Monique Parker is an Elite+ Mompreneur member based out of Vancouver, BC. She is the founder of Wallis Evera, a Vancouver-based ethical fashion company that designs and locally manufactures modern women’s workwear using the world’s most eco-friendly fiber – hemp. Wallis Evera products are sleek and stylish, made in Canada, tailored eco-chic. The company was founded specifically to support the Fashion Revolution – a growing, global movement to stop the social and environmental damage being caused by fast fashion. With core values of sustainability, simplicity and individuality, as well as a focus on ethical, eco-friendly and local production, Wallis Evera has earned recent mentions in such media outlets as The Good Trade, Ecouterre, Flare, The Huffington Post and Magnifeco. We are thrilled to share Monique’s Success Story!
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Becoming a mom was really the spark that ignited the fire for me in terms of wanting to actively create the kind of world I wanted to live in. Prior to motherhood, I was a fast fashion shopaholic. I only really became aware of “Organic Cotton” when I started shopping for bedding and clothing for my new baby girl. Only then did I start paying attention to fabric content, chemical additives and where things were made when it came to choosing what would be touching my daughter’s beautiful, newborn skin. Of course, I wanted only the very best for her! It took a few years, but gradually I started looking at my own closet and began examining what I was choosing to put on my skin, too.
When I returned to work after being home with my kids for 5 years, I found it very difficult to find work clothes that were aligned with my aesthetic, values, and pocketbook. I was also really longing to find a way to work from home, doing something that I loved and believed in. I saw that there was a gap in the sustainable fashion market for really great and accessible workwear, so I jumped in.
What is your “WHY” behind your business/being an entrepreneur?
The average modern woman’s wardrobe is about as disposable as a box of Kleenex, and that’s not OK. There is a very unglamorous side of today’s fast fashion industry – an overabundance of “cheap and cheerful” products are the result of cheap and/or unethical materials, processes and labour practices, which are having a disastrous social, economic and environmental impact. My mission is to help move eco-fashion from the fringe into the center of mainstream clothing consumption. I want to make sustainable fashion accessible so that everyone can look great and feel great about the clothes they wear every day.
What’s the best part about owning your own business?
I love the challenge and responsibility of creating something tangible, useful and beautiful from just an idea in my head. I’ve created a business that I’m excited to get up for every morning, because Wallis Evera is all about transformation – it’s our reason for being; it’s what we do; it’s what we love. Globally, we’re working to transform the environment, fashion industry and society. Socially, there is a transformative power to clothing – what we wear affects how we feel and how we’re viewed. It’s an honour to be able to create clothes that women can put on and feel beautiful, powerful, and able to do anything in the world. On an individual level, this journey into entrepreneurship in sustainable fashion has certainly been one of personal transformation. Every day, I’m growing and learning something new. It’s extremely exciting.
Can you describe a typical day?
My mornings are spent with my two kids. My son is an early riser, so we usually have time for artwork or a puzzle together before breakfast. Once I’ve dropped my kids to school, I’ll go for a run on the beach or go to a yoga class, write in my journal, then begin my workday. Fulfilling customer orders are my first priority. If there’s time in the day after that, it’s spent on planning for the next season – designs, sourcing of materials, crunching the numbers for production and sales. My official workday ends at 4:00pm, when I get my kids from after school care. Unofficially, my workday starts up again once my kids are asleep and I’ll keep going until midnight.
Who do you count on for help?
I have interns and a number of contractors that I work with to help with the manufacturing, marketing, market research, social media, and photography/videography aspects of my business. I also have several mentors that I meet with at least monthly, to help keep me grounded and keep my business moving forward. At home, I’m lucky to be able to count on my other mom friends for carpooling and play dates when I need the extra time for work. Also, I’ve recently discovered online grocery shopping – what a great help that is!
Have you ever had to sacrifice something at home for work? Or vice versa?
Yes, I usually sacrifice sleep for both!
What do you do on a day off? Do you even know what a day off is?
My days off from work are spent with my kids, ideally at the beach, but sometimes we just like to stay home and bake, watch movies and play board games. My days off from my kids are spent working!
What does the future look like for you and your business?
My business is still a start-up and we are growing our team each month. As an online company, our customer base is international, so one of our future goals is to expand our manufacturing operations to the USA, Europe and Japan. We would like to be local, wherever local is for our customers.
Any tips for women thinking of starting a business?
You don’t need to know all the answers before you start. Done is better than perfect. If it’s important to you, you will find a way… if it’s not, you will find an excuse. Every minute counts. Schedule activities to “fill your bucket” every single day.