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Blog Posts (79)

  • Chasing Your Curiosity With Carolyn Chen of Dandylion

    The powers of curiosity are truly incredible! Carolyn Chen, founder of dog care brand Dandylion has learned this throughout her life as a serial entrepreneur with years in the beauty industry and now pet care industry. As she follows her passions and curiosities, she finds that doors continue to open, much of which by the people she meets along the way and the communities she builds with likeminded individuals. We got the chance to speak with Carolyn about her experience founding Dandylion and tapped into her tricks and advice for new entrepreneurs looking to turn their everyday passions into full-time businesses. Hi Carolyn, for those who aren’t familiar, can you tell us a little about yourself and Dandylion? My name is Carolyn Chen and I am the founder of Dandylion which is a community powered dog grooming brand on a mission to clean up and add transparency to the dog grooming industry. Dandylion launched just over a year ago and was inspired by my life as a parent to a dog with itchy and easily irritated skin, finding that there weren't a lot of products out there that were effective and transparent (like the products in human skincare/grooming) in terms of the ingredients in the solution. Where did the name come from? I wanted a name that captured the essence of a childlike carefree-ness to the world. One day I was listing to that song "Dandelions" by Ruth B and loved how the word captured that feeling. I also liked the play on words with “dandy” and “lion. It also helped with trademarking which, from my time founding other brands, I know is very important when it comes to picking a name. Speaking of other brands, we know you have some history founding beauty brands. How did that help inform the process for creating Dandylion? Yes, so I've had 4 years as a DTC beauty brand founder. It all starts with understanding the problem you are trying to solve for. For Dandylion, I was trying to solve the itchy skin issue for my dog, but I wanted to validate the idea to see if other dog parents experienced the same pain point. I started with 100 interviews with dog parents and then once I dialled in on the problem, I brought in a vet dermatologist and human skincare chemists to help develop a solution for dogs. It was important to have experts to bring the latest thinking from human formulation and understand how to best formulate for dogs. For example, the PH level of dog skin is different than human skin, which is something we learned from our vet dermatologist. Since its launch, Dandylion has seen hugely positive reception IRL and online. Can you speak to what you think was key to achieving this. A few things for sure. Asides from the product needing to perform well, we try to come up with innovative solutions and formats and involve our community ever step of the way. The community that we have built has been so integral in helping Dandylion grow so quickly. From support on social to friends and family helping me pack and ship boxes, everyone has really come together to help which I am so thankful for. Looking more at the product, from the packaging to the creative ads, everything seems very premium and almost high-end. Why was that important for you? I'm glad you see that! It took me a very long time to develop and I learned Adobe Illustrator on my own to design this [laughs] so thanks for noticing! My brand is really going to be for this next generation of dog parents so when I look at the brands they're consuming, I have to fit within that. I'm looking at brands like Glossier or Recess or Aesop which connect so well with millenials and Gen Z and that was how I drew inspiration for Dandylion. Dandylion comes in at a price of $22 per bottle whereas most brands come in around $8-$10. Has there been any difficulty entering the market as a more premium product? So far it's been well received but I think it all comes down to brand values which are: High quality ingredients Proven by experts and scientists Eco-conscious formula and packaging Better Value. Dandylion uses less product per application so you get more uses out of each bottle than the regular brands That's great to know and we definitely understand this. With the brand growing so quickly, what are you thinking about most as you scale? For us it's always about planning ahead and being prepared for things before we need them. So, thinking about things like supply and demand. If I have 10 orders per day now, what does it look like when I have 100 orders per day and what do the pieces around supply chain and operations look like then. the set up process to scale those operations so it's very important to look ahead. Another big thing for me is optimizing cash flow. So, finding ways to hold onto money longer, whether that is finding ways to pay suppliers later or finding ways to get money from customers sooner. If you can optimize for cash flow and plan ahead, you'll be in a great spot to grow. Those are 2 great pieces of advice! Before we let you go, what are some pieces of advice you'd give to any young entrepreneur that is looking to start their own business? The biggest thing is to follow your curiosity and see where that leads you. Try as many things as possible, fail fast and learn from it. I think this will give you a lot of new perspective that you can incorporate into any project that you're working on. I also think goal setting is very important but keep those goals flexible. It's great to have something to work towards but you want to ensure that if something changes, you can account for that. Lastly, surround yourself with people who uplift you and can make the process of starting something a lot more enjoyable! Make sure to check out Dandylion on Instagram for news on new products and community events and keep it locked to Pier Five for more conversations with inspirational founders just like this!

