Nov. 5, 2018
Fashion grad "stitched" winning dress
Prairie native "meant to be" at Seneca
Laurie Brown couldn’t have predicted two years ago that she’d come into $10,000 from winning a reality competition. At the time, the Fashion Arts grad was juggling three part-time jobs, trying to make a living as a fashion designer in Saskatchewan.
But Brown has not only since solidified her self-labelled design studio as one of the driving forces behind Saskatoon’s growing fashion industry, she has edged out competitors and impressed judges with her floral-inspired couture-level creation on STITCHED, a new Canadian fashion reality TV show.
“The whole experience was awesome even though it’s not my personality to be on camera. I’m usually the one working behind the scenes,” said Brown, who spent the first 18 years of her life in Flin Flon, a small mining city in northern Manitoba.
Brown didn’t grow up dreaming of being a fashion designer but she has always loved textile. After high school, she moved to Saskatoon and eventually found herself working at Fabricland. It was only after a friend who was studying at Seneca showed her his work, that Brown decided to study fashion. She was 22 when she came to Seneca.
“Once I was there, everything opened up for me — I was meant to be there,” said Brown, now in her early thirties.
From sewing to designing to pattern-making, Brown learned it all from her professors who were industry professionals.
“I treated my professors as peers in the industry,” she said. “My sewing teacher was working on sets on films. They were all so amazing with years of experience and I just absorbed everything from them.”
Before her final year at Seneca, Brown completed a field placement at a clothing company in Saskatoon. She took a year off to continue working there before returning to Seneca. Upon graduation, she turned down an assistant designer job in Mississauga to return to the same, now-defunct clothing company in Saskatoon where her help was needed.
“Something was calling me to stay there,” she said. “I called my dad and said, ‘My heart is here. I can’t live in Toronto.’”
While Brown had initially feared that the fashion scene in Saskatoon could not sustain the career she had embarked on, she soon realized that the smaller market gave her an opportunity to distinguish herself from her contemporaries. It didn’t happen overnight, though. Brown spent a decade volunteering her talents and expertise, something she continues to do with fellow designers in the industry.
“It took a long time to earn my stripes,” she said. “It’s easy to get overlooked in a big city and working in Saskatoon has allowed me to climb to the top of the list and show people what I’m capable of.”
Brown plans to use her prize money from STITCHED to reinvest in her business, pay off student loans and give back to the Prairie city she has proudly called home.
“I’m outgrowing Saskatoon a bit, but I’d like to stimulate the fashion scene here and re-spark that creative energy,” she said.
As for Brown’s next stop? “I’m thinking British Columbia.”