Angela McGrath: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is leather goods designer Angela McGrath, whose work fuses Bauhaus methodologies with sustainable design and fine art practices. Here’s why we love her collections and where she sees herself in five years…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
Drawing inspiration from painting, printmaking, environmental design and studies in contemporary culture. I have designed a line of leather goods called Epoché that combines the principal Bauhaus methodologies with sustainable design and fine art practices, resulting in modern and sophisticated designed leather goods that are thoughtfully created and responsibly sourced. 

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
My interest in art and fashion started from a young age and grew naturally from watercolour kits to my mother teaching me how to use a sewing machine. This natural progression eventually led me to attending Parsons The New School for Design in New York City for Fashion Design; however, after a year I came to the realization that taking a direct path into fashion design wasn’t for me.

After leaving Parsons I enrolled into the Visual Arts program at Emily Carr University in Vancouver. In 2014 I found myself with a BFA in one hand and lump of uncertainty in the other. I felt torn between wanting to return to the practicality of fashion design while still wanting to evolve my artistic practice. Instead of deciding on one path, I became determined to merge the two fields together; this later became the catalyst for the creation of Epoché.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
Once all the e-mails have been sent and the to-do lists completed, I turn my focus towards the creation of the products; it is in this stage that I am the happiest. When I’m creating, I get a chance to tap into my artistic side and play around with ways to visually communicate the inspiration behind the product. The most challenging part is dealing with the not so fun financial part of running a business; transitioning something I love into a business has been has been the steepest learning curve.

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
When I realize that I’m no longer experiencing the present moment because I’m to focused on where I’m going and how I’m going to get there.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I hope to expand Epoché beyond being local product and launch into stores worldwide. I also want to continue to strengthen the relationship between art and design through creating new limited edition collections of Epoché totes with new hand-printed patterns that are accompanied with limited edition prints.

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
For me one of the most challenging factors in my business is affording the initial cost of my materials, such as leather and screen printing supplies, as well as being able to afford the minimum order cost for purchasing leather. These issues of affordability became particularly problematic when I recently got accepted into the West Coast Craft show in San Francisco on June 13th & 14th. While I was ecstatic to be offered the opportunity to show internationally, it also brought with it a major obstacle of affordability and how I was going to build inventory, create new products, and build packaging collateral. To help in counter acting these cost, I have chosen to launch a Kickstarter campaign to help me cover these expenses.

A link to my Kickstarter can be found here:

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Success to me is when I’m doing something that I love that both challenges me and forces me to keep evolving.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
My most memorable milestone happened just recently when I learnt that I had been accepted into the West Coast Craft show taking place in San Francisco on June 13th & 14th. Being able to show at such a coveted and unique venue will give Epoché the opportunity to show on an international stage, and will allow me to directly connect with press, buyers, and consumers. 

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
When I started Epoché, my boyfriend Kevan D’Agostino, who is a communication designer, encouraged me to approach my brand and design decisions slowly and deliberately. This was very hard for me to do as I had to fight the overwhelming feeling that everything had to be done immediately, but it helped me focus on each step. It sort of felt like I was building a house and instead of buying pre-fabricated pieces I had to put it together brick by brick, which gave me a strong foundation resulting in a robust brand with a clear message and image. I would suggest this slowed down approach to others looking to create their own business as it can really help you focus in on what exactly it is that you want to create/do.

Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
A local Ethiopian restaurant called Harambe because the food delicious and the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly.

When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
I spend my “Me” time walking or hiking around Vancouver and learning new recipes.

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
I don’t think I have a favourite travel spot yet as I feel there is still so much to see! I have spent the last few years travelling overseas; now I would really like to take some time to travel around Canada.

If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
Diva by Beyonce.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t doing Epoché I really don’t know what I would be doing… possibly learning the ins and outs of making artisan breads.   

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Not currently but I am actively researching different clean water charities to partner with Epoché. Supporting clean water initiatives is important to me as my choice to use only vegetable tanned leather was influenced by the environmentally harmful impark that chrome died leather has on the waterways.

What to you is notable?
The courage to take risks.

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