We’re super excited to announce that we’re working with Startup Fashion Week (Oct 6-11) as a media sponsor! A five-day event like no other, SFW combines inspiring guest lectures, conferences, workshops, network events and runway presentations to create an immersive and informative program for entrepreneurs in Fashion Design, Fashion-Tech and Wearable-Tech. Over the next week we’ll be profiling our favourite emerging designers and key SFW movers and shakers.

Elle Bulger’s foray into the fashion biz began at the age of 15 when she founded jewelry business Elysia Designs, which she operated for 8 years. She went on to work for some of Toronto’s top apparel brands like Joe Fresh and Canada Goose, before landing her current gig in marketing and social media management for McGregor Socks. When she’s not working, Elle balances a variety of passion projects, which include social media consulting for public figure, Bruce Croxon, mental health advocacy on behalf of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

How are you participating in Startup Fashion Week this year?

EB: I am an advisor and have the pleasure of hosting the Fashion Career Forum.

What three tips would you give a young designer trying to break into the Canadian fashion industry?

EB: Keep yourself physically and mentally healthy – this industry is cut throat, but the more you focus on your own health, the stronger you will be to deal with the ups and downs of the industry… and life in general.

Network, network, network. They say 80% of opportunities come through who you know. In my experience, it’s 100%. Stay active on LinkedIn and keep business cards handy wherever you go. Don’t be shy to ask others for their contact info first. FGI (Fashion Group International), Toronto chapter is also a great group to join if you are looking to break into Toronto’s fashion scene.

Don’t lose sight of the future, but focus on the present. The reality is that us Gen-Y-ers get restless fast. On average, we stay in a job for 2 years at a time. This means that most of us are going to have lots of different opportunities in our careers. So, if your dream is fashion design right now, go for it. However, be open to change in the future, and welcome it when it comes. Your skills will grow and change just as you do.

What do you hope participants take away from SFW?

EB: I hope every individual leaves with 3 new contacts who could aid in his / her career – this could be as a supporter, mentor, connector, etc. Add each of them on LinkedIn and reach out for a coffee! I am amazed at how many awesome opportunities are seeded in coffee shops. (Ten Thousand Coffees anyone?)

Can you tell us about three designers/innovators who are currently doing amazing things that we NEED to know about?

EB: Muse – the brain sensing headband. That’s right, finally our wearable tech industry has expanded to something that literally reads your brain waves. This Toronto-based start-up is taking the meditation industry by storm and making meditation accessible to the masses. The look and feel of the product is integral to its success. Muse’ CEO, Ariel Garten, started her career as a fashion designer. Pick up your own Muse at www.choosemuse.com and watch out for them at SFW’s Future of Fashion Runway Show!

Daniel Christian Tang – Jewellery design meets structural design with this stunning 3D-printed collection. Dubbed “wearable architecture”, custom pieces from the line will be sold through hr2, the premium off-price offshoot of luxury retailer Holt Renfrew this fall. Join us at SFW’s Business of Fashion Conference as co-founder, Mario Lavorato, shares how to grow your business through partnerships. Stay tuned for Daniel Christian Tang’s 2015 Holiday Collection launching this November at www.danielchristiantang.com.

Christopher Bates – Toronto’s ultimate menswear guru. His design studio is now in Italy, but he always comes back to show his line at TOM*FW (Toronto Men’s Fashion Week). Look no further than the Hollywood red carpet for his bespoke suits. He recently launched a stunning line of men’s footwear and is now the official designer for Air Canada’s uniform for their 28, 000 employees – scheduled to launch in 2017.

Where do you hope to see the Canadian fashion industry in 5 years?

EB: I hope the Canadian fashion industry is in Canada in five years. I would like to see all of today’s blossoming fashion entrepreneurs growing their businesses on home soil. Canada has so much talent, and we have great resources to help entrepreneurs develop. Let’s grow our careers and this industry here!

If you had a day (free from obligation) to spend in the city, what would you do? Where would you go for a walk/take a yoga class/grab a coffee/catch up with friends/shop?

A day free to play?! Do those still exist? My obligation free day would definitely start off with a 10 minute meditation session with Muse followed by an almond milk cortado at Balzac’s coffee. I love to bike in this city and cycling to evergreen brickworks for a stroll through their farmer’s market and wetlands is a personal favourite. Socially, I am blessed with great friends from a variety of walks of life and enjoy hosting them together at my apartment. The Brick works is the best place to provision for everything from tea to dinner parties. For shopping, I love checking out samples sales and pop up shops. But I never leave empty handed from a visit to Club Monaco or Anthropologie (their sales are great!). I’m an avid yogi, and completed a personal challenge of 30 hours of yoga over 30 days earlier this summer. Hatha classes at Y Yoga are my fave. I am always up for trying new restaurants, but I never get tired of Gusto 101 as I’m a sucker for a great patio.

For more info, check out www.startupfashionweek.com, and be sure to follow the action on Twitter @StartupFW and on Instagram @startupfashionweek.