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  • About | Pier Five

    About Pier Five is a platform built to showcase and support creatives, entrepreneurs and small business owners. Through unique events, fundraising programs and content series, Pier Five has built one of the largest founder networks in Canada, generated countless connections to help owners grow together and provided over $150,000 CAD in funding to small business owners since 2022. Pier Five is a platform meant to inspire. Started through a need to connect, Pier Five was launched as an interviews platform during the pandemic in 2020 to uncover insights from creative thought leaders and inspire the next generation that is looking to turn their creative passions into a career. ​ Pier Five is a platform built to connect. Now with one of the largest networks of cr eatives, entrepreneurs and small business owners in Canada (and beyond), Pier Five leverages its connections and expertise to develop insightful content, funding programs and unique experiences to uplift those looking to make their dreams a reality. Gone are the days where being a doctor, lawyer or engineer are the only successful career paths. The sky is truly the limit and Pier Five wants to help everyone get there. We are always learning, together. With every new meeting and each new conversation, we are learning and becoming more curious about ways to make an impact on our creative entrepreneur community. ​ Have a story to share or an idea for an event? Send us a message anytime at or on IG @pier.five . We'd love to chat and see how we can work together! ​ ​ - Jeff & Julian

  • A Conversation With Addam Rodriguez of The Arrivals

    A Conversation With Addam Rodriguez of The Arrivals With the growing importance of digital in fashion commerce and customers spending so much more time online, a strategic digital identity isn't just a nice to have; it’s a necessity. We spoke with Addam Rodriguez, Digital Art Director of New York based outerwear studio The Arrivals, about his process and system for developing consistent visual concepts and a strong artistic language for the brand. @addamrod Hey Addam, awesome to be connected! For those who might not be familiar, tell us a little about yourself. Hey! I’m Addam and I am the Digital Art Director for the outerwear brand The Arrivals. Growing up in LA, I was always surrounded by photography. My uncle was a photographer and was always around taking pictures and had some super expensive cameras which I got really into. When I got a bit older I went to school for audio engineering but I always found myself out taking photos and realized I liked that way more. Out of school, I got a graphic design job at a brand in the arts district in LA but started doing photography for them as well and also worked in the warehouse. It was great to be a part of all aspects of that business because it allowed me to understand the go-to-market and storytelling aspects of the brand which made for better photography and visuals. My next job after that was for this ready to wear brand called Frankie. I worked with the lead designer and travelled with the brand between NY & LA, basically just taking photos of the whole process of the brand. After a few trips, I knew I wanted to come out and live in NY and get better at my photography out here. I met with The Arrivals and they offered me a graphic design role. I was nervous about taking another graphic designer position but I loved the brand and the overall culture. Once I got into the role though, I told them I could shoot too and over time it turned into more of a photography role and now the digital art direction role that I have today. That’s a wild journey but seems like it all worked out. What is your process for coming up with your visual concepts for The Arrivals? We’re a small team so everyone is involved in everything. Early on, I’m in conversations with the designers and production teams so I can get a really solid understanding of the product. Being in the warehouse at my first job definitely taught me to learn the product cycle well so that I could bring in all of those details into the final visual concepts. Internally we all talk about concepts and once we land on an idea, it’s up to me to figure out how we communicate that to our audience and I work alongside the creative director to bring it all to life. I spend a lot of time looking at data from past campaigns to see what’s working, what kind of things have our audience been responsive to in the past, stuff like that. Once we have product samples I’m then able to start working out the visual flow and moodboarding and we’ll A-B test a ton. I have to create content for everything like email, ads, social and web so there’s a lot of planning since we don’t (and you never should) use the same content for everything. To make things easier, I have built out a pretty robust system for how I shoot to develop consistency and a visual language that our customers will recognize and remember us for. Once I’m happy with the flow, I draft out the final shot list and then work out the planning for production. This whole process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple months but it’s always super fun to put together. That system you mentioned definitely shines through. The Arrivals content is some of the most coordinated in the game from campaign to campaign. Why is aligning product and content styling so important for you and the brand? That’s great to hear [laughs]. I have a huge appreciation for what goes into making the garments so I want to ensure the work I do represents all that effort put in by the design teams. Our products are very elevated and with good styling it can become even more elevated. I’ve started experimenting with other mediums besides photo like 6k video which everybody said we didn’t need but it allows for the smoothest transitions and flows that I feel mimic actions in our daily life and make the content so approachable and appealing. The pandemic has really expedited the growth of digital, especially consumer’s adoption/habits of shopping online. What should new brands keep in mind when developing a visual identity for their brand? This is a great question. I’ve tried so many things throughout the years and I think most importantly, it’s important to figure out what you really love and to build on that. Don’t try to be like everything else you see just because it’s popular. Even if what you are working on doesn’t work out right away, don’t give up. Keep experimenting and refining and build a system over time that works for you. A visual identity is like a house. You can design the interior as many times as you want as long as you hold on to the foundation of the building. That’s great advice for brands! What are some tips you’d give to individuals looking to bring their skills to a brand as an art director? Learn as many tools as possible. You don’t need to be the best at any of them but a knowledge of the different tools will allow you to put together initial ideas and then you can bring in the experts to help you bring it to life. Even if you can get the concept to 10% baked, that will help everyone understand the vision and then you bring in the pro editors, retouchers, colour specialists, etc. Another thing I’d say is go big on networking. You also don’t always need to connect with the biggest names. There are so many people doing amazing work behind the scenes that can give you great advice or introductions. This was huge for me when coming to New York. Lastly, it’s important to be patient. Things take time. I’ve been here for about 4 years and it’s all just starting to click for me which is exciting. Now I just need to keep pushing! Totally agree! So now that things are clicking, what do you have your sights set on next? I want to make the shopping experience for our customers even better using interactive video and stronger graphics. I’ve built the house and now it’s time to renovate the interior with new visuals to create a better moment for the customer. I’m all about that moment! Who doesn’t love a good moment?! Lastly, we’re finally starting to see some normalcy again and it’s looking to be a wild summer! What are you most looking forward to doing again in NYC as things open back up? Honestly, just meeting people. It’s hard to stay creative when everything is locked down. I knew so many people who moved out of the city at the start of the pandemic and they’re coming back now. I can’t wait to meet up with them and see what they’re working on. I think we’re seeing a new wave of creatives who are about to take this industry by storm and I’m excited to witness it in person! Check out Addam and The Arrivals on Instagram and keep it locked to Pier Five for more interviews and stories with the coolest designers, artists, activists, entrepreneurs and more.

