Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in clothing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Nadine Manson, Founder, and CVO of Bewildher Slow Fashion Activewear, located in Garibaldi Highlands, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
So you like to be active in the outdoors, but have you ever considered the impact your activewear has on the environment or wondered about the quality of life of the women supporting your sweaty pursuits with their sewing skills? Bewildher is a slow fashion brand empowering women to be wild with high-quality activewear ethically sewn right here in Canada from sustainable materials. Our nature-inspired prints raise awareness and funds for wilderness and wildlife conservation, and for every purchase, we plant a tree, offset all carbon emissions, and make a donation to Girl In The Wild, a non-profit organization raising the next generation of girls to be wilderness lovers with the leadership skills and self-confidence to advocate for the environment.
Tell us about yourself
As one of the youngest cousins, hand-me-downs were 99% of my wardrobe, and by grade 7, I was upcycling them into my own creations. Fashion design has always been my passion. I took every single sewing, and art class in school had new ones invented for me, and went on to get my diploma. My other passion is health, fitness, and adrenaline sports, and I was lucky to land an internship with a local sportswear company in Squamish, BC, where I gained the experience and insight that prompted me to start my own brand-based on slow fashion values. Working for another brand, I witnessed firsthand the incredible waste in the industry, not just material but also the capital spent on wasteful processes. It doesn't sit right with me that garment workers continue to earn unfair wages and that brands continue to use non-sustainable materials when there is so much waste in the industry and more environmentally friendly options available. I used to wonder, why don't the big brands do more to change? However, now I understand. The big brands have their hands tied, bound to maximize profits for their investors and shareholders. This is why it's up to small, independent brands like Bewildher to give consumers another option and educate them on the processes and people behind their purchases. The more consumers vote for the slow fashion movement with their dollars, the sooner the big brands will be able to change.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Surviving a global pandemic?! Seriously though, fashion is one of the most competitive markets with the lowest profit margins, and simply surviving as a slow fashion brand is a huge accomplishment. In the era of 2-day Amazon shipping, when everyone and their dog are marketing cheap products with their drop shipping business, I'm encouraging women to pre-order their activewear and wait over a month for delivery. It shouldn't be viable, but it is, and I think it's because every order comes packaged with something you can't put a price on - peace of mind.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The pressure I put on myself to "do everything" often leads to overwhelm, and I constantly have to remind myself to slow down, prioritize my well-being, ask for help and explore my resources, and re-prioritize when I've taken on too much.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- There's nothing more motivating than knowing what you're doing will have a positive impact, so whatever it is you love to do enough to start a business, decide how you can use that to be a force for good and give back.
- The more overwhelmed you feel, the more you need to put everything away and make time to eat, sleep, hydrate and exercise. The magic happens when we step away.
- You are not alone, ask for help and research the resources available to startups and small business owners.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I could write a book, but if I had to choose one final piece of advice, it would be to believe in yourself always. Only you know what you know and how far you can go, so if your gut is saying go for it, ignore any naysayers, they don't know you as you do; you've got this.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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