career karma – Blair Nadeau

I saw Blair Nadeau the first day I moved to Toronto, into residence at Ryerson.  She was moving in too and was like no girl I’d ever seen, wearing sky-high platforms, a pencil skirt, fishnet stockings, animal print top and a halo of punk-rock bleached hair.  I remember feeling very plain and wondering if all fashion students dressed so elaborately – the next week when classes started I discovered that fashion students can look like everything and anything.

Throughout school Blair changed her look and her hairstyle many times and always amazed me with her productivity – she did her homework late into the night and somehow still always found time to make new clothes for herself too.  Her dorm room was gorgeously decorated and reflected her style perfectly.  She is inspired by music – especially Gwen Stefani – subcultures like rockabilly and punk, and cars.

Now Blair works full time as a fashion designer, and she recently launched a brand new line of fascinators called Feathered which is available at Fashion Crimes, among other retailers.  I asked her a few questions about her work and her personal style.

You are one of those rare and wonderful girls who always looks flawless – hair, makeup, accessories, outfit, heels, every detail. The rest of us are always wondering… how does she do it? Please tell!

Aw, you’re making me blush. How do I do it? I guess it’s due in part to how I was brought up. All the women in my family on my mom’s side were always very meticulously put together and never went out of the house unless they were looking top notch. I guess that has kind of rubbed off on me. When I’m at home, I pretty much live in 1 of 3 housecoats but when I leave the house I make try to always make sure that i’m putting my best face forward. Most people feel comfortable wearing jeans and t-shirts, to be honest, for me that is when I’m most uncomfortable. Comfort to me is high heels, pencil skirts and dresses and a ton of necklaces.

Your high standards extend to your work both in school and in your career. How much time to you spend working and how do you prioritize? Got any productivity tips?

As a full time subcontractor and a small business owner its hard to make anything other then work your first priority, however I always try to make some downtime. I tend to make work my main focus and for awhile it got to the point where I was checking emails all the time, following up with factories at 2am because in China and India they were working and it was the only time to be able to communicate with them. I’ve since calmed down in that aspect and have tried to make time for myself, by either going to the gym, playing with the dogs or going out for sushi. Prioritizing to me has always started with the most urgent first. Following up with people usually comes first as that is usually the first thing to slip through the cracks when people get busy and the most common place where mistakes are made if proper follow up is not done.

Can you describe how your style (both personally and as a designer) has evolved since you graduated from fashion school and become a working designer?

I change my personal style a lot and that usually reflects in my designing. Since high school, I’ve been every scene from Punk to Hippy. Since graduating university I have found a love for old Hollywood glamour and classic styles mixed with a hard edge. I like mixing lace and simple straight silhouettes with multiple chain necklaces or pearls and my wardrobe mainly consists of black and white – various shades of it, sky high heels and tons of necklaces. I’ve found that since now working in the industry for the past 3 years and getting to go on buying trips, I tend to mix the latest trends into my wardrobe more often then I would have before.

What are your favourite magazines, websites and blogs?

Favourite magazines – Vogue for the editorials, that can not be topped by anyone – and Elle Canada.
Websites – Perez Hilton and for the latest catwalk trends, I do a lot of my trend researching from that site, as well as your typical social network sites.
Blogs – obviously Final Fashion, i’ve been reading it since pretty much it’s conception and My Edit whenever i get the chance!

Your newest venture is a line of hair accessories and hats. What inspired you to launch Feathered in 2009?

On my second buying trip to Europe I ended up in a a Selfridge boutique in London that had beautiful fascinators. I was so in love with the overly ornate hair decorations that I felt like it was something I needed to teach myself. It’s been about a 6 month labour of love to figure out the right compositions, colour combinations and manipulations of feathers, veilings and different stones but every second of it has been worth it. I’m so in love and passionate about my business. Being an independant contractor is fabulous, but being able to create a product and see people wear it and be happy with it is something else entirely. Of course there has been it’s ups and downs along my very short and recent journey, but I feel like I’ve finally found my niche in this market and I couldn’t be happier.

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8 thoughts on “career karma – Blair Nadeau”

  1. mmm, buying trips around the world… sounds so glamorous (totally referenced the Fergie song to get the spelling :p haha), I love these posts about fashion careers!

  2. ohmigod… “I saw Blair Nadeau the first day I moved to Toronto, into residence at Ryerson. She was moving in too and was like no girl I’d ever seen, wearing sky-high platforms, a pencil skirt, fishnet stockings, animal print top and a halo of punk-rock bleached hair” ohmigod. are you serious? You remember this to a T!

    Thank you so much for interviewing me. Your questions were fabulous and I’m very honored that you chose me for your Career Karma this week. I love this section of your blog.

  3. I hate blair for always being so put together. i feel like a slob when i’m with her! lol.

    but she is definitely an inspiration where ambition, hard-work, creativity & drive are concerned! 🙂

  4. Thanks for the shout-out Blair!!! I’ll reference you to any bride who wants to look amazing… Love the trip down memory lane…first day of class… I wore an assymetrical Old Navy blue top. I wanted to look nice but not like I cared too much. Haha, what a lie and it was a really ugly shirt too….

  5. Extraordinarily talented woman…beyond compare! Amazingly creative thoughtful designer

  6. Blair – you made such a vivid impression that first day. I can’t remember what I wore for the life of me, I think wide legged jeans and a button-down plaid shirt?

    Jentine – seems like a million years ago! My shirt was ugly too =)

  7. Guess what!? I’m about 99% sure that is what you wore too! stood out too!
    i remember we sat together in the auditorium and talked about dying silk…that does seem like a million years ago, but fond memories none the less!

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