Being twins, best friends and business partners means that for Alexandra and Lindsay Lorusso, off the clock doesn’t happen very often. Just the other day they made plans to meet for a glass of wine.
“We said, okay, this is a sisters’ night, not a work thing,” says Lindsay, “and then five minutes later we’re having this intense discussion about supply chain.”
In fairness, there has been a lot to talk about since the sisters, both thirty-six, launched Nudnik, a line of stylish and sustainable children’s clothing, in 2016. Last year, they were accepted into the Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation at Ryerson University. They recently debuted the world’s first negative waste t-shirt via a Kickstarter campaign, which as of October 29, had raised over $7,500.
“We always knew we wanted to do something together,” says Alexandra, listing off some of their previous entrepreneurial “almosts” including a line of customizable cosmetics (“sort of like a smoothie bar for makeup”), and individually packaged pickles (“this was back in 2012—now they’re everywhere!”). As they delved further into their plan to create eco-conscious kidswear, they knew this was the idea worth pursuing.
“It wasn’t that we didn’t hit roadblocks, it’s that we were able to get around them.”
“It wasn’t that we didn’t hit roadblocks, it’s that we were able to get around them,” says Lindsay, noting that the business played to a lot of their previous experience.
Growing up on a working farm in Tottenham, Ont., the twins spent their early years developing an appreciation for the great outdoors and playing mostly with each other. Their nearest neighbour was miles down the road, their only other sibling, a brother, was born six years after them. Their mom was “new-agey before that was a thing,” Alexandra jokes. She was sourcing organic food, stitching her daughters’ clothes by hand and, as they grew older, taking them into the city to seek out unique prom dresses at Kensington Market. From early on, the sisters used clothing as a way to express their individuality −Lindsay’s look is cool camp counselor, while Alex is the trendy fashionista.
In their twenties both worked at the waste management service Wasteco, where their father is a VP, and where they would conduct waste audits of major corporations. Having an up-close view of the amount of textile waste that was being sent straight to landfills got them thinking that perhaps there was something they could do about it. The decision to create clothing for children was based partly on the size of the fabric swatches, which can be smaller, and also because Lindsay was a new mom to her now six-year-old son Hunter. When she had baby number two, she decided maternity leave would be a good time to explore the potential of Nudnik—the Hebrew word for “little pest,” a flick at their mission to dress the next generation of disruptors.
Alexandra’s downtown condo became a makeshift office filled with fabric and sewing patterns. Their first collection was an assemblage of tracksuits and tees. They’re still at the stage where they are both doing a bit of everything (“startup life,” says Alexandra), though each oversees the part of the business that’s in line with individual strengths. Alexandra handles marketing and social media, while Lindsay is passionate about the operations side.
Both see Nudnik as a social enterprise − not just earth friendly, but gender neutral, and created to suit the needs of their tiny customers.
“You see so many kids dressed like mini adults these days,” says Lindsay. “We wanted this to be kids clothing for kids.”
At least, for now. The long-term goal is to expand to adult sizes, housewear and toys. And maybe, at some point, be able to go five minutes without talking shop.
“That’s the goal for the future,” says Alexandra. “For now, we’re doing exactly what we want to be doing.”