Laura Siegel: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is fashion designer Laura Siegel, who combines work on her women’s ready-to-wear clothing line with collaborations involving artisans in rural villages around the world to sustain culture and craft…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I collaborate with artisans in rural villages around the world to sustain culture and craft while simultaneously producing my women’s ready-to-wear clothing line.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I started my line in 2011 after finishing school and travelling around Asia. I had met so many interesting and creative artisans, and eventually developed a vision that could incorporate their talents and heritage into my own work. The crafts of these artisans are centuries of years old; they have been passed down from generation to generation and are slowly becoming extinct. I saw this as a great opportunity to revive and sustain what they are doing. When I was awarded with a grant from Vancouver fashion week to return to Asia, I took it as a sign of fate and jumped into starting my dream.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part is definitely getting to work and doing what I love every day. The people that I work with are unbelievable and make my work days continuously inspiring and exciting. Whether it’s at my studio in Toronto, showroom in New York, or in a rural community in Kenya, I’m always being surrounded by contagious, positive energies.

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
There was a point in my career where I did not have a proper home for several years due to my obsession with work. I had continued the nomadic lifestyle I had been living prior to starting the line into my early years of entrepreneurship. I would be bouncing from country to country, and at the time could not afford to keep an apartment in New York (although I did keep a shared studio!) I would sublet an apartment in Williamsburg for a couple of months, go around South America for a few months, go back to New york and stay with a friend for a couple months, etc. It wasn’t until last summer that I moved back to Toronto and started living in a loft that I can now call home.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Still designing for my line, but collaborating with even more communities and artists.  

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
In my first couple of seasons, building up sales with my lack of experience and naiveté resulted in not meeting my sales goals. I overcame it with strong perseverance and looking at the failures as amazing opportunities to learn from.

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Success happens when we achieve goals. Expanding our reach and customer base, creating awareness. Money is great to help business, however if money = happiness, I would be in a different industry!!

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
It’s happening right now – being picked up by Holt Renfrew and worldwide retailer Oak were great feats, and after this season I’d have to say experiencing our first trade show in New York (and having it be a huge mark of growth for us).

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Dream big and go for it!

Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
It’s not fair to make me pick one place.

When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
When I’m not working I love to spend time outdoors, cook, knit, and travel.

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
Bali will always top the list because of its combination of surf culture, volcanic landscape and artisanal crafts.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
Some sort of food operation involving amazing food, local farms and artists.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I’m a huge supporter of Sreepur Village Organization whom we now have connected to our initiative called Project Eleven27. We hand wove 1,127 scarves in honour of the 1,127 garment workers that lost their lives in the Rana Plaza Collapse in Bangladesh. Each scarf was made using recycled sarees with a family of hand weavers in the desert region of Kutch, India. Proceeds are going to the families that were affected by the tragedy at Sreepur Village Organization. They are on the ground in Bangladesh providing social workers, caretakers, and mentors to the families while ensuring the children are staying in school, getting a proper education, and assisting them with financial management.

What to you is notable?
Living life to its fullest, enjoying every moment of every day, along with every person on this planet!

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
Definitely iPhone. Can’t live without it!

#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)

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