Celebrating 10 Years as a Fashion Entrepreneur
Andréanne Dandeneau’s enterprise is anything but ordinary. In 2005, with the help of Aboriginal Business Canada, this young contemporary dancer and graphic artist launched her own company, MJAnne couture, with her label ‘Hug Me’. In 2008 she incorporated under Andréanne Designs Inc. operating under Voilà par Andréanne as the name of her new label. In 2014, with the support of the Louis Riel Capital Corporation, she expanded her business. 2015 marks her 10th anniversary.
According to the designer, it is a company to which she has devoted her life for the past ten years with the solid support of her community, her first customers, and her parents, without whom none of this would have been possible. It was in their basement design studio that she began to give free rein to her unique designer talents with creations that bear the distinct mark of her personal heritage.
It all starts with the fabric. Having danced in her youth, and being conscious of her environment, Andréanne chose Organic Cotton and Bamboo Viscose as basic elements of her fabric. Andréanne founded her company with the mantra ‘I believe Comfort is the Best trend to follow: It will always be in style.’ Since 2006, Andréanne has been working with a knitting mill in Toronto that was recommended to her by Craig Keilberger of Free The Children Foundation. To achieve maximum comfort, Andréanne specs her own fabric and colours for all of her clothing. Working with the knitter, Andréanne has developed a unique Bamboo Fleece that is not available anywhere else in North America.
It is both an economic and cultural issue for Andréanne, who would like to share her Métis and Franco-Manitoban heritage with the world. Ever since her childhood, the designer has been immersed in a world filled with natural textiles, Prairie motifs and Métis aromas. Her apparel’s flower prints, soft fabrics and wavy lines are crafted to evoke the Prairies and Métis culture.
For her, the greater challenge as a designer is juggling the creative component with her business needs – two roles that can be, at times, polar opposites. The emotional attachment she has to her designs, and the creative process that goes into them, is often challenged by the structured approach to business that she mandates for her company. To satisfy these two roles, Andréanne relies on her philosophy that there are challenges and risks no matter where you produce your designs. “If you believe that every challenge creates opportunity, you will attract positive outcomes and good things will happen for you.” With her elegant demeanor, smiling face and ebullient enthusiasm, no one could have guessed that Andréanne Dandeneau concealed such fierce determination.
Sought after Aboriginal Designer
The young stylist had already garnered a certain level of prestige in the community through her creations and special projects, which include designing pieces for the Canadian Human Rights Museum and a dress commissioned by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet to launch their 2012-13 Season. Inspired by Alexander McQueen, the dress is modeled by RWB’s principal dancer, Amanda Green.
Après avoir terminé trois ans d’études au Collège LaSalle de Montréal et avoir reçu un diplôme en design de mode, Andréanne revient au Manitoba et en 2005, lance son entreprise de mode dans le sous-sol de ses parents. En 2013, sa victoire à la Fosse aux Lions, événement commandité par le Conseil de développement économique des municipalités bilingues du Manitoba (CDEM) et le journal La Liberté, lui permet de partager son patrimoine métis et franco-manitobain avec le reste du monde.
Entre-temps, Andréanne ne se lasse pas de donner libre cours à son imagination, d’explorer les divers styles et de partager sa culture. « La communauté francophone me tient toujours à coeur; je n’oublie pas d’où je viens », affirme Andréanne. Dandeneau recently commissioned a marketing company to survey her customers, to make sure that she fully understood what they valued in her VOILÀ par Andréanne brand. From that, she has learned key areas that drive her business.
• 98% of customers view “VOILÀ garments as unique”.
• Comfort is the one attribute they like most about the VOILÀ line.
• 92% of customers largely agree that “VOILÀ garments are made of quality fabrics that last longer”.
• 93% of customers largely agrees, “VOILÀ garments are timeless in their styling”.
“I have not forgotten where I come from.”
For my father, it was always very important to be proud of our Métis heritage,” says Dandeneau. “He passed those values on to me, which is why as a Métis woman I make clothing inspired by my Aboriginal heritage.” The young designer showcases her clothing company across the country. It is a unique business that draws not only on her passion for style and fashion but also on her unwavering commitment to the Métis community and culture.
Visit the website VoilaAndreanne.com to find your favorite pieces from her latest Spring 2015 Collection and come and meet Andréanne at her next Retail Sales Shows:
• Ottawa-Signature Show – April 16-1
• Edmonton-Butterdome Spring Show – May 1-3
• Calgary-Spring Festival of Craft – May 8-10
• Winnipeg- Voilà Spring Open House – May 21-23
• Winnipeg Folk Festival – July 9-13