Hannah Stone always dreamed of transferring her artwork—colourful abstract and floral paintings—onto clothing, but it took some time for her to determine exactly how. The Salt Spring Island-based creative has reached that goal, having built up a line of eye-catching, comfortable activewear for women—even after a detour into alcohol and drug addiction.
With Hannah Stone Originals—which features her own pieces of art emblazoned on capris and full-length leggings—she’s on a mission to get women who sport workout or yoga pants away from always wearing black. It’s a habit she picked up during her many years of struggle.
“I had a huge body-image and eating disorder until I was 30, and I struggled with hiding myself in clothing and dark colours,” Stone tells the Straight by phone. “Now I rock a lot of colour on a daily basis. Colour makes me happy on a BC rainy day. I want to retrain women to believe they are beautiful, colourful, and original beings, and we don’t need to hide our bodies in black leggings.”
Stone, who was born in New Zealand and raised in Mission, B.C., describes herself as a “not anonymous” recovered alcoholic and addict who dove into the party scene when she started travelling the globe at age 19. She was 30 when she hit rock bottom while working as a bartender on boats in the Virgin Islands.
“I almost died when I was 30,” she says. “I had a bad back and found out my liver was distended. I would literally drink all through my shift then party after that and come home at 9 or 10 in the morning, wake up three, start my shift at five then do it all over again. I could not go a day without drinking or smoking a joint to get out of bed.
“My last two years there were absolute despair,” she adds. “I always knew I was an artist, but I was always drunk or hungover or full of self-hate. I was full of negative self-talk. I saw nothing of worth in anything I did. That sure blocks the creative process.”
Now 45, Stone has been sober ever since; she says a 12-step program saved her life. She moved to Salt Spring and began painting. Using liquid acrylic ink, acrylic paint, and enamel, she creates richly hued abstract and floral paintings. (She adds glitter for her pop-art inspired works.)
Her leggings feature shades that range from peacock blues and greens to English garden purples and pinks. To make the standout pants, her painted creations are transferred onto a special fabric (made in Montreal) via a sublimation printing press in Toronto. She also creates digital designs, such as cherry gingham, and uses original photos as well (as seen on her “Tofino” leggings, with images of the ocean and sky).
She says that she often hears women say that they love the look of the attention-grabbing pants but could could never pull off the look themselves.
“Then when I finally convince them to give them a try on, they inevitably light up and get excited about the concept that maybe they too could wear a bit of colour and maybe actually feel confident and empowered by their body rather than live in the shame that we have imposed on ourselves and each other in this society,” Stone says.
“Leggings are great because they are so comfortable, you can wear them as a base under other clothes for extreme weather or as your only layer alone or under a cute skirt instead of tights or pantyhose,” she adds. “There’s something about being empowered in your own colour and your own beauty.”
Not only does her activewear stand apart from other lines because of its bold colours and patterns; it is also unique because of its superior fit. The leggings have what’s called a “push-up compression fit”.
“They hug in all the right places and make me feel secure, sexy and body confident when I wear them,” Stone says. “I have had women test and try them for yoga, running, hiking, stand-up paddle boarding, hiking and intense gym workouts.”
Hannah Stone Originals come in sizes 00 to 18 ($110 for capris and $115 for full-length leggings). Stone, who has recently launched a kids’ line as well, sells her products at the Salt Spring Island public market in summer and on Etsy.More