Posts Tagged ‘Style Nine to Five Q&A’

Fashion Jobs – Q&A with Sarah Kennedy, Creator of SAK Bijoux

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

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Creative, inspired by nature and a hardworking entrepreneur, these are just a few words to describe Sarah Kennedy, fine jewellery designer, and creator of SAK Bijoux.  Style Nine to Five had the opportunity to chat with Sarah to learn about how she incorporates her minimalist lifestyle into her collections and the hustle and bustle that comes along with flourishing a company.


SNTF: Let’s start at the very beginning. Can you tell us what attracted you to pursue a career as a jewellery designer? Did you go to school or work a position that helped you launch your business?


SK: I started making jewellery as a hobby. I loved finding interesting objects like charms and stones, then putting them on chains to wear for myself or to gift to friends. In 2014, a friend of mine, Kerry Lawrence, asked if I would be interested in creating a line that she could sell through the agency she worked for in Vancouver. I decided to go for it and that’s when SAK Bijoux began! Over that last three years, I have taught myself how to silversmith. I’m still learning everyday and each line shows my new and more advanced skills. I recently switched to precious metals and higher quality gemstones. I’m currently moving into fine jewellery, something I am very excited about.


SNTF: Owning your own business is huge! Have you faced any challenges along the way?  


SK: There have been many struggles along the way. Financially it was tough at the beginning, I have had a full time serving job while starting this company. Time has been a struggle for me as well. After a full eight hours of serving, it’s sometimes hard to motivate myself to head to the bench and feel inspired.  In the end, knowing that I’m working towards something I love, and makes me happy is what makes all those long days worth it.  


SNTF: What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from the years of being in business?


SK: Don’t be afraid to fail. Sometimes the fear of failure holds you back from doing anything at all.  There is a large chance you will fail but that’s okay. The lessons you learn from failure are invaluable.


SNTF: There are many fashion savvy people out there who have an urge to share their creativity. If you could give a solid piece of advice to someone aspiring to create a jewellery collection, what would you say?


SK: Be true to your vision. If you truly believe in what you are putting out there you will have a much higher chance of success.  Again don’t be afraid to fail, its part of the process.

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SNTF: What skills do you believe are essential for being a jewellery designer?  


SK: Expressing your creativity and staying motivated!


SNTF: Is there someone who acted as a mentor to help you get to where you are now?


SK: Kerry Lawrence, if it wasn’t for her I’m not sure SAK Bijoux would exist. Her belief in me gave me the confidence I needed to get where I am today.  I learned a lot about the industry from her as well, she helped me get my foot in the door.


SNTF: Where does your inspiration come from when you’re working on a new line?


SK: My inspiration comes from the rugged beauty of the west coast. I am so lucky to live here in BC, and call Whistler my home. The magical beauty of this mountain town gives me inspiration everyday.


SNTF: How would you describe your own personal style and how does that reflect onto SAK BIJOUX?


SK: My style is pretty simple and clean. Anyone who knows me knows I love wearing black. I’ve always loved accessorizing simple outfits.  One of the reasons I started making jewellery was because I could never find the jewellery I wanted wear, so I made it instead.  My new line is very minimalistic, which I think reflects my style evolution.


SNTF: What is the future of SAK Bijoux, what will we see next?


SK: I’ve expanded my line into precious metals (sterling silver and 14kg fill). My next collection will be fine jewellery, showcasing higher quality gemstones. I’m very excited to share my upcoming creations with everyone.


Sarah’s line can be found all across Canada at a variety of independent stores. To check out her jewellery head to SAK Bijoux or check out her social feeds on Facebook and Instagram.


Images Courtesy SAK Bijoux


By, Andrea Andino, Vancouver, @___andreandino

Fashion Jobs: Q&A with Gentle Fawn’s CEO Carla Hogg

Friday, December 1st, 2017

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Passionate, hardworking, and inspirational are just a few ways you could describe Carla Hogg, GENTLE FAWN’s  President, and CEO. We had the chance to chat with Carla and ask her a few questions about her position, what it takes to land a career with the powerhouse brand and also receive some advice for those looking to launch their career in the world of fashion.


SNTF: First of all, can you tell us a little about you. Who you are, what your role is for GENTLE FAWN?


CH: My name is Carla Hogg, and I’m the President / CEO of GENTLE FAWN.


SNTF: When did you start working for GENTLE FAWN?


