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Inspiring Women: Julia Grieve, Founder of Preloved

Preloved, Canada’s own one-of-a-kind-clothing brand, has been creating unique, sustainable and fashion forward clothing since 1995. To celebrate twenty years of made-in-Canada fashion, they are launching an exclusive 90s-themed anniversary capsule collection.

We spoke to Preloved’s Founder and Creative Director, Julia Grieve, about her growth and success as an eco-designer, trendsetter and entrepreneur.

What do you know now that you wish you had known twenty years ago, before starting Preloved? 

I wish I could tell my younger self to enjoy the journey and not focus so much on the destination. Because you never actually get “there.” it’s a moving target, and that’s okay and really pretty exciting.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishments to date, personally and/or professionally?

The fact that Preloved is still here. [It was] a silly dream I had when I was too young to know how tough this business would be and all the challenges I would experience. And it’s been such an amazing learning experience. I’m so proud of everything we’ve been able to accomplish, especially the fact that we’ve been able to do it all in Canada.

Personally, my three kids and my marriage are my greatest accomplishment – they help ground me and give me balance. My husband always says that I put him on the map, but I tell him that he keeps me on the map.

How has the fashion industry in Canada changed since you started Preloved, and how do you hope to see it evolve in the next five years?

The Internet has been the biggest disruptor to so many businesses, and fashion retailers have had to adapt and evolve. When I started, I didn’t even have an email address! Now, most of my business is done online, with social media and mobile and customer data and privacy – everything is moving at such a fast pace. I kind of miss the days when orders came in by fax.

Over the next five years, I’m hoping that we’ll see a continuing trend towards local, quality fashion. Our manufacturer here in Toronto, Redwood Classics, has always worked collaboratively with us to ensure the highest quality design and production, and I think that’s been a key part of our success.

What’s the best piece of business advice that you’ve ever received?

“Own your mistakes. Learn from your mistakes. Don’t do it again.” I’m paraphrasing here, but that’s the gist of what Joseph Mimram told me over ten years ago when I reached out to him about the challenges I was having with my Vancouver store and it’s always stuck with me.

What’s the best piece of personal advice that you’ve ever received?

“You always have a choice.” This one’s from my mom. She was one of the few working moms on the street I grew up on, and she instilled in all three of her daughters that we could do whatever we wanted, and that we had the privilege of choice. We could choose to control and change our lives.

What’s your favourite Preloved piece from the 20th anniversary collection?

The Queen West sweatshirt, named after our flagship location – a perfect v-neck with elbow patches of reclaimed wool sweaters. My heart will always belong to Queen Street West.

Can you give us a glimpse into your creative process – where do you look for inspiration for your collections? Do you have any rituals or tips for tapping into your creativity when you’re feeling blocked?

We get a lot of our inspiration from the vintage fabrics we source. Original button detail, plackets, patterns, pockets – we never know which direction they will take us in. When I’m feeling blocked I go to a spin class, have a glass of wine, and get a good night’s sleep. It works best in that order (I know this by trial and error). The next morning I’m refreshed and ready to take on the world.

You have a day off, OMG! Where do you shop? Grab a bite? Stroll? Relax?

OMG is right! In the summer, I would head north with the kids to the cottage. Nothing relaxes me like that. If I’m in Toronto, I’d head for a workout at Fuel East, followed by an Americano at Dark Horse. I love shopping with my daughter on the Danforth. Then I’d grab takeout sushi with my husband and settle down with some Netflix and chill.

What do you love about life right now?

I’m a sucker for the holidays. I love decorating my house, listening to cheesy Christmas music all day long, and baking (I’m better at the eating than the baking). Once the holidays hit, I can’t really do anything for work – all my planning is done and it’s time to sit back, enjoy and just wait for Boxing Day!

Preloved celebrates its 20th anniversary this fall with a limited edition capsule collection available exclusively on GetPreloved.com and select retail locations. Connect with them on Twitter and Instagram.

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