Meet the Fresh Collective Team – Laura-Jean Bernhardson

Name: Laura-Jean Bernhardson
Position at Fresh Collective: Founder/CEO/Marketing/Store Manager at Kensington


Where and when you’ll find me at FC: Right now I’m usually working out of the Kensington shop most weekdays, but basically, I go wherever the business needs me.  It seems like 3 to 6 month cycles where there’s an opening, opportunity or mini-disaster that needs my attention and I take on that job.  I do the job, look for new ways it can be done effectively and efficiently and learn more about my business. Then I give that job away and move to the next position where I’m needed.

What a typical day looks like for me: After I get my dogs walked and my son off to school, I stop in at Head Office in the morning to sign cheques and talk to the Office Manager about anything financial that needs my attention.  Then I may post a blog and head off to the store.  In the store I juggle customer service, receiving product, merchandising and social media.  Every day is pretty packed!  I have another business – I’m co-owner at Rowanwood Daycare – so sometimes I have questions from the staff or things to talk about or plan with my business partner there.

My favourite parts of the job:  I LOVE people and the opportunities the business gives me to connect with the designers who are inspiring, creative and entrepreneurial and the customers who are AWESOME!  When I help people choose outfits in the store, I’m allowed into their lives and I feel truly honoured.  They’re up to something – dating after divorce, celebrating a new job or looking to land that next big client for example – and I get to be part of their adventure by outfitting them in stylish, well-crafted and timeless outfits.  I discover their style and personality and get to help them choose the look where they feel most self- expressed. It truly is a privilege.

My hopes and dreams for my fashion career:  I want to have 100 stores worldwide so I have 97 to go!  I really have my work cut out for me.  The dream for Fresh Collective is a fashion industry revolution with 3 main goals.

  • For customers: offering customers a experience they didn’t even know they were looking for; providing them a new level of confidence, freedom and self-expression through fashion
  • For designers: a sustainable way for independent designers to sell their product and thrive as entrepreneurs
  • For our staff: a company culture of leaders and teammates; contributing to the business and playing the game of “fashion industry revolution” with passion, excitement and heart

What I do when I’m not at work:  I do work a lot- even when I’m at home, but what “work” means to me is different than what it means to a lot of people.  I’m passionate about everything I do and have rolled my hobbies into my work.  Right now I am sewing a mural for Rowanwood Daycare on my dining room table, so that’s an example of a work project that’s happening at home.

Work aside, I love to hang out with my family.  Lately we’ve been playing hide and seek at home in the evenings, which is surprisingly fun and ridiculous.  We also like to play Monopoly or watch movies and order pizza.  My husband Steve, my son Dexter and our two dogs Stuie and Louie are my favourite guys in the whole wide world.

My earliest fashion memory:  The first thing I sewed was when I was about 8.  I cut off a nightgown and figured out how to make the bottom into a ruffle to make a baby doll nightie like Chrissie on Three’s Company.  I was so excited about figuring it out!  I continued to make clothing and jewellery as a kid and teenager, even selling what I made to friends and in a hair salon in Saskatoon (where I grew up) when I was in high school.  I must have fashion and entrepreneurialism in my blood.

What I like to do to relax:  The couch + 2 dogs + a movie = bliss.

Why I love working at Fresh Collective:  I just absolutely love being an entrepreneur. It’s demanding and ever-changing, but I wouldn’t trade that for the world.  20 years in and I’m still learning, occasionally terrified and forever excited and inspired to create this unique company.

A highlight from my career so far at FC:  I had the privilege of doing a Premium Wardrobe Makeover for a customer named Ginny.  We had a wonderful time picking out outfits for a new phase in her life and career but the truly amazing moment came a few days later when she came by and dropped off a thank-you letter.  Fresh Collective is my life’s work and when it helps people live better lives, I’m thrilled!


Favourite social media platform:  I LOVE Facebook!  I was resistant at first but now am addicted and love to keep in touch with people through it.




Meet the team – Vanessa Hughes

Vanessa is my newest co-worker here at Fresh Collective on Queen St. I often refer to her as my protege because it’s my goal to train her on everything I know and have her rise up in the company. What I love so much about Vanessa is our very similar backgrounds and shared passion for local designers. We both have a fashion design background and are very conscious of what it takes to be a designer competing out there in the world. I love how she lights up when new pieces come in and eagerly shares the joy of Fresh Collective with customers and everyone in her life. She has a bright future here with us! – Jane Haselgrove, Store Manager at Queen Street West / Product Partner Coordinator at Fresh Collective



Name: Vanessa Hughes (aka Vanessa Petey)
Position at Fresh Collective:  Style Coach at Fresh Collective on Queen Street West

 Where and when you’ll find me at FC: Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays at FCQ

My favourite part of the job: Finding the perfect look for someone and knowing their day has been made better by their visit.
My hopes and dreams for my fashion career:  I love working as a stylist!  I would love to make a career out of dressing people and photographing them for ads, magazines, etc.