  • A Conversation With Tara Miller of Health Hut

    A Conversation With Tara Miller of Health Hut Tara Miller is a Certified Nutritionist, Intuitive Eating Counsellor and Diet Recovery Coach, as well as an advocate of the Anti-Diet movement. Through her experiences in nutrition and healthy living, she founded Health Hut, one of Toronto's premier destinations for the best health and wellness products. Tara has taken a kinder approach towards promoting health, emphasizing the importance of pleasure, flexibility and autonomy in your individual journey. ​ @taramariemiller // @shophealthhut A lot of people see dieting as a way to become “healthier” or more “fit” but you are an anti-diet nutritionist. What are 5 common misconceptions or things people should understand before looking at dieting as a solution? Diets don’t work. We as humans are not hardwired for restriction. Diets interfere with our innate ability to feed and care for ourselves by ignoring our inner cues and desires. When we look outside ourselves for answers on how to eat, it is not an enjoyable or sustainable practice. Restriction increases our desire for “forbidden” or “off limit” foods. It also causes that “out of control” feeling that is just a reaction to deprivation, but often deemed a moral failing or lack of willpower. Diets come at a cost to other areas of our life like mental and emotional health. Dieting won’t make you more “healthy” or fit, especially since they can not be sustained. Eating more veggies can positively contribute to health, as well engaging in movement you enjoy will help improve fitness levels. Consider the actions that are more directly related to your goals, adding in rather than taking away, and listening to your body as you go. Besides the HH Blog, what are 5 books or blogs that have great information about nutrition and healthy living that people should check out? What are 5 easy things people can do at home to help with their mental health and wellness? Get to know yourself. Ask questions and get curious - what do you need more/less of? Replace your critical voice with a compassionate one (this gets easier with practice) Stop comparing yourself to others, embrace your uniqueness Try seeing the glass as half full Find pleasure in the mundane We of course have to ask, as a nutritionist, what are five of your favourite foods? Pizza with pineapple A leafy salad with radicchio, greens, lots of herbs tossed with a garlicky vinaigrette Cheese, crackers and olives Chocolate, banana and peanut butter smoothies Pasta (all types!)​ The story of selling products out of an old Ice Cream Hut is so fun! We know this might be tricky but can you break down, in 5 steps, how you made the big leap from Ice Cream Hut to Downtown Toronto shop? Slow and steady! We have made lots of small moves over the past ten years to get to where we are now. An AMAZING team of people Consistent hard work A supportive customer base and community Staying positive :) Small business shoutout time! What are 5 great lunch spots in Toronto that everyone should know about? Bar Isabel has a great fixed price lunch right now! Daily Dumpling Wonton Co is amazing. Their vegan dumplings are an HH staff favourite! You have to try their chilli oil, too. Barocco Nino for delicious pizza, Italian sandwiches and cannoli Sunshine Market makes great smoothies, veggie heavy wraps and sandwiches Harry Charbroiled - The Classic Jane burger is another staff fave

