Lifestyle Photography with Wallis Evera
Last month, I had the opportunity to work with the lovely and talented Monique Parker of Wallis Evera. Monique, like myself and so many other awesome women in our Vancouver, owns her own business and is also a mom. We spent most of the day in studio shooting for her online catalogue and look-book. In an effort to catch the falling light, we took to the streets of Gastown to have fun with a few lifestyle images. With beautiful Moneca Delain modelling the gorgeous dresses and make-up and hair by the talented Elizabeth M, it was a super fun day and all-round a great success.
Not knowing Monique before the shoot, it was really great to see her in action styling each look with such intention. In moving forward with a new interview style format for these local love features, here’s what Monique has to say about business, life and following your dreams.
I asked Monique a few questions…read her compelling answers below.
Tell us a bit about Wallis Evera. Where did you come up with the name and what motivated you to start the company?
Wallis Evera is a new eco-clothing line from Vancouver. Our designs are elegant and we focus on using hemp fabrics to help stimulate dialogue about Canadian manufacturing and support change toward a more sustainable future.
I named the company after my two grandmothers – my Oma Walli and my Lola Severa. Both were young moms in the 1940s, an era when everything was rationed and had to be recycled, reused, reduced, and repaired. It was a time when clothing wasn’t commonly thought of as disposable, but rather it was handcrafted, made to last, and meant to be cherished.
Wallis Evera came into being because of one moment and two books.
The moment was at my daughter’s dance recital. After the usual congratulations and thank you’s, the owner of the school closed the show saying, “…There is nothing I’d rather do.” I started crying – I wanted to be able to say that about my work, too! I had just returned to a full-time office job after being a stay-at-home mom for several years, and I was not happy. I knew it was time for me to jump ship and create something that was a more direct reflection of my interests and values.
At the same time, I came across two books in the public library, The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, and Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, by Elizabeth L. Cline.
The first book reminded me that I loved sewing and I desperately wanted to be my own boss. Each night after work, I would spend hours hunched over my sewing machine – creating, imagining, and puzzling through patterns and pieces of fabric. The time would fly by, and at the end of each evening, I’d have this tangible “something,” that I had created and others connected with. It was so rewarding!
The second book opened my eyes to a side of fashion that I really had never considered before in any great detail. After that, I read everything I could get my hands on that related to slow clothes and the eco-fashion movement. I knew then that this was a movement I wanted to be part of, and so I started Wallis Evera.
What is your most popular dress design?
Dresses with pockets. “Claire” has an architectural feel to it and has been doing very well. Eugene Choo (3683 Main St) carries my personal favourite, “Lila” in black and butter yellow. Bernstein & Gold (in Victoria) has the last few “Dagny” dresses in navy and light blue, which is so classic and pretty.
Where would you be if you hadn’t started your own business?
I would probably be a full-time stay-at-home mom again, but in a much smaller house, away from the city, and with fewer cars and things. I’ve had a lot of great jobs in my life – as a management consultant, researcher, and business analyst – but the corporate life is no longer for me.
What do like most about having your own business?
I love being able to work from home, and I love that there is no separation between my personal interests and my work.
I know that work-life balance is a myth, but tell us what you do to keep things fair between your business and your family.
I don’t aim for balance or fairness in terms of time spent on my business versus my family. It’s pretty clear-cut for me – when my kids are home, all of my time and energy goes to them. It’s hard right now because my youngest is still in preschool, so I really only have 2 hours in the daytime that I can count on for work. The rest of it gets done at night after the kids go to bed, and on the weekends when my husband can be with them. My mom will also come over from Victoria to help out during the week sometimes, if I have meetings, or I’m swamped and just need her. Kindergarten starts in September, and that will shift everything!
Do you have family photographs in your home? If yes, what value do they hold?
Yes, we have a lot of family photos in our home! In my home office, I have large black-and-whites of my grandparents and parents when they were in their teens, and as young parents. Looking at them helps me keep the trials of the day-to-day in perspective. We have the kids’ photos in every room of our house. Each one triggers its own set of memories and emotion, and makes me realize just how lucky I am.
What advice do you have for Moms out there who are thinking of starting their own business?
If you can find that one idea or product that ignites and intrigues you so much that you just can’t let go of it, then go for it! I think it really, really helps if you can start out completely and obsessively in love with what you want to do, and are absolutely, without a doubt, willing to commit to it wholeheartedly.
Outside of business and family life what would you say is your most meaningful pursuit?
What do you daydream about?
I dream of a future where the dresses we make are from the hemp fibres grown and milled in Canada. We’re not there yet, but the possibility exists… and that’s exciting to me.