Jennifer is an entrepreneur at heart, with a creative mind which led her to build her own Fashion brand. A mother of two, who believes in hard work, dedication and following your passion. She created a luxurious athleisure brand all about empowering women and making them feel confident through her clothing. Here’s the story behind the brand ; Grand Cartel Activewear.
Where you always in business?
Yes. I have an MBA in business, and I always knew that I would own my own business. Even when I first started working, I always had something on the side, and my brother would always say “Jennifer what are you selling today?”. Grand Cartel was something that needed to happen, it was always there, it was going to happen no matter what. I left my other business that I had, just shut it down and started Grand Cartel.
How did you come up with the name?
It started with Big Cartel, I wanted a girl thing that stuck with my heritage – my husband is Brazilian and I am Canadian. There was an e-commerce with the same name from the US so we had to change it in Canada. I asked myself what was bigger than big, what is huge, so I decided to go with GRAND. I like it so much better now!
What do you want GC to represent?
I wanted it to be empowering and confident for women. I truly believe in bringing people UP : It’s ok to say another woman is beautiful, it’s ok to look up to another woman. It bothers me when other girls know someone is doing good or is beautiful and instead of bringing them up, they tear them down. At Grand Cartel, we believe in uplifting other women.
How would you define your brand?
Unapologetic, bold, confident is what defines our brand.
GC is a community that people want to be a part of. It’s real people behind the brand. I want people to call me, if they need help with styling that what will do, you need help for an event we are here for you, dm me, call me I will help you. I will always have someone dedicated to people that is what GC is! Style is a big part of that, I style everything, I am so involved [in the aesthetics of the brand]. The brand is Athletic Leisure; sportswear; luxury! It us surrounded by that woman who is a lawyer, she goes to yoga, she has a personal trainer, then quick meeting then she throws on a fur jacket/one of our other sweaters.
Who else works with you internally?
My husband is very much involved in the business, it’s a family business. In 2014 when we first opened, we had the products in a few stores (especially the one on Queen that really supported me) and we were also online. We moved our operation to brazil and then we moved the operation back to Toronto. Because of covid, I had an opportunity to rebrand, rethink my strategy going forward. I finally got it to look exactly how I wanted, so I decided that I was going to do it my way and anyone who was not on board knows where the door is. I took ownership back to my original branding.
When did this shift happen?
I think it was around the first month when covid started. There was so much chaos going on around the world and everything was at a stand still, and when things get like that I like to focus on my business and not talk, just get my head down and do what I have to and I just realized that their were things that I didn’t like. I had three pages of things that I needed to ask myself, how do I get this done? So, I just made a check list and got them done. That is where the rebranding started, I just realized what I do not look and changed things to how in wanted them to be.
I have so many people supporting me, when I reached out to photographers, models, everyone wanted to be apart of the brand, its so amazing and gives you that extra energy you need.
Do you have a background in fashion?
No, but I was always in fashion, I grew up with a girlfriend that was into makeup and I was always helping with styling and it just escalated, I was always around clothing and I was always extra with the clothing, always being bold and doing things no one else was doing. Everyone would ask like omg where did you get that did you make that. I really loved fashion and I just knew that this is something I needed to do.
How often do you come out with products?
Every season we will come out with a new collection, I also like having little things come out in between seasons.Right know we just launched our bathing suits and wraps, and we have the new fur denim jacket coming out – I was literally screaming during the photoshoot it’s so gorgeous! For this one we had a dancer that did two dances for the shoot – really beautiful and express the brand. We also have dresses coming soon and lots of news designs that we are so excited about!
What inspires you?
It’s everything; I get inspiration from people ; by looking at you and analyzing what you’re wearing, how your feeling, what you’re saying…, all of it inspires me to go and create something. So, when I am designing I have you on my mind and from that I come up with something unique. – this is how it happens.
What is your five year plan with GC?
I would like to be recognized as a brand powerhouse. Something that covers my whole day from the meeting to yoga or brunch, to your night out on the town. My dream would be to do New York Fashion week, present more fashion shows.
Would we ever get to see a GC storefront?
If I ever get into retail, it would be mixed; I will have a store and it would be my head office where we do events on the rooftop, store at the bottom and office in the middle. You are going to shop at the GC headquarters, the president, and designers are all upstairs. it would be the total vibe.
Any collaborations in the near future?
I would love to do a mens and women shoot with David Collar from KOLLAR Clothing line.
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