Homeaboutour membersresourcesmentorsdiarieshappeningsshop

Send me your feedback: to post your comments, click the links below each entry.

Happy Holidays!

Hi & Happy Holidays!
Carolyn will be back in January with more diary updates. Until then, all of us at the Toronto Fashion Incubator wish you the very best for the holidays and for the New Year!

Q& A with Susie Love, Promoter and Marketer Extraordinaire

I first met jewelry designer Susie Love last summer at the Fashion and Design Festival. Everyone noticed this smiling girl with a cart full of innovative jewelry. At one point, there were about ten of us around her cart and impromptu display, trying on necklaces, bracelets and going crazy for her designs. She GAVE me a wrist cuff made out of a melted record that absolutely rocks, and I’ve admired her work and marketing strategy ever since. If you haven’t seen her around Toronto, you will. And if you don’t live in Toronto, it’s time to meet Susie Love!

What's your story? What led you to become a jewellery designer and start your own company?
My background is in painting and singing/songwriting, but I was injured badly in an elevator accident 3 years ago and couldn't do anything for one year. I stayed with friends, then wound up in the wacky antiques/ Parkdale world. While working for an antiques dealer, I started collecting and remaking vintage (clothing, purses, sweaters and then jewelry), all of which I sold in 69 Vintage and Melanie’s Closet. About a year ago, I discovered plastic, I love it, it's very tactile and sculptural, and I just love working with it!

You are one of the best self-promoters I've seen. Can you describe your promotional strategy?
Thank you! I've taken a lot of Anthony Robbins-type training (at Peak Potentials, based out of Vancouver), I applied it to my music in the past and now to my jewelry. I actually listen to motivational and business tapes while I am working and try to absorb as much as I can and then apply it. I also just love people; I find it fun to talk to everyone, and I love people's reactions, because I am usually wearing my most outrageous pieces. I also adhere to the MLM philosophy of the 3 foot rule: I talk to anyone who comes within 3 feet of me. And I am always wearing my jewelry, even if I'm just going to the store! Plus, I think it's good to think about what events people you want to meet might attend, and then show up with an open, positive mind.

Do you have any tips for getting you and your products noticed?
I'm always wearing my stuff. During festivals, I'll show up and give a few big pieces away, and a handful of rings. As I am having conversations, I really try to gauge if the person likes it first though, and if I'm wrong, I don’t worry about it.

For instance, I gave a big cross to Ronnie James Dio's keyboard player, before asking him if he liked it. He put it in his pocket, then Ronnie James Dio said he loved it, but the bass player wouldn't give it to him, or wear it!

Then there are other lovely souls like Sonja Andic (Fashion and Entertainment Publicist), Robin Kay (Fashion Design Council of Canada President), Nathalie Atkinson (National Post Columnist), Gail McInnes (Plutino Group Artist Rep), and Daniel Wilson (DJ and Event Promoter) and so many others who are lovely enough to wear my stuff all over the place. That's really key; I can't physically go to all the parties, but my jewelry can!

This way, people at the party you are at see your jewelry everywhere, and you are accessible to meet right then, and it creates buzz

Can you offer any advice for readers considering a career in accessories design?
Try lots of mediums, be open, and go with the one you are drawn to, that you enjoy working with. I'd love to work with ceramics next; I love how messy it is. I've done pottery before; you're literally right in your work! And I love sculpture!

What has been your greatest lesson learned as a fashion business owner?
Be open to ideas from those who have been in it a lot longer and probably know a thing or two more than me!

You recently joined the TFI. Why did you join? Have any of the resources helped with your business yet?
I joined because Nada told me to! It's a really great, great community, great resources, and I'm really learning a lot. I love the fashion industry, I don’t sit still well, and this business is so fast paced, it really entertains me.

What do you think about the state of Canadian fashion? Are there any designers who inspire you?

So many: Ula Zukowska, David Dixon, Nada, Katya Revenko, Lucian Matis, and of course, I have been in love with Betsey Johnson forever (I know she lives in New York now, but isn't she Canadian?) [Note from Carolyn: I just spoke with Susie and broke the news that Betsey is not Canadian. Sorry,Susie!] I bought my first Betsey Johnson dress when I was 17. I saved up for it, it was a tie dyed purple baby doll, with an Alice in Wonderland print and was $300 (all the rest of my wardrobe was the craziest stuff I could find in Kensington market!). I still remember it, and hope when hunting vintage, I will come across it. I actually bought a 60's black/wool /fur coat at a Hamilton thrift store, and when I went to brunch with my mother, she gasped, she actually owned it in her 30's! How crazy is that? I'll never part with it!

State of Canadian fashion? Hmm…I think Canadians are getting more excited over fashion and I think it's a great time to get involved!

You can find my jewelry at: Y5, Model Citizen, Made You Look, and Boutique Letrou, plus you can find my remade vintage at Melanie's Closet, and 69 Vintage. www.myspace.com/susielovesfun

TFI Members Meeting Goes to Vancouver

I’m taking my fashion support group to Vancouver over the holidays! Hopefully I’ll meet and interview our Vancouver members and get the scoop on the Canadian West Coast fashion scene. If you’re a Vancouver-based TFI member and haven’t yet received my e-mail, please contact me.


So…you want to communicate your company’s latest news to your e-mail list, but what’s the best way to do it?

I’ve seen some great e-newsletters and some terrible ones. The terrible ones are the plain old typed messages, but we’re beyond that now. You need a strong, professional layout to make an impact. It is very much worthwhile to invest money in someone who can do this for you or a program that does it and makes sending mass e-mails less spammy.

Unfortunately, I don’t have recommendations for either, but what I can recommend is that you look closely at the e-newsletters you receive. Assess what works, what doesn’t, and why. If they use a company, it will be at the bottom of the message, usually outside of the newsletter box, and there will likely be a link to the company that did the layout and the mailing.

Happy e-mailing! It sure beats stuffing and licking thousands of envelopes.

Members Meeting

Thanks to everyone who came to the members meeting last night. There were a lot of new faces and a great mix of fashion interests: clothing designers, accessory designers, importers/exporters, manufacturers, illustrators, store owners and TFI members just interested in chatting.

We talked a lot about New Labels, what it’s like to be a TFI resident (thanks to new resident, Carrie Hayes – www.carriehayes.com), what happened at the TFI Press Breakfast (thanks again to Carrie and to Danielle Meder – www.finalfashion.ca and Ashley Rowe – www.missrowe.com), promotions, marketing and the next TFI seminar: Public and Media Relations. It’s on December 13. Members and non-members are welcome, so come out to the new TFI space.

Canadian Subsidy Directory

So I got the following press release in my inbox and don’t know if it will be helpful to anyone, but thought I’d post it in case it is legitimate. Read it, check out the website, and decide for yourself if this subsidy directly might help you get some financial assistance for your fashion business. I take no responsibility if it’s a scam or if there isn’t any useful information because I don’t have an extra $70 or $150 to buy it and review it for you.


Legal Deposit-National Library

The Canadian Subsidy Directory 2007 is now available, newly revised it is the most complete and affordable reference for anyone looking for financing. It is the perfect tool for new and existing businesses, individuals, foundations and associations.

This Publication contains more than 3200 direct and indirect financial subsidies, grants and loans offered by government departments  and agencies, foundations, associations and organizations.  In this new 2007
edition all programs are well described.

The Canadian Subsidy Directory is the most comprehensive tool to start up a business, improve existent activities, set up a business plan, or obtain assistance from experts in fields such as: Industry, transport,  agriculture, communications, municipal infrastructure, education, import-export, labour, construction and renovation, the service sector, hi-tech industries, research and development, joint ventures, arts, cinema, theatre, music and recording industry, the self employed, contests, and new talents. Assistance from and for foundations and associations, guidance to prepare a business plan, market surveys, computers, and much more!

The Canadian Subsidy Directory is sold $ 69.95 (CD-ROM), $ 149.95
 (Printed 430 pages)
to obtain a copy please call toll free *1-866-322-3376*

Strategic Partnerships: Doll Factory by Damzels and Satan’s Candy

Yes, another band-related post. For those of you who are dying to see Satan’s Candy, you’ll be able to on Friday December 14. We’re playing the Bovine, which is at 542 Queen Street West. Doors at 9pm, we play at 10:30.

Come on out! And tell me you read my blog! I’ll be the one with the bass and the tiara.

Why am I posting this on a fashion-business blog, you ask? Simple: we’re partnering with local designers and store owners, Rory Lindo and Kelly Freeman from Damzels in this Dress. Their store, Doll Factory by Damzels, is celebrating its first year and Satan’s Candy can’t wait to help the festivities (Okay, we’re kind of biased because Rory is our drummer! Even if she wasn’t, we’d still support Doll Factory and Damzels, though, because we love the store and the dress line!). Event and artist management company Constant Crush is also working with us and we’ll play with their band, The Outfit.

How does this all work together? Let’s talk partnerships. It can help financially and emotionally to share event planning with other companies/designers/artists. Not only can you share work and costs, but you can share customer bases too. You just have to make sure that your partners make sense with your own project. Satan’s Candy is kind of a fashion-y band, so this will be a great partnership. It’ll be great to have Constant Crush and The Outfit fans out to see Satan’s Candy and support the Doll Factory store and vice versa.

There’s so much great local initiative and partnership going on that I almost can’t stand it! I love it and want to see you there.

Toronto Alternative Fashion Week

I’m so excited for Alternative Fashion Week (www.getfat.ca) in April 2008 that my band submitted an application to play in this fashion, music, and art celebration. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

The application deadline is December 1, but they will accept some late entries, so check out the site if you’re interested. The last event was an excellent showcase for new designers, recent fashion grads, artists, and musicians, and I have full confidence that April’s event will be just as good, if not better.

Ryerson Exhibit at the Design Exchange

Tonight, the Ryerson University School of Fashion hosted a gala evening to celebrate 60 years of Ryerson Fashion. A cool exhibit took over the first floor of the Design Exchange and it had everything from colour theory to sketches, pattern blocks and finished garments.

My favourite display was about the assignment asking students to design garments for a professor’s trousseau. For those of you who don’t know what a trousseau is, it’s the collection of items – usually clothes, linens, crystal and silver – that a bride assembles for marriage. Can you imagine being asked to design a professor’s honeymoon wardrobe? Ha.

Unfortunately, this show is only on display for two more days. I want more fashion exhibits! Apparently the event’s organizers do too, since they are trying to organize an exhibition space on the Ryerson campus. I wish them well and will keep you posted on any developments that I hear.

P&G Beauty Rocks!

Remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned the new P&G Beauty website (www.pgbeauty.ca)  designed for fashion and beauty industry members? I checked it out and was excited to learn that they offered product information and free samples. I kind of thought the free samples were too good to be true, but guess what? They showed up today! I got tons of great stuff:

  • Cover Girl Volume Exact Mascara
  • Olay Regenerist Micro Sculpting Crème
  • Pantene Pro-V Texturize! Sculpting Wax
  • Clairol Herbal Essences All that Shine Clear Shine Treatment
  • Olay Eye Derma-pod
  • Pure Divine Exfoliating Body Wash
  • Olay Daily Facials Cleansing Cloths
  • Pantene Pro-V Damage Defender Spray
  • Silk Transformation Crème
  • Cover Girl Wetsticks Fruit Spritzers Gloss
  • Line Exact Liquid Liner
I especially love the liner (always on the lookout for amazing black liner).

You know I don’t write about beauty products, but P&G Beauty has been an amazing, supportive TFI sponsor that I wanted to tell you how extra good they are. They send free stuff!

Learning from a Store: Fashion Crimes by Pam Chorley

Pam Chorley has long been one of Toronto’s favourite designers and with a business that has survived for over twenty years, she’s obviously one of Toronto’s favourite business women as well. Last night, Fashion Crimes hosted a wonderful, festive holiday party.

One thing I really like about Fashion Crimes is that the staff are encouraged to wear all the clothes and accessories. It’s a simple way to show product and allow staff to gain more product knowledge. Through experience, they get to know about cut, construction, and fabric.

The Fashion Crimes windows are always fun, elaborate productions and give shoppers an excuse to keep going back.

In-store events are also smart ways to maintain and build your customer base while getting to know them a bit better. Last night, the entire staff epitomized the vision of the fabulous Fashion Crimes gal and made efforts to have fun with customers, which made people want to buy stuff, which, of course, is the ultimate goal of owning a store. You have to make the sales to survive.

If you’re thinking of opening a store or launching a clothing or accessories line, I recommend that you attend as many store events as you can. Do your homework and think about how products can be displayed and how salespeople and customers react to them. Fashion Crimes is a great place to learn how a local designer successfully built a thriving store.

Technical Translations

I received a request from a reader in Chicago who requires French translations for technical sewing terms and label information, but I have no leads. Do you?

Cadbury Couture

Excuse me…I’m suffering a chocolate hangover.

Last night, Cadbury sponsored an event called Cadbury Couture, where ten Canadian fashion designers made outfits that were at least 70% chocolate. What a delicious example of a corporation working with and supporting Canadian designers. Yum!

Contracting Out

A reader asked if I could recommend any people who might be able to sew her designs and since I receive requests like this every so often, I thought I’d give you all my advice. Lucky you!

First, I recommend that you have some sewing, fabric, or garment construction knowledge before you start designing. You really have to know how fabrics and seams work before you can design clothes effectively.

Second, knowing how to draw your ideas really helps. You don’t have to be the best illustrator, but you should be able to graphically communicate your design concepts.

Third, if you cannot sew or illustrate, but still have some great ideas, you have to make sure you have a lot of money to pay illustrators, pattern drafters, and sample makers. If you do, then go for it, but you should also have a bullet-proof business plan and a strong group of people working with you.

Good luck!

Interview: Meet Michelle Germain, the Shopgirl!

After organizing a series of events promoting and selling Canadian designers, Michelle Germain decided to open a store, and I’m quite excited for it. Appropriately, it is called Shopgirls (www.shopgirls.ca).

I stopped by the future home of Shopgirls way West on Queen Street and found Michelle hard at work installing ceiling tiles, taking phone calls, and brushing off layers of construction dust from her clothes. Fashion is so glamorous!

Construction work aside, after hearing Michelle’s plans, I am quite sure that the store will be glamorous (due to a lot of hard work!). There are plans to sell Canadian handcrafted and original work from fashion, accessory, and furniture designers as well as work by Canadian artists. If it’s displayed in vignettes throughout the space, you’ll be able to buy it.

Artist promotion will be the Shopgirls focus. Not only will artists have space to work and hang out in the store, but Michelle has over 14 years of fashion and art marketing and advertising experience after working at Holt Renfrew and the Bay. If your work is in her store, Michelle wants to make sure it will be promoted.

Wonderful! Store exposure and promotion! But how do you get your work in Shopgirls? To put it simply, Michelle has to like your work and determine if it will appeal to her target market. She does that by scouting new and interesting designers through networking and events.

Michelle provides two consignment choices: 1) There is limited space in the Artist Circle, where artists can participate for a monthly fee and receive 75% of all commission from sales (usually retailers will take 50%); or 2) Work a number of hours in the store each month in exchange for sales percentages. If you have questions, I recommend that you contact Michelle to discuss your work and the Shopgirls organizational structure. She will be meeting artists this Monday November 26 and Tuesday November 27. Call her at 416.629.2344 or email info@shopgirls.ca.

Michelle thinks that Canadian designers are extremely talented, but poorly represented, so Shopgirls is her solution. Along the way, she has learned how much work is involved in opening a store, such as negotiating leases, designing spaces, and working with neighbours, and this is just the beginning. The store is scheduled to open on December 7, and I can’t wait to shop for Canadian work at Shopgirls.

Back to TFI New Labels: What About Accessory Designers?

Are you an accessory designer and feel bummed about not being able to enter the TFI New Labels Competition?

Susan Langdon has a solution for you: she suggests pairing with a designer to help create an entry. By working with a clothing designer, you can work on a complete look right from the start rather than being called in at the end.

How do you do this? Check out the TFI Member Listings (www.fashionincubator.com/our_members/outreach_listings/index.shtml) to see if there are any members who share your aesthetic. Contact them and ask if they’re entering the competition. If not, maybe you have started a new working relationship. What do you have to lose?

You could also contact TFI administration and ask them to send a message to TFI New Labels Competition entrants.

The key is that you have to take initiative and make things happen for yourself.

Media’s Gone Green: Electronic Press Kits

Tonight I attended a Rogers Wireless holiday product launch because the invitation mentioned an “evening of innovation and style”, so I thought it had something to do with fashion. It did not. I mean, the phones were cool, but there was no fashion (except for those fashionably dressed). So why am I writing about it?

As I left, I was handed a USB stick as the press kit. There was no wasted paper. Rogers PR has gone green!

With most fashion publications and L’Oréal Fashion Week all proclaiming green as the new black, the USB press kit makes sense. But are journalists ready for it?

I’m not quite sure if the USB press kit will replace the paper press kit just yet. There is something that journalists like about seeing physical photos and look books. Paper versus electronic is definitely something for you to consider when planning your press kit, especially if you have an environmentally or socially conscious business. I don’t have an answer for you about what’s best, so you’ll have to decide for yourself. Maybe a mix of paper and electronic press kits is the solution for now before everyone goes green.

The F-List

I’ve written about the F-List (www.f-list.ca) before, but since the recent newsletter landed in my inbox, I thought it was time to mention it again.

The F-List is a website that focuses on Canadian fashion designers, retail sales, and news. In my opinion, it has the best comprehensive online list of Canadian designers. You might want to check it out as an introduction to Canadian fashion.

What’s in a Buyer’s Mind?
An Interview with Holt Renfrew Buyer Jason Morikawa

I kept running into Jason Morikawa at various functions and thought you’d learn a lot from him. Jason is the buyer for three separate Holt Renfrew departments called Directional Designers, Designer Eveningwear and the World Design Lab. If you want to learn about a buyer’s job and what a buyer thinks, then read our Q&A.

What's your story? (e.g. What did you do before, and how did you end up here?)
After working in various capacities within the retail world, I began my career at Holt Renfrew as the manager of the World Design Lab. I had always admired the concept and area and was excited to join Canada 's leading luxury retailer. I had only been working for Holt Renfrew for about a year when I was asked to take on more responsibility as the area sales manager of contemporary womenswear and eventually the area sales manager of Designer womenswear.
At the beginning of this year, I noticed that a buyer’s position had opened up in the designer world that I love, with a specific focus on Paris collections and the World Design Lab. I jumped at the opportunity and that is how I ended up in my current role. Holt Renfrew nurtures and grows talent and now every day is like a new learning experience for me.

Please describe your job as a buyer. What do you do in a typical workday?
As a buyer, every day is different, which is one of the things that I love about being a buyer.
A typical work day can include analyzing sellthroughs by color/style/price, focusing on upcoming markets by preparing strategies, market research, communicating with vendors, planning special marketing events for clients, store visits and travel.

What do you do on a buying trip?
Buying trips are a lot of work. A typical buying trip involves attending between 3- 8 appointments in one day(depending on type and size of collections) and working through with a vendor to select merchandise. In some of my bigger collections, that means taking collections that are 150 - 250 styles in size and picking 40 - 50 styles that will hit our floor. The one fabulous thing of buying trips during fashion weeks is the opportunity to go to runway shows. It is amazing the people you see and the energy in the room. It is truly one of the perks of being a buyer.

As a buyer, what grabs your attention?
I look for collections that will fit a niche market in Canada that we have not covered and collections that have a distinct point of view. There are hundreds and thousands of designers out there, and I need to ensure that I am not buying the same thing. I want excitement and something new, but must keep in mind that it needs to make sense for the market that I am buying for.

What is the best way for a new designer to approach you about selling his or her line in your store?
There are a few things that a new designer should keep in mind when approaching a retailer:

  • They should know who their target customer and lifestyle is. The more you know about your customer the better.
  • Five to ten pieces does not make a collection. In a store our size, a small collection will get lost and if a customer can not find you, they can't buy.
  • Only show pieces that you believe in. I recently had a designer come in, and show pieces that you could visibly tell that she did not like herself. When questioning that designer, she fully admitted that she did not like the pieces, and was just showing them because she had them. If you don’t believe in them, no one else will either.
  • Have a business plan. Know what your strategy is and how you plan to grow and distribute your collection.
  • Know the store you are presenting to. I always want to know where a designer sees their collection hanging in our store and who their 'neighbours' would be.
If you have one piece of advice to new designers, what would it be?
It is a challenging world out there, but I do believe if you have talent, you will succeed. Ensure that you keep talking to people in the industry and listen to what they say. Be persistent and never sacrifice quality for quantity.
Finally, be passionate.

Do you have any advice for people who want to be buyers?
Be prepared for a busy lifestyle that involves spending more time in airplanes and airports than in fashion shows. It is a great job, but again if you are not passionate about fashion, then this is definitely not the job for you.

Should they study fashion at school or should they focus on gaining retail experience?
There is no hard rule to becoming a buyer, but in my experience, doing a little of both is an asset. A person that used to work with me in the World Design Lab was able to join the corporate team because they were working in the store while studying fashion.

You sell a lot of Canadian designers. What are your thoughts on the state of Canadian fashion?

I believe there is true talent in Canada and Holt Renfrew has been a long time supporter of Canadian design talent. We do not buy product from Canadian designers just because they are Canadian. We will stock the designers because they have won the position in our assortment through their merit.

TFI New Labels: Enter Now!

If you missed the TFI Members Meeting last week, I probably made you regret it by writing about how great it was, and this post is going to make you feel worse, especially if you’re considering applying to the TFI New Labels Competition.

TFI Executive Director Susan Langdon attended the meeting and offered tons of advice about entering the competion. What were her strongest words of wisdom?

“Do not start your entry the night before the deadline.”

That deadline is December 10, so you still have time to work on your application. If you are interested, I strongly recommend that you start working NOW. Download the application from www.fashionincubator.com/happenings/events/new-labels-fashion-design-2.shtml, research past competitions and finalists, and maybe even contact some previous participants. I’m sure they would be happy to talk to you about their experiences and maybe give you some advice.

The ELLE Canada magazine $25,000 prize package and exposure is invaluable, not to mention how much you will learn from Susan and the judging panel. If your company is less than three years old and you’re ready for media and sales attention, you really should consider entering the TFI New Labels Competition. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it.

Entrepreneurial TV: The Dragon’s Den

A bunch of TFI Members recommended watching The Dragon’s Den because it’s all about pitching entrepreneurial ideas to business moguls. To be honest, I never thought about it because I thought it would be too “business-y”, but I guess that’s the point and why I need to watch it.

It’s on CBC Monday nights at 8:00pm.


When starting a business, you will always have to deal with legal issues, but there’s so much legalese to wade through, what do you do?

If you’re having a specific legal issue, you might want to contact the Law Society of Canada (www.lsuc.on.ca) since they offer a half hour of free legal advice.

Guess where I got this tip? From the Members Meeting! Am I enticing you to go to the next one?

Apparel Jobs

Thanks to the Members Meeting, I checked out www.appareljobs.ca and you should too. It’s hosted by the Apparel Human Resource Council, whose mandate is “to develop and implement a human resources strategy that supports the long-term competitiveness of Canada’s apparel manufacturing industry and meets the developmental needs of its workforce.”

The site lists career opportunities in Design, Business Administration, Sales & Marketing, Engineering, Information Technology, Human Resources, Logistics/Production, and other sectors. If you’re looking for a job, contemplating a career in fashion, or thinking about a career change, the information on this site will help you.

Karamea and Philip Sparks Trunk Show and Open House

After last night’s Members Meeting, I grabbed a few people and we went to a trunk show and open house hosted by Michelle Turpin, who designs under the Karamea label www.karamea.ca">(www.karamea.ca) and Philip Sparks, who designs under his own name (www.philipsparks.com).

I didn’t get a chance to mention Philip’s Spring/Summer 2008 show during L’Oréal Fashion Week, but it was perfect, from media releases, invitations, venue, guest arrivals, and seating to styling, design, and clothing quality. For only a second show, Philip did so well. As I always do, I recommend watching him to learn how to do things right.

Michelle Turpin is a meticulous designer who has a great business sense. She has a wonderful website that is updated and reflects her work.

Both Philip and Michelle have good design and business ideas, so it makes sense that they’re sharing a studio. Here are two designers that you can learn from. Both are professional, creative, amazing designers, and best of all they’re really, really nice. 

FashTFI Members Meeting

Tonight was the largest TFI Members Meeting yet and it was largely thanks to the great space at Gossip restaurant (www.dine.to/gossip).

Seems like forever since the last meeting and I missed everyone, but the TFI had to settle into its new home before arranging this meeting. The wait was worth it, as demonstrated from the tour of the new space before the meeting.

At Gossip, there were a lot of new faces. About thirty of us were able to meet and chat over wine. The TFI was even nice enough to treat us to some wonderful flatbread pizza, which  we ate while talking about:

  • Differences between Sales Reps and Distributors;
  • How to get a Sales Rep;
  • Fashion production timelines and cycles;
  • Where to find fashion employment;
  • Exporting and duty remission/reimbursement;
  • Ups and downs of having financial investors;
  • How to deal with lawyer contracts;
  • Trend forecasting; and (of course)
  • Fabric sourcing.
Are you sad you missed it? Then come to the next one on Monday December 3. It will be at Gossip again. Networking starts at 5:30pm, meeting starts at 6:00. See you there.

Gift Bag Randomness

For the record, I do love gift bags. I enjoy playing Gift Bag Hit or Miss with you. I do think that gift bags do reflect the overall details of an event. There’s no denying that they have become important at fashion events, but I’m kind of appalled at some people’s gift bag behaviour.

After hearing complaints and whispers about gift bags, I guess it’s time for gift bag etiquette:

  • People, gift bags are GIFTS! Be happy you got them.
  • It is not the designer’s responsibility to give you a gift bag. They have important things to do like MAKE CLOTHES.
  • If you don’t get a gift bag at a show, don’t worry about it. Not every designer has the resources to provide gift bags, especially a new designer.
I can’t believe I have to tell people to stop complaining about gift bags, but it’s come to this. I’d much rather see a runway show full of great clothes than get a gift bag and I hope that you feel the same way.

Fashion Week Apologies

As you can tell, I was focused on the show I produced last week, which completely affected my Fashion Week coverage and availability to watch shows. My production involvement did affect my thoughts on some of the shows I did see. Here are some belated Fashion Week thoughts:

  • When creating a collection and putting on a show, EDIT, EDIT, EDIT. Hire a stylist or show producer to do this. You need someone with a clear eye.
  • No matter how great your design, nobody wants to see the same dress in 3 different colours come down the runway 15 times.
  • Seriously, hire a PR person. As a designer, you should not have to worry about guest lists because you have more important things to do.
  • Make sure you hire a professional photographer and videographer for your show. You’re spending a lot of time and money, so why not document it correctly?
  • NEVER, EVER walk across the runway to get to your seat or find a friend. The runway is maintained to make it a good surface for the models. This sounds dumb, but dust from your shoe could cause a tumble. Not only that, but it’s tacky to dart across the runway.
I didn’t get to see many shows, but this season, I was very impressed with everyone I saw. Maybe my producer heart softened my critical eye, but here are the shows I saw who I think deserve kudos for jobs well done:

  • Project Runway Canada
  • Ginch Gonch
  • Zoran Dobric
  • Farley Chatto
  • GSUS (though they’re not really Canadian designers, they did put on a great show)
  • Rudsak
And here’s who I wished I could have seen, but couldn’t due to work commitments:

  • NADA
  • Bustle
  • Joeffer Caoc
  • Andy The-Anh
  • David Dixon
  • Common Cloth
  • Paul Hardy
  • Nada Yousif
  • Thien Le
I saw great photos and articles about all these designers. What a great season of Canadian fashion!

Happy Hallowe’en!

Oh! It’s my band’s show tonight at the El Mocambo, and I can tell you that I’ve been promoting the show as much as Fashion Grindhouse. Seriously, band and clothing label promotion are similar and I’m learning a lot from the crossover between both industries. Flyers, buttons, posters, ads, and the Internet are so important for both clothing and music. Interesting how I can use my experience from one industry for another.

P&G Beauty’s New Site

I’ve been so busy with fashion show stuff that I haven’t had time to mention the new P&G Beauty site. They launched it earlier this month and promised all sorts of tips and samples for Canadian beauty and fashion influencers. You might want to check it out at www.pgbeauty.ca.

Fashion Show Production: Press

In the days since the Playdead Cult/Damzels in this Dress Fashion Grindhouse, I’ve been monitoring press and I’m happy to boast that we got some of the best press of the week! It makes me so proud.

Not only did we have a story-worthy production, but it helped to have a PR rep. We worked with Desia Brill at Brill Communications and I found her extremely helpful when inviting press members to the show, arranging the seating chart, and seating guests quickly upon entrance. I highly encourage any designer to get an effective PR person for their show.

Just remember that you’ve got to have the clothes and the show to match the hype!

Fashion Show Production:
Working with the Fashion Design Council of Canada and L’Oréal Fashion Week

As many of you know, I used to be the Fashion Week Volunteer Coordinator, and that’s where I learned a lot about fashion show production. This week was the first time I worked with the designer’s team and I was a bit anxious since I left a lot in the hands of the FDCC. What was the result?

I enjoyed working with the FDCC! Sometimes it took a while to get a response to messages and it was hard to plan our show when they were settling on dates, but once everything got going, it was well-organized.

It was a relief to be a show producer and not have to worry about venue and Audio-Visual demands. The FDCC made sure everything was working and on-schedule. The backstage team of show producers and volunteers knew exactly what was happening and answered any and all questions.

I had a wonderful experience and I think that the designers did too. Showing with L’Oréal Fashion Week and the FDCC was a wise investment and I was impressed.

Fashion Show Production: Thank yous!