  • Keeping It Authentic With Katherine Johnsen

    As the opportunities and the audience grow, it can be easy for one to find themselves being pulled in a million directions with outside influences taking over. For Katherine Johnsen, creator and VP of Growth and Partnerships for Counter Culture agency, she has learned the importance of staying true to herself and ensuring that you grow with authenticity and passion. This has led to countless incredible experiences and the creation of lifelong relationships that Katherine attributes to her happiness and success. We got the chance to speak with Katherine about all of this and learn some of her secrets to building the next generation of opportunity for creators and brands. Read the full conversation below. Hi Katherine! Thanks for chatting with us today. For those who don't know, can you tell us a little about yourself? Excited to chat! So, my name is Katherine Johnsen and I'm the VP, Growth & Partnerships of Counter Culture agency which creates culturally relevant program with creators and for brands, amongst many other things. I've been with Counter Culture for 2 years and before that I spent a lot of time leading partnerships for some of the biggest tech and startup conferences in North America. I'm also a creator myself and on the brand side, have worked with tons of brands in tech, fashion and footwear, food and CPG so I like to think that I know the landscape pretty well and that can really help our partners. Throughout your time in the tech partnerships world and now at Counter Culture, has there been anything that you have learned that is a common thread across it all? Definitely! The biggest thing is that your relationships are everything. I spent a lot of time with company founders in the tech space and bringing that time into partnerships, I've seen how much those connections that you build can lead to success. I'm constantly trying to expand my network and stay connected with those who are close to me. That's a great point! As the network builds, how do you always stay in touch with so many people? I travel a lot and one of the guys I worked closely with at Microsoft who was one of the Top 5 People To Know in the NY startup scene used to tell me to divide my flights into 5 minute intervals and use that time to reach out to as many people as you can, just to check in on them. Just give when you need nothing and then when you need to tap people, they're more than happy to help you because you maintained a relationship there. With all of the different projects and travel, how do you stay organized? My calendar is everything and I'm a big advocate of time blocking. I allocate different blocks of time in my schedule to focusing on certain tasks without distractions and that's very helpful. I also make sure to prioritize. We all have so much going on but if you can prioritize 3 tasks for the week and get them done, then that's a win. I love this quote which is, "you don't always have to climb the whole staircase. You just need to take the first step." Oooh love that! As a creator yourself and a coach so many other creators out there, what is one piece of advice you stand by? I'm a firm believe that if you like something, then it's cool. I think it's so important to shed the weight of other people's opinions and just focus on liking what you like. A through line to all of the coolest people in our lives is that they are all authentic to themselves. What we often tell creators is that, by just looking at what other people are doing and looking at other trends, you will fall flat. We always say just listen to "what makes me excited to wake up in the morning?" and if you share that, I think it builds authentic community. That definitely shows in your content! For sure! My channels are really just an extension of my daily life. I like to share what I'm doing as opposed to doing things to share them. Love that! Lastly, on the business side, what advice would you give to creators looking to make a living out of this? 2 things! The first is when working with brands, be mindful of your value and your identity and always stay authentic to that. Brands will often come in with their own idea of how they think something should look and will try to use money to push that forward. The key is finding a way to make it your own - that will be the sign of a good partnership - and not being afraid to walk away if it's not a good fit. Secondly, it's important to think about your long term goals and understand the best ways for you to build your community and ultimately drive revenue. Partnerships are just one way to make money but there are so many other ways to expand your channels and revenue streams. Maybe that's building a mailing list, maybe it's connecting through events or selling product. At the end of the day though, the biggest thing is always prioritize your community. The people out there that are able to do all of these cool things as their full-time job are able to do so because of the community that they built. Make sure to check out Katherine and Counter Culture on Instagram and keep it locked to Pier Five for more conversations with cool creatives and industry leaders!

