Amongst all of the creative businesses that launched during Covid, one of our favourites has to be Hotpot Variety founded by Toronto crocheter Jess Papp. What started as a fun hobby has since turned into a full time brand that has caught the attention of fashion enthusiasts, influencers, designers and retailer buyers around the country. As she takes the headwear game by storm with her unique crocheted hats, we caught up with Jess to chat about her recent growth, taking Hotpot Variety full time, getting into a major retailer, where she hopes to take the brand over the years and much more. Take a listen to some of Jess' quotes and read through below to learn more about Jess and Hotpot Variety.
On taking Hotpot full time…
"As of this fall, I’m officially doing this full time. When I started Hotpot Variety, I realized that was my passion. I was like, maybe I should focus my energy and efforts into something I love doing instead of working in a 9 to 5 job and coming out of it like “what did I just do all day?”
Put Your Work Out There
You never know what might come of it!
So Holts DM’d you? That’s how the deal came around?
Ya, I got a message from the buyer like “hey, who do I reach out to about partnership options?”. I only had 500 followers on Instagram and not a lot of my work was on my feed so I thought maybe they’re just contacting me about a pop-up or something. We had the call and they’re like, “do you have a line sheet? We want to stock your hats in our store.” and I’m like “Ya, I have a line sheet” while I’m googling what a line sheet is [laughs] and then they sent over my contract and my hats were going to be stocked in Holt Renfrew. It was crazy.
I’m doing this by myself so I’m trying to make sure I’m not saying yes too much or biting off more than I can chew. Every project is different. It’s important to make sure that you understand what the scope of the partnership looks like and make sure you’re both aligned into something that’s going to be great for both sides.
On dealing with burnout…
Make sure that you’re listening to your body. If I’m tired, I need to sleep. If I’m hungry, I eat. If you can’t focus, you can’t be productive.
Don’t stress about the things you can’t control and focus on one thing at a time.
What do you want 60 year old Jessica to look back on and be proud of?
I'm a first generation Canadian. My mom immigrated here from Vietnam. My family fled from their country to build something for us and give us more opportunity. I want to look back when I’m 60 and know that I built something out of an opportunity that my family has given me and be something inspiring to people going through the same thing and hopefully building some sort of an empire where I can support other people’s interests and talents.
Checkout Hotpot Variety's Instagram for news on their upcoming releases and keep it locked to Pier Five for more conversations with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more out there.