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.