It's been a decade since Kimberly Newport-Mimran launched her fashion line Pink Tartan. Today, the preppy-meets-pretty brand is sold all over North America while Newport-Mimran and her husband Joe (as in Joe Fresh) are part of the country's sartorial elite. Just in time for Toronto Fashion Week, the always stylish designer shares her secrets for success
Don't just double check – triple check
You can't take for granted that you're going to do anything right the first time. In the fashion industry there is so much detail. If you're even a quarter of an inch off on a measurement, that really alters the fit – and if you send those measurements off there are serious ramifications. I was always lucky to have mentors that would check my work for me, and now that I have a team I'm big on doing the same. If I find a mistake, I send it back and remind them that double checking isn't enough.
Don't apologize for having standards
What I took away from the movie The Devil Wears Prada is that there have got to be standards that people live up to. That might be scary and mean, but protecting the brand and the brand integrity has to be the priority. People have to understand that in order to assimilate into a brand culture.
Spend time on your team
As a boss, I'm more of a nurturer than a dictator. I have an open-door policy and I spend a lot of time with my team. My philosophy is that you have to inspire the people who work for you to want to achieve things for themselves. If they're just doing it to please the boss, it doesn't work as well. You have to be a good coach.
Know your nuts and bolts
You can't be a good designer unless you work hard at understanding the technical aspect of design. On paper, something can look fantastic, but it's the end result that matters, which has fit and function as well as design. People think fashion is just about the creative aspect, but a lot of it is mathematical.
Whoever said good things come to those who wait didn't work in fashion
Good things do not come to those who wait in the fashion industry. Everything moves so fast and you have to be on it. In some design industries you might be working with the same colour pallet for at least a year, but in fashion, every season your trying to find the next thing. It's all about being ahead of the curve, so waiting to see what works isn't really an option.
Class is better than cling
I don't like clothes that are super tight. I find that they hang better and look better if you practice the two finger rule, meaning you can always fit a couple of fingers between the garment and the person. Clothes need a little bit of room to breath and I don't want to see an underwear line because your pants are too tight.
Make a note of it
These days camera phones make it so easy to keep a photo diary of ideas, still I never leave the house without a notebook to jot down an idea I might have or something that I found inspiring. I always have and if I don't I feel like something's missing so I have to buy one.
Keep your secret weapon on standby
No matter what you're wearing, the perfect lipstick and a great high heel can pull any outfit together. I don't wear high heels running around the office all day, but I always have a pair stashed, just in case someone comes in or I have to run out to something that I forgot was on the calendar.
As told to Courtney Shea