I’m so happy with how the Damzels in this Dress/Playdead Cult Fashion Grindhouse Double Feature turned out that I want to thank the following people:

  • Rory and Kelly from Damzels in this Dress (www.damzelsinthisdress.com; www.dollfactorystudios.com)
  • Bean, Stu, and Tracy from Playdead Cult (www.playdeadcult.com);
  • Desia from Brill Communications (www.brillcommunications.ca);
  • All the Playdead and Damzels volunteers (you gals were so great; I was really impressed with your work);
  • Eric and Eddie from L’Oréal;
  • The entire hair and makeup team;
  • The FDCC;
  • Erica and Liz, the FDCC show producers;
  • FDCC volunteers;
  • Westbury staff for testing all the AV materials and dealing with my demands; and
  • All guests who came to see the show!
I really do want to give a big thanks to Playdead and Damzels for letting me produce this great show and not getting annoyed at my lists! You guys are such professionals; it was a pleasure to work with you. Bean and Stu, you really know how to organize a party, too! Thanks so much, guys!

Fashion Show Production: Show Day!

Thanks to working with Susan Langdon at TFI shows, I learned the important of an almost minute-by-minute timeline of tasks that also includes contact information and lists the location of where everyone can be found at any time. I made one for the Playdead and Damzels designers that was probably too detailed, but it outlined everything that we needed to do today.

I can’t even tell you what we needed to do; there was so much! We had to transport clothes, make sure all accessories were included, meet models, keep hair and makeup artists on schedule, meet with the Fashion Design Council of Canada show producers and volunteers to make sure we all knew what was happening, have a rehearsal, get the models dressed, have a show, clean up backstage for the next show, get the designers out for post-show interviews, ensure all clothes and accessories were returned, and then set up for an afterparty!

The day flew by, as did the show. There were Fashion Television cameras backstage, so you’re going to want to watch for the feature. I’m sure it will be great to watch because everything was going so smoothly; everyone backstage told us that we were the calmest and on-schedule production we worked with. That was until our technical difficulty: the Damzels movie started skipping and we were all devastated backstage. I kept wondering what happened since I saw the test, but as we all know, some things are beyond our control. The rest of the show rocked, the Playdead movie ran smoothly, and we got the early-evening crowd cheering.

My two big goals as a show producer were to start the show on time and have a working timeline so effective that we had everything done the day before the show. I really wanted the designers to sleep the night before and not have to worry about last-minute things. I achieved both these goals and produced my favourite show of L’Oréal Fashion Week! I’m pretty happy.

Now on to the party….we deserve it.

Fashion Show Production:
Plan Nothing the Day Before!

That’s right; I’m telling you to plan nothing the day before a show. You should have everything done by now because the day before, you’ll have a million phone calls, a million fires to put out, and so much to do, even though you’re already done.

Fashion Show Production: Rehearsal

I cannot stress how important it is to have at least one show rehearsal. This is where you can finalize music, accessories, fitting, and model order. Ideally I would have loved to have this at least a week before the show, but things are just so busy that today (2 days before the show!) was the earliest we could do it.

The Damzels in this Dress/Playdead Cult double-feature is going to be the most rock ‘n roll show at L’Oréal Fashion Week. No doubt about that, but I’ve got to admit that I’m starting to get anxious for things that could happen beyond our control. I think it’s normal to get a bit nervous before a production, and for this one, we’re showing two short films before each show

For that reason, I left our rehearsal early so I could get to the Fashion Week venue and give our Audio-Visual material to the AV guys to test. After the Project Runway show (Yes! I got to see the finalists! But I can’t tell you anything about that since everyone was sworn to secrecy, so I’m glad I have show production tips to give.), I went to the AV area and handed over the short film that will screen before the Damzels show, crossed my fingers, and peered at the projection screens.

Hooray! The movie worked! Phew! That was one thing I was really nervous about because I didn’t want the designers or film editors have to worry about.

Fashion Show Production: Gift Bags

You know how I always talk about how everything about your show – right down to your gift bags – should be consistent and reflect your company? Well, since I’ve been producing this show, I realize there are more important things than gift bags; things like clothes!

When we started planning the show, we had grand ideas about our giftbags: DVDs, CDs, and treats that suited our show theme of “Fashion Grindhouse”. But you know what? It was more important for us to spend time on completing clothes, working on choreography, timing, music, PR, and guest list planning.

Nevertheless, we had two great sponsors for our gift bags, Cadbury and Lucaffe, and ended up with some cute treats for our VIPs. If you would have seen us stuffing gift bags this afternoon, you would have again questioned the glamour of being a fashion designer.

Fashion Show Production:
Working on the Weekend

I deliberately left today open for Playdead and Damzels designers to catch up on whatever they need to do. When planning a show, the work piles up and despite your best efforts, some things don’t get done, so remember to save a few days for catch-up.

Fashion Show Production:
So Much Correspondence!

E-mails, phone calls, documents…I have a huge pile of different things I need to remember. As a show producer, my job is to consolidate everything that comes in and make sure that everyone in the production from the volunteers to designers, AV people, FDCC staff, media, PR team, and guests know what’s happening.

I’m writing this at 2:00am because I only just now finished our first guest list draft and guest list e-mail confirmations; I’ve been working on it all week. The list is going to change a million more times before the show. I used to criticize event organizers who didn’t have updated guest lists, but I know we’re going to get a lot of last-minute changes the day of the show when I’m not near a computer. It’s going to be fun!

L’Oréal Fashion Week Begins:
Gift Bag Hit or Miss

Since I picked up my L’Oréal Fashion Week media registration and got…a giant gift bag! So it’s time for your favourite fashion game, Gift Bag Hit or Miss. It’s a simple game: I list gift bag contents and you decide if they help or hinder the overall impression of an event. Ready? Here we go…

  • L'Oreal Collagen Filler Eye Illuminator
  • Media Kit
  • Umbra photo frame
  • Conair Glass Plate hair straightener
  • Tilley Endurables Maple Leaf Pin
  • L'Oreal Studio Curl Power Anti-Frizz Cream
  • Watkins Apothecary Lemon Shea Butter and Aloe Lip Balm
  • L'Oreal Bare Naturale Gentle Mineral Blush
  • $20 gift certificate from Black Line Studio Body Art Boutique
  • Goody Hairhints barettes
  • $25 gift certificate from Town Shoes
  • Schick Quattro razor
  • L'Oreal Infallible Lipcolour
  • Coco from Cranium WOW and certificate to get my own copy of Cranium WOW
  • L'Oreal High Intensity Pigments
  • Kiss My Face Organic Aloe Vera Toothpaste
  • Teeny-tiny UPS box with 2 pieces of gum

Fashion Show Production:
Lists, Lists, Lists!

It’s list madness! To make sure everyone knows exactly what’s happening, I send out a daily e-mail with task checklists for each team member. Quite sure they’re all sick of my lists and me, but they’re keeping everyone on track. Hooray for lists!

TFI Press Breakfast

Today was the first time I attended the TFI Press Breakfast since guests are limited to press only. This allows designers and journalists some highly valued one-on-one time. Susan Langdon invited me so I could tell you what happens there…

…and what happens there is the best media opportunity a new designer can get.

Every important Canadian fashion journalist was there, chatting with designers and inspecting creations up close. Let me re-iterate: designers were explaining their collections to Rita Silvan, Editor-in-Chief of Elle Canada; staff from Fashion were admiring cuts and fabrics; Nathalie Atkinson from The National Post was chatting with designers; Andrew Sardone from NOW was getting excited over prints, and Flare was there.

Not only did I see journalists at the TFI Press Breakfast, but I saw important buyers and stylists that can be instrumental in placing your designs into the hands of influential tastemakers.

The TFI Press Breakfast was way better than a media kit because you make connections in one morning that could take months or years for you to do on your own. If your line is ready for promotion for next September/October, I strongly recommend that you apply for the TFI Press Breakfast. Watch for the entry call at the end of Summer 2008.

A panel of fashion industry veterans jury TFI Press Breakfast entries, ensuring a high-calibre, professional showcase for new Canadian designers. I was going to create a list of my favourite exhibits and strengths for each designer at the event, but they were all so good, with strong presentations, quality construction, wonderful models who suited their designs, effective signage, and perfect press kits, so I’m going to list them all here. I encourage you to check out their work:

ANATA (www.anatadesign.com)
CARRIE (www.carriehayes.com)
DANIELLE SWEENEY DESIGN (www.daniellesweeneydesign.com)
D’MILA (www.dlgpartners.com)
FOXY ORIGINALS (www.foxyoriginals.com)
HILLBERG & BERK (www.hillbergandberk.com)
HORTENSE SALVATORE (www.hortensesalvatore.com)
JENNIFER REILLY (www.jenniferreilly.com)
JESSICA JENSEN (www.shopjessicajensen.com)
MALAK BY KALAM LEE (www.malakbykalamlee.com)
MARGIE JEWELLERY STUDIO (www.margiejewellery.com)
MIRJANA SCEPANOVIC (www.mirjanascepanovic.com)
MISS ROWE (www.missrowe.com)
MONIKQUE (www.monikque.com)
MORRIS B (www.morrisb.com)
REVOLVE CLOTHING COMPANY (www.revolveyourworld.com)
SNOFLAKE (www.snoflakefashion.com)
TRYD&TRUE (www.trydandtrue.com)

Congratulations to all of the designers at the TFI Press Breakfast. You were amazing! Hope to see your stuff in the press soon.

Fashion Show Production:
Oh So Glamorous!

You want to be a fashion designer? You want to go to all the shows, parties, and jet-set around the world? Today we did the opposite of all that: we stuffed 600 invitations into envelopes.

Sure, we could have found volunteers, but we were in a rush to get them out tomorrow (just over a week before the show) and nobody really learns about the fashion business by stuffing envelopes. It’s kind of mean to make volunteers do that, especially when there’s no reward. I was dreading calling people, begging for envelope duty help. But there we were, doing the boring stuff. Really, though, it wasn’t that boring. I kind of had fun because Bean and Stu from Playdead and Kelly and Rory from Damzels are fantastic to work with. 

Fashion Show Production:
Guest Lists

Today was guest list day. We’ve got to get invitations out to the show early this week so everyone gets them early next week.

When planning a show, who should you invite? Lots of media! The show is definitely for media. You also want to think about buyers, sales reps, stylists, celebrities, and your star clients. Those are all the people who should be on your main list. Then round out your guest list with good clients and do everything you can to fill those seats. It’s better to have an overcrowded show than an empty one.

Fashion Show Production:

Usually I plan volunteers beyond two weeks before a show, but for this one, the FDCC is promising all the volunteers. To be on the safe side, I’m planning to have two of our most reliable colleagues in every section to help the FDCC volunteers with any questions. It’s kind of strange not to organize my own volunteer army, but since I once was the FDCC volunteer coordinator, I trust that they will have their own army.

Fashion Show Production:
Check that Checklist

It’s the end of the week, so it’s time to review our progress. Seriously, checklists are great. Damzels and Playdead are right on schedule!

You Wanted My Band, You’ll Get My Band

Some of you have asked when you can see my band, Satan’s Candy, and we’ve got a Hallowe’en show coming up. Yes, of course great costumes, so you can see us:

Wednesday October 31
El Mocambo – 464 Spadina Avenue
Doors: 9:00pm
Show start: 10:00pm (there are 3 other bands and we start at 10:40)
Tickets: $7 advance at www.ticketweb.com; $10 at door

It looks like we have a not-to-be-missed party cooking for mid-December and it may involve some fashion-y stuff beyond our wicked stage outfits, so check out www.myspace.com/satanscandyrocks for more information.

Want to Experience a Trunk Sale?

If you’ve never been to a trunk sale, you should probably check one out.

Nathalie-Roze Fisher, who owns nathalie-roze & co. (www.nathalie-roze.com), writes the Frugal Fashionista column at Metro (www.metronews.ca/column.aspx?id=5704), and the queen of DIY fashion, is hosting  an Autumn Trunk Sale for Snoflake and Dagg and Stacey. It’s on Thursday October 18 from 6:00pm to 9:30pm at her store, which is at 1015 Queen Street East. Nathalie-Roze is a great supporter of local designers, so you should check out this show. You’ll learn a lot from her.

TFI Members Meeting

The TFI announced the reappearance of monthly TFI Members Meetings and guess what? All the spots filled up in a day! Thanks everyone for wanting to meet. I look forward to chatting with all of you on Monday November 5.

Fashion Show Production: PR

We’re going to meet with our PR rep tomorrow and you know what? I highly recommend that you hire one whenever you have a show. They have the contacts, know who to invite, and can organize interviews.

What to look for in a PR person?

*Has the RIGHT media contacts for your brand
*Good reputation;
*Aggressiveness without being too pushy; and
*Someone who knows the fashion industry.

How do you find a PR person?

If you don’t know any reps, you might want to contact designers who you admire and ask for recommendations. Attend as many fashion shows as you can and make note of who reps the successful shows. Read show press and do research on who is getting the most press and try to find that PR rep. It takes a lot of research to get your PR, so prepare to put in a lot of research and add room in your budget for a PR rep.

The Secret’s Out:
Damzels in this Dress and Playdead Cult are Showing Together at Fashion Week

Yes, this is the show I’m working on! I can finally tell you about it since the date has been finalized. For the first time at L’Oréal Fashion Week, there will be a runway doublebill. It’s the Damzels in this Dress and Playdead Cult Fashion Grindhouse!

It will be on Wednesday October 24 at 5:00pm onsite at Fashion Week. If you have Fashion Week tickets, you should be able to get in. Trust me, you’ll want to get in because it’s going to be the most memorable show of the week (and it’ll be on time because I’ll make sure of it!)

Toronto Alternative Fashion Week Call for Entries

Alternative Fashion Week (FAT) will return in April 2008 and if you’ve got a small label and collection, I recommend that you check into showing there. I thought it was an excellent, smoothly-run event. You can see images from last year’s event at www.getfat.ca and if you want more information about submissions, write to info@alternativefashionweek.com.

Fashion Show Production:
Save the Date Announcements

Fashion week is about 20 days away and I received my first Save the Date announcement. It’s from my favourite media-techniqued designer, Philip Sparks. You can learn a lot from his approach to media (not to mention design!)

What comprises a Save the Date announcement?

 It’s basically a press release that mentions some interesting tidbits about the show and definitely the Who, What, Where, and When of the show. You don’t want to forget designer and PR rep contact information.

L’Oréal Fashion Week Dates Announced

Fashion Week will be from October 22 to October 27 in tents at Nathan Phillips Square.

Go register! If you’re starting a clothing company, you’ve got to see shows and this is the best way to see a whole lot of Canadian fashion at once. You can register as industry or public and can find all details at www.lorealfashionweek.ca. See you there.

Planning a Fashion Show:
The Importance of a Timeline

Okay, I’ll be able to give you details about the show that I’m producing, but for now I’ll tell you about what I’m working on: the all-important timeline.

Why is it so important and what does a producer actually do? Well, I’m creating this timeline with a breakdown of all tasks and who is responsible for them. It is my job as a producer to make sure they get done in plenty of time before the show so the designers can focus on the clothes, interviews, and making contacts on the day of the show. It is my goal to have one task for a designer on show day: show up.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll give you tons of show planning secrets and let you know what super-fantastic show it is that I’m producing. Can’t wait to tell you more!

Event Review: The Clothing Show

You know how much I love the Clothing Show, but I wasn’t really too impressed this time. There was a glut of silk-screened t-shirts and underwear, which is kind of getting boring.

The boutique section wasn’t boring, though. Wow, were there ever some well-made garments, but I saw two problems with presenting high-end clothing at the Clothing Show:

1.    Designers keep telling me that the Clothing Show attracts bargain hunters.
2.    Consumers don’t seem to be in moods appropriate for trying on expensive clothes, especially if there is only one tiny change room in your booth.

How to solve those problems?

▪    Use the Clothing Show as a way to sell your samples and lower-priced goods; use it as advertising for your full-priced products.
▪    If you have a lot of stock, consider purchasing two booths to make one big one. Companies with larger areas seemed to have more traffic and were able to accommodate sales better.
▪    If you don’t have a lot of stock, but want to establish a presence and build a customer base, share a booth with like-minded designers. It will cut costs and expand your area. I was very impressed with the booth shared by Knotty Girls (www.knottygirls.ca), Karamea (www.karamea.ca), and Wonderlust (www.wonderlustclothing.ca). They were also smart and sent out a press release on the Sunday before the show informing clients of the booth location.

Store Opening Review: jacflash

I went to the opening of high-end clothing store jacflash tonight and even though it didn’t feature local clothing designers, it did highlight a local interior designer, Clayton Budd, and I his work made me consider the importance of interior retail design. Just walking into the store made me want to buy something, and I think that if you open a store, that’s a goal you should have. Of course, you have to think beyond an opening night party, but to sustain your business, you have to make people spend money.

For more information on the science of retail, you should read “Why We Buy” by Paco Underhill.

Show Review: Fashion Takes Action

I was lucky enough to attend an “Eco-Couture Gala and Benefit” called Fashion Takes Action, but it left me with more questions than answers or feelings of goodwill. That’s probably because of my background in environmental planning, but if you plan an event such as this, you have to cover your everything and be very clear. So, based on the website (www.fashiontakesaction) and the e-vite I received, here are my questions:

▪    Who benefitted from this benefit? The e-vite said that proceeds went to “Environmental Defence” but was it to the Environmental Defense Fund? If you’re hosting a benefit, you should be clear about the beneficiaries and allow them to create a strong presence at the event.
▪    How much waste was produced before, during, and after the event? There was a page on the site that stated, “Every effort has been made to make this event as green as possible”, but I wasn’t satisfied because there wasn’t public transportation to the event, there was disposable cutlery, and the runway was sod that I assumed would not be re-usable. I could be wrong on that last point and I realize the cutlery was biodegradable, but that’s hardly a minimal impact on the earth.
▪    Where were the green designers? Ten of my favourite Toronto designers participated, but I wouldn’t classify any of them green designers, even if they each did make three outfits for this show with soy, bamboo, hemp, and organic cotton. The show required designers who use these fabrics every day as a brand and lifestyle choice.

This critique is not supposed to be mean. I think this was a great start to creating eco-awareness in Toronto fashion, but it was only a start. We obviously have a long, long way to go.

Logo Designs for a Brand or Band

One reason why I’ve been so busy and have had sucky blog entries lately is because I’ve been working on band stuff and some of it doesn’t fit with the goal of this blog. One thing that does fit is logo design.

My bandmates and I have been toying with a lot of logo ideas and I think we had problems deciding on something because we were all kind of hoping for the BEST. LOGO. EVER! Unfortunately, nothing was perfect. We had some great ideas, but nothing that would change the world.

Then we worked with a graphic designer friend, who mentioned that we could revisit the logo with different phases of our band life, and I realized that you could probably do that with a clothing company too. If you do modify your logo, you must be very aware of brand consistency, though.

If you’re on a budget and don’t have a friend as nice as ours who will design a logo for free, you might want to check out the work of graphic design students at your local university, college, or art school. 

Interview: The Calgary Fashion Scene with Shauna Ireland

You know that I grew up in Calgary and tried to find some Calgary-centric fashion information when I returned last Christmas. While there, I was lucky enough to meet Shauna Ireland, who recently moved to Toronto. I helped her sew some garments for her own clothing line, Revive 45, and she recently returned to the city to show them at Calgary Fashion Week. Since Calgary is Canada’s boomtown, I asked her for the fashion lowdown there.

1. Can you tell me what you were doing in Calgary and what’s happening in the fashion scene there? Are there any designers or events we should watch?
Calgary Spot on Fashion (www.calgaryfashionweek.com) was an incredible success! I produced the show called Phunkshion and my company, Revive 45, was a part of the show. I also included SD&R, who we featured as Calgary born designers making it in the big city of Toronto. After the fashion show we, had a Thomas Lynch fashion party (www.thomaslynchfashions.com, www.thomaslynchevents.com) in conjunction with Underground Republic (SD&R’s event
company) as an example of Calgary and Toronto fusion.

I think that since I have moved to Toronto I have been inspired by so many and I strive to bring that to Calgary. There is definitely a yearning for culture and fashion in Calgary...it is just a matter of blending these new ideas.

With Thomas Lynch Fashions and Thomas Lynch Events, we have had 2 successful events in Calgary with SD&R to date and we plan on to continue them since it’s an example of individual expression through a collective effort. If your readers are friends of Thomas Lynch on facebook, they can check out the video on the event. It’s pretty cool!

When I produced the show for Calgary Spot on Fashion, I was so excited about the designers involved! There are some great lines and labels born in Calgary. Designers to watch are:

▪ Cheryl Janish with a sexy couture line of winter outer wear called Frost Sportiva.
▪ Kaiti Pasqualotto a.k.a dangerkat. (www.dangerkat.com)
▪ Roberta Cheema’s line called Tush. (www.tushltd.com)
▪ ohhh and of course, Shauna Ireland and Lindsay Perraton with Revive 45! (www.revivefashion.com)

2. You told me about Fashion Central. Can you tell me about the concept?

There is another very exciting project in Calgary Called Fashion Central (www.fashioncentral.com). Jodi Opshal is one of the leaders in this project and she stayed with me for a couple of days in Toronto. Together we hit the streets, scouting designers and stores that would be suitable for this incredible project, which focuses on stores offering unique and contemporary quality driven and
innovative fashion. It will become a destination for Calgary fashion enthusiasts and will include recognized designer brands and stores not found in shopping centres as well as local and Canadian fashion designer outlets. Calgary needs this!!!!!! It is exciting to be a part of the birth of such a concept in Calgary.

3. You moved from Calgary to Toronto a few months ago and I convinced you to join the TFI. Can you tell readers why you joined and how it has helped you pursue your fashion endeavours?

The Toronto Fashion incubator is an incredible resource available to the fashion business and design community. I can’t tell you how privileged I feel to have found such a place. It is inspiring to be involved with this organization. I have learned and obtained knowledge not only from the center, but through the people I met there. I am trying to pass along this knowledge primarily with my work in Calgary fashion world.

What’s it Like to Go to the Magic Show in Vegas?

I keep forgetting to post the link to this article in Canadian Business about Doll Factory/Damzels in This Dress owners and designers Rory Lindo and Kelly Freeman. Leah Rumack (a Toronto Fashion editor) joined the small business owners at a buying trip at Magic in Vegas and any fashion business owner should read the result, especially if you’re going to head to a trade show.

I’m Such a Bad Blogger

Okay, okay. I know my blog has sucked lately.

Every time I try to research something, organize an interview, or write anything, I get torn away by my job (gotta make some money to live!), my band (gotta have a creative outlet!), or personal stuff (gotta celebrate my mom’s birthday!).

It looks as though things are calming down for my job next week, and I’ve been lining up interviews, checking out fashion biz stuff, and working on producing a fashion show, so I will be back in full fashion form. Thanks for sticking with me and not throwing virtual rotten tomatoes. 

My Day Job is Taking Over My Life!

Hey guys!

Yes, I've been quiet for a while, but it's not because I don't have anything to tell you. It's because I spend all of my time at my day job. I work in the film industry and the Toronto International Film Festival is coming up, as well as a movie release, so I'm swamped. By swamped, I mean that I work until 10 or 11 every night and have no time to even call or e-mail my family, friends, and blog readers to tell them I'm alive under this pile of virtual paperwork.

So here you go: I'm alive!

And I have tons of updates for you when I have time to get to them. Thanks for understanding that I can't get to everything right now. If you promise to check back soon, I promise to send you some decent info and interviews about starting a fashion business.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget that TFI is moving September 10 – 14th and their computers may be down for a while so look for a new posting from me the week of September 24th.

Fashion & Design Festival – Remaining Thoughts

There was overwhelming positive response from everyone I spoke with about this event, so I’d like to address one issue from a designer’s perspective: when you should sacrifice creative control.

In the case of this event, designers submitted outfits, but had no say in models or styling. It’s also a risk as a designer to align yourself with an event that hasn’t been established, but sometimes you have to sacrifice your vision for brand recognition and exposure.

Check out Izzy Camilleri’s quotes in this Toronto Star article (www.thestar.com/article/248839) and Farley Chatto’s pre-show thoughts in eye (www.eyeweekly.com/eye/issue/issue_08.23.07/style/meetstyle.php). 

Sometimes, though, you’ve got to take a breath, take a risk, and go with your gut. In this case, the risk paid off for everyone involved.

If you’re approached to participate in an event that you are unfamiliar with, make sure to do background checks on the organizers and participants. If their experience seems sketchy, you might want to seriously consider your participation. If you participate in a bad event, it could tarnish your brand. On the other hand, if you participate in a good event, it can add credibility to your brand.

Oh, and if you’re planning an event, I overheard this tidbit in the VIP tent: “Every event should serve champagne to the media! I’m much happier!”

Fashion & Design Festival – Day Three
(Sorry, I missed day two because I was working late!)

Though the retail component made me think that the Fashion and Design Festival would be a glorified mall show, after this event I bet there are many more people who can name at least five Canadian designers.

Unfortunately, I missed the TFI’s draping demonstration with Katya Revenko (www.desperatelydifferent.com), Engelbert Gayagoy (www.1point6-1-8.com), and Danielle Meder, but I saw the result and Danielle posted an excellent recap at finalfashion.ca/?p=620. Susan Langdon (Executive Director of the TFI) asked me why I didn’t volunteer for draping demonstration and this recap illustrates why. Katya, Engelbert, and Danielle would have blown me out of the water! I’m not an evening wear designer nor am I particularly progressive in my designs. I like to modify paper patterns and see what I get. I’m just in awe of what these three created. Way to go!

As I said in Thursday’s post, the Fashion & Design Festival got me. What a brilliant way to combine accessible retail fashion with exposure to local designers. I loved it! I’m so excited thinking about the possibility that someone’s first exposure to a real live fashion show could have been any one of these TFI members who showed in the middle of Dundas Square tonight:

▪    D’Mila (www.dlgparners.com)
▪    Hortense Salvatore (www.hortensesalvatore.com)
▪    ICANDY Couture (www.icandycouture.com)
▪    Jason Meyers (www.jasonmeyers.net)
▪    OZEN
▪    Quelques Filles (www.quelquesfilles.com)
▪    Revolve (www.revolveyourworld.com)

This event was a great way to showcase and democratize Canadian fashion by illustrating what is Canadian fashion. That is, a mix of couturiers, streetwear designers and retail outlets.

Noel’s Networking Tips

To celebrate Friday’s fashion and entertainment networking session at Waterfall Lounge, event coordinator and Director of DNA Marketing and Operations, Noel, offered the following networking tips:

1. Attend as many fashion related functions as possible, even if it seems pointless. You never know who you may meet.

2. When networking, learn to be assertive without being too pushy. You should have a good balance in your approach.

3. Learn to sell yourself/ideas and what you do. Don't be afraid to talk about what you do. Remember that you are your own best advertisement.

4. Always, Always, Always have your business cards available and ready.

5. Keep your eye out for potential investors to finance your idea.

6. Have samples of your work that you could show people (i.e website, portfolio book etc.).

7. Try to build good relations with photographers, make-up artists, wardrobe stylists and model agencies.

Get out there and practice these networking skills. I hope to see you at the next event.

Fashion & Design Festival – Day One

I was half excited and half apprehensive about the Toronto Fashion & Design Festival (www.sensationmode.com), but tonight’s opening shows got me. Right through my fashion heart.

To begin with, every person working the event knew what they were doing and answered every single question wisely and with a smile. Not only that, but I saw employees dancing, having fun, and getting jobs done with efficiency and enthusiasm. This translated to the crowd and most definitely the models.

My favourite show was “Highlight Toronto”, which included twenty Toronto designers. I loved the egalitarian nature of this fashion event. It was in an under-utilized, but completely utilitarian public square in downtown Toronto, which allowed the public to wander past and check out fashion shows.

What got me most was a little girl (about 8 years old) sitting on top of her father’s shoulders, mesmerised at the models, the crowd, the clothes. I knew it was the first time she ever saw a fashion show and it featured Canadian designers. I also knew that I’d be seeing her at fashion shows ten years from now. She was sold on the Fashion & Design Festival and so was I.

Fashion Goes Digital

I wonder if I should just pay Nathalie Atkinson to write my blog because she’s giving me such great information.

Remember when I wrote about fashion design in Second Life (Wednesday June 6 and Sunday May 27)? Well, Nathalie pointed me to an article about it in the International Herald Tribune (www.iht.com/articles/2007/08/06/style/favatar.php). There’s even a Canadian connection: Nyla is a Vancouver designer who designs in real and virtual life. Check out her site at www.houseofnyla.com. The amount of work that goes into virtual design blows my mind, but I can see how it would work very well, especially if you use computer tools to create your designs, as I do. I’m not great at freehand illustration, but I love drawing on my computer.

Hmmm…or should fashion publications start paying me for stories? I seriously wouldn’t mind…

Fashion Gets Illustrated

National Post reporter Nathalie Atkinson outdid herself when providing me with information about fashion representation at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. You’ve got to check out some of this work:

▪    Canadian cartoonist Seth provided the New Yorker with a grand cover for its Spring style issue last season (www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/01/08/slideshow_070108?slide=9#showHeader)
▪    Did any of you catch Nathalie’s illustrated recap of L’Oréal Fashion Week a few seasons ago (sorry, I can’t find it online)? If so, you saw Kagan McLeod’s sketches. If not, check out his work at www.kaganmcleod.com. Not only does he do fashion illustration, he is responsible for a kickin’ kung fu graphic novel.
▪    I admired Michael Cho’s work without realizing he is based in Toronto. You can find his work at http://chodrawings.blogspot.com/ and I’m sure you’ll find some inspiration.
▪    Maurice Vellekoop is going to get another mention because he’s my favourite illustrator and he’s Canadian. I first saw his work in Wallpaper magazine and fell in love. Nathalie informs me that his regular clients include Vanity Fair, CosmoGirl, and New York. I love his illustrations so much that I gave my boss a copy of Maurice’s book, “A Nut at the Opera” (www.drawnandquarterly.com/shopCatalogLong.php?item=a4433f4f3bfba5) for Christmas last year.

If you like some of these works, you can find prints at The Beguiling (www.beguiling.com/artstore1a.asp). I didn’t realize how much fashion illustration overlapped with comics. Who said comics were geeky?

