Despite the cold weather, Erin May Kembel of EMK Clothing is in full spring mode these days. Her Spring 2017 line is now live on the website. And the new collection rolls into the store over the next few weeks.
Erin has been creating handmade fashions for over 15 years supplying her line of comfortable casual wear online, from her studio, at artisan shows, and at stores across Canada including the Kenora Farmer’s Market, McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg and Saskatoon and the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba in Brandon.
A yearning to open her own flagship store grew strong and in the spring of 2014 Erin opened her own studio boutique in the heart of West Broadway located at 143 Sherbrook Street. All products are designed and handmade in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Erin is inspired by print, texture and colour, and the relationships she brings out of these three elements into her work. EMK is designed to be comfortable, accessible, beautiful, and unique.
We had the chance to get to know Erin a little better with our Breakfast with the Boss interview.
What was your first job?
“I was a nanny and babysitter for a lot of families. I loved it. I guess you can call it my early management training. Ha!”
What is your management style?
“Laid back and kind. I am lucky to have a great team. They work hard and are easy to manage.
I love to take care of things. Maybe that is where I draw my skills from. We also laugh a lot here at EMK.”
“Give others opportunities because it does come back to you.”
Since opening EMK Clothing, what lessons have you learned?
“Mistakes will always be part of being in business but they are great to learn from. And of course the customer is always right. It’s important to learn from them; listen to criticism and all the feedback, negative and positive.”
What strengths do you bring to the business?
“I work extremely hard, and I’m super organized. I am learning to delegate more, and focus on what I am best at, which is design and management.”
“Like I said, I work hard, lol. Trying to find a balance between family and work is difficult. It’s easy to lose yourself to your work, when you love it so much.”
Being a small business owner can be stressful. What motives you?
“Seeing how happy and fantastic women feel wearing anything from EMK Clothing is truly the best. I get to work for myself and inspire other women and my children that a dream can become real if you work really hard.”
What has been your biggest challenge?
“Keeping up with it all when we are at peak season with production. Managing the retail, wholesale and retail circuit.”
What do you do like to do for fun?
“I love to spend time with my family, my parents, my kids, my boyfriend and my dog. I love to run and exercise …. I do have a lot of energy. Haha. I also love to read and cook.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give someone starting their own business?
“If you really believe in something and it has worth or potential, eventually people will feel that way about it too. Work hard. Work hard. And never be afraid to ask for help or advice. Always be kind. Always. Give others opportunities because it does come back to you.”