#FCfreshstart – Cutting starts!

Fresh start

Hi Fresh Collective!

We’re fabric cutting! One step closer to the final products being in stores! Check out the prints:

print 1 print2Which one is your favourite print? The soft and subtle pocahontas print or the bright, bold, and fresh coral scuba print?

What I love about the fabrics and colours YOU, the customer, chose is that they are very seasonally transitional. They can easily slide from a Spring/ Summer to a Fall/ Winter wardrobe when mixed with the right accessories and shoes! The Fresh Collective staff, as you know, are amazing at wardrobe styling, so don’t be afraid to ask for assistance!

Keep tabs on the Fresh Collective social media in the next few days and you’ll catch me on the Style Profile modelling these three final samples! It will give you a little taste in what to expect coming to the stores! Let us know which is your favourite and take a guess at which piece you think will be the best seller!!

Catch up on all things #FCfreshstart with this hashtag! Until next week, ciao for now!


social media#FCfreshstart

#FCfreshstart- Week ???

Fresh start

Hi Fresh Collective!

There have been some major gaps between our ‘Weekly’ blog reports for the Fresh Collective Designer Development Program, Fresh Start– all for valid reasons though!

At the start of this program, we (Laura-Jean and I) set up a 13 week timeline of how the research, sample making and production would go. Clearly, that timeline has been totally blown!

But, hey, all great designers and entrepreneurs know that plans pretty much never go as envisioned!  Being adaptable is the key to success!

Since the beginning, we’ve had fabulous customer feedback and engagement (thank you SO much), a lot of trial and error, delays on fabric delivery and life and earning a living getting in the way.

Recently, I had a little pow-wow with Laura-Jean and Jane. We went over the three chosen sample garments for fit analysis, customer appeal, and overall sellability. Our number one goal in this project is to create pieces that the FC customers feel confident and beautiful in. And my first stab at one of the samples was just not good enough!

PicMonkey Collage1

Here is the progression from sketch to sample. In the end, this dress was a very specific fit. It would only look great on a small percentage of women. So it’s sellability was very limited.


Each sample, before production is started, goes through a series of fittings. In that time a garment may be altered several times or the design scrapped entirely!  There are so many variables to come together to have the garment really work in three dimensions, to have it be beautiful, wearable, flattering, enough range of fit to sell to enough people AND to be able to have it produced at a price that will work for the marketplace! It’s a real challenge getting all those elements into one garment!

In our situation, it was best to start from scratch for one of our dresses! The photo below is a sample of the new dress that will replace the ‘Kimono Dress.’ This new piece is a flattering silhouette that cinches in at the waist and has a beautiful flared skirt. It also has a little cap sleeve and detailed princess line seaming.


The new version! Customers told us they like a bit of a sleeve. The pattern hides any lumps and bumps and…. POCKETS!! Everyone loves pockets in dresses. This style creates a beautiful waistline and floats over hips. The stretch in the fabric will mean it will fit and flatter a wide variety of women.


I’m so, so, so pleased with this new style (as you can see by the smile on my face) and I’m glad I started “fresh” with this sample.  I feel so great in this dress!  What do you think?  Is this the kind of style you’d like to wear?

Please stay tuned for more details on the final three garments and a new video segment that will be coming out soon on our progress!! You can find all #FCfreshstart progress on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

 Stay Fresh,



Style Profile – Monika Francikova

Name: Monika Francikova
Occupation: Fashion designer and tailor
Age: youthful mind
Lifestyle: Right now it is all about Monikova.

Monika 2

Dress: Kimono Knit Dress – Monikova $125: Shrug: Farinosa Shrug – Jennifer Fukushima, $79; Necklace – Frabricci $79


What’s a typical day like for you? There is no typical day anymore- every day is different!  I never know what challenge will come along that day on top of the things that I have to do already.

Where to start… there is always lot of sewing, cutting, finishing and packaging. You can never ignore the creative process that lights up like fire without the matches and you have to act on it no matter what…. it can be very distracting!