Comic Arts and Fashion Illustration

I went to visit a Calgary friend with a booth at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (www.torontocomics.com) and who knew I’d find so much fashion stuff there?

First, I have to clarify that a Comic Arts Festival is different than a Comic Convention. No Spock ears at the arts fest. With all the independent artists at booths selling their art, it reminded me of the Clothing Show. I discovered a lot of interesting promotional ideas there.

Second, I ran into Nathalie Atkinson, National Post fashion journalist, and discovered that she leads a secret comic life (I hope she doesn’t mind that I expose it here!). Her other half owns a store called The Beguiling (www.beguiling.com), which was a festival sponsor, so Nathalie knew everything! She even filled me in on all the fashion-related artists at the festival. I’m going to do some more research, but you might be interested in checking out Maurice Vellekoop for his fashion illustrations and Paul Pope for his work with Diesel.

Third, I bumped into Danielle Meder, who is one of my favourite local fashion illustrators, so we walked around for a bit and talked fashion, illustration, and comics.

Finally, I left with a lot of interesting ideas about fashion illustration and trade shows. From this experience, I strongly recommend that you attend shows and festivals from different disciplines to get sales, marketing, and PR ideas for your company.

Fashion Industry Social

Last week I met Noel Dexter, who told me about his new fashion and entertainment industry networking event, so I stopped by today. I got there early, but it gave me a chance to chat with Noel about his goals for social media. He’s going to send me information, so hopefully I’ll be able to pass it on to you next week.

In the meantime, keep your Friday evenings free to go and meet your fashion industry colleagues after work. We’ll all be at Waterfall Lounge, which is 326 Adelaide Street West (east of Peter). Hope to see you there.

Not a Store Opening

Ha ha. I thought I had a store opening to report to you, but oops…it’s next week.

Guess I’ll just say to you that if you’re thinking of starting a company, it’s a smart idea to attend as many industry-events as possible. You’ll learn a lot with open eyes and ears no matter where you go.

I Keep Remembering Event Planning Tips For You!

People don’t read! It’s true. Whatever information you send about your company or event, create it with the assumption that people don’t read. Keep it simple.

Oh, and Another Thing…

I forgot to tell you something else that I learned about event planning: people sort of expect you to start late.

Can you believe that? After all my late event gripes, my last event started late. It was on purpose, I swear!

Even though we told guests that doors were at 10:00 with the show at 11, half didn’t show up until 11:15. We decided to start late so people wouldn’t miss the event. At least we were ready to go on time and didn’t hear complaints about starting late. To be fair, I’ll be more patient when I’m at late events in the future, but only for 15 minutes. I think I’m allowed to gripe after a delay of 15 minutes.

Vote for Your Favourite Up & Coming Designer

There’s a fantastic new contest for new designers! Go to www.nowtoronto.com/designer/ to check it out and vote for your favourite up and coming designer. You can choose from:

* Adrienne Butikofer (www.butikofer.com)
* Jennifer Fukushima (www.paperpeopleclothing.com)
* Fanny Goldsmith
* Kalam Lee (www.malakbykalamlee.com)
* Rowena Jozic & Filip Kardzic (www.babuetmoi.com)
* Danielle Supa

The competition is presented by The Bay, NOW Magazine, and the Toronto Fashion & Design Festival. I’ve been hearing about the Fashion & Design Festival for the last little while and this gave me an excuse to check out the site (www.sensationmode.com). Now I’m super-excited for August 23 to 25 for three days of fashion and music outside at Dundas Square. I can’t wait for it.

Elmer Olsen Model Showcase

Tonight I went to the Guvernment for a showcase of Elmer Olsen’s models and thought it was a great way for industry decision-makers to get familiar with the roster. The strange thing was that I didn’t run into any designers I knew, so I wondered if there were any there. What a wasted opportunity; they should have invited as many designers as possible. With thirty-some models, it was a wonderful opportunity to see who could sell your clothes and determine what makes a good model.

And here’s a production tip that I learned from the show: KEEP IT SIMPLE! This one started with live cameras out in the parking lot, waiting for models to arrive. There were some glitches that marred the impact of the arrival, so really, try to stay away from high-tech or high concept ideas that are difficult to execute. When starting off, keep costs down and chances of success high.

And the TFI is Moving to…

…Exhibition Place! At 285 Manitoba Drive, the TFI’s new home will be easy to find and it will be in a beautifully restored historic building. Go to the TFI news (www.fashionincubator.com/happenings/newsletter/tfi-news-july-2007.shtml) for more information.

The move will be in the last week of August, but you can get a sneak peek at the building during the C.N.E., which starts August 17. The TFI won’t be in there yet (there will be an environmental display), but the building will be open to the public during the Ex.

I can’t wait to see the TFI after the move. After I see it for the first time, I’ll tell you all about it.


Please accept my apologies. I’ve been meaning to post for two weeks, but I’ve been so busy that I wasn’t able to finish them until today.

What’s keeping me so busy? My day job is getting super-busy, my band had its debut, and I’ve been working on a fashion show proposal with some designers. It’s only going to get busier, but that means I’ll have more to write about. I promise to be more vigilant about submitting my posts weekly.

Thanks so much for understanding and for reading.

Why I Love Sparkles

So…I went to the World Baton Twirling Championships today. Bet you never thought I was a baton twirler in my youth!

While I was there, I realized why I’m so crazy about sparkly clothes; it all started with my baton costumes. I can’t tell you how much fun it was to see all the different fabrics and designs. Inspiration can be found anywhere.

I haven’t seen a baton competition for about 15 years, so a bunch of memories came back and you know what? I realized that my first fashion design came when I worked with my friend’s mom on new costumes. It was so exciting to tell her what I wanted, going out to choose fabrics and trim with my mom, and then seeing the completed costume. Now that I think about it, that was the first time I got excited about design and knew that I could do it. Wow! I’m so glad I went to the competition.

Now I’m going to whip out my Bedazzler and do something to a t-shirt…


I’m so excited! My band’s first show got a review in Toronto’s NOW Weekly (www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2007-08-02/goods_fashionnotes.php) and Toronto Street Fashion (www.torontostreetfashion.com/street/2007/07/satans-candy-debutante-ball.html).

How cool is that and how does it apply to you?

From this experience, I’ll give you a piece of advice: always treat everyone nicely and equally. You never know if that person you’re talking to can affect your career. For instance, that person you met while directing people at a fashion show could turn out to be a writer for NOW magazine some day.

Even though fashion has a reputation for being a mean industry, don’t forget to always be nice!

Got Some New Business Cards!

My Danielle-designed business cards arrived today and I love them! I was impressed with how quickly she was able to complete a wonderful illustration and order the cards. I completely recommend her for any of your fashion illustration needs.

Here’s the link to my order experience: http://finalfashion.ca/?p=596.

New Era Store Opening

Prior to receiving a few press releases about the company, I didn’t know anything about New Era. But the press releases were well written, personalized, and timed well (2 weeks before the event, 1 week before the event, and a reminder that day), that I had to check out the store opening. I discovered that New Era is a baseball hat company. Why am I telling you about it? Is it really fashion?

I thought they did an amazing job with their store opening and especially their branding. Everything in the gift bag fit their colour scheme and had their logos. There was nothing in the bag that distracted from their brand message. Sure, it was a simple bag, but everything made sense. What was in it? It’s time for Gift Bag Hit or Miss:

  • Media kit (complete with press release, mousepad, press information CD, and look book with all the information I’d ever need about New Era);
  • Mini baseball hat;
  • Journal with measuring tape (because their slogan is “New Era Fits”);
  • After party ticket; and
  • Pen.

Fashion Show Proposal:
Organizing Deadlines

Yes, I might produce another fashion show and I’m pretty excited because I loved my last experience. I’ve been working on a fashion show proposal and today was deadline day. To ensure everything was on time, I set up false deadlines for the designers and asked them to complete their parts two days ago.

Needless to say, they were a bit late with their deadlines, so I had to work like crazy yesterday to get everything done, but if I hadn’t set the false deadline, I wouldn’t have slept last night. So there you go: false deadlines can be quite effective.

Oh, and I know you’re dying to find out who I’m working with, but I’ve got to wait until proposal acceptance to tell. I’m sorry

SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2007

Yes, it was another Toronto Fashion Bloggers Brunch, but it was more of a Toronto Fashion Bloggers Afternoon Hangover since many attendees were at my show last night.

As usual, it was a great day, but I admit that I was not up to my intellectual best; I got everyone talking about nail salons since I had zebra-striped ones. I want to thank these people for elevating the conversation level:

Thanks for another great brunch, everyone. Hope to see you and other new faces again at the next one.

My Band’s First Show:
Some Event Planning Tips

For those of you dying to know how Satan’s Candy’s first show went, it was fantastic! It couldn’t have gone any better. Well, it could have been a bit cooler, but having a hundred people in a hot, sweaty basement was so rock ‘n roll. I hope that our next venue will be bigger so I can invite all of you out and maybe meet some readers, so I promise to let you know about our next show.

But why am I even writing about this on a blog about owning a fashion business?

I’m learning that starting a band is very much like starting a clothing company. I’m not joking! There are so many similarities and event planning is important for both.

I learned from this event that you should invite double the amount of guests that can fit in your venue because only half tend to show up. Getting the right number of people is always tricky. You don’t want an empty room, but neither do you want a room so packed that you have grumpy guests. In this case, though, we decided that we wanted to pack the place, no matter how grumpy people got. You know what? Nobody was grumpy! In this case, it was best to start small and grow.

MONDAY, JULY 23, 2007
Planning a Photo Shoot

Since I never had a chance to plan a photo shoot for my clothing company, I thought I’d tell you about planning one for my band and try to apply that to planning a fashion shoot.

You’ll want to find an excellent photographer. Don’t just go with someone because he or she is a friend. You want your photographer to fit with your company’s vision. If you can’t afford a photographer, consider students or recent graduates since they’re always looking to build their portfolios.

Next, you’ll want to find professional models who can wear your clothes well. Start by sending e-mails to modeling agencies describing your company and the type of model you require. Include a price quote request. I’d try three to five agencies for comparison.

Obviously, you want a hair and makeup team. Sure, if you are on a budget and have reliable friends, call in your favours. Just ensure that they can do the job.

When organizing my band’s shoot for tonight, I found scheduling to be the hardest part. I had to find an evening that worked for three band members, the photographer, makeup artist, and hair stylist. The date changed about three times, and there were a lot of e-mails and phone calls. And that was just for six people! Make sure you start planning for the shoot at least a month in advance of when you require the photos.

I have to say that the shoot was one of the funnest things ever! I’m sure you’ll have the same feeling when you see your clothes photographed on the perfect model with perfect hair and makeup. Good luck!

FRIDAY, JULY 20, 2007
Blogging Holiday

Hey there. I'm sorry to tell you that I don't have much to report this week. There haven't been many events that I can dissect and a lot of people I want to interview are on holiday, so I thought I'd take a little blog-holiday myself. I can't wait to get more news for you, though. I'm working on it!

FRIDAY, JULY 13, 2007
Slow Week?

Yes, it was kind of a slow week for my fashion adventures and initiatives. Apart from increased work at my day job, I’ve been preoccupied with preparing for my band’s first show. It’s coming up, so I’ve been working on my dress this week. Our guest list is already full, but I promise to invite you to our future shows!

I also promise to write about the ups and downs of creating merchandise because let’s face it, that’s a fashion business. And we’re going to have the best merch!

I’ve also been in meetings to produce some fashion shows and parties, but I can’t talk about it until they’re finalized.

So, according to blog posts, it was a slow week, but in actuality it’s been very busy. Hopefully I’ll be able to give you more info in the next few weeks.

TUESDAY, JULY 10, 2007

Guess what? Danielle drew an illustration and ordered Moo cards for me and she’s offering her services to small businesses in the spirit of micro-preneurship. I love it!

Her offer is here: http://finalfashion.ca/?p=594.

And our experience is posted here: http://finalfashion.ca/?p=596.

Even though buying one of Danielle’s illustrations does not make Moo cards reasonably-priced, they are innovative, easy, and well, fabulous. I can’t wait for my cards!

But I want to get back to micro-preneurship. It’s based around small businesses helping other small businesses, and I think it’s fantastic. I don’t have time to look into it right now, but it’s on my research to-do list so I can report back to you. It might be a good way for you to enter into the fashion business, though. Take a small, manageable idea, build some capital, and watch it grow. That way you can keep your day job and reasonably manage your fashion business.

MONDAY, JULY 09, 2007
Business Cards!

Danielle over at Final Fashion (www.finalfashion.ca) told me about Moo cards (www.moo.com) and we think they’re a reasonably-priced, innovative, and easy business card idea for fashion designers.

Moo cards access photos you post on flickr and randomly print them on one side and your contact information on the other. Danielle has some with her illustrations, and they look great. I think I’ll get some, since I only have outdated BoastToastie cards.

FRIDAY, JULY 06, 2007
Save the Date: TFI Resident and Alumni Sale

I don’t usually post about sales; I usually write about what you can learn from a sale, but this one is going to be packed with TFI residents and alumni, so I think you should go!

All the designers will be there, so it will be a rare chance to meet them and get personal service and style advice. You can even talk to them about their TFI experiences if you’re not a member and thinking of joining.

Here are the details:

What: Designer summer sample sale.

Who: Wonderlust, House of Spy, Juma Movement –all TFI alumni and residents! There may also be a Men’s line from Vancouver, Uppercut.

When: Saturday July 21, 2007. 12:00-6:00pm

Where:  The Chocolate Factory Lofts, 967 Queen Street West (at Shaw). It will be in the future location of Fawn, and new designer boutique opening mid-August. 

What to expect:  Local designer clothes exclusive to this shopping event, including fabulous one of a kind pieces, summer samples sold at discounted prices, and summer dresses and separates perfect for parties, weddings, and other special events. It’s a wonderful chance to get some unique designer clothes and support the Canadian fashion scene. It will also be one of the last chances to check out Wonderlust before the designer, Hannah Melville, moves to Vancouver.

Refreshments will be served.

See you there!

How to Start in the Fashion Business

My inbox has been full this week with quite a few questions, and one was from a recent fashion school grad asking about how to break into the business. I’m not going to lie; it’s hard.

I think the best thing you can do is volunteer for a company or organization that you respect and is where you would like to work. You might start with a small role, but it’s a great way to show your work ethic and establish connections. If you do a good job, your supervisor will probably act as a reference and maybe write a recommendation letter. You can also use volunteer experiences on your resume. Do some Googling to see what events and businesses are in your area and give them a call to offer your services. You can definitely volunteer for a few hours a week while working at your non-dream job. It will help you get to that dream job.

TUESDAY, JULY 03, 2007
Where to Find Sewing Contractors

Today I found an e-mail request for advice on sewing contractors and it’s been the third or fourth one I received in the last little while, so I guess it’s time to post about the TFI’s amazing resource center again. Just click on “resources” on the TFI website for more information. If you’re looking for sewing contractors, check it out.

This is how I found my contractors. I bought the list online, called contractors in my area to see what fabrics they had experience with, production minimums, rates, and locations. Seriously, my time is so precious that I made some decisions based on location. Many contractors are in the suburbs, which can take up two or three hours of Toronto public transit time, which you can use doing so many other business related ones. So my best advice is to do your research, ask for references, and look at samples produced by contractors before you decide on one. At the very least, check out three possible contractors.

MONDAY, JULY 02, 2007

Oh yeah…I do love my bedazzler! And I love my cute cigarette pants. And I am about to love my new skirt when I get it finished. I love long weekends!

FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2007
Long Weekend Plans

After finishing the cowboy shirts, I plan to make myself a pair of cigarette pants, a skirt, and learn how to use my Bedazzler. I’m quite sure that I will get addicted to rhinestones and you will never be able to miss me in a crowd.

Just Sewing

I’ve really been enjoying sewing shirts for my friend; I have to admit that re-working vintage shirts and adding stuff to them is a lot easier than designing and sewing them from scratch. I’ve got it easy since she’s doing all the designing and I sit back and sew. I love my sewing machine again!

MONDAY, JUNE 25, 2007
Internship Advice

A reader asked me for summer internship advice, so I gave her some. She says that it helped her find some leads, so I thought I’d share it with you:

* Most students find internships a month or two before the school semester ends, so start your search early.

* Go to schools that offer fashion courses and check out their job boards. In Toronto, some of these schools are Ryerson, George Brown, the International Academy of Design, Humber and Seneca.

* There isn't really a giant fashion job listing place, so research what companies you would like to work for, send a resume, and offer your summer intern services.

* Consider working for a small, independent designer because a lot of local designers would love extra help and value interns more than chains.

SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2007
Toronto Fashion Bloggers Brunch

Oh, it was another wonderful brunch where us fashion-bloggy types could connect and chat with each other. Danielle at finalfashion.ca posted a list of attendees and their links, so hop on over there to see who’s busy blogging in Toronto.

FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 2007
Interview: Play Dead Cult

I wanted you to meet Stu and Bean from Play Dead Cult because their Clothing Show booth always blow me away and I figured we could learn something from them. I had no idea how much they could teach! You could skip design and business school if you sit down and talk to them for an hour, so sit back and read today’s lesson.

We started talking about how they prepare for the Clothing Show. Planning begins with a meeting by sketching out booth plans that support the atmosphere they want to create. Bean and Stu warn that for your first shows, you shouldn’t go expecting more than to break even; at your entry stage, you should focus on creating a presence and making friends with everybody. You should be welcoming and never be a snob.

They provided a great example of a welcoming sales strategy from their experience on the Vans Warped Tour. When the tour started, they didn’t sell much at all, but they made friends with the road crew and other vendors. Eventually all of them started to wear Play Dead, and the musicians sought out the designers. Fans saw the artist wearing Play Dead and then ended up buying it themselves. The lessons here are: create a community and really consider who should receive samples. Is it better to give them to the tour crew who are appreciative and happy to talk about your designs or is it better to give them to a celeb that might wear them once and forget you? It’s an innovative strategy when most designers are fixated on getting their clothes on celebrities.

Wait a second…The Warped Tour? Did you read that right? What was a clothing company doing at a music festival? The Play Dead creators said that it’s important to be diverse as possible when selling your clothes. Think of different outlets to reach new clients. For instance, Play Dead is sold at comic conventions and art shows, not just clothing shows. Go to malls and stores that might not be your target market because the research will help you think of new marketing and design ideas. Always think about different venues where you can sell.

Stu and Bean also emphasized the importance of being able to sell and rep yourself; you are your line’s best salesperson. Creating a culture (or cult, as the case may be!) of fans/clients takes a lot of work and you have to know your brand and be willing to sell it.

Play Dead is at the point where they’re a globally recognized brand, but they need the extra push that requires international reps and distributors. Many Canadian designers get to this point and realize it’s a challenge because it’s hard to monitor and keep in contact. If you find your business at this stage, make sure you do a lot of research before choosing international representation.

Another issue that Bean and Stu discovered with expansion is the expense that comes with registering designs and your brand. For an independent designer, it’s way too expensive to register your designs in every country, so you run the risk of design theft.

To assist in sustaining your company, Stu and Bean stress the importance of maintaining good credit and making smart spending decisions. Don’t go overboard with expensive business cards or promotional materials until you are ready. They even recommend that you own something (such as your studio space) because good credit and collateral will help you get a loan, which you will require eventually since any money that comes in will not go to you for a very long time.

Though Stu laughed when he mentioned that if you want to get into business to make money, you should go into real estate rather than clothing design, I know he wasn’t joking. It’s clear that he and Bean love their company and it’s something they need to do. That’s the most important lesson of all: when starting a fashion company, you have got to love it.

PR You Can’t Buy: Fairyesque Outfit on Ugly Betty

I can’t believe I forgot to post this! On May 17, the Canadian designers behind Fairyesque (www.fairyesque.com) were surprised to see one of their outfits on “Ugly Betty”. Naturally I had to ask them how this happened since many of you want to get your clothes on television shows.

Guess what? They didn’t have a clue how it happened! Nobody contacted them for clothes and they didn’t send any to the show, so they figure that one of the show’s stylists found the outfit at an American boutique that carries the line.

Isn’t it nice to know that stylists still choose outfits simply because they like them for the character rather than placing outfits because they were sent as a PR initiative?

TUESDAY, JUNE 19, 2007
Take a Look Around a Fancy Store

I can’t remember if I told you about this before, but I always like to look around stores such as Holt Renfrew just to check out designs and construction quality of established brands. I’m always surprised.

Sometimes I’m surprised in a good way, such as when a Balenciaga jacket takes my breath away.

Sometimes I’m surprised in a bad way, such as when a L.A.M.B. shirt’s construction disappoints. The good thing about something like that, though, is that it makes me think, “I can do that, but better!” Then I run home and sew something.

The moral of the story is that every now and then, you should check out stores you don’t normally visit. You’ll learn a lot about your target market, marketing, retail planning, shopping habits, and trends.

MONDAY, JUNE 18, 2007
Seminar Review: P&G Beauty: The Business of Beauty
Cost-Effective Marketing Strategies

Since I was busy sewing shirts last week, I couldn’t attend the P&G Beauty seminar about cost-effective marketing strategies. Luckily for you, Danielle at the TFI was kind enough to send me a summary so I can let you know what we missed.

It was a panel discussion with Nathalie Atkinson (The National Post’s resident Style and Shopping Columnist), Andrew Zimbel (Founder of The Amazing Food Service Inc. catering company), and Jamil Juma (Creative Director for JUMA) and this is what they talked about:

*Determine your marketing budget.
*Do your research.
*Discover cost-effective marketing solutions such as websites, blogs, e-newsletters, postcards, inexpensive printers, meeting editors and buyers over a meal or coffee, partnering, group fashion shows, fashion week, and trunk shows.
*Other tips: first impressions count, advertising isn’t worth a huge investment at the start of your business venture, contact your local newspaper with human interest stories about you and your business, and finally: YOU ARE YOUR BEST SELLER!

Too bad I missed this seminar; it sounded great. Hopefully I’ll see you at the next one. The final P&G Beauty seminar is on Thursday, June 28th and it’s about the benefits of PR and how to get press. I heard that onsite seating is sold out but you can still attend via webcast.

SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 2007
Assembly Lines Are Smart

The shirts are coming along really well since Shauna and I developed the best assembly line system. I can’t tell you how great it is to work with someone when you’ve got great communication. I like sewing with someone around because it can be nice to share your moments of creative triumphs or frustrations.

Shopping for Supplies Takes a Lot of Time

My friend Shauna asked me to do some sewing for her line of reworked vintage western shirts, Revive 45 (www.revivefashion.com), so I was looking forward to my first sewing contract.

We started some shirts a few days ago, but today we went shopping for more supplies and agreed that I must let you know that no matter how much time you allocate to errands such, they always take longer than anticipated, especially when you get distracted by sparkly beads.

I’d tell you more, but I’ve got to get sewing.

FRIDAY, JUNE 15, 2007
Local 416: Another Fashion-Corporation Collaboration

When I walked into the Edward Day Gallery to see an installation of Juma’s latest designs (www.juma.ca) I was so impressed with what I saw.

I arrived early for a fashion industry and media preview, which I thought was an excellent idea. It gave us a chance to inspect the clothes up close before the party. I recommend this to anyone doing a trunk show or installation since it was a wonderful opportunity to talk to the designers, event organizers, and colleagues.

Jamil and Alia Juma told me the event was a collaboration with Volvo and I got excited because I’m intrigued about the possibilities of local designer partnerships with corporations.

It turns out that the event, called Local 416, is a space and series of events featuring a range of Toronto DJs, fashion designers, and visual artists. There were four components to the series and JUMA’s week also featured artist Matt Durant and DJ O.S.U.M. It happens until July 1 at the Edward Day gallery at 952 Queen Street West. More information can be found at www.volvocanada.com.

Wait a minute! Volvo? What do they have to do with art? Is this something we should be concerned about or should we embrace it?

I think this is a great thing because it offered Toronto artists to showcase their work, build a new customer base, reward loyal fans, and network, all without having to pay the costs of organizing such an event. Jamil and Alia had a wonderful experience working with Volvo and all the artists fit well together and did not compromise their visions. I’m looking forward to seeing more fashion-corporation partnerships.

TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2007
TFI: A New Chapter

Oh, the rumours! Lots of you are asking me what’s happening with the TFI, so let me tell you.

Just to clarify: the TFI is NOT closing!

The TFI is moving!

Their 7-year lease term concludes on August 31, 2007, so it’s time for a new home. They’ve been looking for the perfect new location, and when that’s all decided, I’ll certainly let you know. In the meantime, the Outreach program will carry on as usual. Executive Director Susan Langdon does not foresee any service disruption except for maybe the days immediately before and after the move, so don’t fret; everything will happen as it normally does.

It’s kind of fitting that the TFI starts its third decade in a new place (I hope it’s near me in Toronto’s East End, because there’s tons of great design stuff happening out here!). I think it’s an exciting development and I can’t wait to tell you more. Trust me, I will. So don’t fret; we’re all here for you, so get working on that fashion business plan!

MONDAY, JUNE 11, 2007
Fashion Writing!

Yay! I got a job writing for a designer’s website! Just sending my initial scribblings to her now; hope she likes them. If so, I’ll let you know when they’re posted.

SUNDAY, JUNE 10, 2007
Post-Show Voice

If there’s any advice I can give you about planning a fashion show, it is WATCH YOUR VOICE! As anyone who ever works with me knows, I tend to project (okay, yell) a lot.

I swear, I yell in a loving way; I just want to make sure everyone hears me and knows what’s happening. I don’t yell in a mad way, at least I think I don’t.

Anyway, I forgot to tell you that I usually lose my voice after some sort of event. It mostly happened after an entire week of yelling, but it seems to have run away from me today. I think it’s a combination of rockin’ and rollin’ plus organizing the show, and it could happen to you. Always make sure you have throat lozenges or tea with you if you think you’ll be doing a lot of – ahem – projecting.

Fashion Show Prep: It’s the Day!

Yay! The show was great! It was for Doll Factory by Damzels (www.dollfactorystudios.com) and I’m sorry I couldn’t invite you, but we knew it was going to be packed. Maybe next time.

Anyway, I’m sure you’re dying to hear how it went, and all I have to say is thank you to Susan Langdon for teaching me the wonders of having a great fashion show timeline! Sure you have to be a bit flexible, but it really helps. We were so on time that we were able to have two run-throughs and a photo shoot before the show! Rock on! I’m so pleased! My goals were to be on time, make life easier for the designers, and make sure everyone had a good time, and I achieved all three! Yay!

FRIDAY, JUNE 08, 2007
Fashion Show Prep: Step 5

Today is the day before the show and the usual state is PANIC, no matter how prepared you are. I’m feeling pretty good about the show, but I am going to meet the designers after work to discuss last-minute logistics, and I’m quite sure there will be many last-minute changes or new issues that come up.

I can’t wait to tell you how it all goes.

Fashion Show Prep: Step 4

I forgot to tell you that you should always count on last-minute volunteer cancellations. Always over-book your help because I can guarantee that not everybody will show up.

More Second Life Stuff

I’m really thinking that designers should start paying attention to Second Life. Why am I talking about this again? Well, the North by Northeast Music Festival started again this week and I received an announcement about a Second Life Simulcast Showcase. For more information, check out http://nxnevr.com.

Perhaps the fashion industry can learn from this experiment. Maybe virtual fashion shows? How about jobs styling band avatars? This whole Second Life thing is perplexing. What do you think?

MONDAY, JUNE 04, 2007
Fashion Show Prep: Step 3

Thanks to all my hours of volunteering at fashion shows, I think I know what I’m doing, and I’ve got to tell you about the best thing you can ever do: create a timeline. I learned this trick from Susan Langdon, the Executive Director of the TFI, and it’s a useful tool to ensure your shows run on time.

All you have to do is create a grid with When key events are expected to occur, Who will execute said events, What the event is or what is necessary to get it done, and Where the event and key people will be.

The trick is sticking to your schedule to start your show on time.

FRIDAY, JUNE 01, 2007
Mark Your Calendar:
L’Oreal Fashion Week Spring/Summer ‘08

The dates have been announced! L’Oreal Fashion Week Spring/Summer ’08 will take place October 15 to 21. If you’re a designer and think you’re ready to show, check out www.lorealfashionweek.ca for submission details. The deadline is Friday August 3.

If you’re thinking of submitting, may I give you some advice? Talk to two or three designers who have shown at L’Oreal Fashion Week. Ask them about their experiences: how much time and money it took to prepare; what they learned; what qualifications are necessary to participate. In my experience, most designers are happy to give advice to other new designers.

THURSDAY, MAY 31, 2007
Fashion Show Prep:
Step 2

I followed up with the designers today to prep for the fashion show on June 9. Thanks to my lists and questions, we’ve got everything sorted. Now I’ve got to refine the duty lists and allocate volunteers to the right job. Normally I’d have allocated volunteers a long time ago, but this show is a small day show (which means no lighting issues, 5 models, 3 outfits, and 1 hair/makeup look), so it will be relatively easy to sort out volunteers.

Next step? Completing a timeline for the day.

P&G Beauty: The Business of Beauty
Cost Effective Marketing Strategies

On Wednesday June 13, the TFI is hosting the fifth P&G Beauty Business of Beauty Seminar. This time it’s about cost-effective marketing strategies, and there will be some great speakers:

* Natalie Atkinson, the National Post’s resident style& shopping columnist
* Jamil Juma, creative director, JUMA
* Andrew Zimbel, president, Amazing Food Service

I’m always thinking about innovative and cheap marketing options and these people know their stuff, so I’m really looking forward to it. There is always space on the online seminar, which is great. Even if you don’t live in Toronto, you can get the benefits of being a TFI member. And for those of you who live in Toronto, there might even be a seat left. Call the TFI for details or check www.fashionincubator.com/happenings/events/marketing-strat.shtml.

MONDAY, MAY 28, 2007
Fashion Show Prep:
Step 1

What have I been doing to prepare for the fashion show? Thanks for asking. I’ll tell you some secrets, but I’m not going to tell you all of them, because, well, if I told you everything, then why would you hire me? This is why:

The first thing I do is discuss the venue and general show requirements with the designers to get a feel for what they want. Then I make a list of teams, with duties, questions, and necessary supplies. This serves as a discussion checklist for the next meeting. That one’s on Thursday, which is when I’ll tell you what happens next.

