Hildie Sausik holds new studio at Alton Mill Arts Centre

April 18, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Creativity in Bloom will be the theme when the Alton Mill Arts Centre holds its Annual Spring Open House on May 3 and 4.

The Citizen was pleased to have a conversation with one of the mostly recently installed art studios at the Mill, Hildie Sausik.

“It was just something that I was,” Hildie Sausik commented about her life in textile and fashion design. “I started making my own clothes when I was about 11 and all through high school. My parents and I emigrated to Canada, from Germany, after the war. We came to Toronto and I went to school here.” 

A life time of design and creation has landed here, in Caledon, where Ms. Sausik has a studio in the Alton Mill Arts Centre and a small house in the village. Her very recent arrival here follows a rich personal history.

“I was so lucky,” said she, as she often does, “No one in my family did any sewing – I just did, teaching myself how, but, soon after we came here, my parents bought a cottage. At the cottage, there was a young girl there who loved to sew too and we just taught each other. I was given a sewing machine for my birthday and I just couldn’t stop making things. I just loved to design stuff. I was the girl that wore something different every day to school. Maybe, I saved money for my parents, making my clothes but I spent money on fabric. I remember when Simpsons had a fabulous fabric department. So many choices – it was wonderful.”

Without the question about what she wanted to do, it was hard work but easy on the mind and spirit: “I went into manufacturing. I trained and went to university for textile and fashion design, to OCAD and the Fashion Arts Academy in Montreal.

“Really, we had no fashion designers in Canada or America. They were mostly from Europe. It was just in my system. [Throughout my life}, I was always taking classes, travelling all over Europe to buy materials; always taking classes on fabric painting. When I retired, I thought I could do the creative work I really loved.”

Before those days dawn, however, as she explained, “I was working with two other people and I was the fashion director of the company, Lalique Designs for brides’ wear – mothers of the brides, the bridesmaids. 

“The other end of the company was the Hildegard Collection: cocktail dresses and evening wear. I designed for Eaton’s and Simpson’s. 

“Stores now have made our industry nondescript – I just don’t understand, everything’s so cheap and none of it’s made locally.”

Continuing her history, “I had my job when I was designing for other companies, Lalique and Hildegard. It was time to go on my own. I set myself free from the constraints of working for others, manufacturing comfortable clothing.

“First, I had a store on the Danforth, then Yorkville and, finally, the Beaches. I started business right away, after I left the company; financed it myself. It was tough but I did it myself, with a good work ethic. And I worked hard. Rent was also very expensive in Yorkville. I had to leave that store and then went to the Beaches.”

After nearly twenty years of being in business for herself wit the stores, Ms. Sausik decided to “retire” and, after travelling for a while, made up her mind that she would use all she has learned in so many classes and course. 

She told the Citizen, “I have small boutique in Rare Threads and a studio upstairs, where I do my work and I sell my work there too. Plain manipulation fabrics, kimono jackets, using my own fabrics, I use recycled jeans, which I buy at Value Village. I buy jeans to cut up and recycle. I just came back from a four-day art retreat in Pushlich. 

“I can’t stop making wearable art – I can’t stop making clothing.”

Her introduction to Alton village and the Alton Mill happened this way: “It started off by going with a friend to the Millcroft Inn to have afternoon tea for her birthday. She said, ‘Let’s go to the Alton Mill.’ I love this place and she persuaded me to sell my clothes in the Rare Threads gallery.

“Then, a studio came up for rent at the Mill and I had wanted to move out of the city. So, someone told me about a nice little house to lease in the village, which is beautiful. I have my little dog and he, of course, loves it here. We walk to the Mill. I couldn’t be happier. I was just dying in the city, with the noise and the pollution. People in Orangeville are happy, friendly and relaxed.”

She reflected, “The only thing I’ve done is what I wanted to do, so blessed that, right from the get-go I knew what I wanted to do and I was able to do it. Amazing what you can do when you really really work at it; people say you can’t do that but, if you believe in yourself, you can do it. 

“Now it’s quite a different thing. I never had the luxury of doing whatever I like. Before, I had to make things that would sell. Now, my things are more unique and creative. I believe I have an audience.”

“What I would say to a young person: that you should follow your love. It’s the only way you can make a difference to the world, if you’re happy in what you’re doing.”

Meanwhile, when her friends come to see her in her home in the country, “There’s only one restaurant,” she laughed. “They can’t believe it.” 

The Open House at the Alton Mill Arts Centre on May 3 and 4, is themed Creativity in Bloom and, as always, is a full weekend of workshops, exhibits and studios open and ready to meet you. So much to see and do there. For more information go to

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