When I first started my clothing line [Honey Matthews] in 05-06 I set out to find as many sources of support that I could – I wanted to develop my knowledge and gain first hand insight from experienced designers and people involved in the fashion industry.
Somehow I came across a free in-class program for youth being offered in Scarborough (my hometown) called Passion for Fashion – so I signed up for the free program and found my way to their Scarborough location for my first class.
I attended one of Passion for Fashion’s first sessions ever and realized that much of the information being shared was vital to the beginning stages of my business. Questions that revolved around getting brand exposure and understanding how to create your brand identity became important ideas to focus on.
I saw that not only were the sessions informative in the business aspect but it also provided the opportunity for a student/mentor relationship. The sounding board we were given allowed for real fashion experts to answer our novice questions based on their real life experiences which removed much of the guess-work that weighs the minds of any young entrepreneur.
Fast forward 6+ years (2015) and I’ve begun offering business consultation services for new start-up fashion entrepreneurs; you’d be surprised to know how many people aspire to design clothing but are too afraid to pursue their dreams.
I realized that I enjoyed this consultant/mentor role so much that I decided to find an opportunity to mentor youth in the same way that I experienced Passion for Fashion years ago when I began Honey Matthews.
Out of curiosity I Googled Passion for Fashion and sent an email to the contact I found online – she informed me that after 6 years of service in Toronto that the Passion for Fashion program was being cancelled due to lack of funding. The not for profit organization was operating with annual support from government funding, private donations and corporate sponsorship.
A month or two after learning of PFF’s abrupt ending I received an email from the lady I spoke to and she asked if I’d be interested in mentoring youth for a summer program from July to August in downtown Toronto.
This program awarded $3,000 in government funding to 30 youth aged 15-25. The selection process only awarded funding to the best viable businesses that applied to the program. The students filled out applications describing the business they wanted to start and were approved by the coordinators of the youth employment agency.
We met on Wednesdays where I had the opportunity to speak with all students, sometimes individually and other times in round table discussion. The students created businesses ranging from lawn care to pastry baking, apparel, phone apps, photography, graphic design, and the most impressive – fence painting. The fence painter was making the most revenue with at least $3,000+ per month which was mostly profit.
During our sessions the students asked questions about my business and how I created my name and logo, how I got exposure in the media, how to budget and make sales. They asked about patents and suppliers, how to start a website and how to find new customers – just a wide range of questions and I absolutely loved it.
One thing about experience is learning from your failures and your success – but mostly your failures. You learn more by correcting mistakes than you would learn without them.
With my years of experience and knowledge gained I found myself in a position of wisdom that I can share to enlighten and push others.
I’m willing to admit that I don’t know everything – but I know enough to get you started.