On an ongoing basis, I am maintaining Monikova’s online store and making sure my retailers have the product they need.  Photo shoots are important for new product – this is non-stop!  I also spend time searching for good materials,  figuring out my new steps for Pop-Up stores that I’ve been doing this year to promote my label and to find out what works and what doesn’t …. I can just carry on! Quite simply there is never dull moment!

monika 3 edit

Blouse: Nelle Daisy Tunic – Monikova – $135.00; Legging- The Flipside Legging *in black and charcoal* -enCircled – $98.00; Shoes – Eleanor – Miz Mooz -$165.00; Necklace: Brass Chevron with Pyrite Necklace – Curious Oddities -$32.00; Bracelet: Brass Hand Chain Bracelet -Curious Oddities -$32.00; Dog: Chilli – Priceless

What in your life is really important to you? My health

What would you like to be remembered for? As always I would say being a good person that left some positive contribution behind and made good use of life.

What role does fashion play in your life? Fashion is my life, and I love nice things. But at the same time I’m glad that I don’t have to walk around naked. The importance of clothing is indescribable!


Shoes: Joni Heel *in black* – Miz Mooz $150.00, Jeans: Skinny High Rise -Yoga Jeans, $120.00, Blouse: Nelle Diamond Tunic -Monikova -$135.00

 What do you love about shopping at Fresh Collective? It’s a very relaxed, easy and unique environment.  Fresh Collective has always something new to offer that you can’t find anywhere else.

What do you have that you want to promote?  Enjoy good clothes, live life for today with style, you deserve MONIKOVA.  My line is available at Fresh Collective Queen and Roncesvalles.

Is there anything else we should know about you? Once someone told me I’m an onion and have many layers, whatever that means! But I like it!

Where can people find you on social media?https://www.facebook.com/MonikovaDesign





Fresh Start Designer Development Program – Week 6!

Fresh start

Hi Fresh Collective! I know it has been more than a week since our last blog for Fresh Start and that’s because we were waiting for the fabric shipment to begin sample making! It goes to prove that though we can be as organized and on top of things ourselves and in our businesses, some events will still be out of our control! We have to roll with what comes!


This week I am going to share with you some progress on the sample making front. Tuesday I received the fabric shipment at 5pm and in no more than 5 minutes it was unpacked and on the drafting table ready to be cut! The first sample I am working on is the Kimono Shift dress!  As a reminder, here’s the sketch you voted into the top 3. aaaadress

We are using a beautiful fresh coral double knit with the coral scuba reef print that was most popular! These two fabrics enhance the design and appearance wonderfully together. Below are some photos of the dress first cut out.

blog63 blog62
From here I have been piecing the dress together in stages and working on the detailed outer seaming! This dress, as well as, the other two samples (tunic and top) will be made in a size medium to start to finalize the fit. Once these samples are a ‘go’ I will be creating a full size run of each piece just for you to check out at the Queen Street location!

Check out this detailed close up of the neckline!

blog64Keep tabs on the Fresh Collective Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram page this week to see pictures of this piece completed and the other two pieces! We will be posting pictures of final garments throughout the week and you can always find our posts by using #FCfreshstart!

Next week, we will be sharing more on sample making/ final fittings/ and grading these pieces from XS up to XL! Stay tuned every Thursday!

Stay fresh,


#FCfreshstart – Week 5! Fabric Choices.

Hi Fresh Collective! We are now at week 5 in the Fresh Start program and gearing up for production! The fabrics have now been ordered and we will soon be starting to cut and sew samples for YOU, the customer, to try on and give more feedback. That is an opportunity for you to tell me any last issues you would want corrections on so I can apply them to the final garments which will be going in store!

blog 3

The three designs you chose for me to produce are the tunic, dress and top as shown above.  Last week you gave me your votes on the fabrics for each and here they are!

Below the fabric swatch picture I’ve written a little information on the fabrics which will tell you about its convenience, practicality, durability, and care content. I am very excited to share the winning choices with you!


For the top, I’ll be using this structured knit as a contrast with another fabric as well.

