With support from online fashion heavyweights like Refinery 29, Who What Wear, Nylon, and the Zo Report, CurriculumShop.com is quickly making a name for itself in the world of digital fashion retailers. Since its start two years, founder Nicki Podvalej has been driven by her inspirations, entrepreneurial spirit, and the insightful advice of those close to her. Keep reading to learn more about her process and what keys to her success we can all apply to our lives.
Curriculum is more than just another online clothing retailer. It’s a destination where discerning shoppers with an eye for unique pieces come to experience fashion. It’s educational in a way, exposing shoppers to many small brands only available halfway around the world. Late last year I was lucky enough to meet up with the brains behind CurriculumShop.com, Nicki Podvalej, to discuss her retail philosophy, buying process, how she found her way into fashion, and so much more. Your crash course begins now.
Denim is a wardrobe staple, there’s no denying that. Whether as jeans or a jacket, intact or distressed, it’s an iconic textile that the fashion world will continue to reinvent. Who would know that better than Kealan Sullivan of 69 Vintage? An avid collector and enthusiast, Sullivan’s collections spans decades. It’s no surprise that she chose denim as a medium for expression in her runway collection entitled “Wild Child” which debuted at Fashion Art Toronto last year.
In part one of my interview we discussed her fashion background, the success of her long-running vintage store, her passion for human connections, and her journey to finding confidence. Now in part two we’ll discuss her designs, her inspirations, and what’s next for the self-described “OG wild child”.
Kealan Sullivan is a Toronto fashion OG. In a city where fashion boutiques in the downtown core are here today and gone tomorrow, Sullivan stood her ground as a highly respected, successful business woman for over 10 years. As the owner behind 69 Vintage, her life revolved around sourcing and selling the best secondhand pieces she could find to a city full of discerning thrifters.
Now that she’s entering a new chapter, I caught up with Kealan to see what I could learn from her entrepreneurial spirit. She opened up about how she started her business, how she ended it (on purpose), and what she’s passionate about now. From creating a runway collection (which I’m wearing!), to traveling, to reconnecting with herself, Kealan is doing it her way.
It’s so easy to see people we admire or respect, see their work, and associate them only with success. But even our heroes have failed a time or two in their life. For me, success isn’t the absence of failure, success is often about overcoming failure.
You can feel like you wanna quit but don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to learn. Don’t be afraid to tear it all apart and start from scratch. And embrace it because then there’s things you learn along the way.
While her latest business endeavor, Orejen Fashion Lab, is a relatively new addition to the world of womenswear, creator Tonya Belle is no fashion rookie. A first generation Canadian of Trinidadian descent, Belle’s professional journey began as a retail store manager after studying fashion management at Seneca College.
From there she became a merchandiser for Tommy Hilfiger, before becoming the first merchandiser ever for luxury fashion retailer, Holt Renfrew. Persistent weekly calls to Holt’s human resource department finally lead to a merchandise associate position in their buying office where she began honing her love for supporting emerging brands.
She had additional buying stints at Sporting Life, Sears, TJ Maxx, and Target totally over 15 years of buying experience before she entered maternity leave and set her sights in a new direction…
I’ve always had an affinity for lingerie. Something about intricate lace, smooth satin, and delicate fishnets really puts me in touch with my feminine side. While walking in Toronto’s West Queen West neighborhood I found there was always one store that instantly stopped me every time I’d approach it.
The mannequins in the display window of Kallone Intimi have a sultry, mesmerizing quality about them. They definitely live up to the store’s name, meaning “beauty” in ancient Greek. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner I decided who better to teach me a few things and get me in the spirit than store owner, Rachel Avery.
What do you get if you mix the work ethic of Karl Lagerfeld with the design aesthetic of Alexander McQueen and season to taste with a dash of BadGalRiRi? A bold, young bridal designer who’s one part Indian, one part Canadian and all parts #GIRLBOSS.
Mani Jassal and I are sitting in a busy, cramped Starbucks in downtown Toronto on Queen Street West. With celebrities like R&B artist Ashanti to singer Miguel’s longtime girlfriend Nazanin Mandi wearing her designs, it’s nice to catch up with another fellow Ryerson University School of Fashion alum who is quickly making a name for herself only a few years post-graduation. I imagine it must have been a bit of divine intervention that has put her where she is today as Mani tells me about how she almost took a different career path.
Turns out Mani and I have some things in common. We are both immigrants of ethnic backgrounds who came to North America when we were young and grew up with traditionalist parents. She tells me about how her South Asian parents had wanted her to be an engineer or a doctor and at the time it was something that she had accepted for herself. She applied to the University of Toronto’s aerospace engineering program, the University of Waterloo’s chemistry program, and then the wild card, fashion design at Ryerson University.
I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume that back when Drake and Future named their joint mixtape they were on Mary Young‘s web site anticipating her now released Fall 2015 collection. And rightfully so. With cosigns from Refinery 29, Teen Vogue, and other major fashion media, Mary is steadily positioning herself as one to watch both locally in Toronto and abroad.
In the world of lifestyle lingerie, most brands are either hyper-feminine or super sporty, but Mary positions herself right in the middle of the two styles. A quick browse in her online store reveals cozy basics like triangle bralettes, high waist panties, skinny-cut sweats, and knits made from the softest bamboo fibers in light and neutral palettes. It’s lingerie meets loungewear. Loungerie ©, if you will.
“Design itself inspires me,” Mary says. Give her a well-curated space with white walls and rustic wood or metal elements and her creativity will flourish. An average day in her life can involve anything from sketching, pattern-drafting, and sewing samples to managing her e-commerce store, packing and shipping orders, attending industry events, or taking meetings like the one we are on now over coffee at one of her preferred spots, RSqaured Cafe on Queen Street West.