Small Business Month – Client Success Stories: Hip Chick Design, Orillia Ontario
Artist Creates One-of-Kind Fashion
The average Canadian throws away 37 kg of textiles each year. Beth McKean had many reasons for starting Hip Chick Design, but this startling statistic was the main driving force behind her business.
McKean decided to try her hand at making unique women’s clothing that would not only fit well and look great but wouldn’t be a burden on the environment. She decided to take up-cycling to the women’s clothing market by creating all her pieces from recycled garments, and end of roll remnants that would otherwise end up in the landfill.
From the time Beth was a little girl, she remembers her mother sewing clothes for her to wear. This memory not only stuck with Beth but learning from her mother also gave her the foundational sewing skills she needed to eventually start her own clothing company. Once Beth became a mother herself, she carried on the homemade tradition by sewing purses, clothing, and stuffed animals for her own children. Beth would also alter some of her own clothing to better suit her body shape and style. Then, in 2011 Beth took her passion for sewing and turned it into a business. She knew she wanted to make unique clothing that would help women look and feel great.
Hip Chick Design first appeared at a local farmers’ market where McKean’s creations started to gain a following. A local store in Orillia then took her unique clothing on consignment. “At the time of sale, I would ask women for their feedback so I could constantly be improving my designs to meet their preferences,” McKean comments. Business has grown to the point where McKean is filling wholesale orders, selling to six different retailers, and is in conversation with an additional two stores. “The sewing machines I was working with weren’t doing the trick. They couldn’t handle the thicker materials I used, such as denim and wool.” The need for reliability and machines that could handle thicker fabrics faster, and with fewer breakdowns was apparent.
In 2018, Beth realized she needed more support in order to sustain her growth. She approached the Orillia Area CDC for help, looking for direction and financing advice. The CDC provided Beth with the resources she needed to find, and applied for their Community Capacity Building Fund grant. With the support and guidance from the CDC and the Community Futures Program during the grant application process, McKean was able to find success with her application. With the grant money she was able to purchase an industrial sewing machine to produce her clothing, which was a game- changing move for McKean’s business. “My productivity tripled with the new machine and it opened up a clear path to working with heavier fabrics, which allowed me to better serve my customers. I would not have been able to make it happen without support of the CDC team,” says McKean.
“I’ve continued to stay in contact with the CDC and I know that whenever I need support, whether for financing or advice, they will be there to help. When the time comes where I need an investment, or help opening a new retail location, they’ll be my first call.”
To learn more about Hip Chick Design, visit www.hipchickdesign.ca and follow online at @hipchickdesigncanada.
To learn more about the Orillia Area CDC, visit www.orilliacdc.com, call 705-325-4903, and follow online at @OrilliaAreaCDC.