Love Letter From Laura-Jean

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Shaping our communities one purchase at a time

We all hear the shop local message, and I want to take a minute to share, from a local retailer’s perspective, the impact of that choice.

When you choose to spend your money with us instead of somewhere else, what you do is invest in Toronto’s neighbourhoods and culture- your neighbourhoods and culture.  These communities are a delicate ecosystem and they’re yours to shape.  When you come to get your hair done on our block, have lunch and then buy a dress, those stores stay in business one more day.  It’s that much of an impact.  And when lots of you do it regularly enough, we all stay in business another month and another year.  When you tell your friends, we thrive and the designers we work with thrive as well.

What that means for you is we can invest in more products, upgrade our store, invest in more exciting marketing to improve your whole experience with our business. Our designers can try new styles and materials.  It means next season, we have MORE great offerings for you and your friends, and you feel even better about how you look!  You dress better, you build your wardrobe, you land new big clients and you get a promotion!  You have more money and you come shopping more often!  Everybody wins!

That’s what drives us.  We’re there for you, and we’re grateful everyday that you love us enough to choose to spend with us.  We’re also hugely grateful when you tell us what you’d like to see or when we’ve let you down!  If we’re missing out on your business, we’d like to know why so we can choose more effective strategies in the future.

Once my husband was describing what I do for a living to a friend. He said, “She has these three stores, Fresh Collective, but there’s more to it than just stores.  It’s more like a movement.”

Yes, that’s exactly what I started.  It’s a movement to revolutionize the fashion industry for you.  We aim to provide you with gorgeous, amazing clothing and accessories so that you live the best life possible.  You feel so gorgeous and confident that you fall in love, you take your business to the next level and beyond and you make the world a better and more joyful place just by being you.

My goal everyday is to support our customers to have great lives.  And we are forever grateful that – two decades after I started out as a girl from Saskatoon making sweaters hoping to break into the Toronto fashion scene – you continue to shop with us helping to support our three stores, seven fabulous staff members, thirty five passionate Canadian designers and, by extension,  all our families and the communities we live in.  Your shopping choices shape Canada’s culture.

2014 is going to be an exciting year for Toronto communities and for what Fresh Collective has in store.  We look forward to sharing it with you!

Love; Laura-Jean and the whole Fresh Collective team

 

Love Letter From Laura-Jean

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One evening as we were winding down, my seven year old son Dexter got excited out of the blue and said, “Awesome!  The day after tomorrow is chocolate milk day!”  It was one of those gorgeous little parenting moments that brings tears to my eyes.  I just loved that he could be so excited about this little weekly treat they get at school, and that he looked forward to something so simple with such enthusiasm.

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That attitude stuck with me.  I really took it to heart, and started looking for all there is to celebrate in my everyday life.

Like most entrepreneurs, I still have my share of stress and worry about the juggling act that is my life and my businesses. I see how that stress and worry is just pretty much garbage.  Knowing that it’s garbage doesn’t make it go away instantly, but I can choose a different frame of mind in that moment.

Looking forward to chocolate milk day, metaphorically speaking, is a perfect trick to displace stress, worry or boredom and create a whole new way of being.  We all have tons to celebrate in our lives.  Really, tons.  Take a look right now in your life and see.  What is already there to celebrate?  And what could you create to celebrate?

For me, there’s my amazing business and the people in the community who help it thrive; the designers, staff and you, our wonderful customers – who all believe in this dream I made up 10 years ago – this is one of the best things on my list of things to celebrate.

I have Stuart, my little rescue dog, snoozing beside me as I write this.  He just sighed and snuggled a little closer. Him being this cozy and cute, and our family having found him to adopt is something to celebrate.

Today, everything worked out so that I could pick up my son from school and complete this blog from home.  His friend Jacob was coming with us, and entertained me all the way home with stories about how he is the only seven year old in the world legally allowed to work for money, but right now they just pay him in cookies (it sounds like he helps his mom at the restaurant she works at but it’s hard to know how accurate his story is).  That little joyous walk home with two boys is something to celebrate.

