When I first started writing this fashion column, locally owned boutiques carrying local brands -- or even Canadian brands for that matter, were few and far between.
These days, you don't have to look too hard to find a store that celebrates the wares of local designers, but back then that simply wasn't the case. There was however one designer who was a bit of a trailblazer in Winnipeg's fashion scene and her success in the business continues today.
Erin Kembel -- owner of EMK Clothing -- has been in the biz for over 15 years and was one of the first designers to open up a store selling handmade garments and accessories by local designers.
After a few years Kembel decided to focus on the wholesale business, supplying her line of comfortable casual wear to Canadian boutiques but that yearning to open her own flagship store was growing stronger.
"I had a really great fall season in 2013 and felt ready to finally take on opening the store. I also outgrew my studio/basement and was really feeling the need to have my wares available year-round," says Kembel. "It is super-exciting to have a store that showcases my brand. It is really nice to connect with customers, and see how much people seem to appreciate my work."
EMK Clothing opened its doors just last month and so far reception to the namesake brand has been nothing short of awesome, says the designer.
"The reaction has been great, from people who live in West Broadway to my clients from over the years. The biz here has been great too and it's so nice to be a part of such a supportive business community," says Kembel.
With such a warming reception out the gate, Kembel says her biggest challenge is keeping up with demand that comes with designing, sewing and selling your own line of clothing.
"Everything is still designed and handmade here in Winnipeg. I design everything, and still sew a lot of EMK for my three businesses within one business -- my retail store, my wholesale line and my craft/retail show circuit," says Kembel.
EMK Clothing is located at 143 Sherbrook St., or you can check them out online at www.emkclothing.com.
Got a suggestion for a future column or a fashion trend worth following? Email Connie Tamoto at email@example.com.