  • Easy Going With Lorenzo Brunetti Of END. Clothing

    The active world of fashion collaborations is one that can be exciting at times and overwhelming at others and as a large player in that space, Lorenzo Brunetti who is a collaborations designer at END. Clothing, is always ensuring that he's putting his best foot forward. As someone with over a decade in the fashion industry, he has learned a thing or two about what makes a project important and when it comes to collabs, he has been behind some of the most notable in the streetwear space over the last few years. We got the chance to chat with Lorenzo about his journey to becoming END.'s collabs designer, his tips for those looking to get into the space, how his style influences his work and much more. Hi Lorenzo, this conversation feels like a long time coming! For those who don't know you or what you do, can you tell us about yourself? Hey guys, glad to be chatting with you both! Well, my name is Lorenzo Brunetti and I'm a collaborations designer for the British fashion retailer END. Clothing. I work between the buyers and marketers to put together collaborations, primarily in footwear but more and more apparel. I have been with END. for nearly 4 years and have worked in the design and fashion space my whole career, since about 15 years old, working various internships and jobs at brands like Churchs, G-Star Raw and Omar Afridi. As someone on the collaborations design team, what does your day look like? The day usually starts with emails, whether that's with internal buyer or marketing teams or collaborator partners. Once emails get cleared it's a lot of time spent on creative briefs for collaborations. With product like this, we're planning around a year in advance so these days it's a lot of briefs with brands for 2024 already. How do the collabs usually come about and how do you plan for these types of projects so far in advance? A lot of brands we have longstanding relationships with since the store has carried them for so long and we've done collabs with them before so that helps to start the conversations. We're always doing our best to predict trends in the future and often lean on our buyers too for this since they are always looking into the future so that's how we might land on a new brand to collaborate with, but we will focus on brands that are carried in the store. From a design standpoint for the project, we're all about trying to cover a wide range of products and price points so that there is something for every customer. This is one of the reasons that we are expanding collaborations beyond footwear a lot more and getting more into apparel, accessories and home goods. What do you think the key to a successful collaboration is? You definitely need to be easy going and open minded. A collaboration is like a marriage between two brands. If you're not open to the other's ideas and opinions and always just pushing how you think something should be, then it will never work well. The building of the concept and storytelling is also really important from a full launch and execution standpoint. The collaboration is not just about the product itself, it's about the campaign and the creatives that tell the story and ultimately sell the shoe. We spend a lot of time making sure the concept is on point before diving into the design and that always helps through to the end. That's a great point on concept and storytelling. It feels like a lot of collaborations these days are just money grabs without a lot of thought. Yes, unfortunately a lot of brands out there, big and small, simply just collaborate to put their logos beside each other and sell it as an exclusive drop and it's easy to see when there isn't really much thought put into the other pieces of the project. Definitely not to say that's most collabs but something that we're always making sure of at END. is that we can't ever look at a project and think that it was just a logo mashup. What advice would you give to someone younger who is looking to get a job like yours? Getting your foot in the door in the fashion industry is key to eventually get into the world of collaborations. This can be done with any brand at any level - internships can be a great place to start - but just being in a space where you can start understanding how branding is done and how product comes to life will really help. Building your network is also really important. Reach out to anyone who you think is doing something interesting for a chat. Even if they don't have an opportunity for you then, you never know what meeting that extra person could open up for you in the future. Now that you're a few years in, what would you say is one of your favourite projects that you've worked on? The first was the Reebok Beatnik that we did. I think the concept was really great and it played super well into the Beatnik with the hairy suede and faux fur lining. The Beatnik was also having a big moment then so it was great to see how much people were into it. I also think we did a great job on the Diadora Grappa and Limoncello pack. The shoes were great and the photoshoot was super fun, which I think, after COVID, everyone needed. Would you say that your personal style influences your designs? Definitely. Most of the stuff I own, besides my shoes, socks and underwear, is vintage so my closet acts like my own archive in a way. I love buying old Americana like some vintage Levi's or slogan tees. It's awesome to be able to pull pieces and reference interesting stitch patterns or details that you can't find in modern day products and use them as ideas for new collabs. Makes total sense! Lastly, what's what brand you haven't worked on yet but would love to? I'd love to work on Mephisto! Concepts did an awesome job with Mephisto on that vintage-inspired Apple shoe and I'd love to do my own spin with them. We carry a ton of their product so maybe one day! Check out Lorenzo's Instagram for more behind the scenes of his projects at END. Clothing and keep it locked to Pier Five for more conversations with creative leaders just like this!

