A true inspiration in the fashion wholesale industry, Stephanie is the incredible soul behind Alyssa Agency, a multi brand showroom based in Toronto.
Stephanie; you are the owner of Toronto based fashion wholesale agency “Alyssa Agency”, which was a business you actually took over from a previous owner right? I’d love to know your story on how you came to this point in your career.
If you asked me 5 years ago, I would have attributed my success to being in the right place at the right time. I was working for Alyssa (obviously where the Alyssa agency name comes from haha) when she approached me to take over the agency, while she was going to focus more on another business venture of hers. For years I believed it was timing and luck that I was able to step in and take over a business that I cared deeply for! Now when I reflect back on the whole process, I realize that she saw something in me that at the time, I couldn’t see. Now I can confidently say that I attribute my success and happiness to some luck and a WHOLE lot of hard work and dedication.
Have you always aspired to be an entrepreneur, or did you see yourself on a different path when you were younger?
I have always been a work horse. Even at a young age, I was applying for jobs as soon as I could. I take pride in my independence, and from a young age I knew that working hard would allow for that! To be honest, no, I never imagined or dreamt of being an entrepreneur. I just knew that if I worked really hard at whatever I was doing, I could be successful.
What is your favourite aspect about being an entrepreneur?
Over everything, I would say the personal growth! It is amazing how much you learn about yourself when you are pushed past your comfort zones and beyond. Entrepreneurship is not glamorous; it pushes and tests you more than I could have ever expected, but it is in those moments that you understand just how strong and resilient you can be.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
1. HARD WORK. Put in the work.
3. Be a kind human. With anything in life. Treat others with kindness and respect in all aspects, work life, home life and beyond.
How do you think the COVID-19 pandemic affected your industry most and how did you adapt to these changes for your business?
I think that our incredible retailers deserve the spotlight here. I have never encountered a more adaptable and hardworking industry, with all our retailers working endlessly to transform the way they interact with the consumer online. The strength and resilience I have witnessed in our industry and small business owners is nothing short of inspiring!
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I am so grateful for the incredible relationships and friendships I have been able to create. We are pretty lucky to work with the most creative and inspiring business owners in this industry. My personal staff (hire those that care about your business, I am lucky enough to have an incredible person to work alongside with everyday) and wonderful vendors all attribute to why I love what I do.
What is the biggest thing you struggle with being an entrepreneur?
I realized you need to be fearless to have a business. You can’t start/own a business and go half in. The unknown was scary for me.
Do you have any advice for aspiring fashion students that want to have their own wholesale fashion agency?
Volunteer, intern, learn. Take the time to get to know this side of the industry! Build relationships early, you just never know where they can lead!
Lastly, if you were a type of shoe, what would you be and why?
This one stumped me!! After a couple conversations with a friend, I have decided I am the trusty combat boot. Reliable, hardworking but still chic!