INLAND is a seasonal retail pop-up featuring a curated selection of exclusively Canadian fashion, apparel and accessory labels where customers have the unique opportunity to meet and shop directly from 60+ local designers and brands. We spoke with INLAND founder, Sarah Power, about her success in carving out a niche market for her unique pop-up brand. Here’s what she had to say:
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR COMPANY?
I realized a significant gap in the way independent fashion and accessory labels were able to connect with shoppers and wholesale buyers in order to build their businesses. I created INLAND as an opportunity for designers and brands to take their collection to market in a short-term, pop-up retail environment to promote and sell their collection directly to customers.
WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF WHAT YOU DO ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS?
Seeing the national profile of Canadian fashion increase day after day. Each time I discover a new designer or read another article about a Canadian label, I get so excited. I just love seeing and supporting talent growth.
WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART?
It can be difficult to put yourself out there as the face of your business especially when you’re just getting started and really don’t know what you’re doing. Finding ways to gather valuable feedback from people I trust helped me with this.
HOW DO YOU MEASURE SUCCESS?
Through multiple channels that reflect different aspects of my business and personality. Gaining social and traditional media traction is key. Stats (such as how many shoppers attend the show and retail revenues) are essential to track as are client comments and impression. The relationships I build within the industry are extraordinarily important as is my overall sense of work-life balance.
WHAT IS THE BEST RECOGNITION YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
Every time a designer mentions how excited they are to be part of the show or how well they did in sales, I melt. Knowing that they are succeeding by way of the show tells me I’m on the right track.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE NEXT YEAR AND BEYOND?
Right now INLAND happens twice a year for one weekend each in Toronto. I would like to host more frequent pop-ups across Canada and then eventually globally.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG PROFESSIONALS OR STUDENTS STUDYING TO PURSUE A CAREER IN YOUR FIELD?
Business in any sector is a hustle, especially fashion. So much is about the establishment of your personal brand, so I would encourage young professionals and entrepreneurs to get out there and meet as many people as possible, to gather information and feedback constantly and to think strategically, never emotionally, about every decision.
WHAT DIFFERENTIATES YOU FROM YOUR COMPETITION?
INLAND is a different kind of pop-up model in that it focuses on high end fashion and design collections rather than craft. We feel we’ve carved out a pretty unique niche.
WHY IS HAMILTON THE HOME FOR YOUR COMPANY?
INLAND operates in Toronto, but I recently bought a house in Hamilton and moved here with with my fiancé from the Juction in Toronto, so this is really where all of the work is done. Hamilton has been a great source of calm and creative energy. Moving here has allowed me to strip away a lot of innocuous noise (literally and figuratively) and just get down to work.
HOW CAN WE CONNECT WITH YOU?