Making fashion sustainable: Interview with Bianca Bellantoni
Values, values, values! Having strong values is vital in life. They help us to create the future we want to experience. When we use our own values to make decisions, we make a choice to focus on what is important to us.
Possessing strong values is what Bianca Bellantoni is all about. Bianca is the CEO and founder of her self-titled womenswear label, BELLANTONI. Bianca had a vision and made the necessary steps to achieve that vision while always keeping in mind her core values. The clothing company is based out of Vancouver, BC and is known for being a sustainable and cruelty-free organization. Bianca, a Leader In Heels herself, sat down with us for a chat on her experiences throughout this journey.
Can you give me a little background on yourself? Who you are and what lead to the creation of your business idea?
Hi, my name is Bianca Bellantoni and I am a 26 year old designer based in Vancouver. I love animals and I have a strong desire to make a significant impact during my time on this earth. I applied to fashion school in Toronto because I wanted a creative career. Fashion ended up being an outlet that seemed fun, and one that I felt I would do well in. Within my first year at Ryerson University, we were taught about the negative impact clothing has on the environment as well as the people involved making it. This was extremely alarming to me and it really changed my outlook on the fashion industry as a whole.
I learned about the waterways in Asia that would “magically” change colour based on the latest colour trends at the time. I learned about large populations of cotton-farmers being diagnosed with brain tumours. I learned about toxins being dyed and sprayed all over various fabrics. I was at a point where I wanted to quit attending fashion school for good. It took an honest and vulnerable conversation with my Mom to remember that if I really wanted to make a change in the fashion industry, I was going to have to stay in it! From then, I focused my studies and assignments around sustainability.
Upon receiving my Bachelor of Design at Ryerson University in Toronto, I had a deep desire to want to make clothing the way I believed they could be made and in a way that stayed true to my values. That is, without harming people, without harming animals and without harming the planet.
“I had a deep desire to want to make clothing the way I believed they could be made and in a way that stayed true to my values.”
How long have you been operating your business now? Was having your own business something that had always been of interest to you?
Officially, it was a year on March 21, 2018. However, throughout school I put my designs and clothing in every fashion show opportunity that I could find and began building my online presence before I even had an online storefront. I never really said, “I want to be an entrepreneur.” I wanted to be a designer and an artist. My dad is an entrepreneur. He owned his own restaurant and now has a successful importing company, so I guess you could say that it is in my genes?
Did you feel like you had necessary skills to build a business? Was it something that was self taught?
I was lucky that almost all of my internships and jobs in the fashion industry were in small businesses or family-owned businesses. From working independently with designers, to working in a small bridal shop, to being a designer for a startup company, I was really able to see how companies ran on a smaller level. I thought to myself, I can do that! So I went for it. I honestly believe that if I sat down and tried to work through every little detail before I even started, I would have talked myself out of pursuing fashion all together.
What would you say are THREE skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
I believe the three skills or tips you need to be a successful entrepreneur are:
- Believe in yourself and your business because no one will love your business more than you.
- Be optimistic & persistent. Know that you will be successful, and find the strength to push through when times are tough and you feel like giving up.
- Build a network & support system. I’m not only talking about your friends and family, but surround yourself with other entrepreneurs, join interesting groups, like-minded meetups and find an accountability partner. I have the BEST accountability partner and I am so grateful!
What does a regular work week look like for you? Is scheduling down time important?
I have another job, so my weeks are pretty busy. I work part-time as a Marketing Designer, so I work on my business in the evenings, on most weekends, as well as the few days that I am not working at my other job. Scheduling down-time is very important. I consider this to be alone time. For me, I need time alone to re-energise and allow myself to reflect on my own life. I have started meditating every morning for 10 to 20 minutes and this has helped me to stay focused throughout the day. I feel mentally lighter and I can go about my day calmly.
What do you enjoy doing during your spare time?
I love going to breweries or coffee shops with my friends or going for walks around the city. Vancouver is just so beautiful.
What has been your biggest hurdle throughout this entire journey so far? How did it affect you and how did you handle it?
I think the biggest hurdle I’ve encountered, and I actually still catch myself doing, is being really hard on myself for not being farther than where I am today. I catch myself comparing my business to other companies who have been around for years and years, and pointing out how “slow” my business is growing. It can definitely be a good thing in that I maintain my ambitiousness and keep pushing myself to do better, but it can also be detrimental to my mindset.
“My meditation has helped a lot with this too, and allows me to detach from the outcome letting life and my business just naturally happen on their own terms.”
When this bothers me, my fiance pulls me out of my head so I can acknowledge how much I have already accomplished. He always brings light to the situation. He helps me realize that I cannot compare myself to other people who are already farther than me or people who are in a different situation to me. My meditation has helped a lot with this too, and allows me to detach from the outcome, letting life and my business happen on their own terms. I know that big things are going to come, but I need to be more patient with myself and continue to work hard.
What would you say is the most unique aspect/attribute of your business?
Many people love that I recycle my fabric scraps and turn them into pet beds to donate to local shelters. This idea originated from when I was in my third year at Ryerson. I was enrolled in a sustainability field study of four selected students. I focused my thesis on zero-waste. The pet bed idea came about from this class, and I began collecting scraps from students at my school to reuse. When I started my own business, I decided to incorporate this pet-bed-making process so I knew exactly where my scraps were going.
“Many people love that I recycle my fabric scraps and turn them into pet beds to donate to local shelters.”
If you had one piece of advice to give to someone who was just starting their own business, what would it be?
Make sure that you absolutely LOVE your idea. Don’t give up when it gets really tough and remember that success doesn’t happen overnight.
Leaders In Heels is all about nurturing, inspiring and empowering female leaders. In your own opinion, what are three qualities you think a Leader In Heels would naturally possess?
I think these women would naturally possess authenticity because it is just so important to be true to yourself. Courage because it takes a whole lot of it to go after what you want in life, and kindness because the world needs more kindness. When you lead by example, you can create that ripple effect.
Bianca is such an inspiration and her self titled label is up and coming in beautiful Vancouver. Show her some love and support and admire her unique and classy collections by finding her at: