Small Business, Neighbourhood Gem: Toronto designer reopens shop sharing African-inspired fashion

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Toronto designer re-opens shop sharing African-inspired fashion
WATCH ABOVE: A Ghanaian-Canadian clothing designer has re-opened her brick-and-mortar shop offering African-inspired fashion. In our latest installment of "Small Business, Neighbourhood Gem," Melanie Zettler visits Kaela Kay before its reopening. – Jul 9, 2020

On Saturday, small business owner Catherine Addai, the CEO and designer behind the authentic, African-inspired fashion brand Kaela Kay, reopened the doors of her Wilson Village shop in Toronto.

“When COVID hit, we were just launching a new collection … we decided to flip it and just do direct-to-consumer online,” said Addai.

The online customer base came through at a time when the future of most small businesses wasn’t secure.

READ MORE: How small businesses in the Greater Toronto Area are working to stay open

With the store reopened, it’s offering consumers the ability to touch and feel the spring-summer 2020 collection featuring the authentic African-inspired fashion the award-winning designer has become known for.

“I really just wanted to just pay homage to my African roots through the prints,” said Addai.

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“But I wanted to do it in a modern way for our generation who like fun, funky, beautiful clothing … showing the Ghanaian roots with my North American upbringing.”

Founding Executive Director Kelly Drennan of Fashion Takes Action, a not-for-profit established to advance sustainability in the fashion industry, nominated Kaela Kay for the Global News series, Small Business, Neighbourhood Gem.

“I love the colours and the style and the femininity of the cut but it was also made here in Canada,” said Drennan.

“From an environmental perspective, when you make things locally there’s a lot less transportation, so there’s a lower carbon footprint involved.”

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Outside of the colourful prints, the Kaela Kay brand of clothing is known for fit and flare, fuller skirts with pockets and structured shoulders. The clothing is made locally in the Greater Toronto Area.

“I want to obviously support the economy here. It also helps to keep an eye on things and I get to work with the seamstresses very closely,” said Addai.

Clothing consumers up to size 22 have been able to purchase Kaela Kay designs online for more than five years now, but the brick-and-mortar shop on Wilson Avenue near Dufferin Street is set to turn one on Saturday.

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