creative.”

Indeed, L’Arterie is MacKay’s personal art gallery, hers to fill with designer frocks for women and men, handmade jewelry, artisanal soaps and other delights.

She says the store’s ethos of sustainability and dedication to local artisans have garnered it substantial support.

“I think there’s a movement toward a cottage industry right now. It’s really important to a tiny portion of the population that don’t want to contribute to the huge corporate machine, but to their own communities.”