  • U Grow Girl

    U Grow Girl Who: Crystal Wood & Leha Marshall Where: Kelowna, BC Instagram Website ​ How would you use the $10,000 CAD fund for your business? ​ ​ See All Winners

  • From The Streets To The Big Stage With Kizmet

    From The Streets To The Big Stage With Kizmet Change is inevitable but you can’t always wait around for it if you want to find success. For Toronto based graffiti and lighting artist Kizmet, taking matters into his own hands was key. While the general population was taking its time to decide whether or not graffiti art was for them, Kizmet was carving his path through the underground arts and music scene and making a name for himself. From the streets to the big stage, Kismet is a prime example of taking initiative and not being afraid to put in the hours and it shows, big time. Read through the interview with Kizmet below where we dive into his early beginning, what gave him the courage to pursue his passions, what he’s excited for in this ever changing world of art and much more. Hey Kizmet! For those not familiar, can you tell us a little about yourself? Hey I’m Kizmet, and who am I? That’s something I like to let people figure out themselves. Maybe this conversation will help [laughs]. And figure out we shall! What’d you get up to today? I was in my studio most of the day. There are a bunch of pieces I’m working on so that’s keeping me busy. You’ve talked a lot in the past about how your studio space in Toronto is really your comfort zone. What are the keys to a great studio/work space? When I used to do a lot of music, I always wanted a space where I could have all of my stuff and get everything done there. Now, with art, it’s the same way. Kind of like in the Shedders Lair in the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie where all the kids are just chilling spray painting, blasting music being creative doing karate and there’s like some dude just offering kids cigarettes. Everyone is just doing their thing. That’s what I want minus the encouraging kids to smoke[laughs]. The key for me is that I could be there at any point, day or night, doing whatever I want and nobody gets mad. Like if I play a drum set at 4am in the morning nobody is going to call the cops. It’s like having a clubhouse. I can get work done or if I wanted I could watch a film on a projector screen or I could play drums or me and my studio mate can Jam or play video games on the big screen. Who inspired the faces that we see prominently across your artwork? I haven’t really shared this formally on many platforms so this will be a first actually. I often don’t talk about the context of my paintings personally. With street or graffiti art, the artist is often anonymous and so the viewer needs to create their own interpretations of the works. That’s what I want for my work. That being said I have always had meaning behind the works so here it is. I’m huge into Sci-Fi. So with the faces, I wanted to create a new reality that would change over time. First they wore glasses, then those came off and you saw there weren’t any eyes, and then the faces multiplied and the narrative kept on changing. And in the end it turns out these faces are a robot tricking you into falling in love with it. It’s all about coercion and one the original presented concept turning out to be one big lie and everything is a connected story. Damn! That’s wild. Did you know when you started the faces that it would turn into that huge story over multiple years? At the time I started doing these I was in this transitional phase with my art and so I started creating these faces and actually built this entire story and knew where I wanted to take it from the beginning. I knew I’d be able to get better over time as an artist which would allow me to develop the characters further and keep making them better so that when it came time to talk about it, it would all be ready. Did you also plan on using them for live events or was that part decided afterwards? Ya so the idea was to be able to bring them to shows/events and tour them around. I’ve always been really big into music and events so I wanted to be able to bring my work there. Also the impact of bringing work to music festivals and seeing people interact with it in person there is amazing. Its something you don't really get in a gallery or just with a mural on a wall. There’s also a ton of elements that you can play with too like with smoke and lights which is epic. How big is that for you? I’ve been doing light murals for a little while. It’s really crazy about how light interacts with colours. It’s not like normal colour mixing. You get these wild combinations of mixing light with paint and what colours will turn into what when certain light hits it and you can play with different elements and make these pieces really come to life. You can make it so stuff is hidden or morphing and people trip out watching it. Sometimes I make the transitions slow so you don’t even realize what’s happening in the moment until the image has completely changed colours. Going back to your roots now. What was the evolution of going from graffiti to this experiential art like? I kinda always knew that this was going to be what I make my living on. The whole tags and street bombing thing is really just advertizing to get your name out there, but I knew to make a living I would