The Journal

The Best of the Best with Sarah Stewart from ARC Apparel


When the movie, “The True Cost” by Andrew Morgan came out, we realized we weren’t applying the same ethos to our fashion choices that we were applying to our food choices. When you walk into a Whole Foods, you have options; local, organic, fair trade, gmo free. Our shopping experiences weren’t reflecting these same choices and values. This is all starting to change thanks to people like Sarah Stewart from ARC Apparel. She is changing this conversation. ARC is an online shopping platform that curates brands that are positively impacting and shifting the apparel industry; brands that are creating consciously with sustainable models, ethical manufacturing and that are giving back to individuals and communities.

Sarah is a compassionate trailblazer, a yogi, a connoisseur of rom-coms and she’s changing the game for fashion and apparel. This is the ‘best of’ with Sarah Stewart. 

Daily Breakfast: My easy go to breakfast is a soy latte (I’ve got plans to soon have my own Vitamix so I can make my own almond milk), and a multi grain bagel with some sort of nut butter and jam.

On the go Snack: My favourite snacks are apples with peanut butter and almonds. When I’m super busy, which is always these days, the only way I’m able to successfully eat on the go is when I prep. That usually looks like salads and soups. My favourite simple salad is quinoa, crumbled tofu sautéed with soy sauce and a bit of maple syrup, crispy noodles and almonds with the original Little Creek dressing. If I prep the quinoa and tofu in big batches at the beginning of the week I can then just throw together the salad when I get home at the end of the day.

Can’t live without: Coffee, bread, and my puppy, Frankie.

Your Hero(s): My parents. Both of my parents are inspiring entrepreneurs in completely different realms. My dad owns and operates a large chain of electronics retail stores and my mom is a grounded spiritual leader. I look to them as heroes in my life in such different ways. Having a base from each of them helps me find balance between business and heart.

Favourite comfort food: Veggie chilli. My mom runs a yoga retreat in Kelowna which means she has some incredible recipes. Her chilli is to die for and her secret ingredient is chocolate.

Best Advice you’ve ever received: While I was grappling about leaving my previous job to start this venture, I had a lot of discussions about it with my dad. He had a similar experience when he was launching his business in his 30’s. Leaving a stable job for something unknown is a big risk and it’s scary to take a leap of faith. My dad asked me numerous times, ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ and in the end that question enabled me to move forward and start the company that I’ve always dreamt about.

Best song to work too: We’ve been listening to the Lumineers in the office quite a bit…. Also some 90’s throwback playlists for those 3:30 slumps.

Favourite clothing brands to hit up a Sea Wall walk in: I live in jeans. My favourite denim brands that we carry are Levi’s and Fidelity. Both brands are innovating in the realm of sustainability. To produce one pair of jeans it takes about 1,800 gallons of water. Levi’s is developing ways to reduce the amount of water used in that process and Fidelity sources their denim from the “greenest textile company in the blue world”.

Favourite clothing brands for a cozy winter day: Alternative Apparel for sure.  They have the comfiest joggers. The Eco Fleece Joggers are a hands down favourite.

What does fashion/clothing look like in 2025: Hopefully by then, we’ll have a more educated consumer and all clothing brands will be transparent about where they manufacture and what their processes are, so consumers can make up their minds where they buy. Ultimately consumer demands create what big companies do so it needs to start there.

What brands are leading the way for conscious fashion: Outside of the brands that we carry, I look to Everlane and Reformation for different reasons. While Reformation does a great job at creating more sustainable garments, they are creating pieces that you may not keep in your wardrobe for longer than a season. Part of the problem in the industry is how quickly we purchase and discard or donate clothes that are now off trend. Just by doubling the lifecycle of one piece of clothing, say wearing it one more year, you are reducing the footprint of that piece by 42%. We are trying to offer more timeless pieces so that our customers can get as much wear out of them as possible.

