Courtney Kos: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Courtney Kos, Owner of Calgary’s ETTE, a fashion boutique that specializes in high-end bridal, evening and ready-to-wear dresses handpicked from international designer collections. At ETTE, the belief is that a woman’s femininity is enhanced when she finds just the right dress to fit her style and figure. We sat down with Courtney Kos to find out more about the fabulous collection at her shop…

When did you start your business?
I have had the idea of owning a boutique that focuses exclusively on dresses for a number of years now. However, the idea of ETTE was fully conceived November of 2012. We finally opened the doors on September 21, 2013.

Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
ETTE’s fascination is women in dresses and how a dress is always special; how it compliments and accentuates its wearer in a way that only a dress can. We have selected a collection of some of the world’s finest day and evening, ready-to-wear, couture, and bridal haute-couture garments, not to mention shoes and accessories, by celebrated and emerging designers from around the world.

Some of the designers ETTE carries are Zac Posen, Zuhair Murad, Jason Wu, Giambattista Valli, and Reem Acra. All of the designers we carry are exclusive to Alberta. Some are exclusive to Western Canada, and Canada as a whole. ETTE is the only Canadian boutique to carry Inbal Dror eveningwear, Kaufman Franco, and Collette Dinnigan.

Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
My inspiration for opening the store occurred while in search of my own wedding gown where I found the Israeli bridal and evening couture designer Inbal Dror. Her gowns represent femininity at its most compelling. She is gaining momentum in North America and ETTE is very happy to be one of the first to carry her designs. Seeing her gowns inspired me to want to build a store full of dresses as beautifully feminine as hers.

Secondly, I decided to open ETTE because I wanted to answer the question, “Where do I go to buy the perfect dress?” I think Calgary is such an emerging market for fashion, and has the potential to be a fashion destination city in Canada. I think there is definitely a gap in the market for designer shopping in Calgary, particularly with wedding dresses. ETTE is by far the first of its kind in Calgary.

The response I have had so far is that many women in Calgary have been waiting for a boutique like ETTE. Many have left the city to buy the one-of-a-kind of pieces we carry. As much as possible, Calgarians try to buy local, but if they can’t find what they want they have no problem finding it in another city, especially with the ease of online shopping.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
I love dealing with clients, listening to their wants, and helping them choose the dress that is perfectly aligned with their vision. These purchases are so special. I love that I can tell my clients that I have met the designer of their dress, and I think they appreciate this as well. I’ve often compared the ETTE experience to art dealing rather than shopping. These dresses are truly pieces of art. 

What I find most challenging are the mundane but truly just as important tasks that are required of running your own business.

Where do you see your business going in five years?
Part of our original business model is to have an internationally known online boutique in addition to our brick and mortar shop. I am an avid online shopper myself and understand the needs for both experiences, and the different clientele to which they cater. Clients from around the world often contact us, so e-commerce seems like the best expansion for us in the future.

What does success look like to you?
Success means being excited to go to work most days and feeling self-actualized in your career.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
The most memorable milestone in my career thus far is opening the doors to ETTE; finally seeing the idea come to life, and watching people’s reactions.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
I am borrowing this from my fiancé, and I think most people can relate to it. I see so many people, including myself for most of my life, waiting for their passion in life to arrive and reveal itself. However, I think there is something to be said for worrying less about waiting for your passion, and concerning yourself more with finding the overlap of your interests with your skills with what is economical and socially valuable. Perhaps passion and confidence grows out from competence and success.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I support grassroots charities that are personal to me. Most important to me is supporting my church.

What is Notable to you?
Valuing character most of all – over skills, talents, and success.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone. You can’t beat the efficiency of the Apple universe.

How do you keep active, energetic, and vibrant?
Sleep, exercise, knowing when I need a break, and, being an introvert, making sure I have my reclusive time. Time alone is when I recharge. My church is also a very important place for me to recharge.

#LYNL | Live Your Notable Life

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