1. Can you describe your company to everyone in a few words?
VENAO is a luxury designer swimsuit brand out of Toronto, Canada with two successful collections and a new one on the way. The designs are carefully crafted to fit different body types to accentuate the best features in every woman. The swimsuits are fully produced in Canada from high quality material and in limited quantities. We only use suppliers with eco-friendly fabric paint and have a high standard for quality control. The cuts and prints are chosen to stand out from the rest and make each woman feel like a goddess at the beach, by the pool and everywhere in between.
In our first year of business VENAO was featured in five fashion shows in Toronto, one show in Facet Studio Fashion Show in Hollywood, shot for a cover page in Black Man’s magazine, featured in Vita Chamber’s new music video that will be released in 2014. We also sponsored swimwear for winners of Miss Earth Canada 2013, Miss Perfect Canada 2013 and runner up Miss World Canada 2013.
2. How did you get into this business, what was your inspiration?
We both have passion for stylish swimwear and are full of ideas to elegantly compliment a woman’s body in a tiny outfit. Tatiana is designer, master pattern maker and creative direction flows naturally in her veins after having worked in both ready-to-wear and bridal industries. She can sketch a design and make it into perfectly fitted garment to make a woman feel comfortable and confident. Julie is a wiz with branding, marketing and presentations. We naturally fell into our roles and we launched our first collection on the rooftop of CUBE in the summer of 2012. Once the hype and orders started, the hobby quickly turned into a business and our business plan was born.
3. What was the inspiration for the name “VENAO Swimwear?”
In developing the name of our brand it was important for us to appear universal and unisex with no particular implication to a language or nationality. The word VENAO sounds European, Latin and even Asian. Each letter also stands for a characteristic that is extremely important to both founders. The definition will be revealed later on in the next campaign.
4. I love all of the bathing suits on your website and in pictures I’ve seen! Where do you get the inspiration for the bathing suits you carry?
The inspiration generally comes from our vision of a VENAO girl and what she represents. Bold, classy, beautiful and intelligent. The VENAO Beach collection is colorful and elegant. The VENAO Bandita collection (black leather-like fabric) embodies the 007 Bond girl, fierce and stunning. A VEANO swimsuit comes with an attitude and we have one in mind for each and every design we create.
5. What is the best part about what you do on a day-to-day basis?
Bringing ideas to life is the most rewarding experience in itself, but the pleasant surprises are what makes this venture exciting. One day we wake up to an email from a celebrity manager asking to sponsor a singer in their music video, on another morning we find an invite from Hollywood PR company inviting us to show the collection on Sunset Blvd. Of course not every day is like that, but the ones that come around fuel our drive to keep going.
6. Where do you want to see your business going in five years?
We will continue to add new styles to VENAO Beach and VENAO Bandita collections each year and also add a few niche swimwear lines. Beachwear is also on the horizon for us as well as accessories. Currently we are selling online and boutiques in Toronto, but actively working towards entering European countries.
7. If you could start all over again, what’s one thing you would do differently (if at all)?
We did get a little carried away spending time and money on items and appearances that were not so beneficial. It was probably the adrenalin of the first year, but we learned quickly to do our research and pace ourselves.
8. Do you have any advice for people who also want to start up a line of their own?
A partner is always a good idea, but only if your skills compliment each other. The biggest thing that helped us excel so quickly is other people. We can’t stress enough how important it is to be honest, humble and professional and people will present you with priceless opportunities. This is definitely a business of collaborations. Make sure you understand that this business requires a lot of determination and very strict work ethics.
9. What is a good way to describe your brand image?
The overall vision for VENAO focuses on expanding the traditional ideas about femininity. Today, women are encouraged to take on more roles as the bridge between femininity and masculinity is formed, and their style is a reflection of this transformation. The power of women lies in the balance between sensuality, physical strength and independence.
10. What is the most memorable milestone in your career, if you had to choose just one?
Closing the fashion show on the rooftop of Facet Studios is Hollywood to a crowd of fashionistas and celebrities. Our models came out with live snakes and stole the show. It was an exhilarating experience.
11. What would you say are three key traits one would need to be successful at running a business at such a young age?
Definitely you need to have versatility of skills, hardworking ethics and having open-minded point of view. The more skills you have the most $ you will save by not outsourcing the work. We do everything ourselves, from pattern making to graphic design to accounting to social media management. Another important trait is to be focused & determined. This is a long-term investment project that sometimes feels like miles away from our goal but we seem to keep each other motivated. You also need to be very inquisitive and constantly improve. Especially in the over-populated fashion industry, a lot can be learned from other’s success.
12. Do you support any charities? (If so, which ones, and why are they so important to you?)
Yes we do. We recently helped to organize and took part in a “Privilege” Multimedia Fashion Show with all proceeds going to Sick Kids Foundation. Also we have sponsored another great fundraising event for Dr. Rozs Healing Place that takes care of women and children that have fled from family violence. VENAO is a brand with a cause that aims to empower women mentally, physically and spiritually to love themselves and pursue their dreams. We strongly believe in the inner power of women and the right to equal opportunity to let it shine. VENAO is currently in the works with Because I am A Girl fund to set up an endowment fund in support of girls in less fortunate situation to obtain basic needs, education, and job skills to help their communities.
13. Lastly, aside from running a successful swimwear brand what do you enjoy doing with the spare time you do get to have?
It’s been a while since either of us had spare time since we also run other businesses but any free hours we get are spent with our families. The perks of this industry is of course travelling and attending events so we have fun even when we work. Tetiana enjoys horseback riding in the fall, travelling all over the world to historic places and monuments, snowboarding in the winter and camping out in the summer. In her spare time she draws, paints and reads. Meanwhile Julie also loves to read, camp in the summer time, travel all over the world. She also enjoys organizing fun events and hosting her friends.