Our #FRESH10 Contest Winner

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Just two weeks ago we announced the winner to our #FRESH10 Contest – a contest celebrating our 10 year anniversary and giving one lucky FC fan the chance to win a 10-piece wardrobe!

We were overwhelmed with the entries – hundreds of tweets, likes and lovely top ten lists came flooding our way and we were genuinely moved by it all!

Photo: Our lucky #FRESH10 winner Carley grabbed over $1000 of goodies today! CONGRATS! @someonecallacab

Meet Carley – our fabulous #FRESH10 winner. We had a blast shopping with her this Saturday.

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Carley was on the hunt for a nice skirt to fill out her wardrobe. She didn’t have to look far. The minute she spotted this fun print, she was head over heels! (LENA skirt from Mandala Design – $88)

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This sassy tank was a must-have! (Cancan Tunic from Kollontai – $152)

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Our newest Queen Street gal Ana, was excited to have a twin when Carley tried on this best-seller from Rita Di Cesare – they couldn’t help but snap a picture together! (Christina Tank Dress from Rita Di Cesare – $159)

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There was a bit of a squeal of delight when I pulled out the domino pieces Tara of Odd Bird Design had dropped off!

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I
 believe “YES PLEASE!” was all Carley said when she saw this gorgeous 100% silk creation from Monikova. The LAST one of its kind! Lucky steal!

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This cozy cardigan from Paper People clothing looks great with Carley’s colouring and will be the perfect transitional piece for fall! (Rosemary Cardigan from Paper People Clothing $139)

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A pair of earrings and a necklace from Curious Oddities definitely had us all swooning a little…

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Carley received a voucher to grab a pair of Hush Puppies online, but she had to try on what we had in-store and fell for these coral pumps! (Sanguin Pumps from Hush Puppies – $120)

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Not only did she get a cute pair of Candi Factory undies for herself, but she got to treat her lucky boyfriend to a pair as well! (Candi Factory underpants – men’s $32, women’s $22)

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We adored this bold piece with a belted sash from Studio Fresh – looked great with her jeans, but can you imagine it with a pencil skirt in a classic black or a bold colour? Va va voom! (Vestie w/Sash from Studio Fresh – $120)

It was a pleasure spending the afternoon with Carley – she was an absolute doll and we can’t wait for updates on what she’s up to in her new Fresh Collective wardrobe!

xoFC

 

#FRESH 10 WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT: Congratulations Carley B!

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We want to say a HUGE thank you to all the wonderful entrants in our #FRESH10 contest – your lists were such a treat to read and not only were they moving and inspiring, but they provided us with excellent feedback on why you love Fresh Collective and what we can continue doing to provide you with the BEST shopping experience ever!

We wouldn’t have made it to ten years without the support and love of each and every one of you. We’re so grateful and look forward to the next ten years!

xo
-The FC Team

The Swagger Coach: 10 Reasons Why Fresh Collective Rocks My Socks

swagger coach
Changing the Future and Influencing the Retail Industry 
There are many things we are not. We are not a big-box store. We are not a heavy-sell store. We are not a fast-fashion store, and we are not a store which carries mass-produced items. We are not a store which follows a scripted greeting or sales model. What we are is a store, no, scratch that, we are a community of people who love the fashionable arts, and love using them to make people’s days just a little bit brighter. Its not unusual to pop into one of our locations and find total strangers chatting like old friends, or to find our store staff dancing around with customers as they celebrate a first date, a big promotion or a new baby. We strive to make relationships, not sales, and we’re committed to having a BLAST each and every day we come to work. We’re not a typical store, and we don’t have typical days. We start off every day with a positive outlook, and a commitment to inspiring joyful living through confidence, self-expression and creativity.



I’m My Own Boss! 

