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Sarah Elder-Chamanara combined her political experience with her love of fashion and launched the Madame Premier brand in 2018.Handout

While working in politics in British Columbia and Alberta, Sarah Elder-Chamanara gained a first-hand understanding of the challenges that exist as a result of the lack of women and diversity in her field. Combining her political experience with her love of fashion, in 2018 she launched the Madame Premier brand with a T-shirt design that read, “A woman’s place is in the Council Chambers, the Legislature, the House of Commons, the Senate.” Three years later, Madame Premier opened a retail location in Calgary’s Inglewood neighbourhood that does double-duty as an event space, hosting everything from book clubs to panel discussions. “I think that, in a post-COVID world, people are going to be looking for community more than ever,” she says.

Madame Premier stocks multipartisan, politically minded clothing for all ages designed by Elder-Chamanara alongside a selection of similar items from other, primarily women-run companies. These include educational tools for children, housewares, stationery, games and accessories. Elder-Chamanara designed the store so that her space could accommodate a variety of in-person gatherings.

“The kind of conversations that you’ll have face to face are generally much different than you’ll have online,” she says. To facilitate these discussions, the store has long dining tables that can be cleared off and a counter that can double as a bar with a seating area. In the centre of the store is a living room set-up, with a large area rug and a couch, where Elder-Chamanara says she’s hosted many political debates.

Madame Premier, 1012 9th Ave. SE, Calgary, 403-226-0551, madamepremier.com.

Give A Damn Shirt, $50.

A Woman’s Place Is In Business Adult T-shirt, $45.

Future Prime Minister Short Sleeve Baby Onesie, $28.

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