Balancing a successful business with being a mom is no easy feat but our next Style Spotlight makes it look easy.
Allow us to introduce you to Natalie Dusome.
Natalie is the owner and founder of the Canadian handbag line, Poppy & Peonies. After launching just one year ago, the brand has exploded and for good reason. With years of experience – including design positions at notable retailers like Aldo, Abercrombie & Fitch, Fossil, and Banana Republic – it’s no surprise her collection is flying off shelves.
We had the chance to talk to Natalie about her experience growing up in a small town and moving in the world of fashion, her style secrets, and why doing what you love is always the right career path. Check out the interview below.
Tell us about you and what you do.
I’m the owner and founder of Poppy & Peonies. It’s a fun and functional new Canadian handbag line. I started the company a year ago, and it has exploded – our bags are flying off the shelves. I’m overwhelmed with how quickly the line has taken off, it’s exciting!
I’ve always loved fashion since a young age. I grew up in a small town called Penetanguishene, a small boating town on the southeasterly tip of Georgian Bay. Growing up, I was always different than other kids – I loved creating. My dad is a talented carpenter and I remember at 9 years old, showing him a shoe design, and going in his workshop and bringing the design to life, I still have that shoe!
My parents were always very supportive of my passion for design. I used to get them out of bed at 5 am on Saturday mornings to go garage sale shopping so I could find 60s curtains fabric to make pants to wear to school. I had two influential grandmothers, one was an amazing sketcher and the other loved to sew, so I guess fashion design came naturally.
I studied fashion design at Ryerson University in Toronto, where I met students from all over the world who were just like me. Before graduating, I was recruited by Abercrombie & Fitch and moved to Ohio. I knew handbags was always my calling, so I took an assistant design position with Fossil in Dallas, where I met an amazing mentor who taught me all about handbag design. A few years later, I moved to Manhattan and designed handbags for Banana Republic, which was such an amazing experience. I think everyone should move to New York when they are in their 20s. It was such an inspiring city and to be at the pulse of fashion and style was incredible.
After working in the U.S for 5 years, I missed home and more importantly my high school sweetheart who stayed by my side while I gained the experience I needed. I took a job as Head Handbag Designer for Aldo and was able to design from my studio at home and travel to Montreal to their head office. I loved Aldo, it’s such an amazing company to work for, it’s a family business and there is so much love and passion at heart of their company. It has inspired me in my company.
My experience took me all over the globe searching for the latest inspiration. I have had the pleasure of traveling to Paris, London, New York, Italy, Hong Kong and Korea.
I’ve always dreamed of starting my own company, but it was when my daughter Poppy was born and I became a mom, that I saw a niche in the market. I needed functional fashion to suit my new lifestyle and couldn’t find it. And so, Poppy & Peonies was born. Named after my daughter Poppy and our love for Peonies.
Poppy & Peonies offers fun, functional and affordable handbags. All of our handbags can be worn multiple ways, and are trendy but still classic so they can be worn any season. Our crossbody bags are our best sellers. “The Foldover” can be worn as a clutch, wristlet, shoulder bag, or crossbody. When I’m designing the bags, I’m thinking about busy women and what they need. Our bags take them from the office to after-work cocktails, all in one. We have reversible tote called “The Jetsetter” that makes a great work tote. It can also be reversed for a full playful print to take on vacation.
Having a two-year-old daughter and launching a booming business has been a learning experience! Someone should have warned me. I’m learning the art of balance and the importance of coffee!
Our bags are available online and ship all over Canada, the U.S and U.K.
Define your style in three words.
Playful and feminine with an edgy twist.
What are some of your own style ‘rules’ that you like to live by?
That there are no rules in fashion. Confidence is key. You can pull anything off as long as your confident in it.
I do have few style tips:
Red lips will take any outfit from ordinary to extraordinary. I live in distressed jeans and a white T- but I always add a statement piece to elevate the look, be it a statement bag, an edgy leather jacket, or great shoe.
If you could implement one change in your city, what would it be?
I would like to see more fashion or creative programs in schools and communities. I think it’s important for the younger generation to be aware and exposed to creative opportunities and know that there are many amazing jobs out there be it in fashion, blogging, social media or marketing and that you don’t need to be a doctor or lawyer, that you can make a great living doing what you love.
List the top five things about Toronto that you love
1. I love the vibe in the city. There are so many amazing restaurants, shops, events and entertainment. There’s always something to see and do in the city. It feels like a mini New York.
2. I have had the pleasure of visiting many cities in the world and I love how clean and safe Toronto is.
3. I love all the vintage shops. I always shop for inspiration. There are so many well-curated vintage collections in city.
4. I love the fashion scene! Toronto is very supportive and fosters local designers. I love the shopping in the city.
5. I love our talented teams! The Jays and Raptors are killing it!
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