Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneurs are Setiz Taheri, Koku Awuye, and Gildas Awuye of Montreal-based fashion brand Atelier New Regime. We caught up with the trio to find out what inspired their idea, how they’ve turned their passion into careers, and where they see themselves in five years…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
What once began as a t-shirt company has now grown into a fashion brand. We still produce tees, but also have added cut and sew pieces and accessories to complete our line each collection. We are taking our designs out of “street wear” and more into higher-end menswear.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
What started as a form of expression through printing on t-shirts turned into a passion for creating – we developed a love for the freedom that an entrepreneurial lifestyle allows us to have and haven’t looked back.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of our day-to-day is seeing ideas, conversations and designs come to fruition and take physical form – from articles of clothing, to collaborations or events we organize. The most challenging part we face is stepping into a field where there is no blueprint for success. We learn new things about ourselves and our business daily.
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
Setiz: I knew the balance was off when my son let me know that I am always working. When you want to reach certain goals, sometimes you sacrifice your physical and mental health. The aim is to create a healthy balance.
Gildas: I knew the balance was off when I did not want to leave the office and slept there to assure I woke up in time to accomplish goals and tasks that I set for myself.
Koku: All my friends always ask me when I sleep. I started feeling guilty for sleeping, knowing the amount of work I had on my plate. I’d rather get things done rather than lay in bed. That is when I knew my balance was off.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Over the next few months we have a ton of new projects in the works. We want the brand to be carried in top retailers across the world and for us to continue challenging ourselves and move forward.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
The toughest thing we have had to overcome is being able to build a balance between the creative and business aspect of the company. Although the main focus remains to create, we understand now that we are still running a business and we need to pay more attention to numbers to be able to create freely.
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Money does not equal happiness. However, success is when one has the financial freedom to continue doing what he/she loves while providing for his family.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
After working from home, it was a great feeling to move into our own creative space. L’Atelier allows us to create a balance between work and play. It is a place that embodies “contemporary” by mixing fashion, art, design and music in a healthy atmosphere. Although we work hard, we have a handmade ping-pong table and basketball net that allows us to let off some steam when work gets too hectic. We encourage our customers to come in and enjoy the space and our experience with us.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
You have nothing to prove to anybody but yourself. Be honest and give YOU 150%.
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
We wouldn’t consider ourselves foodies – we take care of the people who take care of us. Saintwoods has backed us since day one, so you can often catch us at one of their spots. Suwu is always a good option.
When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
Setiz: My “Me” time is spent thinking about what’s next. I spend time with my family and try to stay physically active. That is where our athletic club comes from.
Gildas: I spend time with my girlfriend. My “Me” time turns into “Us” time.
Koku: Working on my mixtape.
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
New York. The speed things move at, the hustle, the grind, the feeling of being able to win as the underdog. We love it.
If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
Setiz: Meek Mill – “Dreams and Nightmares” Intro
Gildas: All Celine Dion songs.
Koku: Jay-Z – “Hard knock life”
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
If we didn’t have the brand, we would still be creative entrepreneurs. However, our plan Bs are only new solutions to make plan A work more efficiently.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
We have relationships with a few local community centres and basketball programs that we extend our hands to. We are all about remembering where we came from and giving back. We have started participating in a few charity walks/runs recently and will continue to do so.
What to you is notable?
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?