SUNDAY, MAY 27, 2007
Toronto Fashion Blogger Brunch

The TFBB has become so popular, that even our waiters are fashion fans! Seriously, our waiter at Brassaii today knew so much about fashion that he’d beat me in a fashion trivia game. Obviously, Brassaii is the perfect home for our brunches.

A great group of people showed up, including bloggers, journalists, marketers, PR people, and fashion fans. With 20 people at the table, I couldn’t possibly recap all the conversation, but I will say that the one that kind of blew my mind was with Kate, who writes a marketing blog (www.mynameiskate.ca). She’s done a lot of research about who is making money on Second Life, which is a “3D online digital world imagined, created, and owned by its residents” (www.secondlife.com).

You know what? It turns out that fashion designers are making the most profit in Second Life! Only in the virtual world, I guess…

Anyway, I haven’t looked into Second Life at all because I’m busy enough in my first life to have a second one, but I was fascinated with this conversation. It turns out that people are spending real money on clothes for their avatars in Second Life! In other words, people are buying pixels! They don’t get any physical clothes! My mind was spinning at the idea of being a fashion designer without having to actually sew anything or invest in any capital. Crazy! Could be something interesting to look into, especially as a way to market your line.

I don’t know when the next TFBB will happen, but I’m looking forward to it because it’s a great way to meet fellow fashion fans and share ideas.

FRIDAY, MAY 25, 2007
Designer Interview:
Philip Sparks

You might remember my despair a few weeks ago when I couldn’t attend Philip Sparks’s trunk show since there were so many events during the Clothing Show weekend. I decided to ask him about trunk show preparation and the experience of holding his first fashion show.

For those who don’t know what a trunk show is, let me explain. It’s an informal event where buyers, press, sales associates, and preferred clients can preview collections before they hit stores. The designer is often present to answer questions and explain the collection. A trunk show is an excellent alternative to a fashion show for new designers since they are far less expensive to produce.

A trunk show is especially smart for a Canadian menswear designer since Philip told me that menswear buyers make purchasing decisions June through August. If you wait until the fashion weeks to show your collections, you won’t sell anything since stores would have already spent their budgets. A fashion show is good for generating PR and media attention.

How did Philip prepare for his trunk show? He thought it was important to have one to thank industry guests, models, and helpers. He chose an appropriate venue (a room at the stylish Gladstone Hotel) and sent out invitations a few weeks before the event.

One thing he learned from the experience was to never plan anything over the Clothing Show weekend. He thought it would be a good idea since his target market is not the same as the Clothing Show market. His price range is higher and he caters to men 25 to 50 years old. If you have ever been to the Clothing Show, you know that it is packed with young women looking for bargains. In theory, then, it made sense to plan the trunk show that weekend. Unfortunately, most fashion-obsessed people focused on the Clothing Show. Nonetheless, it was a successful event.

Philip’s first fashion show at L’Oréal Fashion Week was also a successful event. I’d say that he received the most praise last season, so I had to ask about show planning.

What were his expectations? Philip’s expectations were in synch with his capabilities. He primarily wanted to get noticed, get in the paper, and fill up his venue, Boutique Le Trou. He achieved that. He didn’t get ahead of himself and try to fill up a space beyond his capacity. His label is new, so he realized that it was best to start small.

What were some highlights? Philip was pleased with buyer response. He now knows the importance of inviting buyers to fashion shows.

Did he learn any lessons? When selling your clothes, you have to remember that boutiques are small businesses too, so be kind to business owners and try to see things from their perspective. It’s also important for the media to know what stores picked up your line, so make sure to have that contact information ready. This illustrates why it’s important to show your line to buyers before the show even happens.

I’m so impressed with Philip’s interview responses and the success with his first two events. From what I can see, he’s doing everything right, and I think other new designers can learn a lot from him.

THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2007
Review: Toronto Week of Style

I really wanted the Toronto Week of Style to be successful since the organizer was so earnest and it offered a more commercial and affordable alternative to other fashion events, so I arrived at the Church at Berkeley with a clear mind, forgetting about yesterday’s show. I hoped to see a packed venue, and prompt, professional show.

Unfortunately, the venue was almost empty (even though the organizers closed RSVP lists and were turning people away at the door!), the show started late, and there were technical glitches. I do know that sometimes technical problems happen but try to be as professional as possible.

The show was called “Fashion Fringe”, which was intended for new designers. It’s great to offer show opportunities to recent graduates, but when you’re organizing a show, make sure that designers are high quality and have finished their clothes.

Another organizational tip is to make sure that guests cannot see the backstage area, unless that’s part of your show plan. In this case, we could see stylists prepping models and some of the mayhem happening in the back stairwell, and I know it wasn’t on purpose. It was distracting and took away from the show.

There was a second show scheduled, but the organizers asked us to leave the venue while they set up for the next show. As I stood on the sidewalk, I decided that if the organizers couldn’t be bothered to plan for guest accommodations between shows, then I couldn’t be bothered to attend the second show. At that point, the Toronto Week of Style had to continue on without me.

I do hope that I missed some good shows on Friday and Saturday. As I said, I really did want this event to be successful since the city can always use more fashion events, but as I realized yesterday, sometimes it’s best to start small and build buzz slowly.

Review: Toronto Week of Style

The Toronto Week of Style began tonight with far less fanfare than I expected. Since Zaigham, the organizer, told me that he studied my blog’s tips on fashion show and event planning, I thought it would be a good event, but I was disappointed.

As I always say, you have to remember first impressions, and my first impression was…well, nothing. There was no signage anywhere, nor were there greeters. The event was at the Arcadian Court, which requires an elevator ride with security guard access. There was only one guard on duty, so if there was a huge crowd, there would have been a traffic jam in the lobby.

Upon arrival at the venue, there still wasn’t any signage, which I thought was odd for an event that had a marketing company working on coordination and seemed to have a few sponsors. One thing to always remember when planning an event is that you’ve got to make sponsors happy, and you can do that by featuring their brand all over the place (but make sure you agree to terms well in advance).

It made me sad to see the venue only one quarter full, since it must have cost a lot to rent. I was kind of puzzled by the small crowd, since the organizers closed the guest list a few days ago. Why would someone close a guest list when you have a large venue and you’re hyping a new event? I guess that’s the biggest thing that I learned from this event: it’s always better to start small and create a demand. Another thing to keep in mind is that you always need to overbook the guest count slightly. Many guests will confirm their attendance and then not show up so you have to account for that happening.

TUESDAY, MAY 22, 2007
Q&A with Photographer Neil Schmidt

Neil Schmidt and I moved from Alberta to Toronto around the same time to pursue fashion careers; he in photography and me in design. You know how my endeavors turned out, and I thought you’d like to hear from him.

What's your story? (e.g. What did you do before, and how did you end up as a fashion photographer?)
To fine tune my interests into what is now my life in fashion, I can always remember having a camera on hand at all times!  Let’s just say that this train has hit up a few stops along its way. I have played the roles of Graphic Designer, Interior Designer, Painter, Faux Finisher, Mind Reader and Socialite. Isn't life grand?

What do you do on a typical photo shoot workday?
To properly prepare for a typical day of shooting, I must have everything laid out and ready the night before. Camera (check), lights (check), cigarettes (if acceptable....check) and then if everything is all good, the magic can begin.

How can designers make life easier for photographers?
Designers could make life easier for photographers and stylists by having everything ready when it comes to picking up garments for photo-shoots! Time is valuable; let the creative team do their thing and in the end, everyone should benefit.

What are some Designer Dos and Don’ts when it comes to working on a photo shoot?
Do: If at all possible, remove price tags from the garments before a shoot. It really cuts down the time otherwise needed to pin, tuck, tape or staple those pesky little things.

Don’t: Don't think for a second a Photographer has enough clothing! We gladly accept gifts.

If a designer is just starting out and can’t afford to pay a photographer, what are some alternatives? Is it in poor form to offer clothing in payment for photos or is it accepted?
Everyone has to start somewhere and everyone has their own methods of conducting business. I say do whatever seems to work for you and with your own style. In this business, your personality gets you in the door and your talent can keep you there......so don’t be shy.....approach other creative people who are in the same boat and look for those others who are just as hungry.  Network, network, network!

If you have one piece of advice to new designers, what would it be?
Just as in any business, your clothing line should have a message (an identity) so communicate that every step along the way from fabric selection, to your cuts, to packaging, to presentation.  Everything should be all working together to be saying one thing. If you can manage to accomplish that, you'll be a smash hit!

You photograph a lot of Canadian designers and events. What are your thoughts on the state of Canadian fashion?
Canadian fashion has struggled in the past with obtaining a serious reputable reputation, but it has been raised within the last few years through the hard work of designers like Philip Dubuc, Arthur Mendonça, David Dixon, Greta Constantine and newcomer Cheryl Gushue (swimwear). Wowzers folks...we have a hot-bed of talent here!

FRIDAY, MAY 18, 2007
Fabric Database at Fabric Connect

A TFI member named Tetyana Popova started a useful website connecting fabric seekers with suppliers at www.goFabricConnect.com. Apparently there are more than 6,000 fabric listings! It wouldn’t hurt to check it out and see if you can find your perfect fabric.

She must have had this idea from attending one of the TFI Members Meetings since we ALWAYS talk about where to find fabric suppliers.

THURSDAY, MAY 17, 2007
Q&A with Janelle Marpa, Strut Fashion Editor

Strut is one of my favourite magazines, so I was pretty happy (okay…totally thrilled!) to meet the Fashion Editor, Janelle Marpa, a few weeks ago. She kindly offered to answer some of the questions I had about how designers can connect with fashion editors. Enjoy!

What's your story?
I was in school at George Brown College for Fashion Techniques and Design. I wanted to get my foot in the door in this industry, so I began interning at The Artist Group while I was at school. I started assisting early January of 2006 Rita Liefhebber a top artist repped at The Artist Group who soon became Fashion Editor at Strut and had a position waiting for me when I graduated in April 2006.

Please describe Strut and the fashion that you cover.
Strut is the country’s lifestyle bible for men and women. We are the undisputed authority on fashion, music, beauty, film and every aspect of progressive contemporary culture. In Strut we like to have a mixture of street edge and high fashion, very much like our own style, and we introduce our readers to trends that would otherwise be too edgy or trendy for them and show them how it can be relatable to their personal style.

What do you do in a typical workday?
After we have decided what our trends will be for the season, typically I am organizing my team to gather samples while I am collaborating with the Photo Editor, Christine Caruso, to organize all the shoots. We select our photographers, go-sees with models, and we choose our team of fashion stylists, off-figure stylists, and hair and makeup.

Once all the samples are in I make my pre-selections and make sure each of our designers are shown love. Our Editor-in-Chief, Anik Decoste, makes her approval’s and then we are off to set!!!

What is the best way for a new designer to approach you about getting their clothes or accessories in a Strut photo shoot?
Best way to introduce me to your collection is:
a) send me an invite to your show or preview
b) send me your lookbook
c) send me samples for the season

These are all great ways to grab my attention and selling me on your designs is by seeing it first hand.

You must get a ton of samples and press kits, so what grabs your attention?
Anyone that knows me would automatically tell you anything that has rhinestones on it has my undivided attention! Hehe!

But honestly, having a great campaign shot and a disk with a digital notebook on it or a tri-fold with runway shots. Be as creative as you want with your layout, but don’t go crazy! Be resourceful and don’t waste paper with elaborate lookbooks and press kits that only have use for one season. The simpler the better.

What are some mistakes that people make when trying to get your attention?
Drop-ins are probably the worst thing to do. Don’t get me wrong; I love visitors, but not the ones that come at the wrong time when I’m on the phone with showrooms in New York. If you really want to come in, just schedule a meeting. Another one is the elaborate and irregular sized lookbooks or press kits they are more of an inconvenience because I don’t have anywhere to put them! They end up on my desk as an oddly shaped mess that by the season’s end has turned into my giant art project.

If you have one piece of advice to new designers, what would it be?
Stick to your vision and don’t compromise it just to make a buck. Fashion is forever evolving either your ideas are a head of its time or they’re sooooo 2 years ago they will eventually come around. Fashion is fearless and you should be too!

Do you have any advice for people who want to be stylists or fashion editors?
The only piece of advice I have is to just put yourself out there! Introduce yourself to the agencies in your area, meet photographers, really experiment with your own sense of style. And when you work hard people notice and they will remember, you never know where an opportunity can take you!

What are your thoughts on the state of Canadian fashion?
I think Canadian fashion is definitely on the up! We’ve got some great Canadian designers making their mark in the American and International market only proving that we are bulking up to be some heavy hitters in this industry.

Are there any Canadian designers/artists/musicians who inspire you?

Canadian designers Kale.Lief+Hebber are good friends of mine and seeing their success after all their hard work is truly an inspiration!

The New Corporations

I was pretty excited to learn about a partnership between LG Electronics and Canadian lingerie and swimwear company, SHAN (www.shan.ca). LG hosted a night of music and fashion while promoting their slick phones, and the show has traveled across Canada. What an amazing opportunity for SHAN!

Naturally, I was dying to hear about how this partnership started and wondered how other designers could approach companies, so I spoke with Frank Lee, the Manager of Public Affairs for LG. He was excited to discuss this unique new relationship between designer and company.

The idea started when LG began to think about their Chocolate phone launch. They saw the phone’s design as approachable luxury with an emotional connection, much like designers with clothes. Both are functional, creative, and expressive…voila! LG realized there was a strong tie between their phones and fashion.

Katherine Dyriw at High Road Communications introduced LG to Chantal Levesque, SHAN’s founding designer. After some discussion, Chantal was curious and excited about the project, so even though it meant delaying SHAN’s 2007 line launch, she was committed. (Note: maybe you should start making friends with more PR people!)

From Frank’s excitement and talk about how appliances are the “jewellery of the home”, I think we will see more of these partnerships. Sure, models in the SHAN fashion show held LG phones, but I see this as an interesting and almost inescapable trend for local designers looking for investment money or to promote their image. If the companies match, I think it could be a great thing. I look forward to seeing more partnerships and think that it’s something that you should consider when building your business.

TUESDAY, MAY 15, 2007
Gonna be a Show Producer!

How exciting! A (very smart, I must say) friend just invited me to produce a fashion show! It’s an invitation-only event, so I’m sorry that I can’t invite you, but I certainly can tell you what I’m doing to prepare. Stay tuned for a fashion show production play-by-play.

SATURDAY, MAY 12, 2007
Fashion Might Care, But Where Was the Fashion?

Speaking of giving fashion giving back to the community, Fashion Cares is the annual gala in support of the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT). Can you believe the event has raised nearly ten million dollars? Amazing!

This year was a rebirth since it had a new Executive Producer, new venue, and quite a few new organizing committee members.

In the past I volunteered, but this year I was granted a coveted media pass and was even given red carpet access! I’m glad I was there for red carpet arrivals, because as you’ll read, there was almost no fashion in the fashion show.

So…what did I learn from this year’s Fashion Cares that you can apply to your events?

*Red carpets are rad! Seriously, even if you’re not a celebrity, guests feel fabulous walking down a red carpet.
*Have professional security at the entrance. The Fashion Cares guys knew what they were doing. The media team at reception were also fantastic and could answer every question.
*It’s probably not a great idea to have a Canadian fashion event outdoors in May, especially when there’s a burlesque theme. Models in lingerie were particularly chilly.
*It’s also not advisable to set a fashion event on a cobblestone area. I saw some near-deadly spills.
*A press conference is a good idea if you don’t think there will be time for individual interviews, but you can’t count on media members asking questions relating to the event.
*Keep live auctions under 20 minutes. The fashionable have short attention spans (you know how quickly trends come and go!).
*If you have an MC, make sure he or she is entertaining and knows your event’s target market. (Jay Manuel was a perfect MC; I’d recommend him anytime).
*Ensure that entertainers match your target market.
*If you hold one of Canada’s largest fashion shows, make sure there’s a fashion show. Out of seven acts, only one had a fashion show feel. It was wonderful; dancers wore local designer outfits, but the fashion element was way too short and the audience didn’t know what designer created what dress.

Given the lack of fashion at the show, here’s the list of participating designers. Research them and brush up on your Canadian designer knowledge: Andy Thé-Ahn, Cheryl Gushue, Carole Tanenbaum, Florence Wu, Irene Stickney, Jason Matlo, Jaime Galindo, Lucian Matis, Sunny Fong for VAWK, Arthur Mendonça, Colette Harmon, Fashion Psychology, Greta Constantine, Izzy Camilleri, Jason Meyers, Kale.lief+Hebber, Pippa Stevenson, and Zoran Dobric.

THURSDAY, MAY 10, 2007
Fashion Targets Breast Cancer

Rethink Breast Cancer launched their Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign today with their popular target t-shirts, tank tops, and bags. I know you’ve seen them. If not, you can see and buy the great new silver and blue design at Roots and other outlets. For information, check out www.rethinkbreastcancer.com.

“That’s all great,” you’re thinking, “but what does it have to do with starting a fashion business?”

Great question. It has to do with starting a fashion business and giving back to the community. At any stage of your business, you should always think about giving back. But you know what? Rethink Breast Cancer gave back to designers!

As part of the 2007 campaign, they hosted a design contest with fashion schools and interested Canadians who have been affected by breast cancer. They asked participants to design a target inspired t-shirt representing their take on breast cancer or how the cause affected them personally. It was an interesting way for designers to participate in a charity event and promote their work and I thought the idea worked very well. You can see the entries at www.fashiontargets.ca. Oh, and don’t forget to buy a shirt.

What Is CraveFest and Why Was I Invited to the Launch?

So…I received an invitation to a media conference for the official launch of “CraveFest”, a non-profit International Music Video Awards Festival that will be held in Toronto from August 14 to 16.

I thought to myself, “What does this event have to do with my blog for fashion business owners?” Obviously, I had to attend the launch to satisfy my curiosity.

The event was interesting to attend because it was for music industry rather than fashion people. The venue (the Bovine Sex Club), music (rock ‘n roll, of course), and snacks (trailer trash sushi and grilled cheese sandwiches) all suited the jaded music press crowd. What can you learn from this? When planning an event, know your audience. 

The PR team was great and well-prepared: there were two clipboard-girls at the front to avoid any delays and the person in charge of PR was running around meeting people. That’s the way to do it. Not only that, but their pre-event press releases, media kits, and follow-up were detailed. Very well done.

There I was, enjoying being treated like media, listening to the organizers and guest judges, wondering how this related to my blog, when I finally realized what this event means to Canadian designers: CraveFest is a music video festival and what better way to showcase your clothes than on video? It makes complete sense!

So…how can you get involved? Check out www.cravefest.com for more general information about the festival and video submission deadlines. Then go find a band that wants to make a video and needs a stylist or a designer who can loan them clothes. Easy!

Wait…not that easy? You don’t know any bands? Have no fear. I’ll do some investigative research and get some leads for you. Rock on!

TUESDAY, MAY 08, 2007
Toronto Week of Style Launch

The new event, Toronto Week of Style will be May 23 to 26 and they’re looking for volunteers (dressers, ushers, and general help). If you want some fashion-related volunteer experience, you can sign up by visiting www.weekofstyle.com/volunteer.html.

If you would prefer to check out the shows rather than work them, entrance is FREE! To RSVP, go to www.weekofstyle.com/rsvp. I’m very curious about this event, so I’ll see you there!

MONDAY, MAY 07, 2007
TFI Members Meeting

Have I told you how much I love TFI Members Meetings? What? I have? I’ll tell you again anyway: I love TFI Members Meetings!

Our common discussions tend to be about fabric suppliers, reliable contractors, and the art of juggling full-time jobs while starting fashion businesses. Tonight we also had a great chat about participating in the Clothing Show and we also talked about media and the Canadian public’s acceptance of local designers. Not only that, but an owner of a contracting company was there, so we had tons of questions for her. Oh, and Michelle Turpin (www.karamea.ca) and Katya Revenko (www.desperatelydifferent.com) gave some excellent advice to people who are just starting out. What a great night.

The Members Meetings are on summer hiatus now because people prefer to spend the summer outside, but they’ll resume in September. Hope to see you then.

MONDAY, MAY 07, 2007
Blog Vacation

Danielle at the TFI is taking a well-deserved vacation for two weeks, so I wanted to let you know that entries won’t be posted during that time. I know you’ll feel a bit lost without my blog, but chin up; I’ll still be writing while she’s exploring Cuba, so there will be lots of stuff posted when she returns. Talk to you soon.

SUNDAY, MAY 06, 2007
Fashion Cares:
How Designers Get Involved

With all the e-mails about Fashion Cares, I thought I’d check in with the Designer Liaisons to see how they choose designers to participate in the event. Who did I speak with? Marlene Shiff, owner of Boutique Le Trou!

This year, there were many important changes, including venue and production. This year's production is being made into a prime-time special for U.S. network television, so the fashion direction was different than it would have been for a spectacular fashion show, as before.

Carolyn: What is your role with Fashion Cares?
Marlene: Natalie Lecomte [Assistant to the Fashion Director of Holt Renfrew] and I are the co-chairs of the Fashion Committee for Fashion Cares, in its 21st year. An amazing fundraising event created by fashion people when we started losing many of our most talented and endearing friends and colleagues to the big disease with the little name. To execute our position for this year, we formed a committee and broke that into sub-committees, and delegated specific jobs to the sub-c  members and allowed them to bring people into their committees as they saw fit. We have a great dream-team and it all came together brilliantly despite us taking it on really late in the game.

Carolyn: How can clothing designers get involved with the event?
Marlene: If you mean for this year, we are done. Going forward, I guess the answer would be to call ACT and ask who is the fashion chair(s), and get in contact with them as early as they are assigned.

Carolyn: How do you find designers for Fashion Cares?
Marlene: Being the dedicated believers in Canadian design that we are, we decided to go with that. We approached different designers that we either knew, or knew the work of. We made it range from students, to grads, to new designers, and right up to red carpet designers. We have that range in Canada now and we worked laboriously to bring them together.

Carolyn: How do you decide what designers participate in Fashion Cares?
Marlene: We entertained sketches submitted based on a spec sheet and inspiration material that we provided.

Carolyn: Who should fashion designers contact to get involved with Fashion Cares next year?
Marlene: Answered above... whomever is the committee next year. Since this was a new group, with a new format, I am not sure exactly when it will all start for next year.   

SATURDAY, MAY 05, 2007
Crazy Fashion Day

Some advice to anyone planning a fashion event: don’t plan it on the same weekend as the Clothing Show!

I missed Philip Sparks’s Trunk Show at the Gladstone Hotel because I had a few other fashion obligations.

First was the Clothing Show, of course, which I thought was way better than last season’s event. Last time, there were way too many silkscreened t-shirts. This time around, there were tons of new ideas. I loved it! I’m going to try to get interviews from some of my favourite designers for you in the next few weeks.

Second was a stop at the SD+R Clothing Chop Shop, which is a design house and showroom. You know I love their fashion shows, so it was cool to visit the shop with my stylist (and stylish!) friend Shauna, who was pulling clothes for a photo shoot. I may have talked them into an interview, but until then, check out their myspace page: www.myspace.com/sdrclothing.

Third, was as far away from the Clothing Show as I could get: Holt Renfrew. They hosted a “Must-Haves Event” featuring Dandi Maestre’s organic jewelry (www.dandimaestre.com). What a great idea: interview a local designer and showcase work by pairing it with store merchandise. Sadly, more people preferred shopping to the presentation, but I thought it was excellent. I hope Holt keeps hosting these events.

What a fun fashion day!

FRIDAY, MAY 04, 2007
There’s a New Magazine In Town

…and you can find it at www.cheekmagazine.com.

I was initially excited because I saw all sorts of Toronto names attached and was told about it by fellow Torontonians, but there isn’t much of a Canadian focus (though there’s a good article about Kale.lief + Hebber). I’m a bit disappointed by that, but still think it is an interesting step for an online magazine. Looking forward to see how this publication develops.

While flipping through online, I was happy without ads gunking up my screen, but how does the mag make money? Trying to figure that out. Guess I’m always trying to figure out how to make money.

THURSDAY, MAY 03, 2007
Toronto Week of Style

A while ago, I got an e-mail from Zaigham Zulqernain promoting a new event called the Toronto Week of Style. He introduced himself as a fan of Toronto fashion blogs and wanted to meet. I was skeptical about his pitch because it focused on lifestyle and established brands rather than local designers (you know how much I love local designers), but Anita Clarke (www.blogto.com writer) and I finally met with him, and we were impressed.

Zaigham envisions a week of – yes – lifestyle branding and promotion, and it is more local-friendly than I first thought. Not only that, but he swears that he’s been reading my business and event planning tips, so he promises a kickin’ event.

It’s coming up soon, from May 23 to 26, and there’s a media launch next week, so I’ll have more to tell you then. For more information, you’ll want to check out www.weekofstyle.com. There isn’t much on the site as I write this, but I’m sure details will be posted after the media launch.

I’m intrigued, so I promise to keep you posted about this new event to hit Toronto.

Fashion Cares Volunteering

Tons of you are writing in asking about how to volunteer for Fashion Cares. Since the event is on May 12, it’s a bit late to sign up, but check out www.fashioncares.com and select the volunteers page. You can complete a volunteer application and learn about volunteer opportunities so that perhaps you can participate next year.

If you can’t volunteer, why not attend the show at the Distillery Historic District or the After Party at the Koolhaus? It’s for a good cause…

TUESDAY, MAY 01, 2007
I Always Thought I Was An Optimist

Hmmm….I’ve been a bit snarky lately, and I never want to be mean. I want this blog to be optimistic (yet realistic) about starting a fashion business. Please keep in mind that whatever I write, it is intended to help you along with your business idea.

For instance, the game “Gift Bag Hit or Miss” is meant to illustrate how very little details affect an event and your brand image; it is not meant to complain about gift bags. I love gift bags, and it’s nice that event organizers give them to guests. And my thought process behind my night at the TFI Ultimate Platinum XX07 was to inform you about what someone thinks about when involved in an event.

That’s all. Just want to spread some love and help improve your business.

MONDAY, APRIL 30, 2007

I forgot to write about the sewing and needlework festival I attended over the weekend, the creativfestival (www.creativfestival.ca).

It was kind of like a comic book convention, except that it was filled with soccer moms and grandmas rather than sci-fi guys with Spock ears. And you know what? There were tons of nifty craft ideas there. None were particularly cool, but I saw tons of cool new materials and thought that there was so much neat stuff that could be done with traditional craft ideas. I’d tell you more, but I’m off to plan a stylish quilt…

Green Fashion

In my previous life as an urban planner, I did a lot of environmental work and now I’m kind of amazed (and thrilled!) that environmentalism is almost mainstream and is seeping into fashion. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend the fashion shows at this weekend’s Green Living Show (www.greenlivingshow.ca), but I’m happy that they even exist. For more information on eco-fashion, check out www.greenlivingshow.ca/features_fashionandbeauty.html and please keep me posted on environmentally fashionable events.

Clothing Show

If you read my blog regularly, you’re probably sick of hearing about the Clothing Show, but it is a great place for you to shop or do clothing company research. Check out local designers, sample sale deals, and vintage finds on May 5 and 6. It is fashion heaven.

Information can be found at www.theclothingshow.com.

MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2007
Toronto Fashion Bloggers Brunch

This was my favourite TFBB, probably because Brassaii (www.brassaii.com) gave us complementary mimosas. Yes, guys, all it takes is some champagne and orange juice to make me happy.

No…really, it takes great service and wonderful company to make me happy and both were provided yesterday. 

We had a great discussion and were all excited about the TFI New Labels Competition buzz over the Toronto fashion blogs. The event generated a lot of opinion and comments on www.torontostreetfashion.com and www.finalfashion.ca. It’s nice to see people getting excited about Canadian fashion, even if some of them hide behind anonymous comments. I love all this discussion.

Oh, I found out that it’s my turn to host the next brunch, even though Eden from www.bargainista.com and Anita from www.blogto.com are doing all the work. It will be Sunday May 27 at Brassaii (461 King Street West), 11:30am. Details will be posted at the TFBB forum (http://tfbb.geekigirl.com/index.php). If you’re a fashion blogger or a fashion blog fan, come on out. We always have a good time. Just make sure to RSVP through the forum.

SUNDAY, APRIL 22, 2007
Fashion Fundraiser Review

There aren’t too many places where I can wear a turban and receive compliments rather than stares, but the Buy Design fundraiser for the Windfall Clothing Service (www.windfallclothing.ca), was definitely the place. Thanks to all the turban fans.

And thanks to the Buy Design crew for throwing such a fantastic fundraiser. If you want to know how to raise money in style, I suggest you check out this event next year. Or better yet, donate a silent auction item. For details, check out www.buydesignforwindfall.ca.

I was lucky enough to attend with a crew of fabulous friends and we had an impromtu game of gift bag hit or miss in the car after the event. Are you ready for what we found?

* Caffarena Fancy Sheer Top (Note: Mine was the only top of its kind in the gift bags. Everyone else got a message shirt from p.s. tees at www.pstees.ca)
* Earrings from tryko
* Gift package of Remember-FX and Cold-FX
* Royaless hair clip
* OSIS Freeze Super Hold Hairspray
* LaCoupe Colour Rescue Colour-Lasting Intensive Treatment
* 3 bars of Ivory soap
* Another pair of tryko earrings
* The Men’s Power Spa Guest Pass
* Second Cup gift card
* OSIS Thrill Fibre Gum (note: for those of you who don’t know what Fibre Gum might be, it’s hair modelling clay)
* Card describing Soak detergent plus sample
* Samples for John Frieda Colour Save Anti-Fade Shampoo, Colour Last Conditioner, and Colour Lust Daily Colour Sealer
* Nexcare Advanced Foot Balm

More Volunteer Thoughts

Before I start this rant, I just want to tell you that everyone
appreciates volunteers, especially those at the TFI. It is wonderful that you
donate time to help a cause that you think is worthwhile.