need to put more thought into conceptualizing. For me it wasn’t so much of changing the art style but it was me being more serious and that led to the transition which has been a good one. Was there a moment or turning point where you knew you’d be able to make this work out as your career? I got kicked out of high school for some graffiti shit and went to a new alternative school where there were tons of artists. The head of my new school, John Morton, told me “this is a democratic school. If you want to paint the school, cool. Make a proposal and maybe you'll even get paid for it. Just let us know how and when you want to do it and if everyone is ok with it, you can do it.” I was so shocked. I presented it to the school and everyone was hyped about it. Now I don’t even think there’s space left because the entire place is painted up. The school got covered. Once people found out it was cool to do, everyone went nuts. It started in the hallways, the stairwell, the lunchroom and then it just got everything. They even painted the outside of the school. It looked sweet. That introduction of a safe space where I could have an idea and it would be approached with an open mind was what showed me there might be a long term opportunity with this. That’s an insane story. Maybe hard to top but do you have a “greatest story of all time” from your tagging days? Honestly all the days of tagging were just insanity. If you were somewhat tapped into that culture back then you’ve probably had some crazy f**** up experiences. Like everyone is nuts. The lifestyle of being out super late, running from cops, tons of partying, is kinda crazy in itself. I would tell these stories to people that were not part of that culture and they’d all just think I was lying. The stuff is truly unbelievable. Are there any stark differences or changes that you’ve observed with graffiti art and culture over the years? The biggest thing now is street art is very accepted and also highly funded. Back in the day it was so criticized like once I was painting a garage for someone and the neighbour came out with a baseball bat and was threatening to beat me up because he thought I was tagging. Recently though I was doing a garage for someone else and the neighbour there came out and was like “what about my fence? I want a mural too.” I was shocked. I thought he was going to be pissed off but he was jealous. He literally said “I’m a taxpayer and I should have my fence painted too”. [laughs]. Why do you think things have changed so much like that? I think it was that the city really got behind it. They finally accepted that you can’t fight graffiti because you don’t know who it is and it will NEVER go away. It used to be that if someone tagged on your business, you had twenty four hours to get rid of it or you’d get fined, so as a result business owners just started commissioning murals to get around the rule. Then programs funding murals came around to deter people from just aimlessly tagging. It’s been a slow transition but a good one. I also just think some people need some sort of authority or what they consider a validated entity to say it’s ok and then they’re quick to accept things. Any tips/tricks that you’d give to young artists of stuff of the trade you wished you knew when you started out in graffiti? There’s this whole starving artist mentality that leads to artists getting taken advantage of by these big companies and corporations who don’t pay well and treat the artists poorly. I think it’s important for artists to know that it’s completely ok to walk away in the middle of the job if you’re not getting the respect or being treated properly. Protect yourself and your representation. Don’t let money control everything you do. I know some artists take jobs and feel like shit after because it was a terrible experience but they wanted to be able to say they worked for that company to feel validated. That’s just so not how art should be. No matter who you are - and I know it’s easier said than done - but stand up to these big corporations or anyone not treating you fairly. Until people do this, nothing will ever change. Once you do this and you start prioritizing yourself, you’ll actually open so many new doors. These great clients and jobs do exist. Be patient and protect your values and you’ll find them. Lastly, what keeps you inspired to continue creating and what are you looking forward to next? The DOCD (Department of Civilian Dance) parties we’ve been throwing, like the raves, have been challenging me to keep being creative and force me to always one up myself and that’s awesome. It’s a pressure that I put on myself but I know if I do so, I’ll keep creating and getting better to the point where I’m surprising myself. That’s the best feeling like “holy s**t, I made this?” [laughs]. I’m also really inspired by all these new faces that are doing great work and that I know are going to be huge. We’re close to a point where everyone can really thrive together as things change. It’s a really exciting time in Toronto right now. It feels like the renaissance of DIY culture and I’m super stoked for it. Check out Kizmet's Instagram to find out about upcoming events and see more amazing work coming from Kizmet and keep it locked to Pier Five for more interviews and stories with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more.