There has been some sunshine today after a lot of grey days.  I picked up some great cheese from Kensington Market which I forgot about, so I had a surprise awesome snack when I got home.  My mother-in-law’s pasta.  Wearing pink.  A call from an old friend out of the blue.  Brand new socks. Uninterrupted bubble baths.  Family game night.  Coffee dates with girlfriends.  Playing old records.  A Saturday matinee with my son… Once I start listing things, it’s hard to stop!

So really, anytime you’re bummed out, bored or stressed, just take a moment to look at what you have to celebrate.  Remember to create your own chocolate milk days, and then don’t forget to look forward to them!  Dexter may have just hit on the whole secret to happiness in his own awesome seven year old way.

XO

-Laura-Jean

Laura-Jean’s Holiday Love Letter

love letter copy copyEvery year around the holiday season, we hear a lot of women guiltily saying, “I should be buying for other people, but …” as they browse and buy for themselves.

I always joke around and say things like, “You can’t give to others unless you first give to yourself!“. This year, I started looking at this phenomenon a little more seriously.  What is it about women that we feel so guilty about doing nice things for ourselves?  So many of us, whether we’re moms, sisters, daughters, wives, friends or partners give and give all year round.

I’m thinking of my friend Sarah who contributes to her community in so many ways. She plans and runs events at our sons’ school, is on the Parent Council, does fundraising and organizes fun events for us all when we get together.  She’s also the one you can always count on for a thoughtful gesture, a hug or a glass of wine just when you need it.  She’s everyone’s emergency babysitter.  And she does it all with a smile.  She just gives and gives all year long to everyone who knows her.  Her friends, family and community are all so lucky to have her.

Then, there is my friend Jaclyn who can always be counted on for all kinds of amazing things.  When a bunch of her friends who didn’t know each other were pregnant or had babies around the same time, she started a monthly “Mommy Meet” group – even though she has no kids!  While we got to know each other and talked about the perils of maternity pants and diapers, Jaclyn loved every minute of it because she’s just so into her friends and bringing people together.  Seven years later, we’re still all good friends, celebrating birthdays and milestones and even though Jaclyn has moved out of the country, she makes the effort to visit often and stay in touch.  She also makes jam, hosts bike repair workshops and makes quilts for anyone she knows who has a baby.

I have many women like this in my life.  I’m sure you do too, and I’m sure you’re one of them – giving for the pure joy of giving all year round.

So, now, and I’m going to get tough here:  Don’t you go walking around feeling GUILTY about giving to yourself!  You go out and buy yourself whatever lovely treats you want this year!  You ask the people in your life for what you really want!

Think about all those great women in your life who keep your family running smoothly, who help take care of your kids, who contribute to your communities and who just make your life better and more fun by being in it.  Maybe they could use something nice this year too?

Now, of course, to make it easy, we have a great selection of presents at Fresh Collective. We have earrings, necklaces, nail polish sets and tights, all under $25.00, and we have our favourite gift, The Best Gift Ever.

The Best Gift Ever is a Fresh Collective Premium Wardrobe Makeover Service with a gift certificate amount between $250 and $1000. This means you or your favourite person gets a two hour consultation with our style staff, and the biggest and best gift of all, everything they want! Based on their body type, style, life, and work, we work with the recipient to have them look as stunning as they are. Our Best Gift Ever is perfect for the hard-to-buy-for person on your list. It’s The Best Gift Ever to request for yourself too – It means you don’t get a frumpy sweater from some chain store that everyone else has; you get YOUR LOOK. Picked just for you with the help of our Style Staff.

How awesome would it be this holiday season to have everything you want? How rewarding would it be for you to give someone on your list this holiday season, everything they could ever want, and might not know to ask for?

You can pick this gift up at any one of our three stores now. We love The Best Gift Ever and we hope you will too! Check out our Wardrobe Makeover Page for all the details on our Premium Wardrobe Makeover, which comes with The Best Gift Ever gift certificate.

