Women across Canada are kicking butt in the workforce, all while maintaining their cool and doing the things in life they enjoy. “Monday Motivation: How she does it” is a news series where we profile notable women working in various fields to find out how they juggle work-life, balance. For this installment, we spoke with Jaclyn Patterson and Kim Kirton - the founders of UnCo - a Canadian fashion company on a mission to help women curate their wardrobes with responsible and ethical pieces.
Launched in 2017, the Toronto-based company has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help bring their vision to life. Read on to discover how these two young entrepreneurs do it all:
In a nutshell, can you tell me what UnCo is all about?
Jaclyn: At UnCo we provide capsule wardrobes for women. Customers get to choose 6, 8 or 12 pieces, and we show them exactly how they can wear them and create 20 to 40 different outfits with them. We work with designer brands and independent designers in Canada to curate these capsule wardrobes. At the end of the day, our whole premise is if we can show you how to do more with less, you’ll in turn buy less. We’re simplifying the wardrobe experience and allowing women to feel empowered and inspired, and less stressed when it comes to their wardrobe.
Kim: This is a whole new way of thinking, but I think it’s important to acknowledge that sustainability is very important and voting with your dollar is one of the most powerful things you can do as a consumer.
A lot of people think of launching a business, but they don’t actually do it! What gave you the motivation to launch your own business?
Jaclyn: Kim was actually running her own sustainable t-shirt company out of Ottawa and through that experience we had this epiphany that we had a great sense of community and decent sales from this company, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t really solving the issue that we were trying to address, which was over consumption. We were talking and thinking about how one can fight over consumption in fashion. So we came up with this idea and we just thought why not us. If we have this idea and we’re passionate and driven, why not try it. We would never be here without the support and the community around us, but we’re pretty excited!
And you girls are so young! Both 21 and 23-years-old. Besides launching this business, what other projects are you working on?
Jaclyn: Basically, we work on UnCo on the side and we both have day jobs. Kim is also finishing her undergraduate degree and I just finished studying fashion at Ryerson University. So at the end of the day, we do have other jobs, but we’re very passionate about UnCo and that’s our long-term goal.
So what does a typical day look like for you starting from the moment you wake up?
Jaclyn: Each day is very different. That’s what you get with entrepreneurship. Everyday has different tasks. For me, I wake up and go to my full-time job and then on my lunch break and after work, I work on UnCo. What’s nice is that Kim and I can do a lot of work remotely, since the business is pretty digital. But most days we do come home to do more work on top of school and our jobs. We love the hustle though and we understand that we have to do a lot of work. Hopefully, it will all pay off (laughs).
What are some of the challenges you face as business women?
Jaclyn: One of the challenges for launching a fashion company was finding resources for fashion specifically. Kim was based out in Ottawa, but has since connected with the Toronto industry to find advisors and a support system.
How do you overcome these challenges?
Jaclyn: Since we’re young, we really rely on the community around us. We’re a part of different start-up hubs and incubators. We’re part of the Social Ventures Zone and the Fashion Zone at Ryerson University.
Kim: Being a part of incubators gives us access to mentors and other people in the industry. We’re really young, so learning from experts around us who have walked this path already has been super beneficial.
And in terms of your personal lives, how do you juggle work-life, balance?
Jaclyn: Each day is different (laughs). I think being self-aware of when you need self-care is really important, which sometimes can be hard to acknowledge. What I really value is having a business partner, so we can acknowledge when we both need time off or just a couple of hours to let go. Work-life, balance is definitely a challenge, but it’s all a learning curve and worth the time to have this amazing experience and to do something we love.
Kim: I’m still doing my full-time studies, this business and another job, so definitely work-life, balance is like non-existent for me to be honest (laughs). But at this time in my life, I really wouldn’t want it any other way. This business is something that the classroom or my part-time job could never teach me.
When you do have free time, how do you like to unwind?
Kim: I’m an outdoor junkie. I love to go hiking, biking, and just about anything to do with the outdoors. I just love nature and what it has to offer.
Jaclyn: It’s similar for me. Definitely, my happy place is anywhere that’s underneath a tree (laughs). I find nature to be really calming. Sometimes that’s going for a run, swimming or just having a park hangout with friends. I also love going to the movies and independent theaters are always fun to go to.
Choose one: wine or cocktails?
Jaclyn and Kim: We’re wine girls! (laughs)
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Kim: I ran into a luxury candle company from Winnipeg, which sold candles that we’re not in the Bath and Body Works price range. They taught me that if someone can’t afford or see the value in their product, then it’s not your customer. That was very valuable to learn. If we can present enough value to our customer, they’ll be willing to jump on board.
Jaclyn: I met a girl from Australia who said it’s very empowering to be a part of the solution and that really resonated with me. At the end of the day, entrepreneurship can be hard, but if I can be here and have an impact and a solution; that’s amazing.
How would you define success?
Kim: Happiness; it’s super lame, but as long as we’re happy, we know that we’re doing something right.
What’s next for UnCo?
Kim: Getting our funding will make a huge difference for our company, but we have a lot of exciting things planned for the future.
You can support UnCo by backing their business venture on Indiegogo.
This article has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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