When Laura-Jean Bernhardson started Fresh Collective in Toronto 10 years ago, she was a self-taught seamstress with a love of curating her own eclectic wardrobe. A decade later, Bernhardson runs three boutiques in the city that specialize in independent local designers. Up-and-coming designers are welcome to apply to have their pieces appear in Bernhardson’s stores, and there’s nothing cooler than an entrepreneur willing to give other young entrepreneurs their first big break. Fresh Collective also houses designs by well-known Canadian and international labels like Miz Mooz and Soia & Kyo. We caught up with Bernhardson to find out what she loves most about Toronto these days, and what designers she’s currently obsessed with.
Give us a snippet about you. What should people know?
At heart I’m just a girl from Saskatoon who came to Toronto to work in fashion. I used to sew clothes in my bedroom and paper my walls with pictures from magazines. If I had any idea how cool my life would actually turn out, I don’t know that I would have believed it. I have three fashion boutiques and work with the coolest bunch of staff and designers making my dream come true every day. It’s awesome, an honour, and I never forget that I’m living the dream!
Finish this sentence: I love Toronto because…
…I came here to live out my dreams and anything is possible. It’s exciting, fun, full of opportunity and inspiration.
What are three things you simply cannot live without?
My son, my husband and my dogs. I also like red wine, nail polish, naps, office supplies, coffee (oh God, I really love coffee!), my Galaxy Note and cork wedge heels, but I can live without those. Barely, but I can.
What’s your favourite restaurant and why?
Gandhi Roti. Hands down. Because it’s just so, so, so delicious.
What’s your favourite drink/cocktail and where do you go to get it?
I love red wine. I always order the cheapest and I get it wherever I can! I simply don’t discriminate.
Who’s your favourite designer/brand and why do you sport their fashions?
I’m obviously biased – I love all the designers we carry at Fresh Collective. Among my faves right now are Mandala Designs by Mandy Armstrong for her great vintage inspired styles that just work on my body-type, as well as Mark Foreman’s line Address Apparel for great fit and sexy styles – but there are at least 20 others that come to mind!
What is the current “most played song” on your iPod?
It’s embarrassing, but I love “Lose Yourself” by Eminem and play it whenever I need to be pumped up.