 

Love Letter from Laura-Jean

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Editor’s Note: Read through to the end to find Laura-Jean’s giveaway for a complimentary Wardrobe Makeover!

Helping a customer during a Wardrobe Makeover last week, I saw a transformation happen before my eyes.

She came in looking like a 23 year old hipster.  Lovely, fun and awesome, but not necessarily someone you would trust with a $100,000 marketing budget or assume she could ensure a staff of 7 would get a project done on time.

A couple hours of her trying different looks in the change room and I saw her differently.  This cool and colourful young woman started to look to me like an Art Director with a capital A, a Marketing Manager or a Filmmaker who could make the film, on time, on budget AND accept an award for top grossing independent documentary.

It was a TOTAL transformation in who she seemed to be, and all this was in line with the career she wanted to create over the next few years.

I’ve built Fresh Collective over these years to provide women in Toronto a place to find the outfits that allow them to project the best version of themselves.  Like it or not, fashion is a language.  It’s like hanging a sign around your neck telling the world who you are.  When we think of it that way, what does your sign say? Is there something you’d rather it to be saying?

When we do a Wardrobe Makeover, we start with a Style Profile.  You fill out a quick survey that tells us about what your style preference is, what you want it to be, and what your lifestyle is like.  We specialize in awesome looks for real life. We know how to create looks that work for you and work with you.

We set an appointment to work with one of our Style Coaches who pre selects looks based on your style profile. All the browsing is done for you to make it easy and simple for you to find whatever you’re looking for. When you show up for you appointment, the fun begins.

Many women book a Wardrobe Makeover when their life is changing, but it can be done anytime, and the holiday season is a perfect time for women to use the service to find the perfect holiday wear.  One of the biggest advantages is learning what works and doesn’t, and having an experienced professional help you build a wardrobe that all works together.  Too many women experience that old cliche: “A closet full of nothing to wear.”

We help you make smart choices, choosing versatile pieces that work together, fit and are comfortable so you have fun creating new outfits and getting a lot of wear out of each piece.  We also help you stay focused on dressing for that life you are creating!

You’re newly dating and you want romance?  Dresses, fun and colour are what we’ll steer you towards!  The Wardrobe Makeover is time set aside for you to experiment with this new language of fashion and watch yourself transform in the mirror.  Women often surprise themselves, saying things like “I didn’t think I could wear this colour!” or “I usually wouldn’t try something this bold but I LOVE IT!”

Want to jump start your career?  A polished yet creative look positions you as a leader, a problem solver and someone who can be trusted to get things done.  We’ll choose the pieces to help send that message out into the world, everywhere you go.

Think it’s too expensive to build a fantastic wardrobe?  Take a look at your closet and add up how much you’ve spent on clothes you didn’t like, never fit right or didn’t go with anything.  We’re committed to wardrobe building- choosing quality pieces you love that you’ll wear for years to come.

Worried it’s too much work to look good?  I am the laziest dresser out there.  I have NO time to spend on primping and fussing.  I throw on a dress, a cardigan, a bracelet and boots and fly out the door.  With a son, 3 dogs, 2 businesses and taking classes in the evenings, I’m just like so many of our customers.  Each season our store staff take on making my life easy by putting together the perfect looks for me to get ready in a second.

If you’re in the market for the perfect holiday dress, or maybe the perfect wardrobe to kick off your career in 2014, I’ve included our style profile form for you to complete. We’ll pick three lucky ladies who have completed this form, to participate in a complimentary wardrobe makeover at any of our stores. We’ll notify the winners by November 30th.

If this sounds like something you want for yourself, please fill out the style profile and let’s get to work!

 

Love Letter from Laura-Jean

love-letter-copy-copyPeople often ask us how we choose what product to sell in our stores. With the new, fresh, fall season upon us, what better time than now to let you know a bit of our product selection process.

First, our specialty is independent Canadian designers with a focus on Toronto based lines.  We carry boots, shoes, and tights from international brands so we can offer a complete look for our customers.

When looking for product, we really have your life in mind.  We know our customers well and are always looking for what’s going to work for the lives YOU live in the clothes.

