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Female retail leaders who effortlessly inspire - Park & Fifth

September 9th, 2021

FIRST: Brooke, Zoe, Jenny sitting in their Vancouver studio wearing some of their favorite MODU Atelier + Park & Fifth pieces
SECOND: A sneak peak into their Vancouver studio

Park & Fifth is a Vancouver based retailer with locations around Canada and an international e-commerce presence. Three incredible, female power-houses (Brooke, Jenny and Zoe) came together to turn the bridesmaid industry upside down by designing beautiful, high quality bridesmaid dresses that make women feel beautiful standing beside their brides. All three of them bring a unique set of leadership and retail skills to the table while sharing the commonality of undeniable drive and creative consciousness. They gave future bridesmaids one place to find exactly what they are looking for on that oh-so-important day, and removing the 27 dresses stigma from a day where everyone should feel stunning. But they didn't stop there. They also design and create beautiful social occasion dresses (think that charity gala, or your friends bridal shower) and their latest endeavor... BRIDAL! Yes, I said it. And guess what, you won't run away from their prices.

We were lucky to enough to sit down with them and learn more about how Park & Fifth came to be, who the P&F woman is, what excites them about the future and more. We connected with them in their Vancouver studio which is brand new and breath taking, while they all wore some of their favorite Park & Fifth + MODU Atelier pieces.

How did Park & Fifth take form?

The business was born out of the need for well fitted, modern bridesmaid dresses. We began with the Un-Bridesmaid collection ™ - its purpose was to shake up the industry with chic, well priced dresses. We wanted bridesmaids to feel good purchasing their dresses and combat the stereotype of wearing an ill fitting, over priced dress that would never be worn again.

Then came the bridal and social occasion collections. We created a direct to consumer bridal line that was unique to the traditional bridal industry through our designs, price points and our mix and match concept.

The social occasion collection was an easy next direction for Park & Fifth. We made bridesmaid and bridal dresses so why not make dresses for the wedding guest attendees too? The social occasion collection morphed into everything from event dresses to everyday and work appropriate dresses.

Brooke, one of the founders.

There are three incredible founders behind this brand – how did you three come together to build this business?

Zoe Tisshaw met Brooke Johansen while working at Vancouver bases Kit and Ace on the Project Management team. When Zoe left to start Park & Fifth she met Jenny Wright-Harper and brought her on as a partner to specialize in the sales side of the business. Shortly after, Brooke left Kit and Ace to join Zoe and Jenny as a partner. For a long time we ran the business as a group of three and once we began expanding the brand into Toronto and Calgary the team quickly grew!

 

What does being a female led and founded brand mean to you?

We are so proud to be a female led and founded company. While the corporate world changes and learns to be more inclusive, we feel like we can lead by example and inspire more women in the workplace. All three of us have experienced what it means to work in an environment where you are fighting to be noticed and recognized. We work hard to make sure that all of our employees get to dive into what inspires and excites them while recognizing their strengths and supporting them in their career.

The corporate world is changing for the better and offering more work life balance that many of us saw our parents have. All three of us have families or are planning to have families in the near future and believe there is space in the business world to support working parents and we as a company are working hard to help facilitate that change within our own business. It is important to us that the Park & Fifth team never has to make the choice between work and family. We recognize that this poses challenges to us as business owners but maintaining the diversity of our team and incredible skills everyone brings to the table is much more important.

Jenny, one of the founders

Sustainability seems like an important pillar at P&F, tell us more about this.

Sustainability is at the heart of Park & Fifth and we practice it through 4 major pillars.

Production: The P&F brand was designed on the basis of mindful production. We produce all of our inventory in Vancouver BC, which allows our production team to visit the factory on a daily basis. We consider each sewer as an integral part of the team and ensure they are all paid fair wages and work in a safe and happy environment.

Low textile Waste: Textile waste is an inevitable part of clothing production. We combat this by collecting all of our fabric scraps from our factory and either repurpose them into pillows via the P&F Pillow Project ™ or through a local fabric recycling company called Fab Cycle. Because we are a bridesmaid dress company, we do need to dye new fabric for consistent colors season over season. However, for many of our social occasion dresses we purchase end-of-the roll, deadstock fabrics, giving new life to otherwise discarded fabric rolls and providing exclusive, limited edition styles.

Wearability: We design our styles with the goal of maximum wearability and the belief that every social occasion dress deserves more than one wear or one night out!

Long Life: We believe that if you take good care of your garments you won’t have to replace them as often and will have them for years to come. Many of our dresses are machine washable! This avoids the need to use harsh chemicals found in most dry cleaning practices.

How would you describe the Park & Fifth woman?

The Park & Fifth woman is modern and chic. Not only is fashion important to our customer but shopping local and sustainably is also at the forefront of their mind. She is looking for something out of the ordinary, but wants to be stylish and understated.

 

Where do you take inspiration from for your collections?

Our collections are a group effort. Zoe is head of design but we have a group on the product team that comes together to collaborate on a weekly basis. The collaborations are not only fun and creatively fulfilling but it allows us to ensure we aren’t narrowing the offering as we all have different tastes for fit and style. We have also started to design our own prints which we are all very excited about and can’t wait to share!

 

What are three pieces of advice you would give someone starting a new business?

1. Lean on mentors and peers that have experience or are going through the same thing as you.

2. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. In the beginning, you may need to do everything on your own but you’ll quickly learn that it's very difficult or even detrimental to the business to do so. Your business will not only improve with amazing team members but you’ll grow and learn too!

3. No job is beneath you as a business owner. You should know how to do every position in your business and this is something that will likely occur naturally if you are starting a business from scratch. When your business and team grows it is still important to know each role and how it operates. This enables you to lead your team more effectively and create an atmosphere centered on teamwork.

FIRST: the three founders sitting in their beautiful Vancouver studio
SECOND: Zoe, one of the founders
THIRD: The incredible Vancouver location - Park & Fifth

What excites you three most about the year ahead?

The past year has been a roller coaster as a brand in the wedding industry. Moving into next year we are hopeful that weddings can happen as they used to. We are excited to plan and strategize for growth rather than the volatility of a pandemic.

We are also extremely excited for our brand new Vancouver Flagship location. It’s our first retail store that has both appointment based shopping and walk-in retail shopping.

Our team has grown this summer which has been very exciting! Having a strong team is one of the keys to our success and we’re thrilled to be adding new people to the fold. It has also been exciting to see some of our original team members grow into managers and manage teams of their own!

 

What are your favorite P&F pieces at the moment?

Jenny: I am a slip dress girl at heart! Pair it with an oversized blazer and a sleek boot and I feel put together and confident. In my opinion is one of the most versatile items a woman can have in her closet.

Brooke: The Brooklyn Dress in Mocha is the ultimate dress to wear to work, drinks, and an event. It’s comfortable and I feel very confident in it!

 

What are your favorite MODU Atelier pieces at the moment?

Jenny: I am in love with my new Daisy Chain Necklace - it brings me back to my 90’s high school vibes. I also love my Thin Link Chain necklace, it is so dainty and easy to layer with all my pieces.

Brooke: I love the Gold Shell earrings and the Bear and Heart necklace- such fun summer pieces My everyday go to is the Thick Wave Rings in gold and silver stacked together!

Shop the jewelry worn by the P&F Founders

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