Wonder Women: 4 Canadians Transforming the Fashion Industry
From Karla Welch to Noura Sakkijha, we're highlighting the Canadian women who are having a moment right now.
They move us. They shake us. They make us laugh. They make us think. In addition to our October cover star Annie Murphy, we’re highlighting the Canadian women—across fashion, culture, beauty and more—who are impressing us the most right now.
Karla Welch is hands down the most powerful stylist—even The New York Times and The Hollywood Reporter agree. It’s funny to think that Welch, who was born in British Columbia, was once a sommelier. “My big break came when I started styling my husband’s photo shoots,” she says of photographer Matthew Welch, with whom she still often collaborates. Now, she counts Sarah Paulson, Tracee Ellis Ross and Olivia Wilde as just a few of her regular clients. Welch has also collaborated with brands like Hanes, Express and Levi’s on collections, with a portion of the proceeds from the latter going to the Everytown for Gun and Safety Support Fund.
How has the fashion industry changed since you started in 2002?
“There is much greater respect for celebrity stylists and the effect we have on shaping and helping our clients’ careers. It’s a huge business, and when I started, there was a bit of an editorial snobbiness toward celebs and our process. Now, we really help drive the car!”
You are very active on social media. Why do you think having a voice on these platforms is important?
“There are so many things to shine a light on with even the small influence I have, so I don’t take it for granted. That’s who I am. The point of power is to help the powerless. And I also love sharing my work and life: The Insta-fam is a real thing!”
What’s your version of a power suit?
“My black Celine suit by Hedi [Slimane]. It’s tailored to perfection.”
What have been the best power plays or power moves in your life/career?
“That I work harder than anyone I know and don’t take a second for granted. And that I have amazing teams. Hire better than you.”
CREATIVE DIRECTOR AND ENTREPRENEUR
Art director, designer, consultant and all-around badass businesswoman Dani Roche is the owner of the brand agency Kastor & Pollux and co-founder of School, an education platform that connects the digitally curious with classes taught by industry leaders. The 27-year-old self-starter created her business when she was just 19, and her passion for sharing industry knowledge and empowering other women is part of what makes her so magnetic. She also deals out pro tips on scoring discount designer item in Toronto on her Instagram. —Sara Jane Strickland
CEO AND CO-FOUNDER OF MEJURI
“When we started the company, we had a vision that we would be the number one global jewellery brand,” says Noura Sakkijha, CEO and co-founder of Mejuri. “I don’t want to sound arrogant, but [Mejuri’s success] is not a surprise. It’s something we set out to achieve.” Originally from Jordan, Sakkijha hails from three generations of jewellers. The powerhouse founded the cult jewellery brand in 2015 alongside her now-husband, Majed Masad, who serves as the company’s chief operating officer. Mejuri’s whisper-thin gold bands disrupted everything that makes fine jewellery feel old-fashioned (too stuffy, too expensive, too offline) and became the basis for a business tailor-made for millennials: casual, direct-to-consumer jewellery that can be purchased online and doesn’t cost the equivalent of a down payment on a house. Oftentimes, the “Canadian fashion industry” can feel like an oxymoron, where the struggles and disappointments outweigh the success stories, but Mejuri is the rare outlier. The brand has inspired a cultish devotion from its customers—garnering wait-lists up to 100,000 for its limited-run products—and it recently received a cash infusion of $30.5 million from venture capital firms, including Felix Capital (the same investor responsible for Goop’s world domination). And it’s just getting started. “We have a lot of work to do,” says Sakkijha. “But our aspiration is: If you go to Asia, you will see Mejuri; if you go to Europe, you will see Mejuri. That’s where we want to be—everywhere.” —Isabel B. Slone
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Spending time in @mejuri LA. Our team has worked so hard on customizing every single detail down to the price tags, seeing their work come to fruition and the brand presented so beautifully is such a fulfilling experience. I CAN’T wait for our LA friends to experience Mejuri IRL! Launch date coming soon❤️
Authenticity is hard to find, particularly on social media, but Candice Tay makes it look so easy to just be yourself. The Toronto-based influencer uses her Instagram as a slow-fashion diary, demonstrating how to participate in ethical fashion through small and manageable efforts. Tay invites her nearly 55K followers to experiment with pieces they already own and take part in challenges like the #5x5challenge, in which followers select five items from their wardrobe and style them five different ways. Through her posts and stories, Tay demonstrates that it’s possible to look incredible with only a few basic wardrobe staples and helps pave the way for others to consume fashion in a more responsible and mindful way. Her sweet demeanour and genuine personality shine through as she shares her knowledge. Sometimes soft power is the most persuasive power of all. —Sara Jane Strickland