‘We see it as people wearing our artwork’

Tuning into the instructional and collaborative aspects of their company rather than the lucrative, the entrepreneurs behind Ezia Couture talk to the Journal about balancing bows, books and bringing a little Blair to the Limestone City

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Rebecca Schidlowsky and her sister Mary may be inspired by Gossip Girl, but got the final push to start Ezia Couture after reading a story in the Calgary Herald.
Rebecca Schidlowsky and her sister Mary may be inspired by Gossip Girl, but got the final push to start Ezia Couture after reading a story in the Calgary Herald.
Photo: 

On good hair days, bad hair days, exam hair days and hitting the town hair days, headbands are a girl’s best friend, providing a hint of glamour and much needed taming to our high maintenance manes.

Headbands use to be the cool accessory when we were five and had little control over what we wore, but they made a surging comeback thanks to the Queen of the Upper East Side, Blair Waldorf, from the CW hit show Gossip Girl. Now fashionable and, most importantly, affordable headbands hit the Limestone City thanks to Rebecca Schidlowsky, a Queen’s student emulating Queen B.

Schidlowsky, ArtSci ’12, and her 15-year-old sister Mary established Ezia Couture in May of this year, making handmade headbands by capitalizing on the skills they learned in years of Saturday art classes. The sisters love Gossip Girl and wanted to look as sophisticated as Blair, but found that without the Waldorf budget it’s difficult to do so.

“I always watch the show and I started to love headbands,” Schidlowsky said. “But I couldn’t find them anywhere, they were either really poor quality or really expensive, you have the two extremes.” Seeing this clear niche in the market, Schidlowsky and her sister just needed a slight and loving push from their mom to take the plunge into entrepreneurship.

“My mom sent me an article from the Calgary Herald about these other girls who started their own business and I was like okay Mary we can do this, let’s get it started. But nothing really started happening until the following May because I was in school. But we started [having] Skype conferences,” she said.

The sisters taught themselves how to make headbands, using trial and error to discover wrapping techniques and designs that would work. The pair often reuses fabric from old blankets, dance costumes, shirts and other household items to make the headbands. They also hit up vintage stores and use looks from the runway shows of Milan and Paris for inspiration. Though Schidlowsky’s ultimate inspiration comes from the person she would most like to get her headbands on.

“Blair Waldorf, so I guess Leighton Meester,” she said. “It would be a dream to get them on a celebrity, but especially her … I always try when I design headbands to think would Blair think this is tacky or would she think this is classy, could I wear this into Harrods or Tiffany’s.”

Her dedication to re-creating the sophistication of the Upper East Side is obviously working, as Ezia Couture will now be featured in Project Red and Queen’s Vogue runway shows this year and will be seen in Muse Magazine.

If it’s not impressive enough that 20-year-old Schidlowsky is teaching herself business basics and running this company, she’s also aiming to show girls of all sizes that they’re beautiful.

“I hate the term plus size model, it makes it sound like a fat model. But, no it’s a regular sized person who’s beautiful,” she said while explaining why the company aims to use girls of all sizes in their ad-campaigns.

Though headbands may seem like an odd way of shifting body image perceptions, Schidlowsky points out how it has often been said each time Blair puts on a headband, it’s like she’s putting on her own crown, allowing girls everywhere to feel like their own versions of a princess when they put on an Ezia headband.

While Schidlowsky is pursuing a Queen’s degree in history, she has found something she truly loves in creating headbands.

“When I think of a headband it’s not a headband, it’s an outlet for artwork. We don’t think of it in a commercial way … we see it as people wearing our artwork,” Schidlowsky said. “I hate that mentality that fashion isn’t a legitimate industry … it’s a beautiful industry if you think about it … taking a painting off the wall and turning it into someone’s outfit, that’s so cool.”

Schidlowsky said she is hoping to slowly expand her company by diving in to other types of accessories. First on her list is creating chic and unique wristlets.

“Every girl at Queen’s has a wristlet and they’re all Coach … the market is so saturated with Coach,” Schidlowsky said, explaining her hope to diversify this market.

Though it’s easy to get caught up in the commercial success of her business, Schidlowsky proves that she’s in this for the love of fashion and the bonding time with her sister.

“We have no expectations for the company, which makes it a lot less stressful because [the director of business development] and I are like; where it goes, it goes,” she said. “It’s not about money, it’s about learning.”

Please see eziacouture.com for collections, lookbooks and more information.

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