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?



my {YWiB} story: Brittany

Getting to Know Brittany Wong

Brittany is a passionate and ambitious person who comes from a long line of entrepreneurs.  During our conversation I could not help but be enthralled by her focus, drive, and positive personality. As I got to know her more I was not surprised to find out she had started her own fashion magazine during her undergraduate degree at UBC and has been an instrumental player in forming the Lipstick Project a not-for-profit organization. Her dream is to make an impact in this world, so it doesn’t surprise me that her mantra is “be the change you wish to see.”


Involvement with Young Women in Business

Brittany’s exposure to Young Women in Business came through Jen Sung, whom she has been a good friend with since grade 3.  Being involved in her sorority, school, and other extracurriculars took up a lot of her time but she knew she wanted to contribute to the organization at some point. After starting Style Canvas, her fashion magazine an opportunity presented itself to meld her passion for fashion and help Young Women in Business. Brittany both produced a fashion show for Beyond Pink and spoke at the closing dinner.


Learning from Young Women in Business

Now working in the Event Production industry, Brittany mentioned how organizing the Fashion Show for Beyond Pink was her first big event and was her springboard into the events industry. After graduating with a business degree from Sauder she had been accepted to the Parsons School of Fashion in New York but decided to change paths because of her recent event experience with Young Women in Business. Taking part in Beyond Pink opened a new door in her career and she took a large leap forward and never looked back.


Three words to describe her experience with Young Women in Business

Inspiring, motivating and authentic.


Fun Young Women in Business Memory

Two weeks after Beyond Pink, Brittany was at a coffee shop on a first date and a person working there asked, “Are you Brittany Wong? I am so honoured to meet you, I remember you from the conference.” Brittany was very flattered to say the least and delighted to have been a role model and made a positive impression.


Growth Opportunities

Brittany wants to continue working on her leadership skills that she believes are never ending, an answer I loved. Also, Brittany does not ask questions, as she always likes to solve things on her own. She is working on asking for support and being aware that no question is dumb!


Brittany’s Advice to others

“Don’t be afraid of failure. Aside from being one of the best possible learning tools, it’s fantastic for character building.” - Brittany mentioned she is actually more scared of success at times.

“It’s ok to feel vulnerable – in my opinion; it’s actually one of the best states of mind to be in. Amazing, incredible and wonderful things are born out of vulnerability – so embrace and lean into those moments!”

“Time is limited and life is short. So practice gratitude, do what you love and have confidence that the dots in your life will connect you to your path to success.”

- After working with a wide spectrum of clients, brands and having produced a diverse range of events, Brittany sought to fill a gap in the industry and has recently started her own event design and production studio, BASH + FETE.


Hardest decision she has had to make

Brittany decided not to go to Fashion School two weeks before school started although she had an apartment and classes selected. She was really thankful that the dean was so kind and told her that her acceptance will always be standing. To this day, she does not look back and is happy with her decision.