CH: GENTLE FAWN was started in 2003 by my husband, Danny Hogg, and I. Sold in over 650 multi-brand stores across Canada and the USA, we’re known for our effortless designs and thoughtful, handmade prints.  


SNTF: What makes GENTLE FAWN such an appealing brand to work for?


CH: Straight up: We’re growing. Aside from being an up-and-coming brand, our team is a group of creative, hard-working, driven individuals with big goals and determination.


SNTF: What kind of skills or personality traits are you looking for when interviewing candidates?


CH: When interviewing, we’re looking for someone who is a genuinely nice person with a great ‘can do’ attitude and proven work ethic. Someone who is charismatic with a positive demeanor.  


SNTF: What would make someone successful in a position with your company?


CH: To be successful at GENTLE FAWN, we’re looking for someone who is proactive, strategic and works in alignment with the company goals. Being solution-oriented is key.


SNTF: Do you offer any mentorship or internship programs for those looking to break into the fashion industry?


CH: Instead of a formal internship program, we host design and marketing students who want to volunteer to gain an understanding of how the industry works, and what the different job opportunities look like in a clothing company. Internally, all of our staff have the opportunity to use an education fund, where we encourage everyone at GENTLE FAWN to take advantage of going to conferences, taking courses or attending industry events.


As an example, a few members of our team are attending the Create + Cultivate Conference in LA next year, where we will be attending seminars and workshops that tackle topics from branding, to content creation and number crunching.


SNTF: How can a candidate ensure they start off on the right note at the beginning of an interview?


CH: We wear our hearts on our sleeves – if you’re hitting all the right notes, you’ll know. We know what we want when we find it, and don’t drag out the interview process. Our time is precious, and we know yours is too.


SNTF: What would you say is a typical day at work like for you?


CH: Whether we’re strategic planning or viewing SMS samples, no day is the same at GENTLE FAWN. The best thing about working for a growing company is that you get to work on many cross-functional projects with a wide scope.


SNTF: What are the overall goals your company works towards daily?


CH: At the end of the day, we all work towards our vision of designing easy to wear trends with a flattering fit for a stylish individual who wants to leave a lasting impression.


SNTF: Can you describe the work culture or atmosphere at the GENTLE FAWN head office?


CH: We’re a tight group at GF HQ. We have team activities and lunches and connect through slack on the daily. We’re a creative and welcoming bunch.


SNTF: What advice do you have for someone looking to join your team?


CH: Be confident, and be yourself. Whether you’re a fit now or in the future, we’ll never let someone slip by. Ask questions, be curious, and show interest.


SNTF: There are certain positions within a fashion brand that are widely known such as marketing intern or graphic designer; however, there are many other industry jobs that are not as widely publicized. Are there any jobs within your brand that our readers may not have heard about to consider?


CH: Product Development – you understand the product inside-out and backwards.  You are analytical and have your finger on the pulse to understand what the needs of the market are and how to translate them for your muse.  You may also run the product calendar – a critical lifeline for any brand!


Customer Service Administrator – you’ve got the power to ensure our customers have the best experience possible. You’re great at mastering relationships, and holding everyone accountable – from our warehouses to our sales team. It’s an opportunity to be the link between our team and our customers. We’re currently hiring for Customer Service Administrator, apply now!  


Fabric Specialist – You are on the design or production team.  You understand texture, drape, and set the stage for inspiring the designers to dream up silhouettes to fit every occasion.  You are extremely organized, tracking costs, communicating with fabric mills and stocking a great library of reference fabrics.


SNTF: What advice would you give to someone looking to break into the fashion industry?


CH: Jump in! Start doing your research; look at highlights from online news sources and blogs and attend industry events (there are plenty going go to, and it’s a great opportunity to get to know people).  Vancouver is a small city, and the fashion industry here is even smaller.


SNTF: Finally, where do you see GENTLE FAWN headed in the future?


CH: We’re gearing up for big growth at GENTLE FAWN. Now more than ever, it’s a great time to join the team. The possibilities are endless, and we see no end in sight!


To follow along with Carla’s journey with GENTLE FAWN make sure to give her a follow on Instagram.


By: Avery Lafortune, Toronto

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Fashion Jobs – Q&A With Danni Simmen, Founder & Creative Director of Pepper B. Design

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

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Creative, inspirational and a home décor vixen are just a few ways you could describe Danni Simmen, owner and creative director of Pepper B. Design. We had the chance to chat with Danni and ask her a few questions about her brand and also receive some advice for those looking to both launch their own business and a career in the world of design.

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SNTF: To get things started, can you first tell us how you broke into the home décor business?


