Who doesn’t like looking good while feeling comfy? Loyal Coalition is a local brand with just as much edge as its two founders, Heather and Ami.
Loyal Coalition will be hosting their Showroom’s 1 Year Anniversary Party this Saturday November 21 from 1 to 6 p.m. in store at 923 West 8th Avenue in Vancouver (Fairview/False Creek). Stop by and celebrate with this weekend Vancouver Entrepreneur feature and enjoy free beers and sangria.
Who are you? Tell us about your business and what inspired you to create it.
Loyal Coalition is a premium casual clothing line for men & women based in Vancouver. Our company takes pride in our community and our local economy. We conduct business whenever possible right here in Vancouver (including producing our clothing!) Our goal is to keep everything local (or North America) whenever and wherever possible!
Loyal Coalition is owned and operated by two young women (Under 30!) Ami Demelo & Heather Campbell. We launched the company in December of 2013 with an e-commerce platform and 10 months later we opened a small showroom in the False Creek area (923 W.8th Avenue, Vancouver)
So what’s our story, Why did we start? Simply put we started Loyal Coalition because we were both unhappy in our ‘corporate jobs’ and after a lengthy 5 hour phone conversation Loyal Coalition was born. We started work on getting the business going the very next day and have never looked back!
What has been the most challenging part about running this business and how have you addressed it?
HEATHER: I would say one of the most challenging aspects so far is trying to stay focused. We are constantly being pulled in so many different directions due to the many awesome things we are involved in (events, working with other local businesses, collabs, etc), but when only 2 of you wear all the hats of the business, it can get a little crazy. We’ve started weekly meetings where we discuss our weekly/monthly goals, sales, upcoming events, etc and that has helped us tremendously to stay on track.
AMI: The hardest part of running this business hasn’t actually been the business, It’s been more personal. Learning how to manage a business that’s 24/7 but still find time for yourself sounds easy but has been incredibly hard for me. I’m a little bit of a self-proclaimed workaholic and have yet to find balance. But doesn’t every entrepreneur struggle with this?
How has Vancouver’s rising startup community played a role in the development of Loyal Coalition?
HEATHER: One thing we have really noticed since having a local small business is that there is a huge support system with lots of other helpful and willing entrepreneurs in Vancouver. We have met and networked with all types of business people at all stages of business and have gained so much knowledge & experience to help us move forward in our business and personally. Honestly, what’s the point of starting your own business if you’re not willing to reach out, help others and be part of a community!
AMI: The startup community has played a HUGE role in our journey and our overall vision. Collaborating and working with each other to get to the next level in our businesses is what we’re all about. We’re lucky to know a lot of other amazing clothing companies here in Vancouver (In fact, we have a monthly “Masterminds” session with 4 other local brands). Being around like-minded individuals is my fuel and motivation.
What core problem is your company specifically solving and/or what’s the main value you provide?
HEATHER: We provide our customers with good quality, ethical and locally made (within Vancouver & USA) clothing that they can actually feel good in and feel good about wearing. We want to give back to our local economy and think that that’s something people also value and take pride in.
AMI: Ditto to what Heather said!
How did you end up becoming an entrepreneur and what challenges did you personally overcome to succeed?
HEATHER: Honestly, we were both sick and tired of our corporate jobs that we felt didn’t run well with our personal morals and ethics. I knew that I didn’t want to work for someone else for the rest of my life but wasn’t quite sure which direction to go either. So one day we had a long phone conversation and put our heads together and decided to launch an online store! Some challenges I’ve had to personally overcome are really just the fact that I don’t know everything, and that’s okay. This is our first business and everything was started from scratch so you’re not going to know everything all at once. It has pushed me to learn and do new things that I wouldn’t have normally done.
AMI: I knew quite young that I wanted to work for myself, it was always my ‘end goal’. The hardest part for me, like I mentioned above, has been the personal side of being an entrepreneur. Everyone talks about how “hard” this lifestyle is, but it’s not anything you can explain until you experience it yourself. Balance is Key. Put yourself First. Learn to Say No. Understand you can’t please everyone. Know yourself.
What entrepreneur has inspired you the most for running your business and what makes them so special?
AMI: I’m inspired daily. There is no one specific person but the collection of all entrepreneurs. I love hearing people’s stories, I love connecting with others who are out there making it happen. I read the story of other businesses (small and large) and I read blogs (personal and corporate) every single day. I never read much before but now I’m a complete book/blog/article junkie. I find there are a lot of similarities to every entrepreneur’s story and that what gives me fuel, and that’s what makes this journey special.
HEATHER: Ditto to what Ami said!
What Vancouver celebrity/influencer would you most be excited to have as a member of the team and why?
AMI: Hmm….this was the hardest question for me to answer, but I’m going to go with Seth Rogen because we’re all about the ‘good vibes only’ movement. The driving force to this business is to create a life I’m happy and excited about every day, and wouldn’t he be a great hilarious addition to that vision? Haha…..
HEATHER: Completely agree with Ami!
If you could tell your younger self something what would it be?
HEATHER: Surround yourself with positive, like-minded individuals who actually show an interest in YOU. Don’t let yourself get caught up in other’s expectations of you. Pursue what feels right and what makes you happy, regardless of what others say.
AMI: Life isn’t always going to go according to plan, learn to ride the waves. Learn to let go.
What are some accessible resources used and winning habits you have developed to learn and grow as an entrepreneur?
HEATHER: Some of the best resources have been the people we’ve met and surrounded ourselves with! As soon as we started this venture as entrepreneurs, we have met an abundance of other amazing local businesses (we actually have a monthly meeting with other local clothing companies) and have learned and grown a lot from each other.
AMI: READ, and get a library card seriously! There are SO many resourceful books these days that are set up almost like textbooks. I have a library card so I can read as much as I want and then I buy the books that are most helpful – I then re-read the best chapters and use a highlighter, take notes and literally study them like a textbook. I learned this skill at a previous job I had (My Manager would read this way). I commute a lot as well and spend a lot of time in my car so I also listen to audio books. Entrepreneurship is a constant state of learning and growing.
What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?
HEATHER: If you feel you have a great idea or opportunity, do it. Reach out to other entrepreneurs and ask questions, gain insight, form meaningful relationships. If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, rethink things and maybe there’s another path not too far off that may fulfill your needs.
AMI: Don’t Give Up. Form authentic connections and relationships in business and your personal life. Your team is everything! #loyalteam
Vancouver Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs and startups that are making a local and even a global impact. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send an email to casey(at)vancitybuzz(dot)com to explain why you’re a fit.