‘Love it. Make sure it’s your passion’

Making it as a designer is even more complicated in today’s world of fashion.

Brianna McCormack

Sonya Coish, an up-and-coming fashion designer in St. John's.
Sonya Coish is a recent graduate from the College of the North Atlantic’s craft and apparel design program. She has just begun selling her line of hand-dyed pieces. Brianna McCormack/Kicker

Entrepreneurship is difficult enough on its own, but making it as an entrepreneur in the fashion industry is even more difficult.

Megan Sooley attended LaSalle College in Montreal for three years and received a certificate of fashion design. She moved back home to St. John’s and started work as a technical designer, doing fittings until she developed repetitive strain injury.

She was forced to give up her own place and move back home with her mom. While recovering from her injury and unable to work, she went out and bought a meter of fabric to make a sweater. It was all she could afford at the time.

When that sweater was sold, she went out and got enough fabric to make two, and that’s how Sooley Designs started.

“I didn’t have a plan to have a business – it just happened,” said Sooley. “It was very, very natural. The growth kind of just did itself. I never got a loan. I never paid for advertising. From start to finish, we did it all – I did it all.”

Sonya Coish, however, is just embarking on her journey in the fashion world.

Coish worked in the field of psychology for about seven years, picking up the hobby of crocheting and knitting. She then decided to take a sewing class at College of the North Atlantic’s Anna Templeton Centre.

The class sparked her interest.

“It was very gradual,” said Coish. “It wasn’t a moment where I was like, ‘oh, I wanna do this, and this is it.'”

“Love it. Make sure it’s your passion. Oh, and one more thing, the inside needs to be as beautiful as the outside.”

Then a friend mentioned the College of the North Atlantic’s apparel and design program.

“My full-time job became a little bit more unstable, so (that was) the time to go back to school if there ever was one.”

A two-year program, Sonya graduated in the spring of 2019. The program has an end-of-year fashion show for students to debut their creations. There, Coish sold her first pieces.

She has since created an Instagram page @SonyaHelenDesigns and a website www.SonyaHelenDesigns.com. She has had some interest in her pieces and sold a couple of things already.

The Craft Council NL has also expressed interest in her work.

She’s working on mastering her production process while learning what kind of market she is catering to.

Newcomers, says Sooley, have to be prepared to work long hours for little or no pay.

“Love it. Make sure it’s your passion,” said Sooley. “Oh, and one more thing, the inside needs to be as beautiful as the outside.”

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