“As early as high school I knew I wanted to run my own apparel business.”
Kelsey Adair, born and raised in North Vancouver, BC, graduated John Casablancas Institute in 2010 with a diploma in Fashion Business & Creative Arts. She is the founder of women’s clothing brand, Bare Knitwear.
Q: Why did you choose to enroll at John Casablancas Institute for Fashion?
“I was attracted to the variety of courses and disciplines JCI offered. I was looking for a school where I could get a well-rounded knowledge of the industry and I found that at JCI.”
After graduating the JCI Fashion Program, Kelsey enrolled in classes at BCIT for Small Business Management and Social Media Marketing, while launching her own brand: Bare Knitwear.
Q: What inspired you to design woman’s knitwear?
“I knew I wanted to run my own apparel business, however I didn’t know it would be knitwear. I was inspired by the idea and the challenge of developing a brand and growing a business.”
Kelsey began working as an accessories buyer in 2011 for a small business and was re-inspired of buying from a range of independent brands. She knew the basics of knitting and crocheting which allowed her to create a small collection of scarves.
“From 2012 to 2014, I educated myself on options to produce in small quantities and continued to develop my vision for the brand, as I also gained more experience in wholesale.”
In 2014, Kelsey aligned with a production company in Peru who met her small production volume and worked well with her brand values of ethical manufacturing and sustainable sourcing.
Kelsey flew to Peru to learn how production and development worked, the challenges of ordering raw materials and how hard it was to produce as a small brand with little buying power and budget.
“I decided the only way I was going to learn and create a business model was to just start. With the little money I had in my tax-free savings account, I bought my first order: 172 beanies and scarves. That was the beginning of Bare Knitwear.”
Q: Who are your biggest fashion influencers/inspirations?
“I find inspiration in many different designers each day, however my biggest inspiration is the way the industry is shifting as a whole at this exact moment.”
“Each year, consumers are demanding more transparency from brands. They are educated on where their products are coming from and where they are putting their dollar. Less focus is being placed on consumerism and fast fashion trends and more focus is being placed on lean closets and intentional wardrobes.
“A major shift is happening and I am inspired to be a part of it.”
The current Fall 2017 Bare Knitwear collection, The Classics Collection, is available for purchase. This collection was a result of the past three seasons in business for Bare Knitwear.
“We took a lot of feedback from our previous season to create a streamlined collection of elevated basics. We tweaked existing styles and introduced new styles that would add comfort, ease, and versatility to our client’s wardrobe.”
Q: What does the next collection have in store for Bare Knitwear?
“I’m currently working on three small capsule collections that will launch in July 2018. A Transition Collection for pre-Fall, a Winter Novelty Collection, and an online Exclusive Holiday piece.”
“We are excited to be adding more Pima cotton to the line for those pieces intended for year-round wear.”
Q: What has been your prized moment throughout your career so far?
“This past season Bare Knitwear was selected to participate in Holt Renfrew’s H-Project. The H-Project is a department in Holt Renfrew that is created to recognize and celebrate brands that are inspiring sustainable fashion and social good. This year the brands were exclusively Canadian and Bare Knitwear is currently on the shelves of five Holt Renfrew stores across Canada.”
Kelsey and her team at Bare Knitwear are currently working on launching their first ever Spring 2019 collection and hope to expand their US wholesale market.
Bare Knitwear is also working on projects with their team in Peru, that will not only help share their brand story but also highlight the artisans behind their work.
Even while working full time and running Bare Knitwear, Kelsey still manages to get out and have fun on her off hours. She enjoys road cycling and snowboarding and uses them as forms of meditation, often after a busy week.
“Having hobbies outside of work is so important to clear your mind, turn off and have some fun. That’s when your best ideas come!”
Q: Lastly, is there any advice you can give to upcoming fashion designers?
“Be patient and keep focused on the end goal. Through all the ups and downs it’s important not to get discouraged and affected by the downs. Stay focused on the long-term goal.”
“Your business model, strategy, and cash flow will always be the most important part of your brand. Having a really tight grasp on the backend of your business will help carry you along. Allow yourself time to find your niche and dev