During my interview at Laura-Jean’s outdoor boardroom (aka lovely backyard… but seriously, it was like stepping into Narnia) I was asked some pretty typical questions. The magic came after the “interview” questions subsided, and we began to chat about what she wanted to see in her business. She told me that they were looking for someone to step out of line, suggest the craziest ideas, and dream big – they were looking for those outside-the-box people who could take on the store and run it as though it were their own. Apparently I fit the bill (hoorah!) and ever since I’ve been taking the first of many, many steps to a long and delightful career with FC. Each of our stores has such a different flavour because they are managed, curated and populated by a signature team of individuals who truly understand the clientele and vibe of the neighbourhood. Each and every person who works for FC is given the opportunity to lead their own projects, create their own systems, and establish their own career paths in any direction they choose. FC has been in business for TEN years now, but this is just the beginning for our team and what we’re going to accomplish in the fashion industry!

Relationships Beyond Compare

A few weeks into my position with Fresh Collective, a customer walked in and chatted with myself and Jane for a bit. She worked across the street and was super funny. Wicked! Friendly neighbours! The girl came back the next day, and several more after. You may recognize her from some of our pics, she’s the blonde with the black glasses, and her name is Emily. Over the last few months, Emily has turned from a customer to a neighbour, and from a neighbour to an amazing, hilarious friend. We’re road tripping together next weekend! I’m fortunate enough to know customers like Krista, Robyn, Shawna, Nuria, Melissa, Sandra, Anna, Kayla, Tasha, Tara, and countless others who I look forward to seeing each time they come in! I’ve spent hours with some of our designers, talking about the dating scene, moving, movies and eating grilled cheese from up the block. Fresh Collective encourages amazing, open relationships in AND out of the workplace, and I’ve never been a part of an environment as friendly, welcoming and truly awesome as this!
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Company Culture Allows for Growth

At a typical place of work, an employee is hired, and after three months, their performance is reviewed to decide whether the individual will be kept on as permanent staff. Once or twice a year, their performance is reviewed again, and if they excel, a promotion or raise is offered. Before I was even sent the job offer, I was asked in which area of the company I would like to advance to, and an action plan was discussed to get me there. What? Seriously? There is no such thing as “sales staff” or “shift managers” at FC, but rather the understanding that you’re given as much leadership and authority as you desire, and there’s always support to make your career goals a reality within the company. Some people take on jobs to advance their resume, or gain a skill set, then move on. At FC, there is no need to move on, because there is truly no better way to build a skill set and challenge your abilities than among a group of your supportive, understanding and accommodating peers. Life here is awesome.



Supporting Local Artists, Launching New Ones

When we introduce new artists to the Collective, we know that we have a hand in creating a future for them within the industry. Local designers often shop their products around to various stores before landing a spot in one, only to receive little to no support in marketing, branding, production strategies or progression. This is where many designers and artists falter, and many eventually give up on making their dream a reality. At FC, the process is indeed an interactive one, and our designers receive very active feedback, coaching, and support. We actually care about the success of our designers, which is why we’re in contact almost daily, be it a strategic email regarding marketing and advertising, or simply a string of cat videos. Yeah, we’ve totally all seen the cat riding around on the Roomba in the shark costume, and it’s fabulous. We care, and we’re so, so happy to see our designers flourish as they interact with their fans! Oh, by the way, there’s an amazing trunk show with “Fangirl Chic” artist Mady Bone at the Kensington Market store on Saturday and Sunday, come by and meet her! Her stuff is amazing!
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Allowing customers to contribute 

We believe in guerrilla marketing. Yeah, we could take out some massive billboard ads, or create a TTC stop poster for those funky new bus shelters, but we know that the best advertising is word of mouth, and we’re committed to being the type of store which you want to bring your friends to, try on a million dresses and chat with the store staff about your ex boyfriend. We open up our social media channels for input, and we’re always curious to pick your brains about your favourite fabrics, colours, designers, etc, so that we can give our amazing customers EXACTLY what they want! Our designers are creative folks indeed, but they’re always willing to hear what their fans and customers have to say. After all, they’re designing clothes for YOU!
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Real women – celebrating your body 

