Youth Employment Services and Toronto’s Fashion Incubator teamed up to offer “Passion for Fashion” classes to Toronto’s youth and I was lucky enough to be one of them.
At 24, I just made the cut and I am glad I did, even though I was a bit reluctant. It seemed like a program that was catering to young fashion designers, not aspiring fashion journalists. I quickly learned that the lessons I would learn could easily translate to my own career aspirations.
Where to start?
The teachers (who would become our judges) were always eager to take my questions and I had a lot of them.
Richard Healey had the business background – it seemed like he could write a business plan in his sleep. I can assure you that I did not write mine with such grace. It took a lot of research, but I got it done.
Danielle Meder of Final Fashion discussed everything from the importance of rich boyfriends (har – this was in jest, obviously) to fashion illustration. Somehow, without the aid of a croquis, I was able to sketch something that resembled the skeleton of a fashion illustration. Danielle did that. She was a great teacher and her candid discussions gave me piece of mind – my perception of “fashion community” was too rigid and I learned that there a lot of people who are willing to listen and offer their expertise.
Kendra Francis, designer behind label Franke was such an inspiration. Her excitement and business savvy kept me fascinated and I really felt as though I had met someone who was legitimately interested in helping youth looking to tap into the fashion market. Her class was so personal that it was easy for me to slip into her life for a moment or two – She is someone I would love to write for someday, in some capacity .
Lastly, Jen Kluger of Foxy Originals brought us her take on the fashion biz, since she is a co-founder of a high-end look, moderate price point accessories line. She took us on a trip through the fashion curve, illustrating how fashion goes from early adoption to mainstream retail. I love an opportunity to discuss tipping points and this was no exception – I talked and talked … and talked. Her enthusiasm was contagious and she showed us that a little resilience makes the difference between a folding company and a brand that caters to celebrity clientelle (her pieces have been worn by the likes of Paris Hilton).
The program culminated into a competition YES and TFI named “Fashionista’s Den” – a competition based on the British and Canadian entrepreneurial competition “Dragon’s Den.” Our judges (the four named above) were by no means village-destroying dragons, but they still offered constructive criticism that aimed to bring our brands from light bulb idea to reality.
Above is my presentation board, which all entrants needed to complete in order to be considered as a finalist. As the only aspiring editor in the making, my board was a little different. I mocked up my magazine cover for Smith Magazine, a mens lifestyle magazine that emphasizes the importance of classical menswear – taking the heavy attention away from fast fashion and trend pieces. To the right are my inspirations, from Fantastic Man to Paper and DV Man. To be honest, having this creative outlet gave me the drive to move forward on my dreams, which had reached a standing point. Through meeting the teachers and getting their advice and letting my creative juices flow, I was able to create a magazine on my own – something I had not allowed myself to do. For this, I would love to thank YES, TFI and all of the judges.
Last but certainly not least is Gail McInnes, a woman who took time out of her hectic schedule from her new company Magnet Creative to mentor me. I was really excited to meet Gail, because I shamelessly knew of her from her days at The Style Box. I think there is a lot of value that anyone can get from a mentorship program – learning from the expertise of someone who knows about the industry you yourself are planning to get into is priceless. Gail was patient and guided me down the industry lines where I met Editor in Chief of Corduroy, Tim Chan and various other industry professionals who were willing to help lend a hand in my fashion education.
Gone are the days of my fashion pessimism. Thanks to YES, TFI, teachers, mentors and myself, I now have the building blocks to get my life together. I would recommend this program highly to all budding fashion entrepreneurs – you will get more than you bargained for, if you put in the time and effort. What are you waiting for? Check out Passion for Fashion
You can read about the program and see some more great pics at Danielle’s website, Final Fashion