When you volunteer, though, please ask yourself why you want to

Do you just want to watch a fashion show, see TV cameras, models, and
take home a gift bag? Then I suggest you buy a ticket and attend the
fashion show as a guest.

Do you want to volunteer to learn everything you can about the fashion
industry? If so, then be prepared to do all the jobs, from potentially
boring crowd control and time-consuming silent auction to the
glamorous-sounding-but-really-not-all-that-exciting backstage dressing. That’s
when you should volunteer. The best volunteers are the ones who want to
learn everything they can and are willing to do anything to help.

Even though you’re donating time, you’re there to do a job and people
will be relying on you. If you can’t commit, speak up early (don’t call
the day of the event to quit or don’t not show up; you have no idea
what kind of stress you’ve created). 

Thank you to all the volunteers who helped at TFI ULTIMATE PLATINUM
XX07. We couldn’t have done it without you!

FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 2007
Go Here: BuyDesign

There’s only one thing you should do this weekend: attend the Buy
Design fashion fundraiser for the Windfall Clothing Service. It’s a
wonderful charity and a fabulous party. This year’s theme is SpeakEasyStyle, so
I’m looking forward to all the Vaudeville-inspired events and clothes.

I don’t think I need to tell you that Toronto’s Most Fashionable will
be there.

For information, visit www.buydesignforwindfall.ca.

Wanna Hear Something Funny?

Celeb#3 lives across the street from me, next door to my friend. I have
to go over there today and I’m dreading it. I don’t want to see her
ever again.

Lowdown: Celebrity Wrangling

Ever wonder what those people with the headsets and clipboards are
thinking when they rush past you at a fashion event, bump into you, and
then run away without apologizing? Let me give you a little glimpse into
what was going around in my brain last night when I was in charge of
wrangling celebrities for the TFI ULTIMATE PLATINUM XX07 and TFI New
Labels event.

***Note: this is a really long entry, but I think you’ll like to know
what I was doing. Keep in mind that I was the head of just one team;
there were many more. If you’ve never worked at a show, I hope this gives
you a bit of an introduction to what happens behind the scenes.

3:30 – (Leaving work) Boy, I’m lucky to have an employer who lets me
leave early to attend a fashion event!

3:45 – (On the subway) Hmmm….it’s been a while since I was in charge of
a volunteer group. Am I ready?

4:00 – (Arriving at the Carlu) Yes! I got here before my team! Good for
me. Now I can think about what I have to do.

4:05 – Oh! My first team member is here 10 minutes early. Great, but
now I have no time to make sure I have everything under control. 

4:10 – No way! My entire team is here early! They rock! We’re going to
have a good night. What should we do first? A quick tour of the venue?
No. Maybe a quick schedule update.

4:12 – It’s been forever since I’ve worked at an event with a walkie
and I’m having a hard time talking to my team while people have
conversations in my ear. (To team) Am I yelling? Am I making sense? Can you hear
all the stuff that’s coming over the walkie? No? Are you sure? It’s so
loud! I’m going insane.

4:14 – Okay, let’s do the venue tour and introduce my team to the
fashion show producers.

4:15 – What? The first celebrity arrived? They’re supposed to be here
at 4:30 and aren’t they always late? What to do? What to do? Decide to
all go and meet the celebrity at once and do a venue tour together.

4:16 – Why is the celebrity chatting with everyone she sees? No
problem; this way I can brief my crew.

4:20 – How long do I have to wait for Celeb#1 to finish chit-chat? I
really want to get my crew around the place before the other celebs show
up. What to do? What to do?

4:22 – Cool. Finally got Celeb #1 backstage. Now she’s asking what to
do with her stuff, even though I tell her that we have a lock up to
secure valuables. She wants to keep her stuff backstage. We think about
logistics and debate what we should do.

4:25 – Crap! Nina (the TFI Administration Assistant) calls from the
walkie to tell me another celeb is coming up on the elevator. We’re not
finished the venue tour! What to do? What to do? I leave Celeb#1 with a
volunteer to figure out what to do with stuff.

4:26 – Am I making sense explaining the venue to my crew in a minute
while we run to the front to greet Celeb #2?

4:27 – (Looking at my crew lined up to greet our guests) Do they look
okay? I’ve only worked with one of them before. Will they be as good as
I hope? Can I rely on them?

4:28 – Will we recognize Celeb #2? Where is she? Is she on that
elevator? Oh yes. Must make introductions and get a volunteer to take her
backstage. (Repeat 15 more times over the next 10 minutes.)

4:30 to 4:40 – Holy crap! Holy crap! Everyone arrives at once, I’ve got
a walkie buzzing in my ear, fashion show rehearsal music in the
background, volunteers seeking clarification, people wanting valuables locked
up (but no key to the room), and celebs asking me questions. Celeb#3’s
manager asks me a million questions that she should already have
answers for if she read the letter the TFI sent. Why is she asking me for
extra tickets when I keep telling her that Celeb#3 has 2 complementary
ones (just like all the other celebrity models) and we’re sold out of
others? How many times can I tell her the same thing? Geez…she’s annoying
and demanding. How can I get rid of her so I can deal with all this?

4:45 – What’s that? Celeb#3 wants a private room for herself and
entourage of 3 people (no other celebs brought anybody except their friends,
who either sit down calmly or are scheduled to arrive at 6:00)? Weren’t
they told to arrive in cocktail attire? I’ve got to convince them to go
backstage since the lockup is our only private area. More demands for
something private. Why does she think she’s so special? Crap! more
celebs are getting off the elevator. Must get rid of Celeb#3 and her
complaining crew. The lockup is the only place. Wish I could literally lock
them up.

4:50 – Phew! Most celebs are backstage. What a great team I have!

4:51 – I knew I’d have to explain to TFI staff why Celeb#3 took over
the lockup that wasn’t meant as a place to change. Have to give them a 5
minute warning to hurry up since Celeb#3 has to be backstage at 5:00.

4:55 – Things are relatively under control. All celebs are backstage,
ready for their rehearsal (except Celeb#3). Must tell the show
producers, but they’re still busy with the other rehearsal. I decide to wait.

5:00 – Why are Celeb#3 and her people complaining after I say that she
is needed backstage? Why are they asking for extra tickets again?
Mentally bang my head against the wall. Oh man…they’re asking about shoes. I
know nothing about her shoes. Weren’t the designers supposed to bring
them? I’m told that I’m wrong; the stylist is supposed to bring them. Oh
man, I’m glad I have a walkie for quick answers. Now I have to find the
stylist. Will Celeb#3’s crew stop complaining? Must try to smile, but
get more sighs and complaints.

5:01 – Oh! I should check up on my volunteers. Run out of the lockup
and find them waiting at the entrance. I send one or two backstage to
make sure all the other celebs are okay.

5:05 – Finally! Celeb#3 and her crew are out of the lockup. What’s
everybody doing going backstage when I told them that only Celeb#3 is
allowed? Oh…I don’t even want to deal with that now.

5:06 – Crap! I forgot to tell the producers that the celebs are ready
for their rehearsal. Breathe a bit when I realize the first rehearsal is
still happening.

5:07 – Search for show producers. Where can they be?

5:08 – There they are! The celeb rehearsal will happen in 10 minutes.
Wasn’t that was supposed to happen at 5:00? Oh well. Not much I can do;
things often run late at fashion events.

5:10 – Excellent! None of the celebs have wandered away, so I can give
the rehearsal update. Are they happy? Do they have everything they
need? Yes and yes. Good. They’re all really sweet and a pleasure to work
with. Ooops…spoke too soon. Here come Celeb#3’s people. Uh-oh. Why are
they asking about extra tickets AGAIN? Sigh. How irritated do I look to
them when I say what I told them before? Here comes the earful about our
disorganization…I want to scream.

5:20 – Finally…rehearsal starts. I can leave everyone in the capable
hands of producers so I regroup with my volunteers.

5:21 to 5:49 – A blur. A million walkie-talkie requests about the
location of celebrity guest passes and whether celebs can buy more tickets.
Why do Celeb#3’s friends keep asking to get into the lockup?
Ummm…there’s a reason why we call it a lockup, girls! My head spins.

5:50 – Why is Celeb#1 asking about leaving her bags backstage? Didn’t
we already resolve this? Ask a volunteer to stay backstage at all times
to ensure nothing gets stolen. Feel guilty because I know I’ll forget
about her. I remind everyone about the night’s schedule and tell them to
enjoy themselves at the cocktail party and ask us for anyone. Decide to
leave them alone

6:05 – Hmmm…where do our celebs sit during dinner? Where can I find a
table list?

6:15 – Now that I found a table list, I must tell the volunteers, who
are in the cocktail party, waiting to help out any of our guests. I find
them, but am missing one (not counting the poor girl backstage). None
of us can find her. Oh well. I can’t worry about her; I need to let
everyone else know what’s happening.

6:16 – Okay. Everyone knows what’s happening. Can’t find Missing
Volunteer, so I head backstage.

6:18 – Is my backstage volunteer okay? She assures me she is. I feel
bad for leaving her there, but I really don’t want anyone to steal
anything. Can’t even think of what would happen if a designer dresses goes
missing. Eeeek!

6:20 to 6:40 – Is everyone okay? Is that walkie message for me? What?
It’s so hard to concentrate! Where’s my Missing Volunteer? Doesn’t she
realize she’s an integral part of the team and that we’re counting on

6:42 – It’s almost dinner time. Where should we stand? Should we tell
the celebs their table seats or wait for them to come to us?  Decide not
to bother the celebs, so I position a few volunteers in the cocktail
area and others in the dining room in case anyone asks what their table
number is.

6:45 – It’s 6:45 already? Crap! I’ve got 3 late celebs coming. Must
find 2 other volunteers.

6:46 – Oh! It’s Missing Volunteer! I tell her to stay at her post. Why
does she look at me like I’m insane? What? She’s been there all along,
telling celebs their table numbers? I admire initiative, but it was my
goal as a group to not harass our guests. I have no time to deal with

6:45 to 7:00  - Good. The two late celebs arrive and get their
rehearsal information while the others go into dinner. Still waiting for one
late celeb. Pretty much on schedule.

7:00 – Celeb#3 wants into the lockup AGAIN? I have no time for this,
but I can’t give the key to anyone else. I have to wait for Celeb#3 to
get ready for dinner. NO! One of the entourage is asking me for a VIP
dinner ticket AGAIN? Please shoot me.

7:01 – Dinner’s about to start. What to do? Best to leave half my crew
in the dining room, just in case our guests need anything. I go outside
to wait for the last celeb arrival.

7:15 – Where is she?

7:20 – She arrives. Now where’s the show producer?

7:23 – Perfect! The producer is where he should be. Everything is good.

7:25 – How is my backstage volunteer? She’s still there, and she’s
happy! She’s the best volunteer ever!

7:30 – Can I actually sit down? Yes! I sit in the dining room with my
crew and strategize the next steps.

7:40 – I should check in with the show producers, but can’t find them.

7:45 – Yay! I found the show producers. What? They want the celebs in
their gowns BEFORE hair and makeup touchups? And ready by 8:40? I was
told to have them in hair and makeup at 8:00, finished at 9:00, when
their designers would dress them. What is going on? Crap!

7:46 – Check in with hair and makeup. They want the celebs now. Crap!

7:50 – How did the time go by so quickly? We have to pull the celebs
and their designers from their $250 dinners. I feel bad. Tell my team to
do whatever they need to do to get the celebs backstage.

7:51- Celeb#3 needs to get in the lockup AGAIN! I tell her to take two
seconds because she’s got to get backstage. I stand in the lockup and
annoyingly tap my foot so she and her “person” know to be fast. None of
the other celebrities have asked to get in the lockup once. I love

7:55 to 8:15 – Backstage dilemma. Celebrity #3’s shoes still aren’t
here? What time are you going on? What order? I don’t know! Don’t ask me;
that’s the producer’s job! Didn’t you go over this in the rehearsal?
Smile, smile, smile…

8:20 – Some girl I’ve never seen before tells me that the hair and
makeup is taking too long, that they should only be doing touchups, and
they’ve got to be done by 8:40.

8:21 – I can now do what I do best: yell directions. Okay, so it’s
crude, but it gets the point across. “All right, everybody! Just touch-ups
here! We need all our VIP models to be done in 20 minutes!” A slight
gasp from the room, but I don’t care. Just trying to get things done.

8:22 – Wait a second. What? Is Celeb#3’s manager really telling me rude
I am? I want to laugh in her face since her crew has been terrible all
night. But I listen to her and I put up with it because it is my job to
make sure she hurries up and is ready to go. I pretend I care that I
offended Celeb#3 by telling her to hurry up, but really I’m strategizing
what to write on my blog about their horrible antics.

8:23 – I feel bad that maybe I’ve been too high-strung and have treated
everyone badly, so I try to be extra-nice to everyone.

8:30 – I can’t even tell who is asking me what anymore.

8:45 – I see some designer friends and tell them I got in trouble from
Celeb#3’s entourage. They all give me high-fives. I feel better.

8:50 – Backstage is filled with designers and celebs and pretty much
everyone is ready to go. OMG, we have a huge issue: a dress is missing! A
million walkie messages are sent, phone calls are made, we panic.

9:01 – Missing dress finally arrives.

9:05 – Everyone’s ready to go. We wait for the production team to call
our celebrity models.

9:06 – I breathe.

9:10 to 10:00 – I stay backstage and let my volunteers check out the
show. They deserve to see it.

10:00 – 11:00 – I leave my volunteers backstage to help our guests with
everything while I wait for them to pick up coats and valuables. Every
time someone comes in, I worry that their coat might not be there. Then
what would I do?

11:00 – Every coat is found. Only one casualty: a $400 pair of Versace
sunglasses were broken. I felt bad because she was a very sweet guest,
but I don’t feel too bad. $400 is like, half my rent. Hope I don’t have
to pay for them. Am I responsible? I try to assure her that an eyewear
shop can repair them.

11:01 – As much as I love the TFI, I’m exhausted and just want to
leave. The night was fun, I had a great volunteer team, but Celeb#3 and her
entourage put me in a bad mood.

11:30 – Get home, slip into my PJs and have a glass of wine. Breathe.


Now it’s time to turn our favourite fashion game on the TFI. I’ll
randomly pull out items from the ELLE Canada gift bag and you determine if
they fit the event branding:

* ELLE Canada magazine;
* ink magazine (a showcase of artist work from JUDY INC.);
* Vin de pays d’Oc brochure (note: this company sponsored the free wine
* Pantene Pro-V Texturize! Moussing Foam Wax (full size, not a
* Rowenta iron brochure;
* MaLak by Kalam Lee advertising card with photo and contact
* TFI brochure;
* 1.618…by Engelbert Gayagoy advertising card with photo and contact
* Town Shoes $10 gift certificate;
* FIJI water;
* quelques filles advertising card with photo and contact information;
* Cover Girl Lash Exact mascara;
* Ozen advertising card with photos of the entire collection (but no
contact information!);
* Exfoliating body mitt from canoe.ca;
* Olay Touch of Sun Overnight Night-time Body Lotion (again…full size!)
* Vin de pays d’Oc pen;
* Vin de pays d’Oc corkscrew.

Ryerson Rocks:
Known But Not Named – The Fashion Communication Showcase

Congratulations to the fourth year Ryerson Fashion Communications
students. They organized an amazing exhibit at the Gladstone Hotel, so let
me tell you what they did right:

* The PR team sent out a couple of press releases: one a few weeks
before and another a few days prior to the event. They were well-written,
too. Good job!
* Volunteers were stationed throughout the lobby and staircase to
direct guests to the exhibition.
* Greeters provided programs with information and contact information
for each artist.
* The exhibit was diverse and interesting. I expected to see a bunch of
student fashion magazine layouts, but the show went so beyond that.
* They gave me a media gift bag. I think anyone who gives me a gift bag
is really nice. Here’s what was inside: A cupcake from graduating
student Jordan Maxey (Thanks, Jordan. It was yummy!), a week of free yoga at
JIVAMUKTI Yoga Toronto, a chain bracelet from Elda by Steph Lamoureux,
a $20 Mary Kay gift certificate, and Mary Kay Private Spa Collection
Satin Hands hand cream. I’m going to give kudos to Jordan and Steph; it
was a wise move to include something special in the media gift bag.
Sure, it’s an expensive thing to do, but it caught my attention.

FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2007
Interview: New Labels Finalist
Ozen by Phoebe Gao and Enfys Zhuo (Interview with Phoebe)

What's your story? (Did you do anything before starting a clothing company? How did you end up here?)
I met Enfys in George Brown College, where we were taking a course in Fashion Design. We worked on many projects together and complemented each other in terms of skills and strengths. Coming from a creative background of Graphic Design, I found my calling in designing clothes. Enfys was as passionate about design as I was, so after graduating from George Brown College in 2006 we decided to start our own clothing line. The idea was to create a clothing line which would reflect our design sensibilities and be true to our market.

Please describe your clothing line and the products you produce.Our clothing line is called Ozen, it’s for women between the age group of 20-40 years. It is all about timeless elegance in this ever changing world of fashion. It is for a woman who is confident, elegant, and not afraid to be feminine.

Our 2007 Fall collection is called Haunted Melody, which consists of co-ordinates and elegant evening gowns. The silhouette is streamlined without fuss and the clothes are in monochromatic hues of grey, black and white. The collection has beautiful wool capes to sleek figure-hugging pants and pleated skirts to sexy evening gowns. The clothes transform a woman into a lady who looks beautiful and sensational in her attire.

Why did you enter the TFI New Labels Competition?
We wanted to have a launch pad for our collection and TFI’s New Labels Competition was the right opportunity to present our line. It’s not only one of the most prestigious events in Toronto, but also one that gives young designers as ourselves a chance to break out of the cocoon and make a grand entrance into to fashion world.

How did you prepare your TFI New Labels entry? How much time have you put into the competition?
We started by submitting our portfolio, which included our Fall/Winter 2007 line. Before designing, we thoroughly researched our target market and ideas as to where we wanted to take this collection. Once we defined that, it has been some 4-5 months of grueling work that we are proud of.

What have you learned from your experience with the TFI and the New Labels Competition?
TFI’s New Label contest has been one of the most exciting and fruitful things that we have done. It has taught us how to perform under pressure, manage our time efficiently, and gave us experience to work with professional stylists, photographers, models, and runway producers. It provided a platform to interact with some of the big names in fashion industry and get honest opinions about our line. The TFI New Labels Competition has also reaffirmed our faith that we love this profession dearly and fashion is our passion.

Have you seen your competition's designs? If so, what do you think about them and what have you learned from your competitors?
Yes, we have had a chance to see the designs of our fellow contestants and we are so touched by their passion. Every contestant has his/her strengths and weaknesses and a different style of expressing themselves and this has given us a different perspective about design. Even though we are competitors, we work as a team and have shared information and handled pressure together, which makes us comrades.

If you have one piece of advice to new designers, what would it be?
If we were to give advice to up and coming designers, it would be, “Don’t give up!”

When you design each piece you should envision the person who will wear it. Will it empower them to be more beautiful, feel more confident? And if the answer is yes, in most cases it will work. Just be true to yourself and to your target market and rest will follow.

FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2007
It’s Getting Close!

Do you have your tickets? I hope so, because the TFI’s 20th anniversary celebration and fundraiser is going to be quite an event. Not only will there be the TFI New Labels Competition, but there will be an amazing 20th anniversary fashion show with red carpet gowns designed by TFI members and alumni. Did I mention there will also be a Vin de Pays d’Oc wine tasting? And a silent auction? And ELLE Canada gift bags? Sounds great, doesn’t it.

Why should you go? Well, apart from seeing some great Canadian fashion, your ticket will contribute to the TFI. You should probably know:

  • 50% of TFI's budget comes from outside sources such as membership fees and ticket sales to events and seminars.
  • 0% of the funding the TFI receives from TEDCO can be used towards events, seminars, webcasts, Resource Centre materials (both online and in-house) and even updating content/ features on our website, which are all enjoyed by TFI members and the outlying community.
  • Without your financial support (buy a ticket/make a donation), the TFI may not be able to continue its valuable work in helping new fashion entrepreneurs to develop their businesses.

I think you get the idea how important it is to support the TFI, so I hope to see you on Tuesday April 17.

Ryerson Fashion Show

I attended the Ryerson University Mass Exodus fashion show last night, which was great, as usual. Ryerson students always produce professional mini-collections, and I love to see the future of Canadian fashion. Congratulations to everyone involved.

Glen Baxter, host of Fashion Television, started the show with a few words, and I was struck by some wise advice that I thought you should hear. He mentioned that although the Ryerson collections were wonderful, many designers are in too much of a rush to get their collections on a runway. Glen has seen many great runway shows and many poor ones, and he’d like to see Canadian designers succeed with great shows, so he encouraged graduates to take their time and get experience in ateliers. First impressions last, so if you start with a bad presentation, people will remember it.

I agree with Glen, but I do encourage graduates to go for their dreams. Just read this blog first and avoid some of my mistakes!

How to do a Media Launch:

Fashion Cares, the fundraiser for the AIDS Committee of Toronto, revealed its theme tonight with a media launch, and they really know how to do it.

They provided the best media kit ever, which included a little poster, press release with general event information, press release with dining details, press release about the boutique and auction, tips on dressing for the event, fundraising and sponsor information, facts on HIV/AIDS, background on the AIDS Committee of Toronto, and biographies for people involved, including planning committee members, hosts, and performers.

Okay, I know you’re dying to know what it’s about, so I’ll tell you: the theme is PEEP, as in Peep Show. Jay Manuel (yes, you’ve seen him on “America’s Next Top Model”) will host and performers include Dita Von Teese, Mya, and Bedouin Soundclash. More will be announced.

I’m convinced this will be another great event and it will have lots of new energy this year with a new venue. It’s for a great cause, so I encourage you to attend as a guest or a volunteer. You will learn a lot about event production by being there in some way. I’ll try to get information about volunteering and participating as a designer at future events, but in the meantime, check out www.fashioncares.com and www.actoronto.org for more information.

Selling Online:
An Interview with James Applegath from Defunkd

Every time I run into my friend James, he tells me I should sell clothes online. He sells vintage t-shirts and he’s auctioning original Live Aid shirts from 1985 for charity until May 10 (http://stores.ebay.com/The-Defunkd-Store), so I figured now would be a great time to talk to him about online sales.

What's your story? (Did you do anything before starting a clothing company? How did you end up here?)
I was online before the internet even existed. I was 11 years old it was 1985 and the rate of transfer was 300 BAUD. I've always had an entrepreneurial way of life - throwing raves when I was 18, to publishing a few scene magazines (The Communic8r / Uproar). I was the operations manager of Industry nightclub for three years, then owned and operated Nasa Dance Pub for five years. I tinkered around with online sales while I was at Nasa, then once we sold it I stuck with the retro vibe and created Defunkd.

Please describe your company and products.
Defunkd (www.defunkd.com) is an online vintage t-shirt boutique that specializes in the sale of rare and collectible t-shirts. We have one of the most consistent selections of genuine vintage concert shirts in the world. We also print our own line of shirts (13th Floor inspired by 1980s TV and movies) as well as create custom women's DIY.

You have a strong presence online and have used eBay and MySpace to your advantage. How did you choose those sites and what made you decide to sell online?
I'm an eBay veteran - I've been buying and selling on the system since 1999. By the time Defunkd was conceptualized I was very familiar with the way eBay operated. eBay's search engine provides a climate for users to find my obscure shirts as well heavy traffic for the popular ones. This would have been impossible to achieve with a physical store. With MySpace I was able to connect directly with 10,000 of my closest friends (add me: www.myspace.com/defunkd), it's wonderful. HINT: Create a unique page with continuity to your brand - get an auto adder and generate free traffic.

Do you sell on any other sites?

Can you describe the logistics of Internet sales? (e.g. International shipping charges, exports, packing, etc.)
At one point I sold all types of vintage merchandise, but realized people were primarily interested in my shirts. Shirts are a heck of a lot easier to ship and store than jeans or jackets, so I sure didn't mind. Ninety five percent of my sales are international with very few of the domestic sales being from Toronto (go figure). I charge $6 to anywhere in the US and $10 to the rest of the world. It's quite simple, I verify the payment, I print the shipping label, neatly fold up the shirt and seal it in a high quality impenetrable envelope and off it goes. Obtaining the shirts in the first place is a whole other top secret time consuming and dusty process I don't recommend. <Cough>

What's so great about selling online?
My desk is 5 feet from my bed, which means I make my own hours. Not having a physical location means I don't have to worry about overhead, landlords, staff, theft. It also means I can be out looking for shirts while someone is in my store buying one.

What are the drawbacks to selling online?
My desk is 5 feet from my bed, which means I am always answering to customers at all hours of the day. Not having a physical location some times has me feeling like I don't exist - it's easy to get lost in a sea of e-commerce and weird explaining to friends they can't visit me at my store.

Please list some Internet sales Do's and Don'ts.Do: familiarize yourself with every aspect of your online presence - MySpace, Facebook, search engines, blogs, message boards, chat boards, etc.
Don't: forget about the real world and the traditional ways to promote your business.

Can you recommend any sales sites to clothing designers?
If you are considering designing your own shirts, test the waters with some of the no-investment sites that are available like cafepress.com. You can customize your own store, and use their new "direct printing" method (which is comparable to screen printing and far better than lame-o heat transfers).

If you have one piece of advice to new clothing business owners wanting to sell online, what would it be?
Do your research - there's tons if it at your fingertips. One great thing about the eBay system is you can find live business models and even track their sales. However, also realize that even if you have the exact same product - your sales won't immediately be the same. Selling online is a game of inches, there are so many intangible factors unique to each business that create a successful online venture.



MONDAY, APRIL 09, 2007
Q&A with Mary Symons, TFI Chair

What's your story? (What did you do before, and how did you become the Chair of the Toronto Fashion Incubator?)
I’ve always been in the fashion industry. I started as a model and lived in Paris for 10 years. When I moved back to Canada, I got into PR, working with a designer and eventually a large retail organization. Then I became more involved in professional organizations, first with Fashion Group International (FGI), then with the Toronto Fashion Incubator (TFI). After sitting on the board for a year, I was invited to become the Chair.

Every time we meet, I discover you’re involved in a different project. What fashion organizations are you affiliated with and what do you do for each one?
As you know, I’m the Chair of the TFI. I’m also a District Director with FGI, which is a group of senior executives in the fashion, beauty, and lifestyle industries. The headquarters are in New York and I handle 7 cities, including Toronto and Chicago. I sit on the Board of the Ryerson School of Fashion and I’m an advisor to the Fashion Design Council of Canada (FDCC). On top of that, I run my own business, which is PR and event planning. Is that busy enough?

Most new designers want to be involved in the fashion industry, but do not have money to pay for membership to organizations. What organizations do you think are the most worthwhile for them to join? In other words, what is the best investment for their money into a fashion-related organization?That depends on what the designer wants to achieve and who he or she wants to network with.

If you are starting a business, the TFI is definitely the organization you want to join. Go for a tour, do research on the TFI and then you can decide whether to become a resident or outreach member.

Fashion Group International is for someone who has had more time to develop his or her business. You don’t need to be a member to go to events, though, and FGI has tried to keep event entrance fees low. It is an excellent organization for increasing networking opportunities.

Volunteering at these organizations is a way for young designers to get hands-on experience. There is always a way to get started and move on to other things.

What are some benefits of the TFI New Labels Competition? Why should a new designer invest time, money, and energy into applying?
There are a number of benefits to participating in the TFI New Labels competition:

  • There is a learning curve and you gain experience. It is usually the first time a designer can participate in a large scale show of this calibre.
  • It provides the opportunity to work with a professional show producer.
  • Everyone involved in producing the New Labels show is the best in the business (lighting, sound, production, backstage management), so it gives designers a new level of understanding of how to produce a show.
  • It increases exposure (with national press coverage) and most of the PR work is done through TFI.
  • There is increased awareness within the Toronto community (media, fellow designers, industry colleagues, patrons, and buyers).

As you can see, there are a lot of good reasons to apply!

At Fashion Week, you told me that you sponsored the Fashion Psychology show. This reminds me of the Renaissance Medici family and I’m hoping that more Canadians will sponsor designers. Do you see a possibility of happening with private or public sponsors?
Yes, I was one of the sponsors of the Fashion Psychology show. They had other support from family (which is very important), the FDCC, and gifts in kind. Once you have one sponsor, others become involved.

There is a possibility of this happening more often, with individuals or companies/corporations. It’s a great way to give back to the arts and designers are artists. Sponsorship gives young people an opportunity to do something they might not be able to do because of cost restrictions and I hope more people will follow.

Do you have any suggestions on how designers might find private or public sponsors?
Young designers need to be aware that they do not give up their creative control. Finding sponsors is a matter of networking and finding the right fit. For instance, if you specialize in leather or fur, look to established companies for support. It can be gifts in kind (marketing, PR, production) and you can return favours with your own gifts in kind, such as designing garments for your sponsors.

As a fashion patron (if I can call you that), what grabs your attention?
There are three things that grab my attention:

1. A passion for what they’re doing;
2. A realistic business approach; and
3. Talent.

If you have one piece of advice to new designers, what would it be?
Being creative is a challenge; you will never please everyone and you will face rejection. Stick to your creative feelings.

You know a lot about Canadian designers. What are your thoughts on the state of Canadian fashion?
Canadian fashion is evolving each year to be stronger and more marketable, largely because of organizations like the TFI and FDCC that give young talent the opportunity to move forward. We also have established designers that are internationally recognized that continue to represent Canadian sensibility and design to a broad international audience.

Are there any Canadian designers/artists/musicians who inspire you?
I get a lot of inspiration from the passion of new designers and the ongoing work of the King of Canadian designers, Wayne Clark.

