Start up Fashion Week Conference

Hi loves, I am coming to you today to tell you all about the Startup Fashion Week (SFW) conference that I recently had the chance to attend. I absolutely loved my day at the conference, held at the Alt Hotel and sponsored by Canada Post.


The day started up around 10:00 am with our host for the day, Elise Gasbarrino, from STYLE.CA. Elise also held a panel later that day, and then spoke about her website as well as of the power of networking. Elise and STYLE.CA, based in New York City, is a gorgeous website that covers all aspects of the Canadian lifestyle. Whether it be fashion, beauty, food, or culture there’s always something new to discover.


The first speaker of the day honestly wowed me with her go-getter attitude. Sonia Zarbatany grew up in the fashion business and knows it like the back of her hand. As the President of Vince Camuto Canada her attitude and knowledge on the subject was so awe-inspiring. I have only looked up to women who I have heard do great things but have never had the chance to meet them. However, I can honestly say that Sonia is someone who inspires me to be the best version of myself.

The day was packed with amazing speakers like Elise and Sonia. Rachel schultz started in the beauty world at the young age of 16 years old and was managing a store only a few years later. Today she has launched her own makeup line in Avanti Spa. Undertaking such tasks at an age that is similarly close to mine, really gives one perspective. Rachel tells the story that one should always follow their dreams and ambitions no matter their age. If you work hard enough for what you want, you will land where you want to be.


I was then introduced to a great tailoring company from Quebec, Surmesur. Founded by two brothers who started the business in their basement now have a successful company with many different locations. What Vincent Theriault, Co-Founder from Surmesur, spoke about was the value of human interactions when it comes to business. We are so tuned into technology that we often exclude others. Though Surmesur integrates inclusion into technology. Many of the features they offer their customers are efficient, economically friendly and technologically savvy.

Vincent goes on, speaking from an entrepreneurial perspective of the environment that the company creates for their employees. Having a supportive and functional team ensures a businesses success. This caters to Vincent’s original message about inclusion when it comes to dealing with human interactions in an ever-growing technological based society.

After lunch and some networking, we all regrouped for the second part of the day.


Elise lead a panel with three lovely women who are amongst many in the fashion industry. This panel gave insight into their lives and the fact that fashion is not glamorous. They broke the barrier that media so successfully builds between consumers and those working in the industry. Like every job sector, fashion is hard work. The reality of this industry is constant dedication as well as connecting with people on the daily through fashion. All three women told stories of their work. As Patricia Trépanier, stylist and wardrobe consultant for men, expressed not everyone realizes how much effort we all put into the industry and how often times one is not fairly compensated or recognized. This is as previously mentioned the great misconception that many people have of the industry.


Keith Beckles introduced us to his brand of wearable technology, Tap2Tag. I find this concept fascinating because as someone who connects with people almost daily, this is a seriously useful piece of technology to own. What this is, is essentially a bracelet that stores your contact and bank information. If you want to pay for something all you have to do is tap your bracelet on the interact machine. If you want to share your contact info with someone all you have to do is tap the bracelet to the other person’s phone. The best part about this wearable technology? You don’t need an app for this to work. More so, its compatible with any smartphone. It’s fashionable, easy, and efficient.

Aisha wearing Hatchi Designs

Someone else who greatly inspired me during the conference is my friend Aicha Tohry, founder of the law firm Arty Law. Aicha spoke about the four most important aspects when it comes to protecting your fashion brand or business: Intellectual property, advertising regulations, contracts, and legal compliance. She also made the important distinction between a brands name and a trademark. The company’s name as she gave an example can be “a series of numbers and no one really cares,” however a trademark as explained by Aicha is: “what distinguishes you from your competitors in a specific industry”. Throughout her whole talk, she brought up important subjects like mentioned above, and made me realize how much fashion law is ignored. No one ever speaks about it, as she pointed out, despite it being a legitimate part of the law across the world.

Her talk inspired me to research fashion law and to dig beneath its surface. I remember going into College wanting to go into law school when it came time for University. Over my two years in college I found other passions in the marketing and content creation realms. I dropped the idea of law school altogether. Though, Aicha’s talk made me realize that I could still do what I love, fashion, and practice law at the same time (Though life update, I will be majoring in Journalism and minoring in Marketing and hope to follow some aspect of the law dream in the future).

Elise, Jodi Goodfellow, the founder of Startup Fashion Week, and Canada Post wrapped up the afternoon before we all went out on the terrasse to network.

I had an amazing time at this conference. As it was my first time attending a conference like this, I did not expect it to be so engaging. Everyone that I met throughout the three day at SFW were incredibly friendly. I thank everyone behind the organization, especially Jodi who is the mastermind behind the whole concept. This three day event really gives start up fashion labels the spotlight that they don’t often get because of fast fashion and big luxury brands.

If you would like to watch the footage of the three day event, you can find clips in my Instagram highlights (Events, and fashion).

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