Life / Careers

You can do this: Starting your own online clothing company

Jeremy Watt and Julie Brown are co-founders online clothing brand Province of Canada. "It’s a mix of dreaming big but getting your hands dirty," they say.

Julie Brown, one half of Province of Canada, says starting your own business is "super fulfilling to flap our own wings and see that what we’re creating has value".

Contributed

Julie Brown, one half of Province of Canada, says starting your own business is "super fulfilling to flap our own wings and see that what we’re creating has value".

Why I like my job
Jeremy Watt, 34, Julie Brown, 33, co-founders online clothing and lifestyle brand Province of Canada, Toronto.

Watt: We originally studied graphic design — Julie went to college in Montreal, and I went to college in Toronto. We had various creative jobs throughout our careers, but we wanted to follow our passion and start our own brand. When Julie was working at Toronto retailer Au Lit Fine Linens as their creative director, we helped get them online. From that project, we decided to open our own business. Because we’re both so passionate about fashion, we launched the clothing line Province of Canada. On a day to day, we could be editing photos that go onto the websites, to literally shipping the orders that come in.

Brown: A lot of our website traffic comes from social media, so we spend a lot of time curating our Instagram and social feeds. We also spend a lot of time designing our line for next season, working with the manufacturers who actually make the clothes and emailing customers.

Watt: Every day consists of a little bit of everything. On a more conceptual level, when there’s just two of you, it’s a mix of dreaming big in an entrepreneurial sense but also getting your hands dirty with these mundane tasks like packing orders.

Brown: I’ve spoken to a lot of people who run their own business, and some have business degrees and some don’t, and a lot of what I hear is that what we’re doing right now is our hands-on degree. You learn the most when you’re doing it. No one can teach you experience.Watt: For the TTC rider on a Monday morning thinking “I want to start my own business but have to go back to school,” I would say 100 per cent you don’t. It’s worth the risk. I love the freedom to make my own decisions. It’s super fulfilling to flap our own wings and see that what we’re creating has value.

Brown: It’s also really fulfilling to develop any product we want and to see our designs be successful.


How to start
People looking to launch their own small businesses online don’t have to go to school for a business degree.
Many opt to start their own digital storefronts as a side business or a hobby, and learn their skills along the way, while others dive in head-first and learn through trial-by-error. Those looking to go to school to further their education can pursue two- or four-year business degrees or diplomas, MBAs or even small business post-graduate certificates. Schools across the country offer these programs, and students will often learn a mix of learning of economics, accounting, marketing best practices and other foundational knowledge to starting a business.

Where you can go
There are a number of platforms that let people sell their products online, such as Etsy or Ottawa’s Shopify. The nature of online selling means people can pretty much work from any city in the country. The big requirements, of course, for setting up your own digital store, are a reliable internet connection and access to easy shipping.

The basics: Online merchant
$30,000: Starting salary for a small business owner, though successful small businesses can pull in upwards of six figures or more. 
8%: The amount of growth expected in this field over the next eight years.

Data for this feature was provided by payscale.com, onetonline.org and Ontariocolleges.ca.

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