This knit stretch jean-like fabric is extremely practical for wash and wear. Simply throw this in the wash in cold water and tumble dry on low. Iron if needed on a medium heat to get rid of any creases. This fabric is a rayon, nylon, polyester, and spandex blend. Rayon gives this fabric a lustrous appearance. Nylon enhances the durability and wear and polyester allows this fabric to be wash and wearable. Spandex gives it the fantastic elasticity and stretch! By default, I have ordered the dark jean wash colour, as opposed to the black, because it was the only colour in stock at this time.


The rayon/spandex blend Dakota knit was a big hit!! This forest green colour was the most popular and will be offered for the tunic and the top. Rayon is a manufactured cellulose fabric which means it has a lot of natural properties including a naturally soft hand and lustrous appearance. This fabric is machine washable in cold water and you can throw this in the dryer on a low heat. This fabric is lightweight and perfect for the spring and summer! The print is simple and not too bold.


Here is the modal knit! This oatmeal colour was the most popular neutral colour desired for the tunic and the top. This modal/spandex blend fabric is SO soft to the touch which means you will want to wear this all day long!  Modal is cool to the touch and also tends to pill less. The best characteristic of this fabric is that it is ECO friendly! What a plus! Wash this in the machine in cold water and dry flat.

WINEThis is also the modal knit in the popular wine colour. This fabric will also be used for the tunic and the top. It has all the same properties as listed above with the oatmeal colour!



This is the double knit fabric that will be used to create the winning dress. This fabric is more structured than the others and is a rayon, nylon, and spandex blend. Again, the rayon gives this fabric a lustrous appearance and soft hand. The nylon gives this fabric the durability and long lasting properties. This coral colour was chosen to mix with the Scuba Reef print below! This will be such a refreshing spring/summer colour this upcoming season! This fabric is easy to take care of as you can wash cold in the machine, and tumble dry on low heat!

CORALprintLastly, we have the Scuba Reef printed fabric. This is a polyester and spandex mix fabric. Polyester is a great fibre for creating a convenient fabric in terms of care. This fabric can either be hand or machine washed and hung to dry. This is a great bold print to make a statement. It will be used for the dress as the accent fabric being applied to the collar, and pockets to add interest to the piece!

Thanks again everyone for following along and your continued support in this development program!

Please let us know how you like the final fabrics that were chosen and colours! Follow along on any missed content by researching #FCfreshstart on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! Catch us next Thursday for Week 6!! We will be moving onto sample making!

Stay fresh,


Style Profile – Mandy Armstrong

Mandy Armstrong is the designer behind our best selling line, Mandala Design.  Women love her clothes because they fit and look fantastic and because they are just the right mix of retro fun and wearable chic.  Mandy has been selling her line with us since the early days of both Mandala Design and Fresh Collective, and her line’s success has been a huge part of our success.  She is an excellent designer, a smart businesswoman and a genuine pleasure to do business with.  I have learned a lot from watching how she runs her business, and I look forward to building many more stores for her to sell her line in!  – Laura-Jean Bernhardson, Founder and CEO of Fresh Collective

Name: Mandy Armstrong
Occupation: Clothing Designer
Age: Let’s just say that I remember the 80’s too well to consider it vintage.

Lifestyle: A work in progress.  While I’d be quite content to hole up and work most of the time, I also want to get out into the world and see what’s going on.  Visit new places, try new food, experience new adventures.  I know I’m a bit too introverted for my own good, but I’m working on it!

scaled_image (6)

This really is Mandy’s motorcycle and how she gets around town. She often brings Fresh Collective new deliveries of dresses on her bike!
Dress: Lila dress – Mandala Design, $ 158
Shoes: Ellie shoes – Miz Mooz, $ 155

Style Coach notes:  With Mandy’s dark hair and light complexion, strong colours look best on her.  This dress is a great alternative to Mandy’s typical studio look of jeans and a tee-shirt, and would be perfect for an interview with a magazine, to meet a client or for date night with her hubby.

