How did you start your business?
Well there is a lot to it, but I initially started designing collections for Vancouver Fashion Week after I graduated from JCI, and that gave me exposure to the Vancouver scene. I then turned my portfolio into a website and from there I turned my website into an online store. I registered my business once I solidified my name, and I’ve been taking it in stride since; mainly working hard to get as much exposure as I can. The exposure I gained from VFW gave me credibility for other opportunities, and having the physical space at Oakridge really solidified my business. I was then able to meet new customers and talk to more people walking through the exhibition, and I was able to turn byLJ Studio into a retail space and have my first shopping event. Getting feedback from real people on my designs has been a huge step towards becoming a business.
How do you gain inspiration for your collections?
Every avenue you can think of: movies, music, history, culture, etc. Honestly, anything can create inspiration as long as I can come up with a strong concept behind it. That’s the most exciting part of creating a new collection. As long as you keep an open mind, inspiration is everywhere.
What affects your decisions for which trends to follow?
Sustainability. Will they last and will they intrigue today’s market for more than a split second?
Also, do I, personally, like it? It has a lot to do with my gut.
How do you plan your day, month and year?
I create goals and then I create tasks that need to be done in order to get there. Once I have an idea of my direction, I take it day by day.
If you could be designing somewhere else, where would that place be and why? If not, why would you stay in Vancouver?
The first place that comes to mind is Melbourne, Australia...but that might be mainly because I like their weather (haha). Truth be told, they’ve really been on the cutting edge of fashion design and music these last few years.
I want to go to Korea to explore their fabric markets and their fashion scene because I hear it’s unreal, I love the people, and Asian aesthetics inspire me.
Regardless, I would stay in Vancouver because it’s not as saturated as other cities and I do believe it is a good place to make a mark. The city is growing and it is a forefront of globalization in the sense that it is the most prominent city in the world where Asia meets North America - there is a lot of opportunity here! I’d be happy to have to travel for inspiration and to source fabric, but Vancouver is a great home base.
What are your thoughts on slow fashion? Do you think that the fashion industry will adopt it?
The fashion industry is already adopting it, and yes, I strongly believe in this avenue. It is so vital to our planet’s future. It will take time for it to work and for a shift in consumer behaviour, but people absolutely need to be educated on this. If more people understood why fast fashion is so senseless, then I would start a line that designed loin cloths...and high tech blankets to stay warm in the winter.
How does sustainability affect your designs and brand?
It is always in the back of my mind. As an independent designer, there are some things that I haven’t been able to achieve yet, but repurposing/upcycling and creating one-off pieces that are unique are my initial efforts to be a part of a more circular economy.
What are some of the biggest lessons you learnt throughout your fashion journey? Is there anything that you wished you knew at the start?
Fast fashion is bad. Learn how to wardrobe and don’t be impulsive with your purchases.
Fashion is not as glamorous as it looks.
You will need to work your ass off.
Enjoy the bumpy riiiiide. You have an opportunity to help change our world through incremental changes.
What advice would you give to aspiring fashion designers who do not have a lot of financial assets?
Maintain good contacts. Offer your services and eagerness to people and places that have machinery and/or other avenues of learning for you in return.
Eventually you will need more money, but you can do a lot with $5,000 to start, you just have to be really smart with it.
Is there any other advice that you would give to young fashion designers or anyone interested in a career in fashion?
This isn’t going to be something that you can do if you don’t love it, so be specific about what you love about fashion and go in that direction. Do you love Marketing? Design? Social Media? Photography?
Partner up and collaborate whenever you can. It’s a huge feat to take on alone.