Annie and Savneet are the founders of Boss Lady Collective, a gorgeous clothing brand that modernizes women’s workwear while empowering future female leaders. We had a chance to chat with these two awesome ladies all about their business journeys, what goes into launching a clothing brand, how COVID has impacted fashion, and what advice they have for other entrepreneurs!
Tell us about Boss Lady Collective!
Boss Lady Collective is a chic, stylish clothing brand that adds a modern twist to traditional workplace apparel for women to wear both in and outside of the office environment.
In the past, we constantly found ourselves forced to choose between style and professionalism. We had outfits that were great for a fun, social event, or a romantic date night, but not something you could wear in a business setting.
Alternatively, we had outfits that were great for work but less flexible for a day-to-night look. Definitely a giant headache, especially if you live far from the city! Which is why we thought, instead of choosing between style and professionalism, why can’t we have both? This led to the birth of Boss Lady Collective!
At BLC, we want to modernize women’s workwear so you have a selection of outfits that truly represent your style, showcase your personality, and meet professional standards. Have a meeting at work, lunch hangouts with your girlfriends, date night with your significant other, or networking event to go to? Well, your outfit from Boss Lady Collective is suitable for all of these occasions and more!
How did you both meet? / Where did you both first get the idea for BLC?
Annie: Fun fact, we actually met each other through a student-run organization called Young Women in Business SFU, whose mission is to build a community for emerging female leaders and young professionals looking to create their success. We worked together on a committee to develop a two-semester workshop series for the WISE Development Program, which stands for “Women Investing in Skills and Experiences”.
Savneet: Annie had been playing with the idea of starting a modern, clothing brand tailored toward the working women at the time, and I was also looking into starting an e-commerce business, so we decided to create something together! Since we already understood each other’s work habits and enjoyed how well our work synergies aligned, the idea of working together just fell into place.
Annie: As for how BCL came to be, we decided we wanted to step away from the usual blazers, blouse and dress pants or skirts and wear something more modern and stylish – but still appropriate for the workplace. So having a brand that curates workplace styles that fit both the professional setting and fun, night out is what we were aiming for.
But that’s not all, we also wanted to create a community of women who are supportive of one another, in their careers or personal goals!
Did you both always want to be entrepreneurs?
Annie: My dad played a big role in shaping my interest and curiosity for entrepreneurship. Ever since I was 7, my dad had always brought me to his company (whenever I visited him in Taiwan during summer break) and shared his work with me, me whether it was listening in on some of his work meetings, or educating me on how to problem solve on the go.
Looking back, my ability to solve problems as well as I do now, along with thinking 3-5 steps ahead, is all thanks to what my dad taught me. In fact, he always reminded me that if I had an idea (no matter how small), I should always give it a shot and see where things go.
So yeah, I have to give credits to my dad for being the spark that lit my passion and flair for entrepreneurship. And having Savneet by my side, willing to take a leap of faith with me in starting something we are both passionate about, is definitely the cherry on top!
Savneet: I would have to say my curiosity for entrepreneurship stems from family as well. Currently, I work full time at my family business where I have seen the multiple hats that one is required to wear when deciding their path.
My father has grown to be a mentor to me over the years. Each day he shows me how much can be done when setting your intentions and persevering. Although I did not expect it, I find myself following in his footsteps of creating the life of my dreams!
Studying business in school and watching my father grow his own business helped spark my own innovation. I am excited to be on this journey and look forward to where BLC is headed in supporting women entrepreneurs!
What were the first few steps you took to launch the business? (eg. getting a website, etc.)
Annie: The first step Savneet and I took prior to launching BLC was having an open discussion about our goals, mission and vision for the type of company we want to create. This is a very important step to take, especially if you have a Co-Founder, as you want to make sure both of you have aligning values and ideas of where you want to take the company in the long-term.
After, we started to brainstorm about the overall branding (e.g. names, logos, taglines, colour schemes, etc.). Eventually, we moved onto sourcing manufacturers that would be a good fit for our team and brand as a whole. This took a lot longer than what we expected, as we vetted each potential manufacturing partner to ensure we only sourced the finest quality of fabric and material. We never want our boss ladies to trade comfort for style, which is why each outfit from our brand leaves all of our shoppers feeling both comfortable and confident!
From there on, it led to the standard protocol of product design and testing, developing a website, setting up our social media accounts, and more.
What goes into creating a clothing brand that you think people might not know about?
Savneet: Both Annie and I come from a business background and having a fashion side hustle has been a dream of ours. We have had the opportunity to learn some of the ins and outs of fashion and are continuously taking time to learn. One of our biggest educations has been about fast fashion and the impact that it has on our environment.
What most people don’t think about is the number of lives their one garment of clothing touches. We have the pattern maker that prepares the clothing, the designer that designs the outfit, the seamstress that sews together the piece, and finally the delivery person that delivers the clothing.
As a conscious fashion brand, we aim to be intentional about the processes, fabrics, and values that we implement into our business. By thinking through each step of the process, we aim to deliver exceptional value to our Boss Ladies.