For instance, when sourcing tights and leggings, we’re thinking about what you’re doing in them. We know you’re living big lives – going from daycare drop off to a client meeting to grocery shopping and back again…  Or working a full day, then planning your art show or new business launch at night…  Or maybe you’re finishing your PhD and working part-time while dating a hot new guy and training for a 5K run.  Our job is to pay attention to the quality of the tights, knowing that they have to stand up to your full, busy lives, and has to be a high quality, as to not run or catch when your dog jumps up.

WE KNOW!  It’s crazy, right?  And really, would you have your life any other way?

So that’s why we source cute dresses you can ride your bike in.  Boots that look sexy but you can walk all day in.  Soft and cozy cardigans that take you from the office to a date.  We look for comfort, practicality, quality AND great style, flattering cuts and awesome colours.  We seek out timeless shapes, versatility and pieces that can build a great wardrobe.

Then, we let YOU decide.  We try out lines based on our best instincts, and then we keep and expand on the lines that are selling.  Every week we analyze our best-sellers to see why they’re succeeding – what it is that you like about them – and then we work to replicate and expand on that in future choices.

We believe fashion should be easy and fun and support the big stuff you’re up to in life.  We do the legwork so you can be gorgeous, free, comfortable and look like a million bucks with ease.

And with that, I’d like to introduce two of the lines we’ve launched this fall; enCircled and burfurtART.

This fall, we were intent on finding pieces with “convertibility”, the ability to wear it more than one way and to provide our customers a versatile piece for your wardrobe that can last you season after season. Both burfurtART and enCircled fit this bill perfectly with many different ways to wear pieces in each of their lines.

enCircled creates The Chrysalis Cardi. We loved this piece because it can streamline your wardrobe, so you can maximize your closet (and suitcase) space, and make space in your life for other more important things, like travel, friends and family.

The many looks of the enCircled Chrysalis Cardi

The many looks of the enCircled Chrysalis Cardi

We loved that enCircled creates products thinking versatility first. Innovative design, iconic style. Sustainably & ethically produced, to give people more with less.

Kristi is the Chief Fashionpreneur of enCircled. enCircled creates ethical, sustainable and versatile women’s apparel, manufactured in Canada from eco-conscious fabrics.  enCircled’s first design, the Chrysalis Cardi is available at all Fresh Collective locations in Raspberry, Black and Cobalt. For more information, check out http://www.encircled.ca or follow enCircled on Facebook.  (http://www.facebook.com/getencircled)

Check out her most recent blog post here.

Salome is the force behind burfurtART. We love her line because it is as quirky and fun as she is, AND the ch-ch-chains collection sold us on the versatility. It can be worn as a bracelet, or a necklace with an extender. With two bracelets, you can increase the drama of the necklace for a real statement piece. It’s a collection that you can have for years, and add new ch-ch-chains pieces to refresh the look.

Laura-Jean modelling the pieces from the ch-ch-chains line

Laura-Jean modelling the pieces from the ch-ch-chains line

She told us in her own words why she does what she does:

“I know that I’m not the only jewelry crocheter in the world, and that’s cool. But I do strive to be as distinctive and unique as I possibly can.

 

I make, really and for true, one of a kind.

Everyone of my pieces are individually hand made by me, never to be exactly reproduced again. I’m not comfortable with re-making the same piece.

 

I use high quality stock, and buy small amounts of semi precious stones. agates, amber, carnelian, coral, jaspers, Canadian labradorite, pearls…I could go on forever.

These are but a few of the stones that inspire me.

As often as possible,  I strive to ensure that the piece you own fits you perfectly. When you wear my jewelry, you get noticed. When you get noticed, you feel good… When you feel good – I’ve done my job.

 

On a different note…

 

The first cat I ever had the pleasure of being an owner to, was wonderfully fun, charming and beautifully awkward. After he passed away, I promised myself that at some point in my life he would be honoured.

 

So, I named my company after him.”

You can read more about Salome’s journey to Fresh Collective here, and see pictures of her fantastic lines, including her convertible ch-ch-chains collection here.

