The Upside is now Canada's largest online place to shop for and consign authenticated designer goods. Congratulations! We love women building their own businesses. Can you tell us how you started?
The Upside started from a lack of places with great experiences in the secondary retail market in the Canadian marketplace. Prior to that I had been living in Paris (on a very small budget) and living there with great second-hand retail options, I learned what to splurge on (food & wine) and what not to (designer fashion).
The Upside makes luxury fashion more sustainable. Can you explain how that works and why you’re passionate about your approach to fashion and consumerism in general?
We provide a market for items that have been previously owned, in new or gently loved condition and from the past five years. Giving a second life to your items prevents them from sitting collecting dust or ending up in a landfill. Buying something second hand reduces its carbon footprint by up to 80%!
Giving a second life to your items prevents them from sitting collecting dust or ending up in a landfill. Buying something second hand reduces its carbon footprint by up to 80%!
Getting a start up off the ground is a huge undertaking and you did it while working a full-time job and as a single mom. How did you manage that?
I had already started The Upside in my basement when I took a full-time position for an insurance agency (which was so far from anything I had ever pictured myself doing). I needed the security of a paycheck to get my daughter and I out of a bad situation. I worked that job for a year and a half – 8am to 5pm; then Mom 5pm to 8pm; and upside 8pm to 1am. I did what I had to do until The Upside was able to support me full-time. We are stronger than we think.
Have you faced any obstacles along the way and what would you have done differently?
I would have thought bigger, believed in myself more and I would have questioned so called “experts”. The amount of money and lost time we have spent on people who claim to know better about my business than me, I can’t even count.
I would have thought bigger, believed in myself more and I would have questioned so called 'experts'.
Buying fashion resale is new to many. How do you see consumers changing and why are they deciding to do this now?
The fashion and textile industries are the second largest polluter globally and we need to start making shifts in our purchasing habits now. From a sustainability, ethical and humanitarian standpoint, it not only makes sense but is necessary. And you can get authenticated luxury fashion for a fraction of retail!
What do you think is the future of fashion? And how do you want to make that happen?
I believe the future of fashion is the resale market. It gives consumers value, variety and quality while providing a long-term solution to the fight against fast fashion. I plan to do that through education and technology to make it as seamless as possible for people to buy and sell their luxury items.
You’re in a perpetual ‘fantastic big sister’s closet’! Something we all dream about. Is there a particular designer you watch for and covet?
I know!! Initially it was so exciting I wanted everything! Now it takes a very special piece to get me super excited. They have to be chic and versatile for work and personal; they have to be able to take me from school drop off, to work, lunch, coffee with a friend, etc.; and they need a little edge. The Row and Victoria Beckham are two that come to mind.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about being an entrepreneur and working Mom?
You can’t do it alone. Support from people in your life and other female entrepreneurs is necessary for success (and to prevent you from going crazy).
First image above: Lauryn is wearing HK Rock Salt Robe; shoes by Giambatista Valli; denim by 3X1; sweater by Everlane. Second image: Lauryn is wearing the HK Florence Slip Dress; jean jacket by Acne; shoes by Gucci. Third image: HK Palma Trousers with leather jacket by Ganni; camisole by Dolce & Gabbana; shoes by Christian Louboutin. All items are from The Upside.
What’s your favourite HK piece and why? It would be cool to collaborate – how might we do that???
I love the Florence slip dress and the Palma trousers! I think we should get HK into our space and speak to a group of women about the company and do some shopping (over bubbles of course).
Are there any other thoughts you’d like to share… about you, the world, feminism, politics, the environment, life, health?
At 25 I found myself pregnant and in an abusive relationship. I learned the hard way, the importance of having women lift each other up and support each other. While I would not wish the ‘hard way’ on anyone, I wouldn’t change the lessons learned and the women who have come into my life. It was through that very scary, dark time that I found my true strength.
While I would not wish the ‘hard way’ on anyone, I wouldn’t change the lessons learned and the women who have come into my life. It was through that very scary, dark time that I found my true strength.
What advice to you give your daughter?
She can do anything she sets her mind to and think bigger! I was raised to think very ‘safe’ and it was only when that didn’t serve me and my career, that I started to think outside of the box.