Have you ever come in to an FC store and seen shots of our models? Like the tall redhead with the sleeve of tattoos in the striped shirt? Or the other redhead in the white pants and the aqua sunglasses? Or the petite girl with the strawberry blonde hair, freckles and a parasol? (Holy cow, we have a lot of redheads.) Yeah, those ladies are Kat (the designer of Curious Oddities) Allison (our fantastic social media manager) and Jane (our regional manager) and they’re real live people who have never taken a single modelling class and did NOT diet for the shoot. We believe in incorporating real people into everything we do. We make clothes for real women, be they petite or fuller figured, and we want that to be expressed in our marketing.



I love dresses. Oh my goodness, how I love dresses. 

Yeah, that’s pretty much it on that topic. I love dresses. Fresh Collective carries lots of dresses, all the time. Therefore, I love FC all the time. DRESSES, OMG. Dresses and jewellery.
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Change… and lots of it! 

There’s no such thing as good enough. There’s no such thing as “the way it is”. There’s no such thing as permanence. When we think we have something figured out, we turn it on it’s head and inspect it from every angle, then dream up something new just for kicks. Its like giving a four-year-old a box. To a normal person, a box is a box, or maybe a low-budget cat bed. Working with a team as creative and fun as this, there is always the possibility of change, growth, new ideas, and fun new ways to reinvent the wheel. Is it more work than just following the retail mold? It sure is, but we have a blast doing it and you bet your bonnet we’re not stopping anytime soon.


Living the dream – it all comes together! 
All these areas indicate that Fresh Collective is the most amazing place in the world to shop, work, hang out or share ideas, but when you roll then into one big ball, you have what I’m proud to call my day-to-day life. I love the quirkiness of the company, I love the enthusiasm of our fans, and I can’t wait to see what’s to come for ALL of us, including you! Thanks so much, guys, for being a part of this experience and making my time with FC inspiring, fun, challenging, motivating and totally, totally different from anything else I’ve experienced. Here’s to ten amazing years of FRESHening up Toronto, and to ten (Twenty? A million bazillion?) more!
xo Jamie

Fresh10: Top TEN Things I Have Learned from Motherhood

To celebrate Mother’s Day – we reached out to one of our favourite blogger friends and FC models (you may recognize her from our store windows/walls and all over the internet as one of our “Swing into Spring” models). Emma is a self-proclaimed “urban working mom” and and her blog Strolling the City in Heels is full of fashion, beauty, recipes, and all kinds of “mum stuff.” In the spirit of our 10 year anniversary we’re creating all sorts of TOP TEN content, so we asked Emma to list the Top TEN things being a mum has taught her. Check out her list below and be sure to stop by her blog!
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10motherhood

My son Ian was born suddenly via emergency c-section in February 2011 and his
traumatic entrance was tough for me. It was his perfect little face and super big feet
that got me through the recovery and sleepless nights those first few months. Every
mother has a story like this and I think that Mother’s Day is about celebrating the
things we Mums do each day to try to make a good life for our little people. Someday
we can remind them about the big thing we did on the day they were born- bringing
them into this world in the first place.

10.) Yoga pants seem like a good idea but they do nothing for your self-esteem
9.) You will talk about poop more then you ever thought possible.
8.) You never feel rested even after 8 blissful hours of sleep
7.) Red lipstick can make you feel like a human being again
6.) Sometimes you hate your partner for knocking you up in the first place but when
you see the way your child looks at him, you remember why you fell in love in the
first place.

