Bold moves: Transitioning from finance into the fashion world

Roman Hessary was working at TD Securities in a project he felt indifferent about making close to $100,000 per year when he decided to quit to join his very best friend in the fashion business. Hessary and Yanal Dhailieh, who worked in corporate earnings at the moment, have been friends since elementary school. They had tried to go down the start up route before with little success, but they remained committed to the notion of escaping the corporate rat race to work for themselves at an creativenbsp;sector.

In 2015, the company partners started Peace Collective, a line of clothing and housewares emblazoned with patriotic slogans, in Toronto. “We’re buying shirts from American Apparel and printing them on Queen Street in Bang-On, making no money, but only trying to prove that there’s a company,” says Hessary. Although he continued to work at TD for one more year, Hessary credits Dhailieh’s early full time dedication to the brand as their main turning point (the spouses also have baseball player José Bautista and the Blue Jays to thank once they sported their “Toronto vs. Everybody” motto t-shirts). Shortly, Hessary and Dhailieh were joined by another ex-bank worker, Lisa Diep, as their head of plan. “Because all of us have backgrounds that do not have anything to do with fashion, we do things our own way,” Dhailieh says. “A lot of the time that means a great deal of mistakes, but we do not stick to any setnbsp;route.”

The Peace Collective team is not alone when it comes to entrepreneurs migrating to the fashion world from fund. But while leveraging skilled expertise in everything from accounting to technology can help a start up avoid the pitfalls that have launching a new organization, also meeting the creative needs of a fashion brand may be an unexpectednbsp;challenge.

Ethan Song and Hicham Ratnani studied engineering and worked together at consulting behemoth Deloitte before leaving to begin Montreal-based merchant Frank Oak in 2009. “We identified a real need that our clients had,” says Song. “We have always had a very technology and data driven approach to our trade and that definitely comes from my engineering background.” Because of the skill set, Frank Oak now operates 15 physical places in North America which are integrated with a robust site that provides 24-hour customer support and the ability to reserve in-person appointments with the stylists and barbers that operate from its shops. “Seeing how large companies run themselves helped us shape what we will need to do in order to scale the company and the challenges we ought to expect at various sizes,” saysnbsp;Song.

Not everybody who chooses to dip their toe into the fashion world abandons their initial career. Guy Anderson, a copywriter who works in medical and healthcare advertising daily, began his Etsy shop GuyGuyGuy a little over a year ago. He had originally moved to Toronto for design college but quickly found that sewing wasn’t his strong suit. In 2011, he got a “real job” with some creativity. “It seemed really tough to earn a living as a designer,” Andersonnbsp;states.

Inspired by other Toronto-based brands such as No Fun Press and Rosehound Apparel, Anderson finally decided to launch his line of pins, stains, bags and shirts featuring his tongue-in-cheek line drawings in May 2016. Anderson’s goods are now sold at theatres in Canada, the USA, and as far away as Singapore. From time to time, his friends will come over to his apartment, which doubles as his studio, to package pins for dispatch in exchange for free pizza. “A normal day is: work all day, then come home and work some more,” he says. “I really do get to be creative [at work] and it is awesome, but you are working for someone else. I wished to have my own outlet where I could do my own thing and make my ownnbsp;phrases.”

But regardless of the creative allure of the fashion industry, many who make the transition from different professions necessarily learn that its more glamorous aspects are not always a priority. At Peace Collective, Dhailieh’s design responsibilities have largely been passed off to other people as the business and its managerial demands have expanded. Excelling in vogue comes from balancing achievement in the design studio and the boardroom, afternbsp;all.


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Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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