  • Doing It Yourself With Carol Pak of Makku

    Doing It Yourself With Carol Pak of Makku The canned beverage space is increasingly competitive, with hundreds of new startup brands entering every year. So, if you're going to enter, you better have something unique to say. Therein lies Carol Pak, founder of SOOL, a Korean beverages company and owner of canned makgeolli beverage brand MAKKU, who is using her experience at ZX Ventures - ABinBev's VC arm - and passion for Korean rice alcohol to offer something fresh and exciting to the North American market. Although it hasn't come without its ups, downs and dozens of learnings, Carol had some great insights to share that can be applied to any small business owner, and of course anyone looking to dip their toes into the world of CPG. Check out some of the hot topics from the conversation below. In the summer of 2023, we noticed a big shift in the brand's social presence around Korean culture. Can you talk about that? At first, I didn't know how much I wanted to position ourselves as a Korean drink because I didn't want to isolate non Koreans. I wanted to be very welcoming, very approachable, and I didn't want to pigeonhole ourselves as a Korean drink for Korean occasions and for Korean customers. So I was very vanilla when it came to our marketing because I didn't want to sway too much but I felt like that really left us with no voice. Recently we did some consumer surveys and a resounding sentiment was, we would like to see more Korean stuff from Makku, whether it's in your packaging, your story, your marketing or your branding. That really motivated me to focus more on Korean culture in general. For us, the most natural area to focus on was the Korean drinking culture, which is a huge part of Korean culture. Later we can move into other segments like food or holiday traditions and things like that. As you grow, have you made any other big shifts in how the brand operates? When it comes to our sales, before, I was relying on our distributors to get into retailers, and they put us in any account that would take our product. We were growing in revenue, and it was great in the short term, but we were seeing a lot of turnover as we lost shelf space to new brands and other promotions. If you go down to your local bodega and offer a promotion for them to buy the case, a lot of times they'll say, yes, but it doesn't mean that's the right account for us. I recently realized that while distributors are our partners, the onus is still on us to steer direction and ensure execution. Another consideration is that these smaller accounts don't provide data on the national level. So if a large retailer will put our brand into scan data, nothing will show up, even though we're in over a thousand accounts. So the investment into the smaller accounts don’t build us much credibility for the larger chains. Can you talk about scan data? What does that mean? There are national companies like IRI and Nielsen that manage this. For accounts like Whole Foods and Total Wine and these other large retailers; if your brand is selling in these stores, they'll report the sales data to IRI or Nielsen. So, when you're trying to sell to other national retailers, they can put in your brand and they can track your growth, sales and all this other data about your brand that these retailers are supplying to them. Since we're mostly selling in smaller accounts or Asian chains that are not providing that kind of data, even though we've been in the market for four years, if an Albertsons or Kroger, looked up our brand in Nielsen or IRI, they wouldn’t be able to find much data. So, it just goes to show that an account is not always equal. I’ve learned we need to rely less heavily on our distributors to be selling on our behalf and instead build a sales team and then get into the retailers that we want to by pitching them directly. Is it daunting pitching to these big retailers? I didn't dare dream of trying to pitch national accounts at first. I just thought it wouldn't be possible without any sales data but I've seen a lot of brands launch after me, like years after me, and their first accounts were like Walmart, Target, Costco. There has been a trend of Asian products in stores and product differentiation is probably helpful there, but at the end of the day, you have to pitch them to know whether you get a yes or no. We just never pitched them. That all gave me confidence though. If you get in front of them, you'll at least be on their radar. You can ask them for information on what they're looking for, what data points they need to see for consideration, when to reach out next. Until you talk to them, you never know so just shoot all your shots. We can definitely see the hustle and passion that you have for the brand. I'm sure that helps when you work on growing the brand with partners? Yes, absolutely. If you're not so passionate about what you're doing and you just think of it as a business opportunity, you're not going to last. Undoubtedly, the best entrepreneurs at every level will still have the highest of highs and the lowest of lows and I think the only thing that really keeps you in it is the passion. So, if it's not something that you love and you're happy working 80 hours a week, it's going be really hard. When investors, distributors, retailers and customers are talking to you, they're looking for passion and they can tell if you fake it. That is what makes the difference between the companies that make it and the companies that don't. Make sure to check out Makku's website to find out where you can pick some up and keep it locked to Pier Five for more interviews with entrepreneurs and small business owners coming soon!

