Hey! I'm Wenday, and this is my story.
It all starts on one of the largest pig farms in southern Ontario, Canada, where I was born into a family of Dutch farmers. My Aunt Reina, who lived next door, was a self-taught fashion designer and seamstress, who operated her own little fashion studio in front of her house. It was in her little shop that my fire for sewing and design was ignited.
When I was in kindergarten, aged 4-6, I spent the mornings going to public school, and the afternoons sitting on my Aunt's cutting table and watching her every move. Being still too young to actually start sewing, I would glue and staple fabrics together to make necklaces and little pouches. By age 9, I had my own sewing machine setup in her shop, and was making wallets, purses and clothes for my dolls. By age 11 I was sewing clothes for myself - which resulted in a lot of name-calling by my classmates, LOL. But hey, my outfits were pretty ridiculous for a small town country girl, so I don't really blame them.
I started my first business at age 15, by hanging up flyers in my neighbourhood, advertising my seamstressing skills. I hemmed pants, altered sizes, fixed rips and tears and also made some custom clothes for clients. I also started working at Fabricland during this time, which gave me access to everything I could possibly need to make my visions come to life.
At age 17, I was constructing about 90% of my entire wardrobe, this included t-shirts, hoodies, skirts and dresses, and even making my own style of denim jeans, 5 pockets and all! I experimented with dying and bleaching, and started using a silk-screen to add images to my garments, and make band tees for my fellow high school punk rockers. I made my own backpacks for school and even had matching purses and wallets.
I graduated high school at age 18 and started working as a Fashion Merchandiser at Urban Planet. This was the first 'fashion-savvy' store that my small town had seen, and where I first started to learn about product placement, fashion marketing and styling window displays.
At 19 I was contracted by a family friend to design and construct her wedding gown and 4 corseted bridesmaids dresses, and although the experience was valuable, I learned that sewing bridal fabrics just wasn't my thang.
I continued to work in Fashion Merchandising until I decided that if I wanted to be a Fashion Designer, then I should do my best to expand my knowledge and learn everything I can about the creation of clothing. At 22, I was accepted into Fanshawe College's Fashion Design program, and relocated to London, Ontario to start my studies. A couple years into my schooling, and I started to realize that Fashion School may not have been what I needed to further my skills. I went to college with over 15 years experience in sewing and design, and flunked out in the third year because my grades were not high enough to advance me into the sixth and final term. Figure that one out! The program basically wanted to reteach me how to sew, as if the method I learned was invalid. Being as stubborn as I am, I refused to design garments based on their guidelines, and was continually told that my ideas and sketches were incorrect.
So, without a college degree, I decided to fall back on my retail experience and got another job as a fashion merchandiser. I transferred with my job to Toronto at age 26, and although it was short-lived, this is where I realized that I should be working for myself. After a few more failed fashion retail positions left me unemployed in a very expensive city, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I registered the domain name for House of Wenday in January of 2012, and started sewing garments under this label, as well as doing some sewing piece-work for a couple other fashion houses in Toronto.
At the beginning of summer of 2012, I moved back to London to take advantage of the easier living and cheaper rent. I started working in retail yet again, but kept getting fired within the first 3 months. This is when it really hit me, I should be working for myself! Selling my own clothes, on my own terms!
Over the next year, I worked part time at an organic butcher shop, and concentrated on developing products, growing my social media following and researching how to build a brand.
In 2013 I took a business course at my local small business centre and learned how to construct a business plan, including marketing strategies and profit margins. Upon graduation, I started my first summer full of festivals, operating a booth where I sold my clothing and accessories.
Fast forward, and here I am working full-time from my home studio in downtown London. I sell online through my site and participate in pop-up shops, events and markets in my area.
It's true what they say, that it's not the destination that matters, but the journey that brought you there. I am proud to say that I wouldn't change a thing, and am excited to continue to grow my brand over the decades to come.
PS - Peep my daily journey by following my personal Instagram @wendaaay
CHECK OUT MY INTERVIEW WITH THE LONDONPRENEURS SHOW