With the Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards (CAFA) coming up on April 15, we’ll be featuring some of the incredible nominees who are making their mark in Canada’s creative industry. Today we’re talking with Frank & Oak co-founder Ethan Song, whose beloved retail brand has become one of the fastest-growing in North America…
1. Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I’m the CEO and co-founder of Frank & Oak, North America’s fastest-growing lifestyle brand. I’m passionate about creating a unique relationship with our customers.
2. What was the inspiration for your career route?
I’m very much inspired by the junction of art and technology and, in some ways, I feel like direct-to-consumer fashion is a result of this mix. That’s what drives me everyday.
3. What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
I think the most memorable milestone in my career was back in November when Frank & Oak won Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 awards, highlighting Canada’s most impressive growth generated over the past four years. For those who know me, I’ve worked in management consulting at Deloitte at the beginning of my career and the fact that this same company is acknowledging the hard work we did over the last few years is an incredible honour to me and to Frank & Oak.
4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
I think it’s super hard to come down to a concrete 5, 10 or 20-year plan, but something that’s certain is that our goal is to build a global brand out of Montreal and become a symbol of this generation – no matter how much time it takes us.
5. Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
The best advice I can give would be to find something that you are truly passionate about and not just focus on business opportunities. I think that it’s the only way to be really good at something.
6. Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you
I mentor four different organizations, including Founder Fuel and Founder Institute. I love entrepreneurship and encouraging people to talk about dreams and aspirations is something that I value a lot. I know this is not charity-related per se, but for me it’s a way to give back in areas of expertise that I have.
7. What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
One of the main challenges I’ve had and still have is scaling the team. At the pace that our company grows, it almost feels like rebuilding a company every year. Ultimately, our focus is to never forget about the vision and culture while evolving.
8. What does the word notable mean to you?
Notable means doing something of exception. Something that is not easy to do or achieve. It means being someone who contributes to a company/community in a way that stands out from what’s expected.
1. Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
It really depends on how I feel, but one of my favourite spots right now is Norah Gray, a real gem in Little Burgundy where you can eat modern Italian food while enjoying friendly ambiance where the staff treat you like family. It doesn’t get any better than that.
2. What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
I would say Business of Fashion (BOF).
Throwing it back a few years ago, I’d say T.I.’s Whatever You Like. This song gets me motivated when I work out, which I’m trying to do more lately.
3. Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
Definitely @ceeesk. Celia is a collaborator of Frank & Oak and is a great photographer. I love the clean and minimal aesthetic of her feed and the way she captures architecture.
4. What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
I feel really inspired when I go to Hong Kong because of how international the city is while being so unique. Design is pushed at its max there and I love it.
A place that I would like to explore would be Seoul. A lot of interesting things are coming out of there lately and I think it could be pretty interesting to have a look at what’s happening.
5. What gives you the greatest FOMO?
Summer nights in Montreal give me the greatest FOMO – so much is going on and people are out everywhere, all the time. There are tons of amazing events and I feel people’s energy is different. Every single night there is a bit of FOMO happening.
6. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Is candy an expected answer? I simply can’t stop eating it whenever it’s around.
7. What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
I wish I’d spent less money in taxis and that I would take public transportation more often. There is just not enough time in a day and I want to be places fast.
I would love to spend more money on groceries, but since I’m out travelling pretty often, home cooking is something that I really value and is much needed.
8. And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Success is when you do something that you don’t mind waking up for every day, and that you can share with awesome people. Success is not individual, but more of a group thing to me.