  • A Studio Visit With Simon Petepiece

    A Studio Visit With Simon Petepiece Earlier this summer, Pier Five visited industrial-artist Simon Petepiece's montreal studio to tour the new space, chat about what the artist is working on and looking forward to, and of course, pick his brain for some tips for aspiring artists. The Ottawa native, now situated in Montreal, currently co-runs New American House, a joint studio specializing in functional art, objects and furniture as well as his own design practice. He has established himself both through personal and client projects utilizing often unnoticed materials, primarily meant for in construction, in a unique way. Scroll down to watch the video interview with Simon, as well as some behind the scenes photos. Swipe through the slideshow for photos. To learn more about Simon and everything that he has going on, check out New American House and Simon's Instagram and keep it locked to Pier Five for more stories and interviews with our favourite designers, entrepreneurs, creators, brands and more.

  • Putting In The Hours With Dan Climan

    Putting In The Hours With Dan Climan We got a chance to speak with Montreal based painter, Dan Climan, about the journey of mastering his craft through nothing other than patience, focus and lots of hard work. With art integrated into his life in many ways but only a couple years under his belt as a full-time painter, Dan has already amassed an impressive following for his work and is one of the most humble guys we know. For him, it's all about putting yourself in a position to do what you truly love and committing more time to it than anyone else. Read through some of the best takes from the conversation with Dan below. On putting in the time... "I think the more confidence you have going into work, the better work you’re going to make." "Put your head down. Do the work. Just because it looks good or feels good, doesn’t mean you’re done. No matter what state I was in my life, whether it was design, or tattooing or painting, I know that I’ve gotten better and I know that I’ve only gotten better because I continued to do it." On painting stuff he doesn't like... "Those are the important days. I still painted. I still put in the hours." "The difference between somebody who's a professional and somebody who's on the come up is potentially just putting in the hours and doing the work? "I believe in the work so much that I’m not afraid to invest in myself" Tips On Buying Art "Only buy the art that you can’t live without. If it speaks to you and it feels a certain way, it's worth buying. I look back at art that I bought when I was younger...maybe I liked it because it was trendy at the time but I don't want to look at it in my living room anymore." "If the work is appealing to somebody who’s, like, five years old, and somebody who is sixty years old, there’s something nice that’s happening there. It’s like a universal language with shapes and colour in the content." How much money do you want to make? "As long as I can make enough to paint every day then I'm happy. Looking back to my 13 or 15 year old self, like if I could see where I’m at today, I’d be thrilled!" Be sure to follow Dan on Instagram for news on his upcoming shows, including his solo exhibit at Gallery Youn in Montreal, and keep it locked to Pier Five for more conversations with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more out there.

  • A Conversation With Aran Raviandran of Get Fresh Company

    A Conversation With Aran Raviandran of Get Fresh Company Aran Raviandran is the Creative Director and Strategist for Canadian streetwear brand Get Fresh Company. Aran is an expert in style and collaborations and has been at the frontlines of special projects with organizations like Puma, Remy Martin and The Toronto Raptors as well as the City of Toronto for the annual Caribana Block Party which brings over a million people into the city. ​ @aranvandelay // @getfreshcompany Aran great to chat again! Canada has been a melting pot for creatives and new brands lately. Who are 5 designers or brands that you're really excited about right now? So much great talent out there and I'm really feeling:​ Apply Pressure Adidem Asterisks Mr. Saturday Prescribed Shelter and Get Fresh Company (of course!) It seems like lately inspiration has been harder and harder to come by with the lockdown but where are 5 places in Toronto that you go to get inspired? ​ Honestly it’s hard to pin-point one single place, let alone 5 [laughs]. The city is so diverse and everywhere has something unique to offer from east to west. I will say any Hookah bar is a good start. I’ve done some of my best scheming’ there! ​ Even though we're not getting out much, fashion trends are definitely still coming and going? What are the trends you're really feeling these days? ​ Staying in has changed what I'm into for sure but I’ll forever love a comfortable fashion trend. No matter how fly it looks, If I don’t feel comfortable I don’t want it. We've been putting out some new sweats lately that are perfect! ​ What are 5 things that are key to building a brand in Toronto? ​ Have an end vision and don’t veer from it Only pivot when absolutely necessary - this doesn’t mean pivot on the vision, more so on how to get there. Build a strong team / network Listen to your customers, we live in a end user society. Truly love what you’re building or else it’s not going to happen. ​ Lastly, we've been seeing some unreal photoshoots from GFC and would love to know, what are 5 tips to a successful fashion photoshoot? Lint roller Give yourself more than enough time Prep your key shots ahead of time Create a pose board / vision board Have a good playlist ready to bump

