a night of fashion, inspiration and entrepreneurship

  a recap of 'join the {r}evolution!' event by Carolina Horna

“Everything is going to be okay, but it might not be today.” Wise words shared by {r}evolution apparel with a large group of young women at “join the {r}evolution” pop-up fashion show at Calabash Bistro. Words such as these, from Kristin & Shannon, provide a sense of comfort along the journey of self-discovery that many young women embark upon (one that I am in the process of traveling right now).

Whether you work in or study marketing, finance, fashion, or law - whatever your path - we can all connect on one level; the need to pursue our passions to find meaning and value in what we do. At first glance, fashion shows and YWiB may not go hand and hand but after the YWiB {r}evolution apparel event, this could not be further from the truth.

All those who came out on Wednesday, June 13, appeared to think so as well. The energy in the room was nothing less than captivated; all were eager to hear the stories behind the featured fashion entrepreneurs: Shannon, Kristin, and Malene Grotrian, a local Vancouver designer and self-discovered fashionista.

Becoming a female entrepreneur can be tough as it is, but to do so in the fashion industry imparts its own level of intensity and challenge. So, how did these ladies get started? What were their challenges? What do they look to achieve? And more importantly, where did they find the inner strength, support and courage to do so? Luckily we had the chance to hear their stories.

Shannon and Kristin are the co-creators and masterminds behind {r}evolution apparel’s Versalette; a single article of clothing that can be transformed into twenty different looks. The idea for this eco-fashion piece came to the two while traveling abroad. Recognizing the severe environmental waste the fashion industry plagues on the world, these girls truly value the notion that less can really be more. The idea to create the Versalette came when they met while traveling in Australia. Realizing how much easier backpacking would be if they had one article of clothing that could be worn in multiple ways, the Versalette was born.  However, this was no overnight success story.

Returning home to the US, Kristin & Shannon felt lost and had no idea where their (“should-be”) professional lives were headed. Arriving on the idea of the Versalette took over a year of Skype-dates and a trip to Central America in search of ideas, fabrics, and manufacturing partners.

Their trip to Central America left them empty handed and feeling defeated. Fortunately, however, a group in North Carolina (who had followed the girl’s blog documenting their eco-fashion trails) reached out to offer an environmental solution for producing the Versalette using recycled materials and sourcing local labour for the production process.

In the end, the girls decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign to debut their signature piece - not knowing how much interest their piece would garner.  They managed to triple their goal and raised $64,000. Due to the power of the internet and the kindness of strangers who believed in their eco-friendly sustainable idea, they finally had a business and could go into production with their line!

Shannon reflected on her experience and encourages other ladies to pursue their passion, “No matter what your path, if you know you want to change it or have doubts, don’t wait for the perfect time because there is no perfect time! If we had waited we wouldn’t be here right now talking to you guys and having these amazing experiences. Just do it and you will not regret it!”

Although production has brought on its own set of challenges, the girls maintain their sincere optimism, positive attitude and above all else, honesty. They are the first to admit that this has taken more time than they ever thought; testing customers’ faith in their idea along with their own. But by maintaining their optimism and faith in their cause, they know good things will come and customers will be happy with their very own Versalette.

{r}evolution apparel now boasts coverage from Forbes, the Wall Street Journal and Yahoo Business News.  We are certain that we have not heard the last from these inspiring ladies.

We also wanted to showcase a local eco-fashionista.  We were very lucky to have Malene Grotrian partake and share her versatile clothing line with us. Malene has committed to using fabrics that not normally considered by other designers.

With all fabric made in Vancouver, Malene is a proud supporter of local businesses and believes in forming strong relationships within her community. Before launching her own business, she had worked for others but her mother always encouraged her to follow her passion and work for herself. When asked about her most proudest moment as a designer, Malene described her first Vancouver Fashion Week where her clothing line received a standing ovation, something that had not happened anytime in the event’s 10-year history.

For many of us, our involvement with the fashion industry doesn’t go beyond our individual appreciation for clothing. However, somehow these ladies and their stories resonated with each one of us. Why do we think this is, exactly?

Well, I think it’s because we have all struggled, experienced set backs and have been looking (if we have not yet found) the right path to pursue our true passions. Kristin, Shannon, and Malene are warriors who have blazed the trail before us.  They have hit roadblocks, experienced days they did not want to get out of bed, and cannot pinpoint exactly which direction their futures are headed. BUT…..they are happy, flexible, and creating their own story... one with NO regrets. Can you say the same?