Clothing Made Locally

  1. I admit it. Ottawa is not a hotbed of fashion to the outside world. The big designers do not inaugurate their lines locally and the press doesn’t flock here in droves to see runway shows. It’s still all about London, Paris, and New York, maybe Milan. Ottawa, however, has a style of its own and supporting the economy by buying regional designers is a point of pride. Read on and find out what you may be missing.

There are, of course, the usual big department stores like Holt Renfrew and loads of well-known boutiques. Shopping here instead of online would be very patriotic. Getting out of the house and away from computer could be eye-opening! There isn’t anything you can’t find from Europe and the US. Most Canadians also know that there, in fact, a viable clothing industry. We even export it. After all, it’s a big flourishing country. Elle Canada is a popular magazine that points out the assets of homegrown talent like Jeremy Lang, Pink Tartan, and Greta Constantine. Fashionistas also cite Denis Gagnon. These artists are getting more and more attention on the world fashion map. They are national brands with international cachet, but capital city Ottawa has also garnering kudos for locally-made apparel. Oxyrotin is a new status symbol for trendy sweatshirts, crewnecks, and hoodies in simple, basic colors emblazoned with great graphics. This is “fashionware” for casual hipsters of the younger set—super popular.

In the back of our city’s designer boutiques, you may see a leather sewing machine or two whizzing along, with operators fabricating special creations unique to the region. They are hard at work meeting growing demand. Here you get one-of-a-kind winter coats and jackets, handmade sweaters, gorgeous cocktails dresses, and sassy pants. Elena’s Creations, D’Aku, Yolande Deschesnes, McCaffrey Haute Couture, Sarah, and Teruko Creative High Fashion, among others, would be on anyone’s must visit list when looking for fine apparel. Add Lynne Kiel and Macleod fashion and you will see seasonal fare that is exquisitely made and tailored to the climate. Handbags, scarves, accessories, jewelry—a virtual feast for the eye.

You can get ready-to-wear, again locally made, or custom designs. Many women love to order mother-of-the bride and prom dresses for their daughters, or even summer travel garb. Work clothing is no problem. Suits for hard-to-fit ladies are a breeze in any fabric or style. Women want fashion forward and comfortable items that are memorable. When you have a long list of requirements, Ottawa’s designers are the absolute way to go. You absolutely must give them their due.

So don’t send your money off to China or Romania. Buy local and support the creative efforts of residential designers. Garment services include alterations and styling in many places. They are a one-stop shop for busy working women. Save yourself hours of scouring the Internet and big intimidating stores and find out the secret benefits of Ottawa’s finest. The tedium of keeping up-to-date and chic may be just a few blocks away.

Appliance Heaven

There is a wonderful appliance depot in Ottawa on the outskirts of the urban area to serve residents from the surround suburban areas called They come from near and far to buy the latest, greatest home implements including stoves and cooktops, refrigerators, dishwashers, and washer/dryer sets. All the latest models and colors are there. It’s fun and easy.

Moms bring their kids in tow. There is a play area in the back complete with miniature appliances and an easy-bake oven for the girls. Boys tend to favor turning whirring mixers and blenders on and off. If the children are well-behaved, an attendant makes fruit smoothies to taste. They will sit quietly for a moment and sip the delicious brews.

The patient mothers can then scrutinize the wares. Whatever is needed, ample offerings are available. Savvy consultants show the storage capacity of refrigerators and the digital wonders of stoves and dishwashers. Just in case mom shops on a whim, there are amazing new hand mixers in stainless, pink, red, blue, and yellow that even have digital controls and displays. She can treat herself to a new food processor with all the new settings and capabilities, or maybe a rotisserie oven.

The appliances send mom into a reverie. She daydreams of baking cakes and cookies, preparing a turkey breast, or chopping veggies for a salad. She imagines minutes to make bread and seconds to purée potatoes. What will she do with the old stuff? Donate or keep?

Mom sees a world where nothing breaks down and everything lasts a lifetime. No repairman will darken her door! But the choices send her into a frenzy of decision-making. Can she select more than one device? She came for the fridge but, ah, there is so much more….

The kids are happy off in the distance, mindful she is a few steps away. They throw balls, cast small fishing rods in an inflated rubber pond, and read books when they poop out early. Bored with the mini appliances, they go on to amuse themselves with other things. Mom, however, is in appliance heaven. Now she wants a new kitchen, even cabinets, especially a state-of-the-art cooktop. She uses electricity, not gas, and there are many fine smooth surfaces that glow with pride.

She makes a list for dad, takes a few cell phone photos and sends them off in an email. “What a great place,” she coos. Dad replies, “go for it.” Mom is ecstatic. She has found Ottawa’s best and will take advantage of today’s special discount for two or more appliances. She orders stainless steel in just the right size with side freezer for the refrigerator and a matching chef’s stove. Stainless will be the new order of the day so she must have a companion blender and mixer, of course. “Mmmm,” she mutters as she contemplates the prices. “Not bad.”

The appliances will be packed and shipped that day and expedited to her home the next. Free installation is included. What an easy life, she thinks. The kids had fun, she was rapt with desire, and the whole experience was top-tier.

Faucet Favorite

Ottawa is seeing some construction growth with the influx of a new population seeking employment in this growing industrial area, particularly in electronics and communication services. Houses are going up or are being remodeled. You can still get bargains in pre-gentrified regions however. There are undiscovered oases of residential possibility.

Just because I happen to need one, I was searching the other day for a good faucet. It made me think about what it takes to start a business these days in Ottawa and how to take a simple product and make it grow as economic conditions change. If I had to write a business plan as an exercise, this is what I would offer.

Finest Faucets

The mission of the company is to supply commercial and residential real estate with an affordable selection of basic faucets for the kitchen and bathroom. Everything from retro to modern is provided to suit the décor of your home or business. Finishes range from chrome to gold-plated, with oil-rubbed bronze and nickel in between. Every taste and every style is accommodated.

Growth Plan will start with a manager and two employees, plus a clerical bookkeeper who does double duty tracking, billing, and ordering inventory. A rented space of 2,000 feet in a suburb within a few miles of the city center will house an ample display of the most popular options. Catalogues will supplement visual exhibits so that patrons may also order custom or limited-supply styles. The showroom area will be modern and clean with each faucet set mounted at eye level with information and pricing below.

Private retail customers will share this facility with wholesale buyers such as builders working on multiple housing projects, apartments, or condos. Office buildings use less equipment since bathrooms occupy less space, but will also be a focus of sales. All types of clientele will feel at home choosing and ordering either on their own or with a personal consultant.

Over five years, the owner will purchase the building and expand the inventory accordingly. Growth will come from PR, advertising, and local testimonials on TV, radio, and in print. Word of mouth will follow from the excellent service provided and the quality and wide range of the products. Discounts and specials will keep bulk purchasers coming back.


From inception, Finest Faucets will purchaser marketing space, first at lower prices for remnant advertising and later at a more premium cost in glossy print decorating magazines, for example. A combination of radio, print, TV and Internet will be tested, with the winning tactics taking a front seat in future budgets.

Customer Service

The company will excel at marketing and sales externally and internally. Good customer relations are primary. No one should wait long for assistance. Repeat customers should be recognized and greeted. Mailers (snail mail or emails) will keep in touch to encourage company name recognition and respect. As the reputation of Finest Faucets grows, it will be expected that the sales staff will have design and construction knowledge on top of basic skills in quoting prices and describing features. Benefits to buyers will be clear and compelling.

Such is my imaginary world of faucets. I hope this model will spur an interest in not just these necessary, handy devices, but in starting a business in Ottawa, no matter how small.