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Other Pages (105)

  • Home | Pier Five

    Chasing Your Curiosity With Carolyn Chen of Dandylion Latest Guests Catch up with our latest conversations. Feb 16 Keeping It Authentic With Katherine Johnsen Jan 26 Shaking Up An Institution With Colin Li of Hong Shing Jan 17 Loving The Journey With Adam The Illustrator Nov 27, 2022 Doing It Yourself With Glory Allan Nov 15, 2022 Ball Talk With Albert Nguyen of Double Dribble Aug 30, 2022 Continuing The Legacy With Nick Vo May 10, 2022 Writing History With Sam Le Roy of Hartcopy May 2, 2022 Alpha/Beta: The Next Chapter With Raised by Wolves Apr 20, 2022 On The Map With Free Agent Wearhouse Apr 4, 2022 Showing Up With Liz Beecroft Mar 20, 2022 Earning Your Place With Titi Finlay Mar 7, 2022 Outworking The Competition With Eric Chong of R&D Explore All Guests

  • Small Business Fund | Pier Five

    Pier Five x Mastercard Small Business Fund Appications Closed Thank you to everyone that applied for the Pier Five x Mastercard Small Business Fund. If you were not selected, we appreciate your support and participation and hope you follow along for more opportunities like this in 2023. Happy Small Business Month! Having an impact with creatives, entrepreneurs and small business owners is something that we are extremely passionate about at Pier Five. In partnership with Mastercard, to celebrate small business month, we are thrilled to launch the Pier Five Small Business Fund to fund five women-owned small businesses in Canada with $10,000 CAD each to help take things to the next level. Women small business owners who meet the required qualifications can apply for a chance to receive one of five funds of $10,000 CAD and a Priceless Experience - a unique opportunity to connect and network with the other fund recipients hosted in Toronto with events sponsored by Mastercard. ​ We have selected our fund recipients of 2022. Learn about the incredible winners here! Application Details ​ Timeline: ​ Applications open: October 11, 2022 Applications close: October 31, 2022 at 11:59pm EST. 10 finalists selected by November 14, 2022 Pier Five internal interviews with the finalists: November 16, 2022 - November 30, 2022 Winner Announcement: December 12, 2022 ​ Note: We appreciate all who take the time to submit an application. Due to the volume of applicants, we unfortunately will not be able to contact all applicants about a final decision unless selected as a finalist. Application Criteria ​ Only businesses that meet the following criteria will be eligible to apply for the Pier Five Small Business Fund. Must identify as a cis woman or transgender woman. Must be a Canadian citizen, a Permanent resident of Canada, or Hold Current and Valid Authorization under the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act Must have a registered business in Canada. Company Size: 1-50 employees Less than $1 Million CAD in yearly revenue The business must have at least 1 year of current activity in the Canadian market. Mastercard, Priceless, and the circles design are registered trademarks of Mastercard International Incorporated. ©2021 Mastercard. All rights reserved.

  • Small Business Fund Winners | Pier Five

    Congrats To Our Winners! Pier Five x Mastercard Small Business Fund This fall, we partnered with Mastercard to support Canadian women small business owners who are having an impact on their communities and industries. With over 1100 applications submitted, we had the difficult task of selecting five winners to receive $10,000 each to help take their businesses to the next level. We are thrilled to award the Pier Five x Mastercard Small Business Fund to the following five business owners and can't wait to see how they continue to grow with the fund. In addition to the $10,000 and access to subject matter experts from Mastercard, recipients will also be flown out to Toronto in 2023 for a Priceless Experience - a unique opportunity to connect and network with the other fund recipients with events sponsored by Mastercard. Click on the business owners below to learn more. Thank you to everyone that applied for the Pier Five x Mastercard Small Business Fund. Those selected as a finalist will be contacted to set up an interview. If you were not selected, we appreciate your support and participation and hope you follow along for more opportunities like this in 2023. Mastercard, Priceless, and the circles design are registered trademarks of Mastercard International Incorporated. ©2021 Mastercard. All rights reserved.

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