Financing fascinators

Ezia Couture aims to turn a fashionable business into a more lucrative business

Ezia Couture was co-founded by Rebecca Schidlowsky, who hires workers to handcraft each of the headbands to ensure quality.
Ezia Couture was co-founded by Rebecca Schidlowsky, who hires workers to handcraft each of the headbands to ensure quality.

A student-run business can’t turn a profit on campus. Ezia Couture is moving away from their trendy and affordable headband collections for mass-produced lines to be sold as uniform accessories in private schools.

Rebecca Schidlowsky launched Ezia last fall, but has since realized selling her own designs won’t be enough to survive on when she graduates at the end of this year.

“If, when I graduate, I try to [sell my headbands] full time, we would get killed,” Schidlowsky, ArtSci ’12, said.

The Ezia CEO said profits vary depending on the month. She declined to disclose the company’s revenue over the past year.

Even if Ezia stuck to affordable prices, her and business partner Chris Ghersinich wouldn’t stand a chance against high-end retailers, she said.

Schidlowsky started the project with her younger sister, Mary Schidlowsky, who’s no longer working with the company. Schidlowsky said her sister found it difficult to work for the company while living in Calgary and still attending high school.

This fall Schidlowsky and Ghersinich switched their focus to a more concrete financial vision — selling a line of headbands for private school students to wear as part of their uniform.

The fourth-year Queen’s student has so far sold headbands to two Calgary private schools, including her high school alma mater. The headbands require less labour-intensive design work and sell in bulk.

“With a private school you just come up with one design made out of their old uniforms and you can push 300 units,” Schidlowsky said. “You can’t make a lot of money off of [a 20-piece fall collection].” Schidlowsky and Ghersinich are working towards monopolizing the market in Calgary private schools and hope to expand the operation to Toronto.

The pair has been in talks with two other Queen’s students, who work with marketing group Trillium Bay Consulting. Schidlowsky said they’ve discussed collaborating on an Ezia launch in Toronto, but plans haven’t been finalized.

Her headbands have evolved over the past year into what she hopes are more sophisticated and timeless designs — compared to her flamboyant debut collection.

Her hand-made collections remain Ezia’s main focus for now, but Schidlowsky said producing her own accessories will become more of a hobby. “Our vision with it is the fashion will probably phase out, just because it’s really difficult to be a small business and always stay ahead of the trends,” she said. “So the private school angle is more the angle we want to go with.”

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