My time at the Queen’s Business Forum on the Fashion Industry

I’ve been lucky enough that people have asked me to speak at their events this year. I’m at four appearances and counting. One of those events was the Queen’s Business Forum on the Fashion Industry which took place the weekend before LG Fashion Week.

I received an email from Shaine sometime in the summer. I had never heard of QBFFI before so I did some investigating. I learned that many big players in the Canadian fashion scene were previous speakers .  People like Barbara Aktin, Robin Kay, Chip Wilson and Harry Rosen. This years line up included Rita Silvan, Linda Lundstrom, Allison Gordon, Stacey McKenzie, Mosha Lundstrom Halbert, Karen Cleveland and Julie Magnan. I was really honoured with the request. I’m still amazed that anyone cares what I have to say.

So, I made my way up to Kingston on VIA with The Oracle who was there for moral support. We barely made the train and I literally mean by seconds. The train attendant had pulled up the stairs and I managed to get him just in time. Luck was on our side that day because there was no way we should have made it. I’m a lucky bastard. It lovely ride in business class where I did the hair of the dog thing to combat the Greta Constantine after party hangover. It worked!

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Some of the attendees of my seminar

In Kingston, the QBFFI organizers (who are all students) greeted Rita, Linda, Mosha, The Oracle and I.  Black SVUs ushered us to a sports bar for dinner and Rita Silvan’s Keynote speech. It was an unusual space for a speech but Rita delivered a very honest take on the fashion industry. She made no bones about industry dynamics, it was refreshing. It was a shame that she had to compete with the multiple televisions of various sizes and 3/4 of the room restaurant patrons.

Next we went to the hotel. It was right by the lake and across from the Royal Military College of Canada. Thankfully, it was where all the next day’s sessions. We settled into the room and I finished my speech for the next day.

The next morning I was a bit nervous. I wasn’t sure what to expect or what the reaction would be. I love speaking to groups but would people come to my session or would they go to Karen Cleveland’s fashion marketing session. I was pleasantly surprised and had a full house for my talk. I was in a lovely room that overlooked the river and docks.

My talk covered how I started, achievements, blogging technology, advertising, fashion blogger types and the rise of the fashion blogger in mainstream media . At the end I took questions from the audience. One of my favourite questions was “What was my most exciting experience so far?” I thought about it for a moment and in the end I had to say my trip to New York City to see the Spring 2008 collections was my highlight. It was such a great experience to see the big players in real life. I don’t get giddy around celebs but I DO get giddy around fashion folk. It was like I had gone to heaven. The Holt Renfrew Blogger Windows definitely is a very close number 2 on that list.

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After my talk was lunch and Linda Lundstrom had the keynote speech. I really enjoyed Linda Lindstrom’s talk. There was so much I learned about her fascinating story. I really want to see her studio space because it looks completely state of the art. She uses the Lean Manufacturing technique in the shop and I really want to see it in practice. She is also the best ambassador for the brand because she looks amazing in her clothing.

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I'm in love with Linda's boots

After Linda we saw Mosha Lundstrom Halbert talk about her experiences as a freelance reporter. She gave the students some really great insight into how she booked jobs.  She’s definitely a girl that makes her own opportunities.  An amazing trait that will take her very far.  Julie Magnan of Touch of Me spoke at the same time as Mosha so I wasn’t able to attend her seminar.

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Then there was the walk off with Stacey McKenzie. She taught the delegates the art of strutting down a catwalk with the energy, enthusiasm and humour we have all seen on episodes of Canada’s Next Top Model. The Oracle and I got roped into judging the walk off with Stacey. It was a lot of fun and some of the kids have quite the strut on them. The last presentation we saw was from Allison Gordon of Rethink Breast Cancer. It basically talked about the campaigns they have done in the past and how they incorporated the fashion industry.

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We left the conference after that to try Woodenhead’s, a pizza joint I’ve heard nothing but raves about. Unfortunately, it had a 45 min waiting list so we headed to Le Chien Noir. It was a beautiful restaurant and while totally booked for tables, there was room at the bar for the Oracle and I. We both at Steak Frites which was a delightful and delicious meal. I had crème brulee for dessert and it was the best I’ve ever tasted. This was icing on the cake as a huge crème brulee fan. After dinner, we grabbed our bags and headed to the train station. It was back to Toronto in the first class car.

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Overall, I thought the conference was a lot of fun and very informative. The honesty of the speakers at the conference amazed me. I think the students came to realize what a hard business fashion is and that the glamorous facade is not a big part of the experience. It was a very well-run event considering it’s student run.  It’s great to see students making their own opportunities on campus.   I want to thank all the organizing body for inviting me. It was an honour to speak to everyone and I hope I was able to give you some insight into the fashion blogging world and how things work at I want – I got.

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It seems I’m getting more requests for speaking engagements, which I love. If you are organizing a conference/seminar/etc and would like to have  me speak about I want – I got and fashion blogging, don’t hesitate to get a hold of me via my Contact Me page.

By Anita Clarke

Anita Clarke is an Engineering Storyteller and the founder of the fashion blog “I want – I got.” She was one of the first and most prominent online fashion writers in Toronto and Canada.

5 comments

  1. Congrats, Anita! This sounded like an awesome conference–wish I was at Queen’s this year for it! I’m sure the students learned a lot from you about social media and fashion – it’s such an important partnership, and I hope they’ll take those lessons with them if they choose to work in fashion.

  2. @geekigirl glad to read about your Queens speaking engagement. met linda two years ago. gracious and funny. going to queens myself in spring

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