I'm excited to be kicking off a new feature on our Instagram and blog, called At The Helm.
One of my very favourite things about being an entrepreneur is the amazing people I get to meet and connect with. While starting and running a business can be a challenging and sometimes lonely journey, there is no shortage of creative, driven and like-minded fellow business owners to share the adventure with.
At The Helm will highlight some of the women business owners who inspire us, and give you a peek inside their companies and lives.
Laïla Bédard-Potvin is the owner of Harly Jae, a collection of feminine and vintage-inspired clothing designed to bring change to the fashion industry. Since its launch 2017, Laïla's pieces and brand have quickly become sought out by fashion-savvy women seeking consciously-produced and timeless pieces for their closets.
Above: Harly Jae Founder & Designer, Laïla Bédard-Potvin.
Tell us a bit about what you do, and what your job entails:
I am the owner and designer of a slow fashion brand called Harly Jae. The brand is almost a one-woman show: I handle everything from design to marketing, packing orders, bookkeeping, and so much more!
The most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself since starting Harly Jae:
I am very hard on myself. My mind never fails to tell me that I could have done more in a day. I’m learning to acknowledge the thought and ignore it. Being your own boss comes with this downside, unfortunately…
The advice you’d give to a woman wanting to start her own business:
I would say make sure you are very passionate about the company you want to start. There are a lot more hard days than good ones – at least at the beginning – and unless you are completely in love with what you are doing it will be hard to keep pushing. Oh, and planning is everything!
Your favourite way to unwind at the end of a long day:
A candlelit bath filled with relaxing salts and a good book.
The best part about being your own boss:
I really struggled with the idea of being stuck at a desk all day when I worked a 9-5 job. So, what I enjoy most about being my own boss is the freedom that comes with it. Being able to work when and wherever I chose to.
The hardest part about being your own boss:
Some days it’s staying motivated and others it’s knowing when to stop.
What fuels you?
The mission behind my brand. Fashion is the second most polluting industry after oil & gas. We have become accustomed to buy cheap clothing that is made to last us a couple wears only. Our attitude towards clothes is damaging not only for the environment but also for the people making them. Wanting the lowest possible price is not sustainable for our people and planet. Harly Jae is a solution to this problem. We create ethically made garments with a focus on sustainable fashion, and try our best to educate people on the consequences of their purchasing habits. It’s that desire to bring a change in the fashion industry that keeps my fire burning.
How do you get and stay inspired?
Design wise I’m inspired by vintage fashion. I love looking at old garments and think of ways to make them work in the modern world.
In my day to day, I’m inspired by women who are the change they want to see in the world. Being connected to like-minded people is vital for me. It keeps me grounded.
Your proudest accomplishment since starting Harly Jae:
Whenever I get notes from customers telling me how much they love my clothes and how confident they make them feel. It’s an amazing feeling that will never get old.
Your workday uniform:
I’m almost always wearing at least one Harly Jae piece, which I usually pair with a vintage find. Even though I work from home, I make an effort to dress up every day.
Favourite spot to work outside your office/home?
I love working from coffee shops. The busyness keeps me concentrated. I don’t have a favorite one in particular though.
What’s your dream travel destination?
I think nowhere is quite as unique and breathtaking as the Greek Islands – but I’ll keep trying to find its equal!
The book currently on your nightstand:
“The universe has your back,” by Gabrielle Bernstein.