What I do when I’m not at work:  I’m attracted to creativity!  I spend a lot of time looking for new music, seeing live shows, discussing film and literature and celebrating the arts in every way possible!

My earliest fashion memory:  Watching Jeanne Beker on Fashion Television every day all summer when I was eleven years old.

What I like to do to relax: I like to go for walks around the downtown core – seeing the sights, being among the people and taking in the city around me.

Why I love working at Fresh Collective:  My whole life I’ve been very passionate about supporting the Canadian Fashion Industry, so I can’t think of a better job!  I get to meet lovely people every day and support local designers while I do it!  Amazing!

Favourite social media platform:  I use Facebook a lot, like most people.  But I much prefer Twitter & Instagram.  I find they’re less convoluted and more direct.

A surprising fact about me:  I’m also a barista!  I can make a mean latte or cappuccino!

Anything else we should know about you: I’m from Windsor, Ontario.  I worked in theatre and visual art when I was in University for Art History at the University of Windsor.  I also attended the International Academy of Design for Fashion Design.


Meet the Fresh Collective Staff- Jane Haselgrove

Part of what makes Fresh Collective great is the amazing team we attract!  Lots of people pour their energy, creativity, love of fashion and hard work into making each day great in our stores, and we’re going to feature one of them on our blog each week!  We start with Jane Haselgrove, my longest term employee who acts more like my business partner.  Jane and I have taken on many challenges together over the past few years, and Fresh Collective just wouldn’t be the business it is today without her leadership, integrity and commitment.  Jane is an extraordinary person always working on herself, learning and ready for new challenges and we’re become best friends as well as co-workers.

– Laura-Jean Bernhardson, CEO and Founder of Fresh Collective

Name: Jane Haselgrove
Position(s) at Fresh Collective: Store Leader, Head Style Coach and Product Partner Coordinator  (I wear a lot of hats!)


Where and when you’ll find me at FC: 692 Queen St W – Wednesday through Saturday

What a typical day at FC looks like for me:  A typical day looks like arriving to the store early and getting ready for the day. I often meet new designers to see their lines early in the day, from there I work on my facebook post, create new purchase orders and SKU’s and do merchandising in the store.

My favourite part of my day is meeting new people and helping customers. It’s so rewarding seeing people go from liking the store, to loving the product to beaming at the portrait wall behind the cash desk when they see who made their new piece. Connecting the designers with their customers is very cool!

My favourite part of the job: There are many aspects of the job that I love but the one thing that surprised me to find out that I love is growing and developing the systems that help the business function and serve our customers. When my co-workers and designers thank me for making their work easier or when customers are super impressed with how quickly we can get something for them those are proud moments for me.

My hopes and dreams for my fashion career: My biggest hope and dream is to travel the world opening up new Fresh Collective locations and building careers for local designers all over the world. I believe this business model can work and revolutionize the fashion industry and I intend to do just that.

What I do when I’m not at work: When I am not at work you can find me rock climbing at Boulderz or down in the Niagara Glen, working on my Arbonne business or watching a weird movie with my husband and cats.

My earliest fashion memory: My earliest fashion memory is probably from when I was 5. I used to get dressed up in crazy outfits and ride my bike around the computer room in the house. I pretty much do the same thing now but I ride around the streets of Toronto on my bike.

What I like to do to relax: I like to watch very obscure and terrible movies. I also love to make popcorn on the stovetop. It’s SO GOOD!

Why I love working at Fresh Collective: I love working at Fresh Collective because although I am an employee here I get to behave like an entrepreneur. I treat this business like it is my own and many people ask me if this is MY store when I am speaking to them. I love getting messages from customers telling me how much they love their new pieces or the service they got here.

A highlight from my career so far at FC: A highlight from my career so far would be my overall journey with the company since I started in 2010. I used to sew dresses and shirts in Laura-Jean’s house when I started. As I look back at the personal development journey I have had over the last 4 years it surprises me to see myself managing the Queen Street store and being our Product Partner Co-ordinator. I never thought I would work retail directly with our customers or take on as many different roles as I do.

Favourite social media platform: Facebook

A surprising fact about me:  I am actually not a big fan of the fashion world or shopping. In fact I hate shopping! I love personal style and self expression. My dislike of shopping has also caused me to create a very special environment for our customers when they come in. I love to serve and help people and make their lives easier.