i. I work as a…Designer, Production Manager, and a small business owner. I design and oversee manufacturing of high quality, locally-made clothing and gear using natural fibers.
ii. I do this creative work because…it gives me an opportunity to connect with my passions. I am passionate about the outdoors and the environment. I’m passionate about creating change in the retail and textile industry. I’m passionate about protecting the environment and boosting the local economy. I’m also passionate about looking sharp.
iii. Personal qualities that help me in my work are… I’ve always been very selective (some might say picky) about what clothing I wear. If I find an article of clothing I like, I tend to wear it every day. I designed every piece in Anian’s collection to be that garment for our customers. I create clothing that is stylish and practical for the elements, clothing that’s versatile for all urban and outdoor occasions.
Another personal quality that helps me in my work is a deep respect and love for the outdoors. Learning about how the textile industry is actively destroying our planet has encouraged me to seek integrity at every step of the sourcing and manufacturing process for our products.
iv. The greatest challenges around doing this work are… Trying to educate the average consumer about how the price of a garment reflects the quality of the fabric and the quality in the manufacturing process. It’s challenging to undo the mindset that the fast fashion movement has created.
v. Creative childhood hobbies…..I grew up skiing every weekend and making frequent trips to the coast. My parents tell me I began asking questions early on, good questions too. I guess as a child I spent a lot of time challenging the status quo and seeking answers when things didn’t make sense to me.
vi. Other creators who inspire you….. When it comes to designing Anian’s collection, Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel’s mottos have really inspired me. I design all our clothing to maintain their style over several years, because that’s how long the garments are built to last. Coco was all about keeping it simple. She’s been quoted saying “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.” As well as “Fashion is made to become unfashionable” I sometimes imagine her voice saying this when I’m at the drawing board, reminding me to keep the design simple and stylish and not be swayed by the newest trend or fashion.
I’m also very much inspired by the famous outdoorsmen like Shackleton and Edmund Hillary. We are currently designing a coat that is similar to the one Hillary would have worn when he summited Everest. I find the stories of these early explorers so incredible.
vii. The biggest myth about this type of work is…That designing clothing is a fluid expression of creativity. I can spend hours agonizing about the perfect cuff length or button size. Designing clothing is challenging and requires a lot of product testing and collecting feedback. I also spend a lot of time staring at spread sheets, even if I design a beautiful garment, it’s of no use to me unless I can achieve specific margins and provide an accessible price point to the customer.
viii. Some proud career moments…My first trip to Nimmo Bay. Loading the float plane with the first shipment of Anian stock to the resort in the Great Bear Rainforest. Seeing all their staff and guests wearing our Modern Melton Wool was a sublime moment for me.
ix. If you want to work in my field, I suggest that you… Build the people, the people will build the company. Surround yourself with hardworking, motivated individuals who have developed a good sense of themselves and their morals. Be selective about who and how you invite business relationships into your life.
x. A professional goal I have for the future… Continue to grow my presence on Vancouver Island and in high-end remote lodges across Canada. Sooner than later I hope to open a store in Vancouver.
xi. If you want to see my work, go to…First Pick Hand Made at Heritage Hall 3102 Main st // Sept 15 & 16th. Our products are carried in several stores in B.C. Our complete line is available only in our flagship location is in Victoria at 575 Johnson st. Our products are also available online.
Photos: Nathaniel Atakora