DS: I studied textile design in university at OCAD U in Toronto, and Winchester School of Art in England. And then worked in the home decor design industry for about five years before taking the leap to start out on my own.


SNTF: What was it that sparked your interest in the field? 


DS: When I was growing up I would constantly rearrange and redesign my bedroom, and luckily for me, my parents were very supportive of all my creative interests, even when that meant endless trips to home depot for another can of paint or supplies for a DIY project. It wasn’t until my first year of university that I realized how much I loved working with textiles. I was enrolled in the drawing and painting program at OCAD and started to feel a need to create art that was also practical and useful for everyday life, so I switched into the Material Art and Design program and loved it.

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SNTF: You’re the founder of Pepper B., an incredible home décor brand with a focus on patterns and products designed in Canada. When did you first get the idea to start your own business?


DS: I had always imagined starting my own business, but I didn’t have a clear idea of what it would be. So years later when I was designing home products for other brands, part of my job included styling product and setting up company e-commerce sites. I thought I should really do this for myself with my own designs, and the idea grew from there.


SNTF: Would you say that it’s your passion for home décor that has grown Pepper B. to the brand that it is today?


DS: It’s a passion for home decor, but also for patterns! I love the impact patterns have in a space and how they provide a perfect finishing touch.

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SNTF: And we have to ask, what’s the story behind your brand’s name! 


DS: It’s a play on naming different colourways of a pattern, for example, a red version could be “Pepper A”, and a purple version of the same design could be “Pepper C”.


SNTF: What would you say are some of the benefits and challenges of running your own business?


DS: I love creating my own schedule and having the freedom to work when I’m feeling most productive. I’m not a morning person, and I get the most done in the afternoon and evening. On the flip side, it can be challenging working primarily on my own and not having another person to bounce ideas around with and share the workload.

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SNTF: Have you had any mentors to help you navigate along the way?


DS: I haven’t had one person in particular, but I have had a lot of support from family and friends. Their encouragement and support have been amazing.


SNTF: Since launching Pepper B. in 2015, has there been any major obstacles you’ve experienced along the way or mistakes made? If so, how did you overcome them and move forward?


DS: I’m lucky not to have experienced any major obstacles, but there have certainly been many bumps along the way! I’m a nonconfrontational person so when issues arise, it is tempting for me to just move on and not to address it. I’m learning I need to stand my ground and make sure my voice is heard even if it makes me feel extremely uncomfortable. Recently when I placed an order for new fabric, my printer used the wrong colour for one of the designs and when I pointed this out to they did not want to take responsibility for the mistake. In the end, they did reprint the entire yardage but it took a lot of pushing, and persistence on my part.

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SNTF: What’s a typical day like for you?


DS: I like to start the day with a big cup of coffee, listen to a podcast, and take my dog for a walk. The rest of my morning is generally dedicated to emails and any design work or website updates, and in the afternoon I pack and ship orders, or visit my seamstress to pick up items to ship the next day. Sometimes I’ll also be photographing products or styled shots for social media or visiting with potential stockists. It’s always changing but it certainly keeps it interesting.


SNTF: Where would you say you find your day-to-day inspiration? Do you have any tricks for when you hit a creative slump?


DS: What works best for me is taking a break and giving my brain a new focus for a while so I can come back refreshed. If I’m feeling motivated I’ll go for a quick run, but sometimes taking a walk and picking up a coffee can do the trick.

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SNTF: For those interested in starting their own company, what’s one piece of advice they need to hear?


DS: Don’t wait, just do it! You will never feel 100% prepared. But you WILL learn as you go, and you won’t regret putting your dreams into action.


SNTF: Do you have any tips for tips for maintaining a work/life balance while growing your business?


DS: It’s tempting to keep working away until a long to-do list is tackled, but I’ve learned that if I schedule personal time in advance, I’m more likely to take a breather and get away from my desk.


SNTF: And finally, what would you say gets you excited each morning? What is next for both you and Pepper B.?


DS: I love connecting with customers, and meeting new people who are doing great things in the creative industry. Next up we’re planning on adding some new product categories to our collection, and we’ll also be at the One of a Kind Show at the end of November at Exhibition Place in Toronto. Come say hi!


To follow along with Dani’s entrepreneurial and creative journey make sure to give her a follow on Instagram.


All images provided by Ruby Social Co. 


By Ainsley Smith, Toronto, @ainsleysmithy

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Are you a job seeker? Find fashion jobs here.

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