Emma, her husband Cam and a not-yet-born little Ian

Emma, her husband Cam and a not-yet-born little Ian

5.) Love for your child grows every day even when they are driving you completely
insane.
4.) Your mother deserves a medal for raising you. It is so much harder then you
thought.
3.) A love of reading is the most wonderful gift you can give a child
2.) There is nothing like the smell of your child after a bath.
1.) Hearing your child call you mum for the first time is the most perfect moment of
your life

Mum and Ian

Mum and Ian

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What are the Top Ten things you’ve learned about being a mom, or maybe the Top Ten things you love about your mom? Sound off in the comments below!

Follow Emma on: Facebook :: Twitter :: Pinterest :: Instagram

 

Love Letter from Laura-Jean: Celebrating Ten Years of Fresh Collective

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Hello lovely community!

This year marks our tenth year and from what I hear around the office, the marketing team is planning some kind of big celebration! I’m going to sit back, relax and enjoy what they prepare right along with you!

It’s pretty cool to look back and see that we’ve made it through ten years and grown. When I look back at who I was when I started Fresh Collective in 2003, I see an idealistic and passionate young woman who wanted to create something amazing for the community and for designers. I wanted to show the world how awesome Toronto designers are and bring these great fashions to the wonderful women who were looking for something different that would make them feel great. I knew that fashion meant something more to me, and to others. I just couldn’t quite put it into words, but there was a passion that just drove me forward.

Laura-Jean "the Knitting Queen" circa 1996

Laura-Jean “the Knitting Queen” circa 1996

As I sit here in 2013, I spend a lot more time looking forward. I see that I am even more idealistic now. My passion for fashion and business has become stronger and more refined. I’m just so damn excited about the future of Fresh Collective!

I see fashion as a fun art form we can practice every day. It’s a way to feel great and tell the world what we’re all about. It’s a daily form of self-expression that just can’t be beat. I love the way fashion makes me feel, gives me a role to play and creates who I am in the world.

I also feel that the art of fashion is a gift to our communities. When a woman shows up looking put together, colourful, joyful, inspiring or just plain old cute, it brightens people’s day. To me, looking great and feeling amazing is access to confidence and inspiration. Helping women find that daily in our stores is what we’re all about. When women feel great and know they look good, they spread joy everywhere they go. They get up to big things – like getting promotions, falling in love, starting businesses and having exciting and new conversations with their partners, friends and kids.
To me, Fresh Collective is my contribution to filling the world with joy and inspiration, and the people who join the team and who shop with us, seem to get that about Fresh Collective. Our business is not just a “job” to any of our employees. It’s not just “a store” to our loyal customers. It’s a movement to make the world a more inspired place.

I am thinking bigger, bigger, bigger and I’m ready to lead this company to more, more, more! I see how it will benefit everyone who has joined our community – customers, designers, superfans, employees, friends and families. I feel I owe it to you all and to the city of Toronto that I love so much, to really make this business all it can be.
As we transitioned from a co-op-like organization to a corporation with 10 employees, I started to see more possibilities for how we could grow and fulfill our mission. Things that I resisted years ago – structure, planning, policies and procedures – I see now as the ticket to freedom to grow, prosper, innovate, and produce excellence. I once thought those things robbed me of creativity and spontaneity. I see now they are the things that free us to have unbridled creativity, do great work and succeed.

There is no nobility in having a poorly run, sloppy and poverty stricken business, and so what my team and I are committed to for the future is excellence for our people – our designers, our staff and our customers, and by extension our families, friends and future investors.

2012 was the year I let go of the idea that this was still “my small business”. We have grown beyond that, and to support that growth, I created a decision making board to ensure that any change in the business was sure to be supported by all areas. We also partnered with a CFO with experience in international business and financial planning, and he is working with us to create an exciting financial plan to build our future on.

Our next ten years look amazing. We have fantastic people on board who really believe in our company and vision, and we’re putting everything in place we need to grow.

My commitment to all of you who have helped us come this far is that I will be a stand for excellence and awesomeness in our business so that our next ten years will contribute tons more fun, joy and inspiration to your lives through fashion.

xoxoxoxo LJ