Meet Michelle: Vancouver based designer & owner

This weeks post is about Michelle Larsen who is the owner of Fortiv. This is a clothing company based on creating small batches of one of a kind clothing, which is all made from 100% recycled materials.

1. What made you decide to start this business

While I was at Kwantlen I developed strong values in sustainability while learning about the many issues in the fashion industry, and at the same time found a deep love for handmade, quality design. These values grew over the course of my schooling, and as I discovered what was important to me, I felt very inspired to create my own brand and design the type of clothing I wanted to see. After graduating from Kwantlen, I spent 4 years working in the industry, learning how people ran clothing companies and developing my skills in pattern making, while creating Fortiv on the side. It's been a much slower process than I ever imagined, but I'm thankful for all the experiences I’ve had in the industry as it really clarified what I wanted my business to be about.

2. Where do you see yourself in 5 years In five years I hope to have a studio/ storefront where I make one of a kind and custom clothing with a small team of people, hosting workshops regularly and creating a space where people can feel inspired to re-imagine what we wear and the possibilities of reclaimed materials. 3. What is your favourite and least favourite part of the job My favourite part of my job is making one of a kind clothes! I’ve worked on the sewing floor before and it's tough reproducing the same thing everyday. Working with reclaimed textiles makes each piece different from the next and much more intuitive and playful. My least favourite part of the job is anything to do with finances. As soon as it's feasible, the first person I hire will be an accountant! 4. What is your biggest challenge My biggest challenge has been taking myself seriously as a business and holding myself accountable! It's hard when you start out on your own because no-one is there to tell you what to do! 5. Advice for someone wanting to start their own business I have a few pieces of advice to offer :) -embrace the process! building a business takes time, and you will always be learning no matter how far along you are. -define what's important to you and why- instead of building a business model off of what you see around you, start with what you value and go from there. -grow slowly- it's hard to be patient and think long term when you want so badly to have your own business, but the most uninspiring thing is trying to create with the pressure of it paying your bills (trust me, I’ve been there ;)) If you build it over time while continually reflecting your values into your business, you will be able to create something sustainable that truly aligns with you!

Puff Dress in mini grid

Overshirt in brocade

Puff Top in primary picnic

Be sure to follow Michelle & her brand Fortiv on Instagram

One of the big reasons I wanted to interview Michelle was because just around when covid started I was working somewhere in Chinatown and she came in to see if we sold any scrapes or unusable items that she could take for her own. This was super cool to me that she was so interested in repurposing items and using recycled materials. "Creating small batch and one of a kind clothing made from 100% reclaimed materials" is what she refers to the mission of her brand. I am drawn to the use of natural dyes, reused materials, locally made and sourced. She understands how to create beautiful pieces by being sustainable. Right after she left my work that day I looked her up on instagram and followed instantly. Another neat fact with her brand is everything is made either made to order or one of a kind. You are always getting a unique piece and an item that fits perfectly.