“Chic, Fun, Wheaten,” is the motto of The Wheaten Store, an online boutique managed by Christine Lavoie Gagnon who recently settled in the municipality of Godmanchester.
Originally from Alma in the Saguenay region, Lavoie Gagnon began her career in corporate communications which saw her living and working in Japan for over 24 years. When the pandemic struck, she and her partner felt they “needed a breath of fresh air.” With no prior knowledge of Godmanchester, they simply fell in love with the region. “Since 2020 we have been here, and we love the area, the view, and the nature that surrounds us,” she says.
Inspired by a love for wheaten terriers including her own dog, Mugi (which means “wheat” in Japanese), Lavoie Gagnon launched her online fashion boutique, The Wheaten Store, two years ago. “Some pieces are made in China, but most of the clothes I design are made here in Montreal. All my bags and some of my fabrics are also made here,” she says. This corresponds with the company’s eco-friendly and ethical production process, which also relies on a “just in time” production model, where each piece is cut, printed, and sewn according to order.
Lavoie Gagnon stresses that the most important element in designing her creations is that each piece transitions easily from work to a party or social gathering. She pays significant attention to comfort, and to the elasticity of the fabrics she works with, so her designs are simultaneously comfortable and fashionable. “It’s a chic clothing line, but with a touch of humour,” she says with a laugh, noting many of her pieces feature the face of a wheaten terrier.
The tousled dog effigy doesn’t appear on every item, but it remains the company’s signature mark. “I have a few different patterns and all my tops and bottoms are designed to go together,” says Lavoie Gagnon, whose products are currently available exclusively online. She says she hopes to open her own store eventually and has plans to sell some of her designs in local boutiques.
Lavoie Gagnon takes care of the marketing herself, and all the profit goes to fund her passion for film. She has worked as an assistant director to Quebec director Claude Gagnon on his latest full-length feature, Les Vieux Chums. She has also worked alongside director Robert Lepage. “I have done quite a bit of everything,” she shares, noting she has even worked in the Radio-Canada newsroom in Japan.
While in isolation during the pandemic, she directed a short film entitled Confiné, a short film that condemned conjugal violence during confinement. The film won six awards and several more nominations at different film festivals around the world. “I received the award for Best Director at the Los Angeles Film Festival, as well as Best Experimental Film and Best Short Film at a few festivals in Europe,” she says.
Lavoie Gagnon says she is currently working on new material and is looking forward to finishing this latest project.
More information on her line of clothing and household products can be found on the boutique’s website at wheaten.store. For a limited time, Lavoie Gagnon will be offering a $10 discount with the special code: GLEANER10.