FRIDAY, APRIL 06, 2007
TFI New Labels Finalist Interview:
Malak by Kalam Lee

What's your story? (Did you do anything before starting a clothing company? How did you end up here?)
I was born in Hong Kong and my family moved to Canada (Edmonton, Alberta) when I was about 9. I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer in high school, but I wasn't sure if it is really suitable for me, so when I was 16, I took a fashion design summer program in Parsons (New York) for 5 weeks. I was totally overwhelmed by the fashion industry, the environment, and the excitement of this industry so I decided that this is the profession that I want to be in.

Then I researched universities/colleges in Canada for a fashion design option, and applied to Ryerson and I got in. So I moved to Toronto from Edmonton and started my life in the fashion side ever since. After I graduated from Ryerson, I went back to Hong Kong, to look for a job in design. I ended up working in a clothing manufacturing company shortly after, which I loved because it taught me everything from sourcing to designing commercially to how to communicate with sample makers, merchandisers, and our clients.

After about a year, I went to another company, a womenswear/brand (Mondi), and worked as a designer. There, I was totally concentrated in designing and developing a whole range of womenswear collections and the workload was just too much for me to handle. At some point I felt like I haven't really been using my "creativity" enough and I was missing Canada and Toronto so much so I decided to go on my own and start my own little line.

Please describe your clothing line and the products you produce.
My clothing line is called Malak by Kalam Lee. It's a contemporary womenswear line for women aged twenty-something to forty-something. I focused on making dresses because I always wear dresses since you don't have to think about what other clothing items to coordinate with them (well, other then your jacket/coat). I think wearing dresses makes any women feel more feminine and prettier instantly. The line includes many separates too; my clients will find that they can dress up or down and mixed and matched with their own wardrobe and my clothes.

I used a lot of "crafty" techniques like crocheting and smocking as details in my line. I love crocheting, and I inject these subtle details in the clothes because it adds that bit of "cosiness" and I tried to do it in a modern way (i.e. not too "girly" or "country").

I'd like my clients to think that these clothes is something that they will treasure and wear for more than just one season, although it's not exactly a "classic" line. I like to play with the silhouettes and the shape of the women's body as well. You can see that in some pieces I've used multi-panels in a light silk chiffon fabric (like for tops or a skirt) and some other pieces with a heavier wool fabric and pleated at the hips to add that extra exaggerations. I want to create a line that has an international appeal because women travel everywhere on a regular basis for work and or leisure. I'd like my clients to feel that they still feel chic and fashionable wherever they are and be totally comfortable in them in any environment.

Why did you enter the TFI New Labels Competition?
I knew about the TFI New Labels Competition ever since attending Ryerson. In year one, we had a project on interviewing a fashion designer and my group had a chance to interview Crystal Siemens, a TFI alumni. We went to visit her showroom, talked about her story and the TFI. That's when I started researching about the TFI. I learned how the TFI and the New Labels Competition helped launched many Canadian designers' collections and careers and have always been following this competition and the designers routes all along. When I decided to go on my own, I did not hesitate in applying to the competition with my fall/winter 2007 collection in the hopes of getting the maximum exposure to the Canadian fashion industry.

How did you prepare your TFI New Labels entry? How much time have you put into the competition?
I basically submitted the ideas and sketches from my fall/winter 2007 line for the entry. Because I started my collection for the fall/winter 2007 season a bit late, I applied to the competition a bit last minute too, because I thought I couldn't make it on time. I remember I had to make 3 clothing samples in one and a half weeks and then Fed-Ex it to Canada along with my application (at that time I was still in Hong Kong preparing my collection). The research to prepare the sketches and storyboards for judging to finishing all the samples took about 2 and a half months. That's only the sample making parts; I'm now working on the business and other sides, which is taking forever.

What have you learned from your experience with the TFI and the New Labels Competition?
My experience with the TFI is great. They really helped us prepare for the competition and launch our own business. We had one-on-one sessions with Susan before every judging and she gave us the best advice on improving our collections before we met with the judges. The judging is divided into several sessions, and we were given specific amounts of time between each session (if we pass one session, we get to move on to the next). It really forces you to manage your time well, be focused, and pushes you to the limits. And also, we all got very valuable feedback and advice from the judges when we got to meet with them during each judging session. As a result, I felt that my collection improved a lot from the original ideas. This professional advice and feedback can only be obtained when you enter this competition!

Have you seen your competition's designs? If so, what do you think about them and what have you learned from your competitors?
Yes I have seen my competition's designs. They're all great and extremely well done! Everyone is very different and everyone has their own signature styles and each of our own personalities is reflected into our collections. I guess we all learned and got inspired from each other, from each other's creativities to our passions in what we do. I think even though we are competing, we are developing a strong bond between us because we all have gone through different experiences to get to this stage. We gave each other lots of support; we go through ups and downs together!!

If you have one piece of advice to new designers, what would it be?
It's important to be able to manage stress well. There's a lot of unexpected things no matter how well you plan out your tasks or you finances. Just take it easy and don't take things too seriously.

Interview: Engelbert Gayagoy New Labels Finalist

What's your story? (e.g. Did you do anything before starting a clothing company? How did you end up here?)
After finishing an Honours BA Specialist in French Language and Literature at the University of Toronto in June 2006, I went back to Paris to visit friends and former design classmates. They all encouraged me to nurture my passion for design. Without hesitation, I took their advice. After my European voyage, I enrolled in a pattern drafting course through the Continuing Education Department at Ryerson University. I wanted to improve my technical fashion skills after many years in academia. During the semester, I frequented several TFI seminars and I was most interested in the TFI New Labels Competition. In the evenings, I prepared my portfolio and started sketching a new collection for Fall 2007. A week after I submitted my proposals, Susan Langdon called me up to congratulate me in making the semi-final cut. Since then, I have been working very hard in the evolution of the project.

Please describe your clothing line and the products you produce.
In Paris , I was privately trained in industrial design. Therefore, my clothes reflect design innovation and research. I design clothes that are made for twenty-first century living. The label 1.618... was conceptualized to take fashion to the next level. In the primordial collection for Fall 2007, I introduced high-tech sportwear fabrics, created to endure extreme weather conditions, in womens’ ready-to-wear pieces. Notably, “Protection” is the keynote for the invernal season.

Why did you enter the TFI New Labels Competition?
Timing is everything. I believe it is the perfect opportunity to present my designs to the Canadian public. Since one of TFI's mandate is to nurture young Canadian design talent, the competition would be the ultimate launching pad for the label 1.618... by Engelbert Gayagoy. I am so proud to be a part of the great Canadian design community.

How did you prepare your entry for New Labels? How much time have you put into the competition?
I started the design process by constantly sketching and writing notes. Coming from a literature background and eventually mastering the art of dissertations, I paid homage to André Breton, the father of French surrealism. His poetic work, Fata Morgana, became the inspiration for the Fall 2007 collection. He took literature to the next level. After editing my illustrations, technical sketches, and fabric selection, I was able to communicate a concise and innovative collection to the panel of judges.

During the day, I work as an administrative assistant for a data management firm. Eventually, I found it very difficult to take time off from the job to concentrate on the competition. Luckily, I have an extremely considerate boss, to whom I am grateful. I dedicated almost two months (full-time) to oversee the production of the sample pieces. I made worthwhile sacrifices and I don't regret them. Importantly, I have learned from mistakes.

What have you learned from your experience with the TFI and the New Labels Competition?
Collaboration is vital. I believe success can only be achieved as a team. I received constructive feedback from the judges. I listened to their suggestions. As a result, I produced well-received runway ready clothes. The administrative support from Susan Langdon, Danielle Ker, and Nina Facciolo at TFI was extremely helpful and efficient. They promptly answered any questions or concerns during the competition. Working with Sam Cheng, my stylist, was priceless. We developed a sound professional relationship that facilitated the visual continuity of the collection. Also, being proficient in French, I was able to speak directly to the Marketing Manager from Vin de Pays d'Oc. Together, we finalized my illustration, chosen for the National Post ad. From this experience, I was able to understand the relationship between client and designer. Last but not least, the dynamic rapport between the designers. We no longer became competitors but comrades. We discussed any design propositions as a team. I believe it has been successful so far.

Have you seen your competition’s designs? If so, what do you think about them and what have you learned from your competitors?
Yes, I have seen the other designs. I must say that there is a lot of creativity in the room whenever we put the collections side by side. We all come from different backgrounds and design experiences. Therefore, we are all unique. Each designer has a specialty. Each of us has a talent to contribute. It will be tough to choose the winning design because we are all winners in our own respect.

If you have one piece of advice to new designers, what would it be?
Be confident!!! It shows when you're not.

TFI New Labels Finalist Interview:
quelques filles – Sarah Nicol and Kelly Dowdall

What's your story? (Did you do anything before starting a clothing company? How did you end up here?)
Sarah: We went to Seneca together where we both studied Fashion Arts and graduated in 2005. I was going to apply to the competition last year, but decided to wait until I felt a bit better prepared. Now that I had quite a bit of experience under my belt, I decided to go for it. I thought it would be fun to enter with a friend, so I asked Kelly.

Please describe your clothing line and the products you produce.Sar: We design high end contemporary women's wear for the confident/fashion forward woman who enjoys ready-to-wear luxury. We love using unique textures and silhouettes to get our point across. The line that we have produced for New Labels is entitled "Mi Amore: A Victoriana Love Tragedy". It portrays the romance of an era gone by through the use of opulent fabrics and theatrical detailing... part of the quelques filles charm.

Why did you enter the TFI New Labels Competition?
Sar: To gain exposure and to get our name out there.

How did you prepare your TFI New Labels entry? How much time have you put into the competition?
Sar: We both have full time day jobs that are demanding in themselves, so we spent many a sleepless night working away on everything we needed to enter the competition. If you were looking for us, it was a pretty safe bet that you could find us on Queen Street every Saturday! When you want something bad enough, you do whatever it takes to get it done... simple.

What have you learned from your experience with the TFI and the New Labels Competition?
Sar: I've learned just how little sleep I actually can function on.

Kelly: I've learned that patience truly is important and there are never enough hours in the day.

Have you seen your competition's designs? If so, what do you think about them and what have you learned from your competitors?
Sar: I have seen everyone's collections and I think that at this point it is anyone’s competition. They are all fantastic. I suppose that one thing I have learned from my competitors is that no matter where you are in life, or what your current career may be, that it is never too late to make a change and that it is so important to follow your dreams (as "Disney" as that may sound...).

Kelly: It's clear that everyone is just so talented that it's hard to tell who is going to win or even what the judges are looking for.

If you have one piece of advice to new designers, what would it be?
Sar: You just have to put yourself out there if you ever want to get to the point in life where you dream of being. There are always going to be people out there passing judgment on you and what you do, but just keep in mind that the only thing that really matters is happiness while you rock on and do your thing.

Kelly: Never forget what makes you happy.

TFI New Labels Competition
Heats Up

The TFI is getting busy and the New Labels Competition is getting close (Tuesday April 17), so I figure it’s time to talk to the people involved. Stay tuned for New Labels interviews and information over the next few days.

MONDAY, APRIL 02, 2007
TFI Members Meeting

Oh, how I love meeting with my fashion support group. Today’s meeting was filled with business plan advice, accountant recommendations, business support, New Labels Competition talk, and Fashion Week recaps. It was great. Thanks for coming out, guys. It was nice to see new and familiar faces.

Fashionable Tuesdays

I received a few invitations for the Tag Team Tuesday events at the Drake, and for some reason I forgot to tell you about them.

What are they? Glad you asked.

They’re nights when fashion designers trade sewing needles for record needles (or iPod playlists). This week, designer Jason Meyers is Djing with Amalie Bruun and Alana Krenbrink from Finn Boutique. Could be fun and fashionable, so check it out on Tuesday April 3 at the Drake Hotel. 9:30pm.

FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2007
Fashion Show Review:
FUSIONIII Urban Meets Vogue

I feel bad for the organizers of last night’s FUSIONIII event (www.fusionurbanmeetsvogue.com) because there aren’t many good things I can say about this show. Well, that might be harsh. Something good from the show was that I learned a lot about how not to organize a show. As usual, I’m happy to share those tips:

  • Create a strong impression. If you’re going to invite media and VIPs for a reception from 5:00 to 6:00pm, make sure you’re ready to receive them. I saw people taping down cords and delivering clothes at 6:45!
  • Start on time. If you promise a show at 6:00, make it start at 6:00 or 6:15 at the latest. It should not start after 7:00. Hire an experienced show producer if you have to, or at least get experienced volunteers to keep the event on schedule.
  • Account for your invited guests. When you invite people, put them on your guest list even if they don’t RSVP. I admit that I was delinquent with my confirmation (I didn’t respond until the day of the show. Bad, I know, and I apologize, but I know I wasn’t the only one), but my name wasn’t on the list.
  • Manage “the list”. Speaking of “the list”, if you have security people who are unfamiliar with your target market, make sure you are clear with your instructions about who should have access. At the very least, have a PR person at the door. That PR person should have a cell phone with e-mail access to keep the lists updated.
  • Know your target market. From the title, I gathered that the event was supposed to be a mix of high fashion and urban wear, and since I received an invitation, I figured the organizers wanted to attract fashion media. Imagine my surprise (and disgust) at finding a pinup calendar on my table with ethnically stereotyped cheesecake photos. They weren’t even fashion photos. I can’t describe how wrong this was. If the show was at a strip club and aimed at men, this would have been a good idea.

Okay, that was my rant. To be fair, here are some things I liked about the show:

  • Have greeters. After an hour of sitting at the event waiting for something to happen, a hostess approached me. It would have been better for her to greet me and give me show information, but better late than never.
  • Provide show information. There was an excellent booklet with information about the show’s organizers, mission, team, designers, and sponsors. It was basic, but it had everything that was necessary and wouldn’t have cost too much to produce.

The Inspirational Ben Barry

I never watch morning television, but for some reason, I turned it on today, and that reason was model agency owner, Ben Barry (www.benbarry.com).

I’ve heard Ben’s story before, about how he began his agency at age 14 and turned it into an international business, and always found it inspirational. I didn’t even realize that his business now focuses on the mission to “transform the industry into a true reflection of society by representing models of all ages, sizes, races, and abilities.” I love it!

Guess what? He has a new book that I suspect would be a great read. It’s called “Fashioning Reality: A New Generation of Entrepreneurship”. You might want to check it out. Let me know if it’s good.

More PR Tips:
A Sample Press Release

I just realized that some of you may have never seen a press release, so I’m going to write you a sample:


A witty, attention-grabbing headline about your company [centred]

Attention: [your target media audience]

City (Date) – One or two snappy sentences about why you’re writing this press release.

A couple of sentences about the event or company’s history. You could add a quote.

Another sentence or two if necessary.

What: [List the event]

When: [Date and time]

Where: [Location]

Contacts: [You probably want to include PR person and designer contact information]

-30- (Note: This is a standard press release symbol to tell the reader the document is finished.)

If that doesn’t make sense, let me write something (please note it’s purely fabricated and not the best press release, but you get the idea):

PHONE: 555.555.5555

The Fabulous Clothing Company Creates Slimming Clothes

Attention: Fashion Editors

Fashionville, Canada (25 March 2007) – Yes, you read it right: the Fabulous Clothing Company has created clothes scientifically proven to make it look like the wearer lost 15 pounds!

Fabulous Clothing Company President, Fifi Fabuloso, says, “Creating slimming clothes has been my lifelong goal. I’m thrilled to announce the production of my line, Hologramorama.”

Hologramorama is a new line launched under parent company, the Fabulous Clothing Company. With over 20 years of experience in the fashion industry, the Fabulous Clothing Company has a proven track record of success. Now Fifi Fabuloso invites you to the launch of Hologramorama.

What: Hologramorama Fashion Show and Launch Party

When: 31 February 2022

Where: Fabulous Clothing Company Showroom. 123 Alphabet Street. Fashionville, Ontario.

Contact: Missy Public relations. Phone: 555.555.5556. E-mail: missy@publicrelationswebsite.com


If you want to read more press release examples and media kits, check out the TFI resource center. Don’t forget to call and make an appointment first.

MONDAY, MARCH 26, 2007
PR Tips:
Defining Your Target Market

It’s cool that the power of blogging is getting recognized by PR reps, but a lot of us are getting completely inappropriate event invitations, so I have three tips to PR people:

1. Read the blogs (or at least a few entries) to understand the content and target market.
2. Personalize the note if it is not a press release.
3. If you do send a press release, it wouldn’t hurt to follow up with a personalized note. It makes you and your client look organized and intelligent.

SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2007
Toronto Fashion Bloggers Brunch

The usual suspects appeared for the TFBB today, and although it got to a rocky start (the new venue did not accept reservations, so we didn’t have a large enough table), we quickly found our groove and I had a great conversation with Adrian (www.fashionverbatim.blogspot.com) and Eden (www.bartanista.blogspot.com) about tons of fashion/bloggy/techhie/marketing stuff.

Eden’s done so much research on the power of blogs that I felt like a luddite for the first time in my life, but she provided much inspiration for how I could get this blog out to more people. I would love for more designers, business owners, students, and fashion followers to read this blog, since I want more designers to succeed at their business adventures. Let me know if you have any ideas and I’ll let you know if I have any new ideas too.

Volunteer Interviews:
Some Tips

It was volunteer interview day at the TFI for the Ultimate Platinum fashion show and fundraiser.

Seven Team Captains sat with the TFI’s Danielle and Nina to meet potential volunteers. I felt a bit sorry for the interviewees because it must have been intimidating to walk into a room of nine interviewers. Everyone did an excellent job, and will make excellent volunteers, but I felt so sorry for them, that I’ll provide some interview tips:

*Be confident.
*Speak loudly and clearly.
*Be honest with your skills and interests.
*Bring extra copies of your resume, cover letter, and reference list.
*Take time to think about your answers.
*Do research on the organization and position.
*Make eye contact with interviewers.
*Good luck with future interviews.

Oh, there are still some volunteer positions available for the event on Tuesday April 17. Call Danielle or Nina at the TFI for more information (416.971.7117 x 21) or you can download the volunteer application here: www.fashionincubator.com/happenings/entries/tfi-needs-you.shtml.

FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 2007
Project Runway Canada

Yes, Project Runway Canada is seeking designers (go to www.slice.ca).

No, I will not apply.

If I did, I’m sure the whole thing would stress me out and I’d never be able to look at a sewing machine again. But I encourage you to apply because I want to see people I know on the show. I guess I’d rather see you stress out on screen than me. Does that make me evil?

Line Sheets

Anita Clarke (www.blogto.com) and I were talking about Fashion Week, and both of us had the same critique: there wasn’t enough information provided by the designers.

As someone who reports on shows, I find it helpful to have a line sheet with the following information:

*Designer’s bio;
*Contact information;
*Description of the collection’s inspiration; and
*Outfit list (especially with fabric description).
*If you want to spread the word about your collection, that’s the very least bit of information you should provide, and it can be done on a budget. The cheapest way to do this is on photocopied 8.5 x 11” sheets of paper. If the layout is nice, that’s all you need. Sure, a look book is nice, but it is expensive. How much does it cost to photocopy 500 sheets of paper? Not a lot. If you’ve got a company, you should be able to have this in your budget and everyone attending your show should know about you.

TFI Seminar Review:
Making Your First Sale

This was a fun seminar because TFI members Loranne Kettlewell (www.lorannekettlewell.com), Leah Bazian (www.leahbazian.com), and Rosa Costanzo (www.rosacostanzo.com) were the panelists.

They shared helpful stories about their sales experiences at trade shows and directly to stores. The most effective points were made on their “Top Sales Tips” sheets and I was interested to see that many of them provided common tips:

*Research & prepare for your appointments. Know the store and your product. Make sure you have the same target markets.
*Be confident and create a good first impression.
*Follow-up after your appointment.
*Follow-through with your orders and promises.

I enjoyed watching this online, especially since the TFI e-mailed us handouts in advance. The sound quality was great, everyone had a mic, and audience questions were repeated so the web audience didn’t miss a thing. These webcasts keep getting better. I totally recommend that you try one if a seminar is sold out or if you live in a different city. You’ll learn a lot of information that will improve your business and give you new ideas. Check TFI Events in the Happenings section at www.fashionincubator.com for future webcast dates.

MONDAY, MARCH 19, 2007
Linda Gaylard's Fashion Expertise

In press, Linda Gaylard (www.lindagaylard.com) has been described as a “Stylist to the Stars”, but that label makes me think of obnoxious people critiquing red carpet dresses on E! or Entertainment Tonight. The label doesn’t suit Linda at all. Yes, she does know how to craft looks for celebrities and she does it with more class than I’ve seen from other stylists, which is why I thought you should know more about her.

Linda began her fashion career after studying fine arts, film, and photography, and worked in research libraries. In the 1980’s, she noticed an increase in image consciousness, which prompted her to take a course with Robert Panté, a well-known image consultant. After that, she apprenticed with him in Toronto and started her own business.

She printed cards and worked with friends, cleaning their closets and taking them shopping. Her client base grew through word of mouth and she worked with lawyers and artists, often creating custom gowns and wardrobes.

Image consultation led to a recommendation for wardrobe work on CTV’s The Shirley Show, which started Linda’s career in television. It was the early 1990’s, and at that time, there were no fashion groups, so she approached a group of Canadian designers and pulled from their collections for her 5 years of work on the show.

That first television experience created contacts in design and television. Eventually Linda approached the Academy of Cinema and Television for the Genie and Gemini Awards, where she has increased the exposure of Canadian designers. Thanks to Linda’s efforts, you see many Canadian celebrities wearing Canadian designs.

How does she make the match between celebrity, designer, and event?

There is no typical formula or workday, but Linda usually starts by checking correspondence, seeking potential job opportunities. If she has an appointment at a studio to choose outfits, that will always take priority and the job follow-up will have to wait. Appointments can take anywhere from 2 to 8 hours. Linda can work all day with a client, going to a designer’s studio, shoe stores, clothing shows, with a lunch break to discuss hair and makeup. After the appointments are complete, she’ll return to her office to check messages and follow-up with job opportunities. To do her job, she requires information on the talent involved, an understanding of what they are looking for, a set visit, and a feel for the show, colours, wardrobe budget, sponsorship possibilities, and credit. Linda finds herself corresponding with clients late at night because many of them work nights on-air and e-mail her at midnight. To be a stylist, you have to be comfortable with flexible work hours.

Often the flexible work hours include events. Despite the work obligations, Linda always finds time for volunteer work and usually attends fashion-related events that could be useful for networking or discovering new labels and retailers. Sometimes she will take clients to fashion events to help gauge style needs.

To find suitable garments, Linda starts with a budget. In television, wardrobe used to be the last thing producers considered. There was also a point about eight years ago when credits shrunk, and clothing suppliers/sponsors did not get appropriate thanks for lending clothes. There is a shift now, though, and networks are understanding the importance of wardrobe and crediting clothing suppliers.

Not all clothes are given to a celebrity or production in lieu of a credit. Linda says that designers tend to loan sample-size red carpet dresses and it isn’t uncommon for gifts to be given for red carpet events. For instance, designers sometimes offer a gown to a celebrity if she will wear it to an American event.

Obviously, there is a lot of negotiation involved in wardrobe styling, so how can a designer get a stylist’s attention? Linda examines a designer’s look and the way it fits with the event or TV show. For those of you who love black, take note: she is always looking for colour. She might love a grey or black collection, but colour is important for television. The good news is that Linda is always seeking something new. She will go and see everything, even if she didn’t like last season. She never knows who will call, so she has to be prepared for every kind of show and personality.

Linda says that she would love to visit every designer’s studio, but rarely has time, so show invitations are best. Stylists need to see the clothes, so the least a designer can do is e-mail photos of red carpet looks. As a designer, you can also ask stylists for their clients’ clothing needs. When approaching stylists, research which stylists have the clients that suit your clothes. Do you design for musicians? Or do you design for red carpet? Find the stylists that can best use your clothes. Some stylists have no freedom, particularly in editorial work, so get to know the stylists and their specialties.

Linda offers the following advice to designers: be aware of clients and target market. Question how badly you want to sell your clothes. Are you designing to make a splash, fulfill a dream, or do you want to see clothes on people? Getting clothes on people doesn’t mean selling out. It means being able to take the pulse of your market.

This all sounds incredibly demanding, doesn’t it? And you thought being a stylist was easy and glamorous.

Does being a stylist still sound easy and glamorous to you? Then go for it, but Linda warns that it is hard work; it’s not about hanging out with cool people, and there is never any one way to break in to the business. A lot of jobs come from relationships, so get to know designers. You don’t have to go to every after party or bar every night, but try an internship or volunteer position to get experience then make a website. Be nice, always deliver on time, don’t act like a prima donna, and know the area where you want to style (for example, there are stylist positions in commercials, movies, and windows).

Styling could be an entry into the fashion industry if you have an interest in clothes, but can’t sew or don’t have formal design expertise. Linda mentions that a lot of stylists become designers and there are many opportunities in the fashion industry. It is multi-faceted and once you get a glimpse, you can discover possibilities beyond designing and styling.

L’Oréal Fashion Week Review:
Fashion Hangover

What goes best with a fashion hangover? Seeing praise for your work in a national publication.

National Post writer Nathalie Atkinson announced her love of Toronto fashion blogs in her Fashion Week review, “Style ABCs” (www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=16f2fb9d-d574-4e16-8e91-afd88e4257ac).

She calls us iconoclasts, which is pretty cool, though I never thought that we seek to overthrow existing fashion journalism. The more I think about it, though, the more I agree. You can feel our blogger excitement when we meet, watch shows, then post about our adventures. Traditional fashion journalists appear indifferent to fashion week, while we giggle, chat, and analyze everything. We feel privileged to be at the shows and we want to be there, which shows in our writing. All of us are happy that you read our posts, so thanks for visiting Toronto fashion blogger sites. Vive la revolution!

FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2007

Check out a Bustle show to learn about brand loyalty and the importance of creating a buzz. Each year, their dedicated client base seems to grow and they voice their love louder and louder. Enthusiastic fans filled the first two seating sections and hollered for more. I never thought I’d see people screaming for checkered pants, but there they were, making me scream for checkered pants. The hyped crowd made me more excited for the clothes, and at a show where you want to impress buyers, crowd excitement can only improve your case.

FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2007
L'Oreal Fashion Week SDnR

My regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of fun, rockin’ productions, and SDnR (www.myspace.com/sdrclothing) shows rock my world. This one was pure high voltage energy, and the best way to end fashion week.

Club shows can be tricky. They tend to start late, have obnoxious crowds, inexperienced models, poor sight lines, and are too short or way too long. It’s difficult to get the fashion crowd out to the shows, so they tend to get less fashion media coverage. But that might be okay, because they get other coverage that could target the streetwear buyer.

What can you learn from these shows? It is important to cast models that suit your clothes. Some were excellent at showing off the designs by dripping rock attitude, while others were too “model-y”.

This show was the perfect length. It was long enough to highlight the clothes, but short enough to leave the crowd wanting more.

FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2007
L’Oréal Fashion Week Review:
LEAP: A Design Challenge

Fashion has finally got the memo: everything’s gone green.

My favourite eco-message this week came from Ryerson University students. They challenged designers to re-use drapery fabric from previous events and displayed the fabulous results at the Liberty Grand this week. As an ex-urban planner who used to incorporate environmental sensitivity in all projects, environmental awareness is a subject close to my heart, and my heart was warmed to see that future fashion stars will have a conscience.

For more information, visit www.myspace.com/leapdesignchallnge and check out www.flourishfashion.ca for information on the next LEAP design challenge, which will be displayed at the Green Living Show April 27 to April 29.

FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2007
L’Oréal Fashion Week Review:
Zoran Dobric

Zoran offers something I always hope for in a fashion show: a sense of wonderment. Every time I see his clothes, I wonder, “How did he do that?” His pressing, draping, and decoration leave me in awe. As someone who can sew and make patterns, I’m sometimes left yawning when some garments come down the runway, but Zoran makes me study his clothes. If there’s one thing you can learn from Zoran, it’s the importance of construction.

Another thing you can learn from Zoran is the importance of professional models. I’ve written this before, but I’ll write it again. You need to use models who are comfortable on the runway showing off your clothes. A few of Zoran’s models looked scared, and it inhibited the show’s impact.

FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2007
L’Oréal Fashion Week Review:

After watching the energetic, crowd-pleasing GSUS (www.g-sus.com) show and checking out the look book, I realized that I’ve never discussed the importance of a look book.

What is a look book? It’s a promotional book with photos of your current collection with style names and numbers. It offers a mini-portfolio of your work and is handy to distribute to buyers, journalists, stylists, and clients. A look book usually doesn’t list costs, but it is costly to produce. To make one, you should use experienced photographers, models, graphic designers, copywriters, and printers.

What does a look book achieve? It can increase sales and exposure since it is an excellent reference source. For instance, if a journalist or stylist wants to use your clothes for a photo shoot, he or she can consult the look book and place a request quickly and easily. Without a look book, the requestee would have to remember the garment and describe it to you. With a look book, the garment is in print (according to your artistic vision), along with style names and numbers. In sum, a look book makes it easier for people to place orders.

It would have been great for GSUS to have a look book on every seat, but they were such high quality, I’m sure they cost a ton to produce. I’m lucky I ended up with a gift bag. Speaking of gift bags? Can you guess what time it is?

Yup, it’s time to play Gift Bag Hit or Miss:

  • One pair GSUS flip flops
  • One media kit. What’s in it? Large look book (obviously), smaller look book for Fall 2007, copy of the show invitation, brief history of GSUS, and Fall 2007 collection description.

FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2007
L’Oréal Fashion Week Review:
Joe Fresh Style

Fresh was the key word at the Joe Fresh Style show at the label’s headquarters. It was refreshing to see well-made, stylish basics for beyond-affordable prices.

The most helpful thing at the show was the detailed presentation sheet that listed each garment and price for every outfit. The most expensive item? An Audrey Hepburn-inspired coat for $89. A coat for $89? Now that’s fresh style.

And now it’s time for our favourite game, Gift Bag Hit or Miss!

  • Giant black canvas tote bag.
  • Information card with select products, prices, and contact information.
  • Black tank top.
  • Black pants.

FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2007
L’Oréal Fashion Week Review:

My regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of fun, rockin’ productions, and SDnR (www.myspace.com/sdrclothing) shows rock my world. This one was pure high voltage energy, and the best way to end fashion week.

Club shows can be tricky. They tend to start late, have obnoxious crowds, inexperienced models, poor sight lines, and are too short or way too long. It’s difficult to get the fashion crowd out to the shows, so they tend to get less fashion media coverage. But that might be okay, because they get other coverage that could target the streetwear buyer.

What can you learn from these shows? It is important to cast models that suit your clothes. Some were excellent at showing off the designs by dripping rock attitude, while others were too “model-y”.

This show was the perfect length. It was long enough to highlight the clothes, but short enough to leave the crowd wanting more.

Izzy Camilleri

I have no choice but to repeat that Izzy Camilleri makes this non-leather wearer want to buy an entire leather outfit and strut down city streets. I don’t have to tell you that it was a good show.

You can learn a lot about styling from an Izzy Camilleri show: hair, makeup, and accessories always enhance the overall look.

One thing I learned from this show that I’d suggest to producers is to fade in the show start. Announce the show will start in 10 minutes, then 5 minutes. Dim lights and turn up introductory music a minute or two before the show starts. For some reason, people hang around the runway forever and can ruin the impact of the first outfit if they’re in the way.

Runway Etiquette

The fashion crowd consistently lets me down. I mistakenly think that fashion people are sophisticated design-lovers, but no…they can be pushy, catty thieves.

Pushy? Try getting into the Pink Tartan show with two clipboard-keepers in front of you and 600 people behind.

Catty? Have you ever sat next to a model agent and newbie models? You hear all about walks, thinness, and the politics of casting. Most people go to shows to assess clothes, not to hear the E! Fashion Police, so please keep malicious comments to yourselves. As I said yesterday, you never know who’s around.

Thieves? My chair has been occupied more than once this week, and it’s annoying. But that’s not the lowest form of theft: people steal gift bags from front row seats. Most times those bags have look books, designer information, and contact details that are important for media members and buyers. Designers invest a lot of money in those gift bags, so they should get to the right people. Sure it’s nice to get a free lipstick, but it’s tacky to steal gift bags. If you must do it, rummage through the bags left at the end of a show.

And there is this season’s runway etiquette rant. Can we be a little more civilized, people?

L’Oréal Fashion Week Review:
Fashion Rocks Canada vs Pink Tartan

Since I wanted to see model Irina at the Pink Tartan show, I arrived late to the Fashion Rocks Canada at the Phoenix. Unfortunately, I was late for no reason. Irina’s appearance was a rumor and Pink Tartan’s clothes were almost the same as last season. That says something for design vision consistency. The clothes were absolutely saleable, but my fashion palette needed something completely different. I found it at Fashion Rocks Canada.

Sadly, there weren’t a lot of people at this fun, energetic music and fashion showcase. Club shows tend to be amateur and desperate for attention. Not this one. It was a perfect event for local art talent. Low attendance was the only disappointment.

The small audience demonstrates the importance of marketing and PR. I know that event organizers James and Paris have a MySpace page and put a lot of effort into flyers and posters, but I guess they have to do much more. Perhaps the fashion and music participants should pay some sort of fee so they are motivated to build the audience. Press releases are necessary, and those have to go to the right people. It takes much effort to promote events effectively, and I hope that Paris and James have the energy to try again in Toronto. This is an important event for bands and streetwear designers and is a great way to support local artists. Where were all you people? You’d better be at the next show.

I expect Fashion Rocks Canada to totally beat up Pink Tartan next time there’s a Fashion Week showdown.

L’Oréal Fashion Week Review:
Going Against the Flow

Okay, seriously…EVERY season I discuss traffic flow when reviewing fashion shows. This week, we suffered hour-long waits while packed shoulder-to-shoulder, waited for schedule information, missed shows, and tripped over people stalled at the exits. If there was a fire, I know I’d die with Jimmy Choo prints all over my back.

I have no idea why Fashion Week organizers haven’t learned to manage guest lists and traffic flow after 13 seasons. Would it kill them to have a PA system at door entrances and in the media lounge?

Here are some fashion show traffic flow planning tips for you so you don’t have cranky guests that write mean things about you on the internet:

  • Ensure you have visible signage, and lots of it. It’s better to underestimate your guests rather than assume they know where they’re going.
  • Announce show times and state if they are on schedule.
  • Clarify guest entrance times if you want to stagger entrances for VIPs, media members, and regular guests.
  • Allow people to confirm seats. To do this, you could display a seating chart or ensure you have enough outgoing and bright volunteers to assist guests.
  • Have more than two people in front of the doors to check passes and guest list confirmations for 600 people. You can understand the delay that creates.
Why is all this important? Do you really want people to start watching your show in a bad mood? It can affect media portrayals, buyer decisions, stylist thoughts, and guest impressions.

L’Oréal Fashion Week Review:
Joeffer Caoc

Joeffer’s shows are templates for consistency. He knows his target market and caters to that woman. Fit, timing, music, and accessories were perfect.

Speaking of accessories, Joeffer had black PVC spats that looked so hot on the black heels that I hoped he would sell them. I’m quite sure they were specially made, and that attention to detail is what sets a show apart from others.

L’Oréal Fashion Week Review:
Pat McDonagh

1. Have a Clear Vision. Pat was obviously inspired by the film, “An Inconvenient Truth”, since penguin slides flipped on the background screen and Melissa Ethridge’s song played on the speakers. The strange thing was, though, that Pat showed fur. Doesn’t that conflict with her entire environmental vision? It undermined her presentation.

2. Style your shows in advance. More than four models slipped due to ill-fitting shoes and a couple had to ditch their belts on the runway. I heard this fiasco happened because the shoes were chosen today, but really, there’s no excuse for having shoes arrive the day of a show. They should be tested with outfits in advance. To avoid runway mishaps, you should have photos of models in each outfit and test their walk with the clothes and accessories.

L'Oreal Fashion Week
Andy The-Anh

Andy’s show taught me an important lesson: do not use smoke machines at a fashion show.

The idea was good in theory, and fit with his heavy-metal inspired designs and show music, but there was so much smoke, you couldn’t see the first few outfits. It was almost a Spinal Tap fashion moment, which kind of suited the rockin’ clothes anyway.

L'Oreal Fashion Week

Here’s a reminder that my Fashion Week Reviews are not trend analyses; they’re meant to help you as a fashion business owner or someone interested in starting a clothing company. When attending events, I find good and bad aspects and tell you how you can use them to your advantage. Yes, I’m here to tell you business planning secrets, and I’m happy to do so.

There are many other websites and magazines that give you the lowdown on trends and happenings throughout Fashion Week. One of my favourite sites is NOW fashion and style scribe Andrew Sardone’s blog. He couldn’t resist the allure of blogging, and provides daily summaries at www.nowtoronto.com/blog. I also enjoy Sarah Casselman’s Runway Report at www.fashionmagazine.com/blogs/fashion-diaries. At the moment, I only see the first night’s review, but it is thorough and provides all the necessary style highlights from the Mackage show.

L'Oreal Fashion Week

I was late to the Rudsack show, but once again, I rode the bus with Tommy from www.jakandjill.com. Bus rides are becoming our seasonal tradition. He dared me to write that we saw a strange guy reading a condom package on the bus and felt sorry for him since he had to read condom instructions in public. I know it has nothing to do with fashion, but I’m always up for a dare.

Anyway, I arrived at the Rudsack show late, so I stood by the media pit and overheard some excellent advice that I’ll pass to you.

The lighting was dark and the camera operators were frustrated. One turned to another and said, “I wish these people would consult us one of these days.”

There you go. When planning a show, why not ask a photographer or videographer to contribute lighting and choreography ideas? It can only help you to get the best footage possible.

L’Oréal Fashion Week Review:

If there’s one thing you can learn from a Comrags show, it’s consistency.

The designers and their team are consistent with invitation distribution, guest list confirmation, guest admittance, and clothes. You know what you’re going to get with Comrags, and it is a pleasure to attend their shows. I applaud their organization and vision.

L’Oréal Fashion Week Review:
David Dixon

After applauding the organization at Comrags, I was appalled at the disorganization at the David Dixon show. I’m not going to fault him, but I will blame the poor Fashion Week communication. There were no announcements that David’s show was not in the main runway room. I had to follow a crowd and ask a bunch of people before it was confirmed that the show would be in an outdoor courtyard.

Once I discovered the location, there was no way to get to chairs except to sneak in the side entrance. The main entrance was too packed to access. I’m quite sure they were letting in media, sponsors, and VIP guests, but the lineup for regular guests was so long that I couldn’t make it through. It was a mob scene. There’s no other way to describe the chaos.

I’m not someone who sneak into things, but I knew I’d miss the show if I didn’t enter from the side, and I’m glad I did. There was a huge bonfire and seats were covered with Hudson’s Bay blankets. Servers offered hot chocolate, which was such a cute idea, but somewhat elitist since it was only offered to front row guests (who ever would have thought hot chocolate to be elitist?). I support the idea that everyone should be treated equally and would have liked to see everyone get hot chocolate, but logistically, that would have been impossible. It was a sweet gesture nonetheless, and suddenly I thought about summer campfires and remembered the theme of the show, Kumbaya.

When I received the show’s invitation, I laughed to myself, thought about how my worst fashion offenses were committed at summer camp, and wondered how David would translate that to a collection. I’m happy to report that he did what I’ve been waiting for since I became involved in fashion: he created a genuinely Canadian fashion show experience.

It began with a gospel group singing Kumbaya and other folk songs, followed by models in immaculately constructed fall/winter garments. If I wore them to Camp Chief Hector, I’d be laughed off the grounds, but I didn’t care. Wrapped in a Hudson’s Bay blanket, pacified by the fire’s glow, the fashion crowd’s horror of being at an outside show (in the winter) abated. We experienced a true Canadian fashion moment.

So…the lesson learned from this show is that if you participate in a large event or group show, communicate your plans to EVERYONE, from the event coordinator to every last volunteer. Then, if you still can’t start smoothly, make sure you produce clothes and a show so spectacular and detail-oriented that everyone forgets the mismanagement at the start.

L’Oréal Fashion Week Review:

I’m not necessarily a believer in the “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” adage, but I do believe you should be careful where you say those not-so-nice things.

Last night on the streetcar, I overheard a hilarious phone conversation. The girl was a disgruntled Fashion Week Volunteer complaining to her friend about the event’s disorganization and how she had been yelled at all day by guests and coordinators. There was one particularly juicy story about a VIP sponsor that I’d love to recount, but will abstain for legal reasons (if you want to hear it, buy me a glass of wine next time you see me).

Anyway, my point is that she divulged scandalous stories a public place. For all she knew, I could have been a gossipy journalist and put her at risk by publishing the stories. Or I could have been a potential employer that she might have a job interview with next week. Would I hire her? Heck no! If I was still the Volunteer Coordinator, I would not allow her to return to her shift.

It sounded as though she wouldn’t return for her shift anyway. She kept telling her friend that they should both ditch their future shifts, which really bugged me. I realize that she had a bad experience, but as an event coordinator, we count on people to honour commitments.

Being someone who has had to rely on volunteers, I beg you now that if you volunteer for something, please stick with your supervisor. If you skip out, you won’t learn anything and the event suffers even more. If it turns out to be a bad experience, don’t volunteer for the next event, and make sure you tell your supervisor why it was a bad experience. Hopefully he or she will learn from your constructive criticism. Just be careful where and when you offer said criticism.

Boutique Le Trou

I’ve written about Boutique Le Trou already, and I’m sure to write about this store again, because owner Marlene Schiff is dedicated to Canadian design. Tonight she presented looks from:

It was so uplifting to see a retail owner committed to local designers. Marlene also included a $100 gift certificate toward the purchase of products from the six designers shown.

L'Oreal Fashion Week Review:

This season, Fashion Week is back at the Liberty Grand. It flip-flops between venues every season, which is getting weird. Remember what I said about consistency last week? If things were consistent, I’m sure sign-in would be easier. The only way I found the media registration desk was because I saw Anita from blogTO in line.

Fashion Week was nice enough to give me a media bag, so it’s time to play everyone’s favourite fashion game, Gift Bag Hit or Miss! It’s a little exercise about the importance of paying attention to detail when planning events. I randomly pull gift bag items and list them without comment. You decide if it reflects the event appropriately.

Ready? Let’s go!

  • Conair Ceramic Instant Heat Straightener (Okay, I’ve got to comment: Yes! It’s a straight iron! And a good one.)
  • Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate bar\ 6 Cadbury Thins chocolate bars
  • L’Oréal Paris Carbon Black Lineur Intense
  • Dirty Dancing stage musical CD
  • L’Oréal Advanced Revitalift Double Eye Lift
  • L’Oréal Paris Bar Naturale Powdered Mineral Foundation
  • Kiss My Face travel pack with Ginger Mango Lip Balm, Whitening Toothpaste, Honey and Calendula Ultra Moisturizer, and Liquid Rock Deoderant
  • Schick Quattro Razor with Travel Case
  • Silks Trouser Socks
  • Josephson Opticians eyeglass cloth
  • i/m beauty system pamphlet
  • Ice Breakers Ultimate Mouth Freshening Ice Cubes gum
  • L’Oréal Paris Studio Indestructible Gel
  • Project Runway Canada application information with lint brush (FYI, the application is at www.slice.ca and the deadline is April 13 2007)
  • Airplus for Her Gel Steppies (insoles)
  • Colour Innovations flyer
  • i/m beauty system pamplet with Activehold Technology rubber threads

L’Oréal Fashion Week Review:
L’Oréal Gift Bags

Everyone entering tonight’s shows received a gift bag with a L’Oréal media kit highlighting Fall 2007 hair and makeup looks as well as Telescopic mascara. I’ve got to tell you that everyone was giddy about the mascara, more excited than I’ve ever seen fashion people get about mascara. L’Oréal has done a great job at creating a buzz.

As a designer, it is important for you to consider samples and include marketing and PR giveaways in your budgets. This does work. I, for instance, have been an advocate of L’Oréal Lineur Intense since I found it in a gift bag years ago. If you get a sample to the right audience, it could definitely improve business. If your sample goes to the wrong audience, though, it could be a waste of your money. That’s why we play Gift Bag Hit or Miss. Hopefully I’ll have more gift bag games to play with you throughout this week.

L’Oréal Fashion Week Review:
PR Tip

As I wrote yesterday, it’s a great idea to remind media members about shows.

What is not a great idea, though, is to copy every e-mail address. Some people are sensitive about divulging contact information, so remember to use that Blind Carbon Copy button when sending out mass e-mails. And make sure that your PR person has experience.

Also, too many reminders can get confusing and annoying, so keep your show correspondence to the following:

    * Save the date announcement;
    * Invitation; and
    * RSVP confirmation.

L’Oréal Fashion Week Review:
Opening Night Party

You know what? I just couldn’t stick around for this. I’d much rather see a runway show than watch guys try to scam their way into a party to gawk at models. I packed it in early so I can keep up for the rest of the week and bring you all sorts of information.

L’Oréal Fashion Week Review:

How can anyone not like Mackage coats? They’re gorgeous.

The show was great, but there were so many beautiful coats, they became boring. I could have watched the clothes all night, but some people in the audience weren’t as patient; I heard many people say, “How many coats can you see come down a runway?” This show illustrated the importance of an editor.

Apart from that, I thought the show was well organized, from guest list to seating, styling, and accessories.

L’Oréal Fashion Week Review:
Holt Renfrew Media Cocktail

I was pleasantly surprised to receive an invitation to Holt Renfrew’s Media Cocktail party because I’ve registered as Fashion Week media for three or four seasons, but was never invited to the event. They were kind enough to include me this time, so I was happy to go. I guess blogs are making an impact.

So what happened at the exclusive event? Lots of networking. Lots of prosecco. Lots of hors d’oeuvres. Lots of good conversation.

Not a lot of speeches, but there were a few, and if there’s one thing I learned from this event, it’s that fashion people have no attention span for speeches, no matter how good the speaker.

MONDAY, MARCH 12, 2007
L’Oréal Fashion Week Review:
Philip Sparks

This might be strange, but I’m going to review a show I didn’t attend.

It’s not as though I didn’t want to attend; I couldn’t go because the show was at 4:00pm and I have a day job and could not sneak away. I was looking forward to Philip Sparks’s show at Boutique Le Trou because I was convinced it would be excellent. Let me tell you why.

First, Philip e-mailed a media advisory a few weeks before the show. It was the first one I received this season and it caught my attention.

Second, he announced his website launch (www.philipsparks.com), and I was pleased to see an elegant, clean site that told me exactly what to expect of his designs.

Third, I received a show reminder via e-mail and invitation in the mail. These were consistent with the website graphics.

Fouth, Philip’s PR person confirmed that I was on the guest list even though I didn’t think I could make it. Many shows do not respond after you RSVP and you’re left wondering if you can get into the show.

All of this was coordinated and consistent, providing a strong first impression. Based on the pre-show organization, I figured the clothes would be just as perfect, which is why I’m reviewing a show I didn’t attend.

Paris and James Rock Fashion Across Canada

I’m supremely excited because I finally found the fashion event I’ve been looking for: Fashion Rocks Canada (www.myspace.com/fashionrockscanada).

It’s an event that is dedicated to bringing together Canadian music and fashion scenes, and the next stop is Toronto on Thursday March 15. For just $20 (or $15, if you tell the door people that you’re a Toronto Fashion Incubator Blog reader), you can see four designers (Playdead Cult, Doll Factory/Damzels in this Dress, Toxic Vision, and Futurstate) and four bands (Stutter, Diemonds, The Dunes, and The Beautiful Unknown). What a bargain!

The concept intrigued me so much that I had to meet the organizers, James and Paris, who were exactly what you’d expect from a pair of people producing fashion and rock shows across Canada. While we probably should have been doing Jager shots during our chat, we opted for tea and coffee while we discussed Canadian music and fashion.

The idea for Fashion Rocks Canada came when Paris and James decided they were both bored with jobs that weren’t working. Paris was in an office, where she didn’t feel that she could be herself. James had a background in a punk band and then a clothing label, but one night, they were talking and conceived Fashion Rocks Canada in twenty minutes.

They developed the idea of a traveling series of music and fashion shows across Canada to celebrate and promote Canadian designers and bands. The idea started in Calgary, and now James and Paris are bringing it to Toronto, then to Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax, and out west to Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Victoria. I’m not sure of exact dates, so check the myspace page for more information.

It’s a great idea, and it provides local bands and designers with a lot of exposure with little investment. Paris and James provide the models, hair, makeup, music, lighting, sound, choreography, and PR. The only drawback for a designer is that you do not have control over how your clothes are presented. On the other hand, there is minimal money you have to put into the show. It has the potential to be an exciting and interesting way to bridge gaps between music and fashion.

How can they do it? Through a lot of hard work. They say that each show takes at least three weeks of intense planning. When they say intense, they mean intense: they both work about 20 hours a day making phone calls, answering e-mails, promoting (through flyers, postering, handbills), creating sets, choreographing the show, planning the order, and doing anything else you can thing about. It is not glamourous and it is not easy.

To prepare for a show, they approach designers and bands and research their track records. They meet everyone to ensure a professional show that is in line with the Fashion Rocks Canada goal. They find a lot of participants through myspace and word-of-mouth.

Speaking of myspace and word-of-mouth, Paris and James advise new designers that marketing is key to a successful fashion business. People need to know you, so make yourself available. Think big, and get a solid base. Even if you don’t have money, plan for marketing.

When searching for participants, James and Paris look for enthusiastic people who market themselves, promote the event, and are happy to participate. If this sounds like your label, I encourage you to check out Thursday’s show to determine if you should be in their next one. Don’t forget to tell the door people that you read about it on the TFI blog and you should get a ticket for $15 instead of $20. See you there!

I’m a Big Liar

I knew that as soon as I told you I had a fun project I was planning that something would happen, and it did. Rosa Costanzo and I were planning something for September, but it turns out that September will be a busy time for my movie-industry day job, so our project will have to wait. We’ll make it happen, though, and don’t worry; I’ll keep you posted.

TFI P&G Beauty Seminar Review:
Fashion and Law

Last night, the TFI and P&G Beauty hosted a seminar about fashion and law. At the last Members Meeting, someone asked why it would be necessary to have such a seminar, which only proves why such a seminar is necessary. In fashion, you need to know about trade secrets, patents, trade marks, copyrights, and industrial designs.

This particular seminar covered the basics of intellectual property, and to be honest, it reminded me why I did so poorly in my law classes when I studied urban planning. I find the law dull, and I imagine many fashion designers feel the same way, so here’s my quick seminar summary…

Application for trade marks and copyrights will cost anywhere from $500 to upwards of $2,000. If you make an incorrect application or don’t know what you’re doing, it could cost more. When you’re starting your business, budget for at least $2,000 and legal fees. The speaker recommended that you definitely hire an intellectual property lawyer to help you through the process, and I think that’s a smart move.

For more information, check out the Canadian Intellectual Property Office at www.cipo.gc.ca.

Fashion Week Sign-In

It’s L’Oreal Fashion Week sign-in time, and I was so excited to bring you this season’s first game of Gift Bag Hit or Miss, but I was denied.

This season, media bags will be delivered at the venue. I don’t have any problems with that, but I do have an issue with consistency. Last season, we registered at the venue, which was the Muzik building. The season before, we registered at the Fashion Design Council of Canada’s office. This season, we signed in at the Intercontinental Hotel and it’s the first time that we didn’t get the media bags (with important preparation information) prior to the event. It’s not that it’s difficult to get to these different venues, but it’s just a bit of a pain, and I think it would be annoying for out-of-town guests.

So…here’s Lesson #1 from Fashion Week this season: If you plan a show every season, make it consistent as possible. That makes it easier for everyone involved. For instance, I worked at Fashion Cares for four years, and every year, the venue was the same, my group prepared in the same room, the hair and makeup preparation were in the same places, and registration was the same. Everything was easy and it helped the event run smoothly.

Finding the Time

Today I tried to interview Marlene Schiff, owner of Boutique Le Trou, but wouldn’t you know it? We kept getting interrupted by customers! Oh, the life of a store owner. I seem to have the hardest time trying to interview store owners; they seem to be busier than designers. Let this be a warning to you!

Don’t fear…I promise to chat with Marlene soon and I think she’ll have some great advice for Canadian designers.

FRIDAY, MARCH 02, 2007
Snow Night

I planned to get to Plastik Wrap’s second gallery show last night, but the crazy snow/ice/thunder storm kept me away. I had a band practice (Yes, I’m in a band. We’re just new, so when we’re ready to play in front of people, I’ll tell you) the same night and knew it would take too long to get from one side of the city to the other.

Sorry, Plastik Wrap. I look forward to your next show.

Fashion Week Registration

Hey guys: Fashion week is coming up soon (March 13 to 17) and you can go as Industry or Consumers.

If you own a company or are in the fashion industry, go to www.fdcc.ca/htm/register.php for fees and information.

If you are a fashion consumer/lover, check out www.f-list.ca for ticket information.

Rodney’s Funding Research

At the last Members Meeting, Danielle at the TFI left us a message about a funding resource (www.go.grants-loans.org/index.php). Rodney De Freitas, owner of Hard Wear Athletics checked it out and asked me to share the following message:

Good afternoon fellow designers,

I hope all is well and you are all being creative in designing your next collections!

In our last TFI Member's meeting, it was brought to our attention that there was a website available which will send us a package on many different small business funding programs in the form of Grants, Low and No Interest loans to help kick start Canadian Small Businesses. This package comes at a cost of $444.00 CDN.

Now I know a lot of designers just can't afford to put out such a large chunk of money when it could be spent buying much needed materials, supplies etc. Therefore I have come up with an idea which I think will help.

I have gone ahead and purchased the package and I must say, there is a lot of information to sift through in order to determine which programs we can apply for ( yes, we can apply for more than one at the same time.) So once I have gone through the information and narrowed the field down to the specific programs that apply to us, it will be available to you all at a cost of $75.00.

This way you are not shelling out $444.00, and are only paying for information that applies directly to you. You won't have to waste your valuable time going through all the information to determine which program is right for you when you can be spending it creating your collections, and lastly, you can use that $369.00 you will be saving to put back into your business.

For those of you who are interested please contact me at the number or e-mail below.


Rodney De Freitas
HWA Active Wear & Lifestyle Collections
Web: www.hardwearathletics.com
Email: hardwearathletics@rogers.com /> Toll Free: 1-866-827-4935
Tel: 416-740-1522
Fax: 416-740-1533

Want Fashion Show Experience?

To learn how a smooth, well-organized fashion show runs, I strongly recommend that you volunteer for the TFI’s Ultimate Platinum event on April 17. TFI is presenting two runway shows, TFI New Labels and Ultimate Platinum. Call the TFI at 416.971.7117 x 21 to discuss opportunities or send an e-mail to
tfi@fashionincubator.com with your resume and cover letter stating your experience and areas of interest.

Please note that most people want to work backstage, so not everybody can work there. But take it from me, as someone who’s volunteered at tons of fashion shows, you learn something no matter what your job. There is a lot more to a fashion show than just backstage, and if you start a company, you’ll have to know about all those requirements.


Yes, it was the Toronto Fashion Blogger’s Brunch today, and I have to say how nice it was to connect with everyone again. Talking about bloggy-tech stuff, trends, shows, Toronto Fashion Week, and other upcoming fashion events, I really began to wonder how blogs will affect the fashion industry. Lots to think about.

Fashion blogs certainly won’t knock Vogue off its pedestal, but why would people keep buying magazines that discuss trends 4 months after blogs have identified them immediately after shows? Will magazines only be relevant in places where you can’t get internet access, such as airplanes or the bathtub?

I think fashion blogs are really important in a new company’s PR and marketing strategy that has a limited budget. When you’re planning out your strategies and don’t have a lot of money, I suggest doing a lot of blog research to see who is reading what.

The Style Spy

I received a press release for The Style Spy (www.thestylespy.com), stating that the site is a guide to what’s hot in Vancouver. Since my reporting is a bit Toronto-centric, I thought I’d direct you over to the other side of Canada for some news.

The site aims to discover Vancouver’s secret shopping spots, trends, and products, which I think is great. The only thing I don’t like are the bloggy bits about celebrities. It’s not you, Style Spy, it’s me. I’m just getting bored of everybody’s preoccupation with Hollywood celebrities and bloggers ripping them apart. If your site is supposed to cover Vancouver’s style scene, then celebrate it! Let’s hear the news from your city.

That advice applies to other bloggers and sites, by the way. I want to hear about what’s unique to your place. Who are your local designers, artists, musicians, celebrities? Shouldn’t they be celebrated?

Lulu B. Might Give You Studio Space for a Year!

Apologies for not telling you about this sooner, but I assume that you read the entire TFI site all the time (If you don’t maybe you should! It’s a great site full of tons of information). Anyway…I’m rambling, when I really want to tell you about the Lulu B. Fashion Award.

Lulu B. is a French wine (a good one with a super-cute label, I might add), and the company is offering a year-long TFI studio sponsorship to the designer whose collection represents the spirit of Lulu B. It’s an amazing opportunity, because you learn new things through osmosis by spending time in the TFI. Check out www.fashionincubator.com/happenings/entries/lulu-b-award-2.shtml for more details.

I recommend that you grab a bottle of Lulu B. wine, take a few sips, and see what kind of creation it inspires. But that’s just me…maybe you’re a better designer when you haven’t had a bottle of wine!

News You’ve Been Anticipating:
The TFI New Labels Show is Announced!

I’m so excited! The TFI New Labels show tickets were released yesterday!

Mark your calendars: the fabulous event is April 17 at the Carlu in Toronto.

Seriously, it’s one of my favourite fashion events each year, and this year is extra-special. It is the TFI’s 20th Anniversary, so added to the traditional New Labels Competition, there will be a runway show featuring 20 one-of-a-kind red carpet gowns designed by TFI members and alumni including Joeffer Caoc, Farley Chatto, CinCyn, David Dixon, Mercy, Arthur Mendonça, and more. Plus, there’s also a fabulous VIP element that includes dinner and envious runway show seating.

There’s a lot more news, so go to www.fashionincubator.com/happenings/events/ultimate-platinum-tfixx07.shtml for more information. Remember that the TFI is a non-profit organization, so your ticket price is going to support a wonderful and effective organization that supports Canadian designers. Tickets sell out every year, so get yours soon.

See you there!

Top Secret Proposal

Thought you’d be interested to know that I’m working on a little project with designer Rosa Costanzo (www.rosacostanzo.com). We’re proposing something that will help bring you export information. I’m pretty excited about this, so I’ll keep you posted when we have something to report.

Marketing and Branding Lessons from a Club Opening

On Friday night, I attended an opening for a new club called Cheval (yes, that’s “horse”). They gave me a gift bag when I left, and instead of playing Gift Bag Hit or Miss, I thought I’d tell you what I thought:

*The bag itself was made of a plain black cardboard. It was simple and sophisticated, but what got my attention was the specially-made ribbon that said “cheval”. I thought it was an interesting branding idea.
*Inside, I found “cheval” branded water and silk scarf. Again, I thought these were excellent, “out of the box” branding ideas that you might be able to use for some of your PR ideas.
*There was a new magazine called Passion (www.passionmag.tv), a publication that celebrates Canadian ethnic diversity. This is a great media partner for Cheval, but what really got me was the fashion spread: Every garment was actually made by a Canadian designer! Woo-hoo! Way to go, Passion! It’s about time Canadian magazines put the spotlight on Canadian designers.


I’ve got to thank Andrew Sardone, the style scribbler at NOW magazine who reminded me about www.paper-doll.com in this week’s fashionnotes column (www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2007-02-15/goods_fashionnotes.php).

Can’t believe that I haven’t written about it before, since it’s an online store that sells Canadian designs. I’ve heard great things about this site and people recommended it to me as a retail outlet when I was selling clothes. You might want to check it out as a sales option for your company.

IQONS: MySpace for Fashion Addicts

Who doesn’t have a MySpace page these days? I usually don’t spend as much time on myspace as other people do, so I was hesitant when I heard about www.iqons.com, which is basically myspace for fashion people.

