with Bianca Bellantoni
Founder and Designer of Bellantoni
"BELLANTONI believes that sacrificing the well-being of the environment, animals and the people who work hard within the fashion industry is unethical, unsustainable and unnecessary."
We recently caught up with Bianca Bellantoni, the founder and designer of her self-titled label, BELLANTONI.
Clearly a passionate self-starter, she started building her brand while at Toronto's Ryerson University, where she received her Bachelor of Fashion Design. Every year, she would apply to fashion shows to showcase her work and get her name out there, as well as network with industry professionals and practice her craft. By the time she graduated, she had showcased in over 12 fashion shows. All of her business social media channels were also active during this time, so when she officially launched her brand, she already had a following of people who trusted it and know what BELLANTONI is all about.
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What is the mission or philosophy of BELLANTONI?
BELLANTONI believes that sacrificing the well-being of the environment, animals and the people who work hard within the fashion industry is unethical, unsustainable and unnecessary. We believe in transparency, and enforce trust in our customers through various certifications we have on our fabrics, such as Oeko-Tex Standard 100, GOTS certification, etc.
How does BELLANTONI stand out from other "sustainable" brands?
BELLANTONI provides an artistic approach to sustainable design. For example, our latest collection does not use any zippers, but instead uses unique tied closures. The reason for this is to avoid plastic or metal that is the primary material zippers are made from. We have also created garments that are reversible or can be worn in two different ways. We are also only doing made-to-order, so when a customer purchases one of our products, we begin making it. We want our customers to purchase something special and unique that they are going to be excited to have in their closets, and knowing that it is being handmade just for them creates a special connection with their new garment. In addition to this, we keep all of our fabric scraps (pre-consumer waste) and create pet beds that are then donated to local animal shelters.
Do you have a favourite product and how will it inspire people to protect our environment?
One my my favorite products is our Sienna Chambray Duster. It is extremely versatile and can be worn as a light jacket for both a formal cocktail dress or a casual weekend outfit. The fabric used for this is called Tencel®, which is made from Eucalyptus trees. This fabric is known to be “more absorbent than cotton, softer than silk and cooler than linen” (Tencel®), and it is sustainable. Who wouldn’t want to wear that on a regular basis? Because Tencel® is made from a natural resource, it is naturally biodegradable. In addition to this, our Tencel® duster is made with toxic-free dyes.
What kind of challenges have you faced?
Some of the challenges I’ve faced is finding a supplier that is trustworthy, meaning they have legit certifications on their fabrics and openly share that important information with you, and suppliers that are affordable. I used to purchase sustainable textiles from the USA but I would be charged a ton of custom fees, which make the already “pricy” textiles even more expensive. They are “pricy” in comparison to mass produced, non-sustainable textiles such as polyester.
What's the greatest achievement of BELLANTONI?
Having a front cover mention and article written about our story in the Georgia Straight (article here). We also recently showcased at Eco Fashion Week, and I have been asked to be a panelist at an event called Clothes Drop by Inclusion BC to speak about textile recycling. Education is a huge part of what I want to do with BELLANTONI, and having these opportunities is a big achievement.
What is the vision of BELLANTONI in 2017?
We just launched our first online store in 2017, so our vision is to bring more brand awareness and gain loyal customers.
Any advice for future entrepreneurs and startups?
If you have an idea that you are passionate about and believe will succeed, and have done your market research, go for it! Make sure you don’t give up after the first hiccup. Remember that failure is a great thing, because you will learn what not to do. Stay true to who you are and keep on working hard to get the things you want. I believe that if you really want something, you will get it. Also, part of being an entrepreneur is taking risks and not always having the answer or a clearly cut path on how you will get to where you want. I believe in goal-setting and tackling a few things each week that will lead you to your goals.