Favorite Fashion Era: I think right now is an exciting time in fashion. There was a huge shift towards lower prices in the last 20 years. Unfortunately that meant quality dwindled. I think that people are looking for quality again and it’s slowly coming back. Many people are moving past evolving trends to more timeless fashion. We’re seeing a lot of mixing of structured men’s wear inspired pieces similar to the 40’s, like blazers and trench coats, and casual wear similar to the 70’s, lots of light denim and basics. A good friend and stylist, Elim Chu, has coined this blending of structured or dressier pieces with basics “Elevated Casual”.

Top Guilty Pleasure: Scandal (the TV show). Also romantic comedies.

Books that left a mark on you: When it comes to business books - I love The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz – it’s a very realist view of what running a company really like. He discusses a lot of challenging events that you’ll likely have to go through as a CEO of a company. It’s not stuff that authors or teachers discuss often. 

When it comes to personal or “self-help” books, The 5 Languages of Love is such a great one; it’s so important for us as people who crave connection and relationships to understand that everyone feels and gives love in a different way. In order to understand what a friend or a partner needs to feel loved by you, it’s invaluable to learn their love language or you can end up like two ships passing in the night.

Favourite Movies: Notting Hill is one of my all-time favourite movies. My dad and I watched it together and then we actually went to Notting Hill on a trip to London.

Top Documentary: The True Cost. This is all about the effect the clothing industry has on people and the planet. Another documentary that has affected me greatly is Earthlings. That was one of the reasons I went to a plant based diet.

What are you watching: I just started watching The Crown. I just finished the Good Wife and was very upset about the ending.

If you could have dinner with anyone who would it be: The founder of Patagonia; Yvon Chouinard. I think that Patagonia is the gold standard for innovation and sustainability in the clothing industry. Yvon comes from such a place of integrity and relatability that I really admire. He’s built such a strong brand around what he truly believes in. That’s what we are striving for but in fashion.

If you had a super power for one day: I think in general, the super power I’ve always wanted is teleportation. To be able to travel anywhere in an instant. You could go somewhere you’re dreaming or just for inspiration for a day. I’m most inspired and creative when I’m in a foreign place – so teleportation would be so valuable.

Top Travel Spots: Where I’ve been; Gili T in Lombok was a dream. Ubud in Bali was also a very special place. That’s where I did my first yoga teacher training. My mom did her teaching training through the same school. Where I want to go; I’d love to go somewhere to get my scuba diving license so I can go see some reefs while they’re still alive. The Galapagos and the Maldives would be amazing.

Top online inspiration: Pinterest is such a great way to find visual inspiration; whether its for recipes or fashion or home. Whenever people are trying to eat more plant based, I always tell them to use Pinterest. It’s such a great resource for recipes. Two local social media accounts that I love and that are always inspiring to me for different reasons are Elim Chu for slow fashion inspiration and Erin Ireland for recipe inspiration.

Where or When You’re happiest: After a yoga class is usually bliss. Finding an hour to connect back to your body. Yoga can force you to be present and connect with yourself and that really grounds me. I also love slow weekend mornings, no alarm, walking to get coffee and going for a stroll on the sea wall with our puppy Frankie. There’s something so uplifting about just being by the water.

Best spot for Dinner: I love Nuba. Najib’s special is my favorite. Also, Tacofino in Gastown has the best vegetarian tacos.

Best date spot: Dinner and improv on Granville Island at the Vancouver TheatreSports League. There’s nothing better than laughing for an hour.

Go to Juice or Smoothie: My typical smoothie usually consists of mixed berries; Vega chocolate protein powder, almond milk, almond butter and I usually add hemp hearts, flax and moringa. If I have greens in the fridge, I throw those in too.

Your Current Mantra: You can do anything, but not everything. In starting a business, you wear so many hats and I’ve really learned I can do anything. The learning resources online are endless. I’m now a photographer, a marketer, a merchandiser, and many other things but it’s not always productive or healthy for me to try and do everything or else I would be going 24 hours a day. Balance is key.