Fashion is a staple of the Vancouver lifestyle. We chose to hang out for a Q&A with two local entrepreneurs fighting the good fight in the city’s ever growing industry.
Loose Lips writer Juliana Bergstrom sits down with Laura Wiet.
Laura Wiet is a designer who owns her own line, Gitana. Gitana is made up of vibrantly coloured printed silk scarves and kimonos, as well as multi-coloured clutch bags and purses made of leather. She spends Monday-Friday working 9-5 as an accessories designer for lululemon’s athletic brand for young girls called ivivva. She works at the head office in Kitsilano, just blocks away from the Beach.
Photo by Juliana Bergstrom
I sat with Laura to learn about what inspires the designs of her unique line, and to find about more about the persona behind it.
Who or what inspired you to become a designer?
I would say my Omi (my grandma). When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time with her and she sewed a lot of my clothes. We would go to the fabric store so I could pick out fabrics to design crazy things, then she would help me sew my designs… They started out as Barbie clothes and then evolved into more complex designs.
Any more inspirations? Tell me about them.
My biggest inspiration is seeing people who are actually pursuing their passions, creating art and changing the world. I love seeing people make their dreams come true because it’s so easy to get stuck in a routine and forget that you need to be enjoying your life. I like to surround myself with eclectic, eccentric people who don’t do things because they “should” – they really inspire and motivate me.
Traveling is also a huge inspiration for me; experiencing other cultures and seeing their art is so exciting and always gives me so many ideas.
When did you start Gitana? And what made you want to delve into the world of entrepreneurialism?
I went on a roadtrip to California in 2012 and was so inspired by the people I was with and the scenery. I started Gitana when I got home at the end of that summer. I was just bursting with ideas.
I started my own company because I am a fashion designer that also loves to design prints and graphics. There was no way to have that outlet as an apparel or accessories designer for another corporation so, I started my own company to provide myself with the opportunity to do both.
I also wanted my own company so that I could do whatever I wanted; I don’t need to run any of my ideas by anyone else or change anything based on someone else’s opinion.
Describe your personal style in 5 words or less.
Gypsy, laid-back, California, Mexican, Beachy.
What is your favourite vacay destination?
Sayulita, Mexico, It’s like my second home, I‘ve lived there, have so many friends there and I just feel connected to the culture because it is super positive and colourful.
Or, a road trip down Baha California, or Nanooes Bay on Vancouver Island.
What’s next for you and Gitana?
Concentrating on my next collection; focusing on easy, wearable, one-size-fits-all apparel pieces. I’m thinking the theme of my next collection will be ice cream.
Loose Lips Editor-In-Chief Brittany Tiplady had a tea with Sutie Skirts designer, Alexa Suter and talked about clothes, travel, and what it really means to follow your passion.
Let’s talk about Sutie Skirts. Tell me more.
Sutie Skirts as you know is a line of skirts, they’re all made of silk, so they are very feminine, and the messaging behind it is all about chasing your dream, and living a life that’s authentic and true to who you are.
How did you start Sutie Skirts, and what led you to becoming a business owner?
[In 2014], I took the leap of my own and I went to Europe. I had quit my job, that I wasn’t happy in, and I decided I wanted to travel. And at that point I thought I would be writing -that was my dream [at the time]. I was living in Europe when I started designing and sewing and then I just kind of discovered a new passion, and I came up with that skirt.
I spent about three months in Budapest, in my apartment, sewing and making things everyday. And I made a lot of different things, but it was just that one piece that stuck out for me that I really loved. And I slipped it on, and I just felt so great in it. It wasn’t too short, it wasn’t too long, I felt very classy but comfortable and it just felt like something I was really passionate about so I took that skirt and basically built the line around it.
Are you designing all the skirts yourself?
So my design process is, I make my first sample at home. So I’ll just go to the fabric store and I’ll pick up some fabrics that I like and I’ll start at home and that’s my first sample. And then I get a pattern made from that, and then I get a prototype made at the factory and then we choose to go into production or not.
In four words, describe the style of Sutie Skirts.
I would describe it as classy, feminine, maybe a bit flirty, and luxurious.
Your big dream, your end goal. What is it?
I think ultimately, I would love to be doing humanitarian work. I would love to start a foundation, to encourage young women to follow what they are passionate about, instead of doing what most of us do and ending up in a career that we don’t like for job security. I just think life is so much more enjoyable when you’re doing what you love. Especially when it doesn’t even feel like work.
What kind of advice could you give our readers?
I would say, don’t be too paralyzed by what scares you. And if something really scares you, try to look at why that is. Most of the time, what frightens you the most is exactly what you need to be doing. Overcome those barriers, and push through that fear, and get through to the other side, it’s worth it.
Juliana loves most Vancouver clichés — such as yoga, hiking and drinking tea with elaborate names — but what you wouldn’t guess about her is that she danced her way through 32 countries, is a die-hard No Doubt fan and cries when she is really excited and/or happy. Oh, and she loves a dry sauvignon blanc.
Brittany Tiplady is a part-time poet, and a full-time goat cheese enthusiast. She loves the indoors, fast wifi, collecting maps, and a generous glass of red wine.