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Miriam Baker

Canada

‘I think my business came from daydreaming in class, one day I was thinking wouldn’t it be nice to make clothes that actually fit.”

As a designer with a full chest, Miriam Baker was frustrated by the lack of well-fitting clothing for women like herself, so she decided to tackle the problem head on and launched a bust-friendly line of women’s wear.

Growing up in Toronto, Miriam knew she wanted to work in the world of fashion, but at first, she was not sure exactly how to find her place. So she decided to go to college and figure it out. She studied fashion design for two years, followed by four years at Ryerson University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in fashion design.

“It was six years of fashion immersion. The first two years were really anxiety inducing because I couldn’t draw, I had never sewn before, I had never done anything. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.”

It was during Miriam’s second year at Ryerson she came up with her business idea. Drawing from personal experience of trying to find well-fitting clothes, she decided she wanted to launch the line straight after graduating. She won a competition, run by Toronto Fashion Incubator, and was awarded a $25,000 prize that allowed her to start her own self-titled fashion brand. Winning left Miriam feeling incredibly encouraged and determined.

The first year was tricky and Miriam knew she needed support, she discovered Futurpreneur Canada, the YBI member organisation in Toronto. Miriam met Julia Deans, CEO of Futurpreneur Canada and named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women at a dinner. She recalls:

“I was asked to present my products and speak about my journey, it was a great honour. At these kind of events you end up being in touch with some incredible women who have so much to teach you.”

Miriam has been most grateful for her relationship with Julia and Futurpreneur. Julia has been there to give her advice and even put her money where her mouth is and bought an outfit from Miriam’s collection. Miriam has also been grateful for the advice and financial support Futurpreneur Canada has been able to offer through her journey, she explains: “I think it’s more challenging now than it was in the beginning. I think that happens to every entrepreneur; it never gets easier. Cash flow is challenging in the fashion industry, I have to work around late payments from retailers and expensive overhead costs. I have more pressure on me now than I did four years, as I’m growing, Futurpreneur has helped me design ways to combat and manage these issues.”

Miriam’s range appeal to a broad spectrum of customers from to Toronto socialites and high profile women to everyday shopper. “I actually feel better when I have a typical woman coming into my shop, who’s struggling to find clothes that fit. When she puts a dress on and she’s elated because it actually fits that’s what makes me feel the best.”

Looking forward, Miriam hopes to optimise and drive traffic to the website. She believes the future of retail lies in both having a store and the ability to sell things online and she is working furiously toward that end. Miriam is used to keeping her eyes on the horizon, in the fashion industry she always has to be one step ahead and anticipate the trends of the coming season. “We design a year ahead, so we’re figuring out where things are going to be in the next year, what women are going to want, what colours are going to be good, so there’s a research part.”

Although she has years of experience under her belt, Miriam is not afraid to admit she is still learning. She has invested more money in her fashion line than she would have ever imagined, and she understands that it takes time to see the results you want.

“Now that I’m at my fourth year, I’m struggling, but I feel like I’m building the momentum, I’m generating trust, and everything is headed in the right direction. It takes time and you can’t expect to build something overnight.”

The philosophy behind Miriam’s brand keeps her going, and she is dedicated to helping women feel great about their bodies. “Having them leave happy, it’s why I do it,” she said. “It’s my focus. I breathe my business.”

Image via StartUp Here Toronto

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