Busy, busy fall

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As the summer comes to a close, we’re busy, busy, busy in both my businesses, preparing for the season’s changes.  Dexter, my almost seven year old son, is going back to school planning his birthday, and we’ve had one last weekend at our friend’s cottage as it’s officially September!

With September comes the seasonal what to wear dilemma!  It’s cool in the morning and warm in the afternoon.  Evenings are chilly and we want to look put-together and feel great.

Lately I’ve been relying on our fabulous store staff to be my personal shoppers.  The say it takes a village to raise a child.  Well, it seems it takes a staff to keep this busy lady looking polished and great everyday!

Our store staff are fashion experts – they know my style, my shape as well as what I like.  When I plan to come by, they pre-stock the changeroom for me.  It makes shopping a breeze, and often I try things I wouldn’t normally try, and I’m pleasantly surprised.  When accessories that come in that help me get more looks out of the pieces I have, they send me a snapshot and ask if I’d like it held to pick up when I come by next.

I feel like a pampered VIP and you know what, you can too!

This personalized service is available to any customers who ask.  Our staff is thrilled to be able to select things and suggest them just for you.  Our business is all about matching up the wonderful pieces we carry with the fabulous ladies who may not have the time in their great and busy lives to spend a lot of time shopping.

For fall, I’m stocking up on the great cardis, wraps and accessories we’re receiving every day.  This is an easy way to transition my summer dresses to fall while the weather is still warm, and I can layer and unlayer as needed throughout the day.

 

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Here’s my fall transition, based around my summer Address Apparel Richmond wrap dress (now $90.00), and Miz Mooz Cherry shoes (now $75.00). Add Yvonne Cardigan from Paper People Clothing in Burgundy ($149.00), a new Mat and Nat Alter Vintage bag ($150) and new shoes; Miz Mooz Sundown (now $93.00), and you’re ready for fall!

Joe and Aimee at Fresh Collective Roncesvalles suggested this for me, and I think they made a fabulous choice.  Don’t you?  This cardi will go with so many dresses and skirts I already own, and be that perfect versatile layering piece.  In fact, I might need to pick up a couple more colours!

XO

-LJ

Love Letter from Laura-Jean: Four Simple Questions

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I’ve been on a mission to better myself as a business leader, including taking a lot of development courses. What these courses have opened up for me was much more than I expected. In every area of my life – business and personal – the same themes play out. I stop myself in the same ways from creating what I say I want in my life.

I’ll share with you one little exercise I’ve been doing that you can take on if you really want access to having everything work in your life. Continue reading

Love Letter from Laura-Jean: A Summer of Having it All

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This summer I’m taking on a new challenge in having it all.  My son Dexter is going into Grade 2 in the fall and he wanted to have a free and easy summer with no camps or babysitter.  He has the whole rest of his life to adhere to schedules and get places on time, so I’m going to do my best to make this work for him.

Part of the reason I wanted to have my own business back in 1994 was to have the flexibility to spend time with kids when I had them. 19 years later, I have one almost seven year-old kid and a solid schedule of meetings, planning, documents to complete, 71 emails in my inbox and reports to compile… and I have this blog post to complete which has been on my list for six days now!

 

So here’s what I’m doing today; I grabbed a sheet to sit on, my cell phone, my laptop and Dexter and I headed to the park.  He’s practicing riding his bike and I am set up in the shade to write about wearing Fresh Collective clothing for all your summer outdoor activities.  How perfect could that be for what I’m up to today?!  I’m out at a park, writing a blog post for work, while my son plays and I’m wearing the Andrea Drape Dress from Rita Di Cesare, comfortable and casual “Chaste Skimmer” Hush Puppies flats and earrings from iMonique.

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Two sentences into this post, we had a slight hitch in the plan as the daycare kids came outside and needed a place to do their parachute play.  No problem!  I grabbed my office (my sheet), my purse and laptop, slipped on my Hush Puppies and Dex and I relocated.