  • Chasing Your Curiosity With Carolyn Chen of Dandylion

    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!

  • Alpha/Beta: The Next Chapter With Raised by Wolves

    Alpha/Beta: The Next Chapter With Raised by Wolves Our friends at Raised by Wolves sent us some pieces from their upcoming collection to check out. The 200 piece collection is made entirely of upcycled, reworked and repurposed garments from overstock, samples, returns and leftover fabric from a decade of past seasons, with the purpose of giving old pieces a new life. We connected with Raised by Wolves owner and mastermind behind the collection, Cal Green, to learn more about the inspiration behind Alpha/Beta, the all-natural design process and what he thinks a collection like this can mean for the future of the brand and fashion industry as a whole. Lookbook Photos: William Smith Model: Marisa Gallemit 2 Years of Planning. 10 years In The Making. One day I was in my office and saw this wall of boxes behind me. Over the last ten years we had overproduced certain collections, had accumulated a ton of samples, held onto returned items or defects, etc. When COVID hit, most of our factories shut down so we knew we needed to find a way to make do with what we had and find a way to sell all of these older clothes by repurposing them. The first project was making face masks in Ottawa and that's what sparked the idea to create a full collection which would become Alpha/Beta. Where does the name Alpha/Beta come from? The name is in reference to the hierarchy of a wolf pack. The Alpha line gets access to the most interesting materials and older samples. It's more experimental and is a lot of outerwear and pants. The Beta line is made up of derivatives from the Alpha line and are more simplified. This will be things like tees and sweatshirts. We've also built out a Delta line which is some homewares and other accessories made from scraps, like keychains, coasters, wooden and incense holders. With this new thought process behind production and design, how is Raised by Wolves thinking about its ecological footprint? I'm hypersensitive to overproduction now. It definitely won't be an afterthought anymore. I think with this, Alpha/Beta will evolve over time. With this collection, we've produced maybe 200 pieces but that's just scratching the surface of the inventory we had. I ended up donating about forty-thousand dollars worth of clothing to local youth organizations in Ottawa. I figured it was better to give the product to someone that will value it than get rid of it another way or destroy it, which was never an option. Created by hand around North America The majority of the pieces in the collection were all reworked by hand and treated with natural techniques to give unique looks to each garment. Black bean dye Beach dye Rust dye Flame finishing on demin Hand-stitched sashiko Apparel by : @atelier_dnhn (Montreal, Quebec) Quilts by : @e_patton (Dayton, Ohio) How will this collection play into the future of Raised by Wolves? I've thought about doing something like Patagonia's Worn Wear program that encourages people to send their gear back when they're done with it and then we repurpose it for Alpha/Beta. It doesn't even have to be Raised by Wolves product. It could be vintage denim or band tees. Ever since I've started working on this project, I've seen a lot of brands that I really respect doing similar programs. So, I definitely think we're headed in the right direction, for sure. Big shoutout to Raised by Wolves for giving us an early look at the new collection! Check out the Pier Five Instagram for more content on some of the incredible pieces. Make sure to keep up with Raised by Wolves on Instagram for more information on the Alpha/Beta collection dropping this month and keep it locked to Pier Five for more conversations with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more out there.

  • Dandylion

    Dandylion Who: Carolyn Chen Where: Toronto, ON Instagram Website ​ How would you use the $10,000 CAD fund for your business? ​ ​ See All Winners

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