What’s a typical day like for you?  Wake up, get dressed, get on the computer to ‘work’.  Spend way too much time looking at funny animal videos.  Walk around the corner to my studio.  I love what I do and can’t imagine doing anything else! Go home for lunch, walk our dog, Tristan.  Back to the studio.  Sing along (badly) to songs from my youth.  Go home, walk dog, make dinner, ‘work’ – in this case it usually means research and development which is code for reading a book or magazine, watching TV or a movie or visiting the local pub for a pint.  Who knows where that next spark of inspiration will come from, right?!

 What in your life is really important to you?  Family and creating pretty things.


scaled_image (5)

Here Joe, McKiernan, Style Coach and Store Leader at Roncesvalles, styles Mandy’s outfit.

Did you know all our Style Coaches (that’s our staff!) provide personalized styling services?  They are experts in helping women look amazing and feel confident through building a wardrobe they LOVE.  
Book your complimentary Perfect Fit Makeover today!  


What would you like to be remembered for?  There’s no way to answer this question without sounding cheesy so here goes… I’d like to be remembered as someone who made clothing that made women feel good about themselves.  I’d also like to learn to be the best knife thrower ever.  I should probably get started on that.

scaled_image (4)

Dress: Iris dress – Mandala Design, $ 158
Shoes: Pepper shoes – Miz Mooz, $ 150
Bracelets: Myka, $169 each

Style Coach notes:  We chose the shoes because the black borders echo the borders on the dress, and the bracelets dress this look up enough to go to a summer wedding.  This dress has just enough shape to skim a woman’s curves and not so much that it clings or restricts.


What role does fashion play in your life?  Huge. Not because I always dress well (I’m huddled away at the studio most days in jeans and tees – don’t ever let anyone tell you that the clothing industry is glamorous – it ain’t), but because it’s what I love.  Ever since I can remember I’ve loved clothes.  I love the fabric, the buttons, the details, the construction.  I especially love vintage clothes, the stories they tell and the ones I make up for them.

What do you love about shopping at Fresh Collective?  I’ve been a part of the Collective for so long and it’s such a big part of my business.  Shopping there is always a joy!  I’m so amazed at the creativity that can be found right here in our very own city.  It’s been a fabulous experience getting to know the staff and other designers and sharing in everyone’s successes.  I’m at the shops almost every week and it’s a real struggle not to succumb to the urge to buy something EVERY TIME!

scaled_image (9)

Top: Ronda linen slouch top – Mandala Design, $ 64
Pants: Val snake capri pants – Mandala Design, $ 124
Shoes: Athena Shoes – Miz Mooz, $ 145
Necklace: Ch-ch-chains bracelet with extender- BurfurART, $65 plus $18 (for extender)

 Style Coach notes: This slouchy linen tee is a great with these awesome snake print pants.  The top is neutral, sophisticated and tones down the va-va-voom factor of the pants.  As well, the loose fit on top works as a contrast to the slim fit on the bottom.  We completed the look with a bold chain necklace because, well, it just worked.

What do you have that you want to promote?  One of the things that has been in the forefront of my mind these past several years is the state of the clothing industry – both overseas and right here in Canada.  While I’m proud to promote the fact that all of Mandala’s clothing is made right here in Toronto, as a consumer I feel it’s my obligation to support the brands and companies that are making a real effort to curb the bad practices used by some larger corporations.  Shopping local and knowing where an item comes from are just a couple of ways that I’m striving to change my purchasing habits.  I think that we are becoming much more aware of the conditions that workers endure and I’m hoping that with increased pressure, we can look forward to a day when all employees both here and abroad can enjoy a living wage in safe conditions.

Is there anything else we should know about you?  We recently adopted one of the cutest rescue dogs in the world (that would be Tristan), I have a 17 (almost 18, yikes!) year old son, I ride a kick-ass cherry-red Suzuki VS800 Intruder motorcycle and my favourite colour is green.



Ready for a new you through fashions like these?  Tempted but not sure if it’s really “you”? Book your complimentary Perfect Fit Wardrobe makeover with a Fresh Collective Style Coach today.  We sell confidence and self-expression and are committed to having YOU look and feel your best.