 

Tonight we’re having friends over to our backyard.  This outfit will do just fine for that too, and for the bike trip to the wine store and grocery store I’ll need to do after this to prepare.PhotoGrid_1372796679364

I bet as you’re reading this you’re thinking “Your life doesn’t sound much different than mine – you’re here and there, juggling work, fun and family.”  IT’S TRUE! I’m A Fresh Collective customer, so we have a lot in common (hey, what a surprise!) and we both live full lives, really pursuing having it ALL in life.

Today I had a dream day.  A morning at my office with my team, an afternoon working and seeing my son master bike riding skills, errands and then tonight, hanging with friends… And, I did it all looking pretty darn awesome and polished, head to toe in product from our shops.

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I love that our shops can help outfit you for your dream days this summer and beyond.  Our dresses are there when you’re dating or working; starting a new career or closing a chapter.  Today I had it all – I really had it all – and as I put off this blog post just another few minutes to run alongside Dex on his bike encouraging him as he was still wobbly and just starting to gain confidence, I just really felt grateful and happy to have this summer to enjoy with him.





Love Letter from Laura-Jean: Unleashing Your Inner Pin-Up Girl

love letter copy copyThis month, we’re having a lot of fun unleashing our inner pin-up girls!  We’ve been talking a lot behind the scenes about just how to go about choosing models for our marketing.  Professional models pose and emote beautifully, and we’ve used them in the past.  But in the end, I end up feeling, “Who are they to us and our customers?”

Our business is about so much more than pretty dresses.  It’s about women feeling confident, powerful, self-expressed and yes – pretty and sexy too!  It’s about a celebration of life and all that it offers us in relationships, love, creativity and beauty.

For this spring photo shoot, we chose models from our own community who we thought represented our mission of  being beautiful and amazing, inside and out. They are women who are living the Fresh Collective lifestyle; creating amazing lives for themselves and the people around them.

Dress: Brenda Beddome, Shoes: Hush Puppies (Coming Soon!)

Dress: Brenda Beddome, Shoes: Hush Puppies (Coming Soon!)

Of course – with the theme being “Pin-up Girl” – I was the first in line.  I am a mom, an entrepreneur, 43 years old (I still can’t quite believe I’m a grown up!) and loving life more with each passing year!  I love being a woman and I am continually working on being a great leader in my business, community and family.  I am committed to making the world a better place.

Kat Shura looking great in a Melow top and Brenda Beddome pants.

Kat Shura looking great in a Melow top and Brenda Beddome pants.

We also asked Kat Shura, the designer of Curious Oddities jewellery who has been working with us for several years.  She joined us when her business was in it’s early days and we have watched her (and the business) grow in leaps and bounds.  Kat is a person I feel blessed to know;  as an entrepreneur she is driven, committed and just making it happen. As a friend, she is caring, thoughtful and present. She’s a real inspiration in so many ways.

Kathryn Barlow looks ravishing in a Michelle Carey dress and shoes by Hush Puppies

Kathryn Barlow looks ravishing in a Michelle Carey dress and shoes by Hush Puppies

Kathryn Barlow is another awesome woman from our Fresh Collective community.  She’s been designing our website and most of our graphics for several years.  I think she may have been heaven sent, as she was shopping in the store one day years ago and overheard me saying my web designer had disappeared on me and I wasn’t sure what to do.  She popped out from behind a jewellery case saying “I do websites!” and we made a plan to meet.  She is the easiest person to work with, always getting things done more beautifully than I expected and on time.  She’s just a dream girl, and cute to boot!

The lovely Emilia in a Paper People Clothing dress with Hush Puppies shoes.

The lovely Emilia in a Paper People Clothing dress with Hush Puppies shoes.

Emilia Farrace is a new friend who is also an entrepreneur.  She’s the owner of Simply Elaborate Creative Agency and I’ve come to know her as a woman of integrity and commitment, with a bubbly energy and contagious smile.  She also is working on a personal project – The Empowerment Initiative – to make the world a better place by providing mentors from the business community to teens.

