Ok, so Ottawa is not exactly a textile or fashion center…. So it’s not exactly easy, but it’s not impossible either. Like with any business, it’s going to be a tonne of work and lots of trial and error. That being said, I’d like to share some good resources with you:
Firstly, you should do a lot of thinking and developing of your idea. A business plan is great and if your mind works that way, definitely connect with Invest Ottawa (https://www.investottawa.ca). There are also some fashion-specific online resources such as Factory 45: https://factory45.co who specifically focusses on sustainable fashion start-ups. Another great resource is StartUp Fashion: https://startupfashion.com. Both Factory45 and StartUp Fashion are American, but their advice is solid and they do have Canadian components to their websites. Once you get your head around what you’re trying to do and you have the ground work laid (name, branding, target audience identified, first set of products thought about), you are going to need some people to help you with your vision.
We are not your people here at EcoEquitable to make your line. I’ve learned that by trial and error – because we’re all learning! We make conference bags and our flagship line Flagbarer (http://ecoequitable.ca/collections/online-store).
There are others that can help you. First, you’ll need to start networking. The ‘Fashion’ industry is different from the ‘Cut and Sew’ industry. Fashion is online, fast-paced and modern. Cut and Sew is super-duper old-school. Think no-website, print-outs-on-dot-matrix-printers, old-school. That means that many operators are operating out of basements, weird warehouses and usually in parts of town that are not common to you. So you’re going to need to find them. And the internet cannot help you. You’ll need to get in a car and go to one place and ask around and then go to another place and then keep doing that. Crazy – right? Well that’s the way it is. Especially in Montreal where you'll likely be going if you need a significant quantity of product.
It’s changing, but truly that’s the industry so far. There are some great new services in Ottawa like The Bobbins https://www.thebobbins.ca, who recently opened a cut and sew facility and are a breath of fresh air to this industry. There is also the Ottawa Fashion Network that has recently started bringing people together.
So that’s my starter thoughts on developing a brand in Ottawa. Also, if you want to take courses with us so you can do some of this stuff by yourself or at least sound smart when you’re liaising with your pattern maker, we offer Pattern Making, Pattern Grading, Tailoring, and many more awesome courses to help you with your dream here at EcoEquitable: http://ecoequitable.ca/collections/frontpage.
Note that all this advice is applicable for any sewn product: baby clothes, backpacks, outdoor products, bathing suits, etc.