Saskatchewan Fashion Association Officially Launches

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Mandy Pravda and Jacqueline Conway are no strangers to Saskatchewan’s fashion industry. Nine years ago, the pair co-founded the Saskatoon Fashion and Design Festival, which ran for eight seasons. This fall, they are excited to announce the launch of the Saskatchewan Fashion Association (SFA), a provincial non-profit that aims to increase the visibility of the fashion sector within the cultural and economic identity of Saskatchewan and Canada.

“The SFA has really been a nine-year journey,” says Conway, who is also the founder of Saskatoon’s TrendBlazer Studio. “Mandy and I launched the Saskatoon Fashion and Design Festival with the purpose of starting a local community in the fashion sector. Nine years ago, there were minimal opportunities for designers to come together and showcase their work.”

Jacqueline Conway (L) & Mandy Pravda

Through the annual festival, they were able to build up a community, bringing both attention and awareness to the fashion sector in the province. Now they are taking it one step further with the SFA, and the focus is on being able to provide resources and education year-round to all those who work in the fashion industry, including designers, models, boutique owners, hairstylists, make-up artists, photographers and more.

“What we’re planning to do in the next year, with the support of the community, is come together to develop a resource platform that will help designers who need resources and want mentorship or networking opportunities,” Pravda adds. “We want to become the directory in all aspects, with a list of designers, boutiques, legal information, business development and marketing information.”

Pravda is also the founder of Mane Productions in Saskatoon and will assume the role of president with the SFA, with Conway as vice-president. Two other founding members and directors of SFA include Melissa Squire, a fashion designer and the owner of Saskatoon’s Alchemy Collective, along with Celene Dupuis, owner of Revamp Salon Company and an international Redken Artist.

The initial seed funding to the SFA has been provided by Creative Saskatchewan to analyze the state of the commercial fashion industry in Saskatchewan, and to report on the fashion sector’s potential to become eligible for investments from Creative Saskatchewan. Although Creative Saskatchewan is legislated to invest in creative sectors, the fashion sector is not currently included in its legislative or regulatory language.

In addition to being a central hub for resources, Pravda says they are looking to host educational workshops around the province. “We have found that people need help with the marketing, business and branding side, especially if they have a collection or a line that they want to promote. So we’re going to provide educational workshops and visit some of the bigger rural towns as well, making it inclusive for the entire province.”

Conway and Pravda are also planning to develop partnerships with Saskatchewan boutiques to feature different designers each month and to further enhance opportunities for designers to sell in both Regina and Saskatoon. To solidify their programming plan, the SFA will host information and community feedback sessions to learn about the opportunities that best serve the needs of the province’s fashion community. There will also be a call for members in fall 2019. “We’re looking forward to getting feedback from the community,” Pravda says. “From that, we’re hoping to get a really good overview of what’s happening within the fashion sector in Saskatchewan so we can figure out the next steps.”

Through expanding awareness of Saskatchewan’s incredibly talented fashion sector, they hope the SFA will facilitate business growth on a regional, national and international level. Pravda is clearly passionate about emerging opportunities: “We are really excited for the future and what’s to come, even in the next year, for Saskatchewan and everyone within our province.” Conway emphasizes: “There are amazing things happening in our province that people should know about.”

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Photos inside article Nicole Romanoff