I am blessed.  I look around me and I’m inspired by the women I know and all that they are up to in life.  I have amazing friends, fantastic neighbours and awesome colleagues.  We have a large community of designers at Fresh Collective who have taken the brave steps of running their own businesses and a wide variety of customers who are doing incredible things with their lives.

So this month we’re celebrating womanhood and having a bit of flirty fun with inviting all the inspiring and amazing women in Toronto to unleash their inner pin-up girl!

As always, we LOVE your feedback on everything we do.  What kind of campaigns would you like to see from us in the future?  Do these photos inspire you to unleash your inner pin-up girl and have a little fun with fashion this spring?  Please email us at media@freshcollective.com. We’d love to hear from you!

xoxoxo

-LJ

Love Letter from Laura-Jean: Getting to know YOU

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At Fresh Collective we are all about YOU!

To us, YOU are the most fascinating creature alive, and we are ready to listen to whatever you have to tell us. You, our customer base, are AMAZING!

We really get that you are the coolest women in Toronto, and we just want to know more! We know you’re individualists. You may or may not be concerned with trends, but you love to look current, polished and cool. You have busy lives (not unlike us who work here and design the products!) and so you need versatile and comfortable clothes and accessories and you also want to look awesome and feel like your outer self reflects your inner self.

We are embarking on a project of growth for Fresh Collective, growing to several locations in Toronto (and then going beyond!) and we’re asking for your support. Our vision is that Fresh Collective revolutionizes the fashion industry in North America and that Toronto is the center of that.

What’s going on now in the fashion industry at large is that a lot of women are left not feeling good about their options or how the fashion industry makes us feel about ourselves. There’s a lot of concern about “fast fashion” – the cheap trendy pieces that go out of style fast – and what it does for the environment. There’s also concern about working conditions in factories. Alongside this, there are well known stats of how often small businesses fail. I believe a lot of people WANT to shop local, and then just find they don’t get what they want so it’s easy to go for a cheaper or more convenient option. This disenchantment is a factor in a lot of these business failures. Customers don’t get what they want and business owners are afraid to really ask, for fear they will hear something they don’t want to hear. The way things are going, local businesses close every day.

If we let things play out as they usually do, many of the smaller independent designers we work with will decide to go out of business. I’ve seen many, many do just that over the ten years we’ve been running Fresh Collective; eventually Fresh Collective would go out of business. I would retire, or get too old to keep going and it would all wind down. That’s just the usual way.

In the face of all this, I see something different for our future. I see Fresh Collective growing to many, many locations, each selling a wonderful mix of independent designers work; each a hub of creativity and beauty in the neighbourhoods. Each store is staffed by committed, passionate and fun store staff who know the customers by name, help them get exactly what they want and help them feel transformed, beautiful and self expressed every day.

We see a future where Fashion Grads can build a career in starting their own line, being creative and fulfilled and getting the the support they need to connect with customers in our shops. We see a future where communities are vibrant and full of character, where Fresh Collective locations can thrive all over Toronto with more and more local designers growing and succeeding with us. We see Fresh Collective providing a model for other small businesses to grow and thrive and maintain their character, and Toronto being a better place for lots of reasons because of what we create together. I see Fresh Collective outliving me, as we are working to build a solid business structure that can live on into the future for ALL the people- staff, designers and customers, who have made it what it is.

We are asking for your involvement to make this happen. We just want to know all about you so we can meet your needs better and you can shop with us more often!

What do you want from us? What do you love about us? What frustrates you about us? What can we do to make you happy? Tell us about your jobs, your kids, your lives and give us the clues to make sure Fresh Collective is exactly what you want!

Know that in taking the time to do this, you’re really part of a fashion revolution, a small business revolution and you’re very much part of shaping the future.

I’m really serious when we say we’re here to listen, and each survey will get a personal answer from me. Thank you very much in advance for your time. We couldn’t do it without you!

xo – Laura-Jean

ONE LUCKY PARTICIPANT WILL WIN A FRESH COLLECTIVE WARDROBE MAKEOVER IN-STORE CONSULT!

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