Then I thought for a while and figured I should sign up so I’d have something to tell you about. So here I am: www.iqons.com/Carolyn%2ARohaly. Why do I have such a screwy address? I thought I’d be cute and put a star between my names, but obviously it didn’t translate to URL. Oh well.

Anyway, back to the site…

IQONS aims to do to the fashion industry what MySpace has done to the music industry. The goal is to create a free global platform where fashion people connect, and I think it’s a perfect place for you to promote your work. I’m still figuring out the layout and page design, but from what I can tell, it’s perfect for building an online portfolio, especially if you don’t have the money for a website.

I’m curious about how this will work, since everyone is MySpaced out, but IQON is off to a stylish start. And if you’re curious about what anything from my (now dead) company looked like, check out my page because I’m wearing a BoastToastie dress. Don’t forget to write me a note and tell me that you’ve been reading my blog!

Wanna Volunteer for Toronto Fashion Week?

The Toronto Fashion Week Volunteer Coordinator, Ashley Rowe, wrote to say that she is seeking volunteers for Fashion Week, which is March 12 to 17. I had her position for three seasons and I know that it is difficult to find responsible people, so I’m happy to help her out by announcing it here.

If you’re enthusiastic, capable, and interested in fashion, e-mail her at volunteer@fdcc.ca. She wants you to reference this blog in your message. You’ll learn a ton about fashion show production, no matter what position you have.

Check out www.lorealfashionweek.ca and click on “volunteer” for more information.

Ashley said that she read last week’s entry about internships and agreed that some people are unfairly treated when entering the fashion workforce, so I’m quite sure that she’ll treat you well.

TFI Members Meeting

It was another fun night at the TFI with my Fashion Support Group. We had a great time talking about fashion shows, trade shows, finances, fabric suppliers, and the New Labels show. If you’re a TFI member, you should come out to the next one on March 5, from 6:00 to 7:30pm. The meetings are especially nice to attend if you work alone at your studio because you’ll meet people who know what it feels like to get frustrated when a seam just doesn’t work.

Why You Should Browse Style.com

This was the first week that I made an effort to review absolutely all the New York Fashion Week collections on www.style.com.

It’s a smart thing for designers to do before planning a show. You should try it and analyze the following things:

* What makes a good runway photo? Is it the model? Is it better when you can see people in the front row? Is it better when you can see the model only?
* What clothes look best? How do metallics photograph? What about bright colours and blacks?
* What clothing details show up?
* What hair and makeup looks make the best impact?
* What models look the best in their clothes and why?
* What lighting is most effective?
* How does the styling affect the overall impression? Is it overstyled?
* How is the collection edited? Are the designs consistent with the theme?

While you’re at the site, read the reviews, note the editorial descriptions, and what captures the attention of reviewers. I think this will help you when envisioning a collection and planning a show.

My Own Jewellery!

Guess what I’m doing? I’m playing with jewellery! Yup, I’m testing out design and construction ideas to see if I can make jewellery.

The idea came to me around Christmas time when I wanted to make gifts for friends, but I didn’t have enough time to gather materials and play around with them. It takes a while to play with different ideas. It’ll be slow going until I get what I want, but it’s fun to play. I don’t think this will be a company idea, but at least I’m having fun. I’ve never made accessories before.

Let’s Talk About Internships

During our Guilty Pleasures lunch break on Saturday, I got into a discussion about fashion internships and thought it would be smart to share some thoughts with you.

I advocate internships and volunteering. Both offer unique opportunities to get experience. Nevertheless, I do not accept the use of interns or volunteers as free labour and neither should you.

I’ve heard of instances where businesses have tried to get sales associates under the guise of an internship. Yes, I do mean to say that people wanted to hire sales associates without paying them!

An internship or volunteer position should be one where you learn something and maybe have a little bit of fun. Your labour, time, and expertise should not be exploited in any way. Some people are so eager to break into the fashion business that they’re willing to sacrifice themselves in some way, but they shouldn’t. Your time and help are worth a lot. Employers should recognize that, and if they don’t have the money to pay sales associates, they must reassess their business plan.

Talking Business in Barbie’s Basement

Barbie’s Basement Jewellery (www.bbj.ca) was the first Toronto accessories company I found after moving here five years ago. I fell in love with a sparkly Wonder Woman belt buckle – when I should have been apartment hunting – and have fallen in love with many other pop-inspired creations since. I wasn’t surprised to discover that the designers behind BBJ are just as much fun as their accessories.

Robin Woodward and Ange Beever sure are fun (you should read the bio on the website!), but they are serious about the business part of the fashion. They were quick to discuss the necessity for small businesses to keep a good credit rating and that a line of credit is the best borrowing option. If you have a day job, they say it’s best to establish credit before you’re self-employed because you’re going to need it. Should you use a credit card, though, make sure to do your research and get one with a low interest rate. When they first started their business, they had a long talk with their bank manager and recommend that you do the same.

Apart from financial research, Ange and Robin recommend that you do a bunch of research before hitting sales and trade shows. The two are show veterans, but before each one, they set up a test booth to examine merchandising options and look for ways to highlight new products and keep displays interesting for repeat customers.

Even with that preparation, the designers say that shows are difficult, and if you haven’t attended one before, you should contact people who have had experience at the event. When you’re at a show, you want traffic at your booth and lots of sales, so before each show, you should e-mail everyone on your mailing list and you might even want to include a discount coupon to add extra incentive. Selling at a show can be fun and exciting, and you can do tons of preparation, but Ange thinks it is best to have no expectations.

Both designers agree that images matters a lot, but Robin cautions you to be careful how you spend money when you’re starting a business. There’s a temptation to spend money to make money, but think about what is necessary. For instance, is it necessary to buy matching pink file folders? No. Is it smart to save money by printing your own business cards? Probably not. Instead, do a small run of well-printed cards to leave a good impression.

Barbie’s Basement Jewellery leaves a fun impression and the designers say that they tend to get repeat orders from a client base that they have built through shows. For instance, one customer loved BBJ accessories so much that she remembered them when her company was looking for new marketing ideas. That company? The CBC. It ended up being their largest order to date.

As you can tell, customers love personal service, but there might come time when your product could best be sold through a rep. Robin and Ange tried reps in the past, but found it easier to manage their own sales. They do warn that some people prey on new designers, so be careful when you search for reps and stores. For instance, some request samples with the promise that they will sell the accessories, but DO NOT send anything without getting a VISA number in return.

These gals are as full of great business advice, aren’t they? See, I didn’t lie. I didn’t lie about how much fun they are, either. How can you not have fun when part of your job consists of looking at Johnny Depp’s face for a new line of Depp-inspired accessories? Now I’m sure you can see why I love Barbie’s Basement Jewellery.

Seminar Review:

Promostyl (www.promostyl.com) trend analysis is my new obsession. I love their forecasting books and now I love their seminars.

Tonight the TFI organized a Promostyl forecasting seminar for Spring Summer 08, and it was so inspirational. Even if you’re a designer who doesn’t like to follow trends, I’d recommend attending one of these seminars or checking out the Promostyl books in the TFI Resource Centre (note: you have to call to make an appointment).

Awareness of advance trends will help make your line more marketable. You certainly don’t have to follow trends, but knowing potential palette and style demands might help sales. Plus, the trends serve as fantastic inspiration springboards.

Don’t believe me? There were tons of designers there, including David Dixon and the TFI New Labels finalists.

I’d tell you more about what happened, but people pay a lot of money for Promostyl information, and I don’t want to give away secrets and have a fashion mob after me.

Guilty Pleasures

It’s been a while since I worked backstage at a fashion show, so I agreed to help out at TFI’s Guilty Pleasures show at the Drake Hotel. It was a fun day of food, fashion, and sales.

If you want to learn how to run a show properly and on-time, I strongly recommend that you volunteer with the TFI. Every time I volunteer for something, I am presented with checklists and job descriptions outlining exactly what I’m supposed to do and at what time. Everything is so orderly and easy, it makes working fun.

The Guilty Pleasures event is held in the Drake Hotel Restaurant and Lounge. Designers set up in the lounge and clients have brunch in the restaurant, enjoy an informal fashion show, and shop. It’s great fun and wonderful exposure for designers. If you didn’t attend or participate this year, I recommend that you do one or the other next year. Watch the TFI website for event information.

More Lessons from Foxy Originals

Those Foxy gals are at it again! I saw a great profile and discussion with them in the Globe and Mail Small Business section (www.globeandmail.com/smallbusiness).

Thought you’d be interested in learning that they have eight U.S.-based sales reps, who get paid a fifteen percent commission. Get more business tips from their Globe and Mail discussion (www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070131.wfoxy-discussion/BNStory/specialSmallBusiness/home).

While you’re at it, you might want to add the Globe’s Small Business section to your Internet favourites. Too many of us forget the business part of owning a fashion business. We can learn a lot from studying other industries. Get reading!

New Favourite Blog

I’m impressed with www.fashionista.com, the blog helmed by original Gawker (www.gawker.com) editor, Elizabeth Spiers.

Expecting this to be another catty fashion blog, I was surprised to find fun and witty entries. I’m looking forward to New York Fashion Week coverage.

Launch Party Review: Trade Mark Artists

Tonight I attended the launch of a new creative agency, Trade Mark Artists (www.trademarkartists.ca), which represents makeup artists, hair stylists, and fashion stylists for alternative image needs.

Right from the start, Trade Mark Artists emitted a strong brand image. Here are the good things they did:

* The launch party was at a tattoo parlour, Black Line Studio (www.blacklinestudio.ca), which suited the company’s vibe.
* They had a hair, makeup, and fashion show that highlighted the artists’s creativity.
* There were promo cards everywhere, with contact information and professional photos.

This was an excellent example of a company launch.

Interview with Charmain Bertram

Charmain Bertram provides interesting tips and stories at our TFI Member Meetings, and when I found out that she sells her clothing at Fresh Collective, I had to interview her.

Fresh Collective (www.freshcollective.com) is a designer-run shop and studio in Toronto. In 2003, Laura Jean, the designer behind Fresh Baked Goods (www.freshbakedgoods.com) opened this innovative retail space where local designers rent coveted Queen Street West space to sell their clothes. In exchange for a completely reasonable rent ($295 per month in Charmaine’s case), designers work in the store once a week. It sounds like a great deal to me, but what does Charmaine have to say about it?

She loves it, and would recommend Fresh Collective to other designers without hesitation. Charmaine goes in once a week (every Friday) to sell clothes, straighten up sections, and help customers. Not only does she look after her own Integrity Designs line of denim and knitwear, but she also sells and maintains other designer’s work while she’s there. She loves this experience because she gets to know other designers and has learned a lot since she moved in.

Charmaine says that Laura Jean has been a wonderful mentor, even before she moved into the store. Laura Jean provided her with an orientation and welcome package, a merchandising package with information on how to arrange your section and make a good window. During her time at Fresh Collective, Charmaine received many suggestions from Laura Jean on how to improve her line. As a result, Charmaine’s three-foot space constantly evolves, as do the other designer spaces in Fresh Collective.

I have to say again that this is a great store idea and with a constant merchandise re-organization, it seems to encourage repeat customers.

Unfortunately, there are some customers that Charmaine doesn’t want to return, and they are a pair of shoplifters. Yes, she experienced her first instance of theft, which, as a designer, I find heartbreaking. I know how much time and effort goes into one outfit. Shoplifting is bad enough, but when someone steals from a local designer who has made something by hand, it’s a personal strike. But you know what? It’s part of business, and from the experience, Charmaine learned that you’ve got to plan for loss.

She also learned some other valuable lessons. For instance, small production runs are difficult because they tend to increase costs, and sometimes people aren’t willing to pay for those personalized designs. Sometimes you have to take the financial blow and mark down prices. Then when you lower prices, you sell more.

There is no doubt that Charmaine has learned a lot from her experience with Fresh Collective and she recommends that designers interested in selling their clothes go into the store to pick up a brochure or visit the website. She also encourages you to get involved in the industry and talk to other designers because they have a lot of information to share. Oh, and she also praises the TFI and its website for being a valuable source of information. Her best piece of advice? “Give it your all and go for it!”

So what’s she going to go for next? Charmaine loves making jeans and intends to move Integrity Designs into more eco-friendly territory and work with hemp, bamboo, organic cotton, and soy. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with, so I’m going to keep dropping into Fresh Collective whenever I can.

Fashion File Host Hunt Preview Screening

I caved in and went to the Fashion File Host Hunt preview screening with apprehension, dread, and fear that my audition would have been American Idol-ized and I’d become the fashion world’s “She Bangs” guy.

Luckily, the production was sophisticated and did not embarrass any auditioners or finalists. I was impressed, even though the finalists didn’t seem particularly informed about fashion. Though I think the producers should have chosen me for the job, I’ll probably end up watching the show because it has the potential to be an intelligent fashion reality show. I do hope I’m right.

And now it’s time for Gift Bag Hit or Miss! Inside a CBC shop bag, I found:

* A copy of Fashion magazine.
* Fiji water.
* A list of finalists.
* A $50 gift certificate to the Oasis Spa.
* A Schick Quattro razor (Okay I’ve GOT TO comment on this one: in the last year, I received a razor in almost every gift bag. Why do razor companies want to target fashion people so badly?).
* An Oasis Spa complimentary Final Touch make-up lesson featuring Teye make-up.
* A Fashion File nail file.
* Davidoff Cool Water Woman eau de toilette.
* A Lise Watier lipstick.

Gift bags are fun, aren’t they?

Toronto Craft Alert!

Just found this blog, the Toronto Craft Alert (www.torontocraftalert.blogspot.com) and I love it!

Want to know where to buy, sell, make, or learn to make stuff? It’s all here.

It’s nice to see so much support for DIY in Toronto.

TFI Seminar Review:
P&G Buisiness of Beauty Series – Building a Brand

I enjoy the TFI’s online seminars. I love that people can watch these all over the world.

Tonight, Tara Brown and Darren Mahaffy spoke about branding. Both work at P&G, the company that sponsors this seminar series. I was interested to hear about how their beauty branding experiences could be translated to fashion branding.

Most of their experiences are from projects with big budgets, whereas most of the TFI designers do not have big budgets. They talked about focus groups and customer feedback initiatives that many of us could not afford.

One great idea Tara did have, though, was to offer mail-in forms with hangtags so you can identify and keep track of clients.

Apart from that, I felt that the speakers offered similar advice that can be found in “Lovemarks”, a book by Kevin Roberts. If you couldn’t attend the seminar, you should read this book and check out the site (www.lovemarks.com).

Fashion Show Review: Feral Childe

Yes, I did attend Feral Childe’s show at the Drake, and I was pleased with the show’s organization and excited about the attendance. The underground was packed!

Here’s one fashion show planning tip I can give you from this: Select a venue appropriate to your audience. The Drake Underground isn’t a huge space, and Feral Childe aren’t well known in Toronto, so it worked well. It’s so much better to have a small space filled with people rather than a big, empty space. I think that Jillian Locke, the Drake Visual Arts Administrator did an excellent job at bringing this project together and promoting it.

And now it’s time for our favourite fashion game, Gift Bag Hit or Miss! I’ll reach into the gift bag, pull out the items randomly (without comment), and you decide if they accurately represent the event and label. Ready? Let’s go!

* First, I’ll mention that the gift bag is cloth and silkscreened with Feral Childe’s logo and sketches that were on some of their clothes. There’s also a decoration made out of a fabric remnant and handmade, owl-shaped button.
* Gift-bag-within-a-gift bag. It’s filled with all sorts of information about Peach Berserk, a company that sponsored this show.
* A piece of paper describing this project.
* A metallic-red envelope with all sorts of Drake stuff: a notepad, bookmark, monthly magazine, postcards, and pen.
* Promo card from Response, also a show sponsor.
* Feral Childe stickers.
* Designer Fabrics business card.
* CD from Taigaa, the band that played during the fashion show (ooops! I forgot to mention them above, so I’ll say now that they suited the show and the aesthetic 100%.).
* Business card from Brandi Boulet, the makeup artist.
* Tape measure, thimble, and business card from MacDonald-Faber Fabrics.

There you go.

Me and My Blog

Hey there. I want to thank those of you who write in and ask me all sorts of questions about starting a fashion business. I love to hear from you, but I do want to say that many of your questions have been answered in the Mentors section of this site (www.fashionincubator.com/mentors/index.shtml) or I’ve answered them right here.

If you write me and I respond by saying, “Read my blog from the start, and it’ll help you with creating your business,” it’s not because I’m an egomaniac; it’s because I want you to learn what I learned. If you read all my adventures in fashion, hopefully you’ll save a lot of time and money and avoid some of the mistakes I made. This blog is here to help you.

Thanks again for reading.

Brunch and Swap

Today’s Toronto Fashion Bloggers Brunch was the best yet! There were about 15 of us chatting about fashion. I couldn’t possibly recap everything that we discussed, but it was great to meet like-minded people and attempt to intellectualize our fashion obsessions.

After brunch, Sonja from TorontoStreetFashion.com organized a clothing swap filled with nicely loved items that owners wanted to see go to a nice, appreciative home. What a great idea!

Can’t wait to see everyone at the next brunchy day! Thanks again to Danielle at www.finalfashion.ca for organizing us.

Fashion File Host Hunt

Just received an invitation to attend a preview screening of the Fashion File Host Hunt. I wonder if my camera stupidity will make the edit: “Why would I make a good Fashion File Host? Just look at me!!!” Ugh. Don’t know if I should watch this.

Toronto Fashion Bloggers

Guess who will receive Herbal Essences gift certificates on Sunday? Yup, it’ll be the Toronto Fashion Bloggers at our brunch. I’m looking forward to seeing them there, and in the brunchy spirit, I thought it was time to revisit and review the local people behind fashion blogs who will attend, especially since we just got a bit of press (www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2006-12-28/goods_fashionnotes.php).

Final Fashion (www.finalfashion.ca) - Danielle is the Toronto Fashion Blogger Brunch organizer, and she started her blog as an exploration of the last year of Fashion Design at Ryerson. If you’re considering going to fashion school, read her blog from the start. Oh, and I have to thank her for pointing me to most of these blogs. Thanks, Danielle.

Deeply Superficial (www.fashiontheory.blogspot.com) - The first post on this blog says that it will “hopefully be an insightful and whimsical look at the Fashion system and its manifestations through my eyes.” Let’s hear it for fashion academics!

I Want – I Got (www.iwantigot.geekigirl.com) - Want to know about the next Toronto sample sale or get to know the next hot fashions, accessories, and gadgets? Come here. Anita also writes for blogTO (www.blogto.com) and is an excellent person to hang out with at fashion shows.

Bargainista (www.bargainista.blogspot.com) - Toronto shopping bargains can be found here.

A Wee Bit Skint (www.aweebitskint.com) - According to the latest post, this blog is in a transition at the moment, but in the past it’s been about the latest styles, trends, ads, and such in the fashion world.

Fashion Verbatim (www.fashionverbatim.blogspot.com) - This one’s also about trends, but there’s a distinct celebrity-watching slant to this fashion blog.

Toronto Street Fashion (www.torontostreetfashion.com) - I’ve pointed you to these guys before and I’ll do it again. They have fun discovering Toronto’s fashionably innovative people and trends.

La Femme (www.eurobrat.blogspot.com) - It’s called “Diary of a Style Addict”. Need I say more?

I love that there are all these local bloggers, but I’m disappointed there aren’t more blogs about Toronto and Canadian fashion. We’ve got lots of style to discuss, so let’s do it!

Blogging Rules Because You Sometimes Get Free Stuff

Okay, there are more reasons why blogging rules, but it was pretty fun to get a giant box of Herbal Essences promo stuff today.

Part of the deal to get this stuff was that I have tell you guys about it, but I explained that my blog isn’t a beauty blog, nor is it a trend-analysis fashion blog. I told them that since it’s about starting a fashion business, I’d probably mention it as a marketing analysis. That was fine with them, so here’s my analysis:

▪ I think it’s great to target bloggers because – unlike magazine editors - we are not overwhelmed by new product information, we aren’t jaded (well, some of us aren’t!), and can devote space to your product. It’s a good way to generate buzz about your product.

▪ The thing about asking bloggers to write about your stuff is that we can write whatever we want about it. If it sucks, we’ll let you know.

▪ Wow! It’s amazing what a marketing budget buys! These guys aren’t fooling around…they couriered a huge custom-made box (roughly the size of two VCRs) filled with all sorts of goodies.

▪ Speaking of goodies, why don’t we play a modified version of Gift Bag Hit or Miss? This time it’s Marketing Package Hit or Miss. Read through the following items and think about if they fit with the Herbal Essences brand:

Instruction Package: This told me that “…you need to develop your E.S.P. (Essences Sensory Perception)!” I was instructed to let my senses guide me to uncover a sensory surprise by starting with smell and finishing with sight and they asked me the following questions:

1) Can you sniff out a great hair collection?
2) Do you want luscious hair so much you can taste it?
3) Is the sound of a hairdryer music to your ears?
4) Are you in touch with your inner hair diva?
5) Are you ready to set your sights on something spectacular?

Step 1. Lavender candle: Apparently I’m supposed to “dim the lights, take a deep breath, and become one with my hair.”
Step 2. Dare RealFruit Minis: This is to get my taste buds tingling.
Step 3. PureTracks gift card: I’m asked, “What’s the rhythm of your hair?”
Step 4. Some sort of brush: I don’t know if it’s a scalp massager brush or some sort of skin massager brush. Hmmm.
Step 5. Herbal Essences shampoo, conditioner, and hairspray: Oh! Finally…the product they want me to try! In this section of the giant box, there are also some styling tips, a t-shirt, and some coupons to give to my friends.

There you go. What do you think of this marketing concept? What did you learn from this lesson and how can you apply it to your fashion business?

I learned three things:

1) Don’t skimp on your marketing/PR budget because these materials set the tone of how people perceive you and your product. For instance, if you send sleek materials, people with think that you’re organized and have a good product.

2) Marketers and PR people are really starting to recognize the power of blogging and use it to their viral marketing advantages.

3) I like free stuff and I suspect other bloggers like free stuff too.

Interview: New York Style Comes to Toronto

Before the designers tell me their clothes are “more built than they are sewn,”I think Feral Childe’s clothes have a sculptural quality. They’re definitely works of art.

I eventually learn that the garments are art because both members of the art/design duo studied fine art in university and graduate school. Alice Wu majored in sculpture and Moriah Carleson pursued printmaking and painting. Their transition to fashion design will interest many of you who want to be fashion designers, but have no experience sewing.

Moriah and Alice had no sewing or patternmaking experience before starting Feral Childe. Their designs are the result of fabric experimentation. There are twists, folds, shapes, and cuts I’ve never seen before. The sewing and patternmaking tend to happen later. They admit that patternmaking and sewing experience would probably save time, but I suspect that the experimentation process is what helps form the Feral Childe aesthetic.

I describe that aesthetic as organic and spontaneous, and I think the designers would agree. Their creation method includes a lot of trial and error, sometimes requireing ten tests to get the correct style. They’re very hands-on designers who admit that they spend much of their time correcting designs and patterns and – surprisingly – doing lots of math. We share a laugh when we discuss the perception that fashion is easy and glamorous. They say that they can’t believe how much math they have to do for measuring out fabric yardage, prioritizing materials, and pattern construction (not to mention accounting!). We agree that whoever thinks a fashion is easy is very, very wrong.

One thing that you need to be successful in fashion is the motivation, and I can tell that these women love to create all day and all night. They have no choice, really; they say that they work all the time. There’s no partying for these two while they try to develop their label. And that goes double for the work that brings them to Toronto.

They’re Brooklyn residents who are artists in residence at the Drake Hotel. They’re here to create and present their Canadian Alphabet collection. I love the concept because I’m intrigued about how people perceive Canada. I obviously have to ask them if there are any Canadian designers, artists, or musitions who inspire them.

While thinking of the answer, Alice comments on my motorcycle boots. I tell her that they’re John Fluevog (www.fluevog.com) shoes, and that he is Canadian. She didn’t know that Mr. Fluevog is Canadian, so can now cite him as a Canadian designer who she admires. Both of them say that they listen to Leonard Cohen a lot, but that they’re more inspired by the idea of the north rather than any particular artist.

Even though they aren’t directly inspired by the Canadian design scene, they’ve made a lot of local connections and have enough Toronto sponsors that their collection is bound to have an indirectly local flavour. I’m impressed to learn that MacFab (www.macfabfabrics.com) donated fabrics and notions, Designer Fabrics (www.designerfabrics.ca) also donated fabrics, Peach Berserk (www.peachberserk.com) did silkscreening, and Elmer Olsen Model Management (www.elmerolsenmodels.com) will supply models. When starting a clothing company, it’s very important to establish partnerships such as these.

Alice and Moriah of Feral Childe have learned many of those kinds of lessons (including the importance of having a business plan) through much self-education. As a result, many of you can learn from them, especially you guys who want to be fashion designers, but worry about your lack of sewing skills. You should look to Feral Childe as inspiration.

If you are inspired, I recommend that you check out Feral Childe’s presentation of their Canadian Alphabet collection at the Drake Hotel Underground on Tuesday January 23 at 9:00pm. Tickets are $5 and everyone is welcome.

Can You Believe I Went to a Wedding Show?

It’s true. To do fashion research for you, I went to a wedding show.

And you know what? It was fun! Admittedly, I was under the influence of a lot of sugar. There were mini cupcakes galore and I overdosed, but not before I realized a few things:

▪ This is the place to go to see how to plan a booth/table display. Every company’s layout was immaculate.

▪ When participating in a group show, it’s important to set yourself apart. Everyone has business cards, so give people something memorable. This show was filled with innovative marketing ideas, but my favourite was a GEE Beauty (www.geebeauty.com) matchbox that said, “Careful, darling. You’re already hot.” Loved it!

▪ TFI member and accessory Loranne Kettlewell (www.lorannekettlewell.com) had a brilliant PR piece: a page of classic dress styles and recommended jewellery to fit each neckline.

▪ During the fashion show, it was apparent that there were no prior fittings since dresses slipped down and necklines gaped open. The models did not match the gowns. Someone told me this was because bridal gown samples tend to be a size 8 or 10, but most models are much smaller. This is a strange industry divide, but I can never stress enough that it’s ultra-important to hold at least one fitting prior to a fashion show.

Oh, and I totally recommend giving cupcakes to potential clients.

Introduction: Feral Childe

I was introduced to the Feral Childe designers (www.feralchilde.com) and told they will have a runway show at the Drake hotel on January 23, so you might want to check it out. I’ll try to have an interview next week with more details, but in the meantime, check out the Drake’s website (www.thedrakehotel.ca/culture.asp) for more information about Feral Childe’s residency.

Members Meeting

We had a treat at last night’s members meeting: Engelbert Gayagoy is a semi-finalist in this year’s New Labels competition, so he showed us his work and took us through his competition experience to date.

His entry started well, but he suffered a setback for the first deadline when his fabric didn’t arrive from Switzerland. Ah, the life of a fashion designer….always waiting for fabric… Luckily, the judges understood this as an industry obstacle and allowed Engelbert to continue to this round, where he had to present 10 completed outfits.

I’m glad he convinced them of his dedication and seriousness because I loved his designs; they spoke to my inner wanna-be architect and I would love to wear those clothes! I hope he gets to the finals so I can see his collection on the runway and follow-up on his competition experiences.

Another member suggested that I interview all the finalists about their experiences so you can understand the competition, so I’ll try to do that. Stay tuned.

The Calgary Scene

After not finding any Calgary designers or their clothes on the streets of Calgary, I found some sites and thought you’d like an introduction to who makes up Calgary’s style scene:

Paul Hardy (www.paulhardydesign.com) - I love Paul’s clothes, and have ever since I saw his debut at Toronto Fashion Week in 2002.

Evalina Schmidtke (www.evalinacouture.com) - From what I’ve heard, every Calgary bride wants one of Evalina’s couture gowns.

Mode Models (www.modemodels.com) - Agency owner Kelly Streit knows what makes a good model, and he seems to pluck models out of the prairies. Heard of Tricia Helfer, Kim Renneberg, and Heather Marks? They’re from Mode.

Thomas Lynch (www.thomaslynchfashions.com) - I met Thomas because he organized the New Year’s party I attended and it turned out that he’s a fashion designer. We tried to get together for an interview, but it didn’t happen because he ran off to Turkey for business.

Avenue Magazine (www.avenuemagazine.ca) - This is not only a great Calgary style magazine, but it’s a great magazine, period.

There are more, but these are the ones I heard about when I talked to Calgary friends who pay attention to fashion.

Calgary Fashion

Just returned from Calgary, where conversation revolved around the boom, jobs, oil, construction, and the lack of taxis. With all the money flying around the city, I thought it strange that nobody talked about fashion.

I spent a day wandering through stores in the three hip areas asking, “Do you carry any local designers?” The response was always, “Uhhhhh….no. But we might have some Vancouver designers over there in the corner.”

That is the reason why I left Calgary to pursue fashion design. And the street trends. They haven’t changed since I left five years ago:

1) Surfwear – I have never understood why the people of Calgary love surfwear so much, but they do. Maybe they wish they lived in California, or maybe it’s because there’s a link between surf and ski culture, but there is no excuse for sandals in two degree weather. Yes, I saw many bare sandalled feet on the streets of Calgary in December.

2) Labels – If you’re not wearing surf in Calgary, you’re wearing a label, and you’re going to tell everyone what label it is. You’re also going to buy it at Holt Renfrew. People with that oil money want to spend it on established designers; they don’t want to take a chance on local designers.

And that’s fashion in Calgary. Oh yeah, there are cowboys too. I’d love to break the stereotype and tell you that cowboys don’t exist in Calgary, but people really do walk around wearing cowboy hats and cowboy boots. I’m not joking.


diary archives

view 2015 archives

view 2014 archives

view 2013 archives

view 2012 archives

view 2011 archives

view 2010 archives

view 2009 archives

view 2008 archives

view 2007 archives

view 2006 archives

view 2005 archives

view 2004 archives