What were the first few months of the business-like? Was there anything about being entrepreneurs that surprised you?
Savneet: Entrepreneurship had several surprises in store for us.
Initially, we had thought that e-commerce would be a breeze, I mean the internet sure makes it out to be. But as time went along we know that this is a business that requires time, energy, and patience. We are continuously on a path of learning. Annie and I have found through this journey that we both love learning. It has been crucial for us to evolve, even in this short period. We have experimented with different methods of marketing, different clothing items, and even also running workshops.
What surprised me the most was how supportive my support networks have been. To be honest, I had been a bit hesitant to tell my friends and family about the venture that Annie and I had started for fear of judgment, but that worry had no basis.
My support network has been incredibly encouraging along the journey and has pushed me to keep moving forward. Both Annie and I are incredibly grateful to friends and family who have helped us along the way, with photoshoots and with helping to promote the brand.
How has COVID-19 affected your business? Why do you think it’s important to dress up even as many of us work from home?
Annie: Our sales have definitely been impacted during this time along with the cancellation of events and workshops we initially were sponsoring or were speaking at.
Nevertheless, COVID-19 also brought to us new opportunities. For example, we pivoted and held our first personal and professional workshop virtually this past month, which was met with great success (and we are in the middle of planning our second virtual workshop – this time about financial literacy).
We also introduced our new pre-order model with our Grace Collection which was launched just earlier last week. As Savneet noted, conscious fashion is very important to us. Through using the pre-order model, we will be able to better identify exactly how much to produce, which will help reduce the number of wasted materials. This in turn also contributes to lower costs for our shoppers.
There have actually been multiple research studies done that address how influential dressing up is to your self-confidence and sense of self-empowerment. While wearing pajamas or sweats at home during work may seem like a delight and very comfortable, it can also cause you to feel “sluggish”. If you’re curious as to why that is the case, I suggest taking a read of NET-A-PORTER’s Fashion Director Kay Barron’s explanation. Her article hits the nail with this one!
Do you both have a favourite piece from the new Grace Collection?
Savneet: We recently launched our newest collection: The Grace Collection. From our new line, I would have to say my favourite piece is our Rachel Fitted Pastel Dress. The stretchy fabric fits your curves so perfectly, I totally recommend you go check it out!
Annie: While I love all of the outfits from our brand if I had to choose one I would have to say the Jasingam V-Neck Belted Pencil Dress from our Confidence collection, and the Donna Sleeveless Flare Jumpsuit from the Grace collection. Though, honestly it’s so tough for me to choose because I love them all!
What advice do you have for people who are still trying to figure out their style?
Savneet: We would love to dress you up! Style isn’t taught in a textbook, it’s learned through a trial and error process. Each body type is different, especially women: we have lots of curves, so no one rule stands for all women. The important thing to remember when it comes to style is to dress for yourself. If you feel comfortable, collected, and confident in what you’re wearing, that will transfer over into the way you present yourself. Remember to have fun with your style.
Have you both ever dealt with self-doubt as entrepreneurs? If so, how do you manage it and what advice do you have?
Savneet: With entrepreneurship, self-doubt is inevitable. The fact that Annie and I have each other is a huge help. We bounce ideas off of each other, share our worries, and also make working together fun. The fact that we enjoy working together makes the experience so much more awesome.
One thing that I have found helps me get through self-doubt is journaling. Writing down what I’m worried about, difficult decisions I have to make, and what my fears are have helped me approach a problem from a logical point of view. I can see the various options available on a piece of paper instead of jumbled up in my head. Not everyone will find that journaling is right for them, but it has definitely helped me!
Annie: My answer is quite similar to what Savneet’s. Self-doubt and imposter syndrome are feelings you will face inevitably no matter what you do, but especially when you’re running a business. However, as the saying goes, life begins outside your comfort zone. This is why whatever makes you uncomfortable is actually the biggest opportunity for growth!
Because self-doubt is something created and stemmed from your mind, I like to get outside of my own personal thinking session (as it often ends up turning into a state of overthinking / going down a rabbit hole of even more insecurities) and instead talk to someone who I’m close with. This could be a best friend, family member, significant other, mentor, or anyone that has a good understanding of who you are. For me, my boyfriend and Savneet have been the people I go to when I need a sounding board to discuss my ideas, worries, and goals with!
What’s next for BLC? Is there anything else you would like to share?
Annie: There are actually a lot of exciting things in the works for Boss Lady Collective, not just in product but in our community! (aka. #bossladies).
For our recent launch, we definitely recommend checking out our Grace collection, which includes 4 styles that are oh-so-perfect for the summer, whether you’re lounging at home, meeting your girlfriends for food, or spending a date night with your significant other! This collection is only available exclusively for a short time period, so we encourage you to check our website before it ends! Our pre-order deadline for this is Monday, July 20, 2020, which is right around the corner!
Follow us on our social media channels (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn) to stay up-to-date with our latest news and announcements, as well as subscribe to our mailing list for exclusive deals and discounts from our Perks Program!
Use Code GRACE15 for 15% off a preorder of BLC’s Grace Collection! Offer ends Monday, July 20th