Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in clothing line but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Bob and Asako Stronach, founder of Llama Yama Designs, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Our business is Llama Yama Designs - We are a family cooperative of artisan/makers who design and create original images and silkscreen them by hand onto Toronto (Canadian) made apparel, wood panels, facemasks, and other items. Our son, Lucca (10 years old), also creates unique candles with 'Lucca's Candle Shoppe.'

Tell us about yourself

Asako and Bob started Llama Yama Designs 12 years ago after years of painting t-shirts and carving woodblock prints. Together we started our business being mobile - mostly being at street festivals and seasonal craft markets. We both found that contact with the public was highly motivating and inspirational for our designs. When Lucca was born ten years ago, we continued attending festivals and markets, with Lucca being an integral part of our business. He now has several designs which are his. We found that being amorphic and using our own inspirations for the direction of our business has been our prime motivator. We also found that simplicity and using locally made materials sustainable materials are key motivators.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Our biggest accomplishment is working together as a family cooperative. Our products are based on what we are interested in. Canoes and kayaks, bikes, maple syrup, Toronto, robots, ecology, simplicity, and sustainability are our interests. Our work is based on these interests. When I look at our work, I see part of us. It feels really good when a customer relates and shares those same or similar interests.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The hardest thing that comes with being business owners is the financial risks we need to take in order to keep moving forward, especially in the time of the current pandemic. Our business is largely a seasonal one. The uncertainty of closures has made our business very risky.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Do what inspires you. Include your family.
  2. Make it as original, local, and ecologically sustainable as possible.
  3. Make something meaningful and important - not just a thing.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

We have gone to a lot of street/craft/maker festivals and met a lot of other small/micro businesses. It is so incredible how kind and supportive small business owners are. We know we are all in this together and look after each other.

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; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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