1. What is the start-up story behind Girls With Gunz?
GWG started as a photography project our co-founder (and my sister) Estée created by styling and shooting women in our community in editorial settings.
As costume designers by trade we got sick of having to alter clothing so we began designing our own apparel to compliment the visuals and vice versa!
2. Girls With Gunz, What are three words that best define it?
Worldwide Sisterhood ReImagined! Or…Never Any Limits!
3. What are you working on lately?
We are expanding into a children’s line and working on incorporating more and more visual content including a short film which we are so excited to be working on.
4. What are some recent achievements you guys would like to share?
This past year we had the pleasure of having our merch carried in one of Southern Ontario’s biggest malls called CF Lime Ridge Mall and we were invited to share our collection as part of a runway show for our first fashion show.
Both milestones for us being a small business that operated between two home offices, the basement of an art gallery and was started at my coffee table almost four years ago.
Being able to connect with customers in person and the share our work locally is something we really enjoy doing since most of our business operates via various online selling platforms and to mostly international clientele.
Most recently a horror shop called Vagabond Saints in Hamilton became the first retailer to exclusively carry our collection and we couldn’t be more excited to be in a cool Canadian shop filled from wall to wall with killer independently made horror goodies.
This is what we love to do and we are just so glad to be doing it.
5. What’s something that’s always running on your minds?
What our next move is and how it will help the move after that. We are always trying to find ways to bring to life everything we have dreamt of for GWG and like a lot of small businesses that are self funded we have to do that often under tight budgets and deadlines.
Moving forward we would love to continue to explore the world of fashion as well as film and find new ways to bridge the two worlds together.
6. How do you spend your downtime?
We love going to the movies and hanging around with our dogs.
We are self proclaimed (and very proud) crazy dog ladies!
7. What would you guys spend a million dollars on?
Buying a piece of real estate that we could customize into our ideal headquarters and working space.
A big empty warehouse would be the spot of our dreams.
8. What three pieces of advice would you all give to others when it comes to life and business?
One: Be prepared to truly work hard and most importantly be committed to making your dream happen.
This is what most small business owners have in common is that what we do is what we love to do and have want to do forever.
It takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to bring something to life that has only been something that you have dreamt of or doodled in a sketch pad.
Making it a reality requires commitment and dedication.
If there is a new skill you need to develop or study don’t be afraid to seek out help or mentorship. There is power in what you know.
Two: When you want to quit just remember why you started. We create things we love and are glad its well receieved by other people that also love those things. If you are simply following trends or are forcing it or faking it the public will be able to see that as well.
Chances are if you love what you do it makes you want to be good at it when its coming from a geniune place. Take pride in it and remember your love for it when times get hard.
Three: Stay to true to who you are and what your brand represents. Only the authentic and original have longevity.
9.Whats one thing you struggle most when building your own brand?
Every day there are new challenges when you are doing everything yourself.
Staying on top of the ‘now’ while we hope to think ahead to what we are working on next can be a lot sometimes. We are a super small team and sometimes we are very overwhelmed since we are the ones responsible for everything.
From concept to creation, we have our hands in every step of the process from the minute we design a piece of clothing to executing the look books and online content – its up to us to motivate each other and make sure it gets done.
Funding is a struggle when you don’t have outside investors so budgeting and managing the business as efficiently as possible is essential.
10. What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
In the very beginning we really tried to make things that were catered to please people – go with the trends and it was never as well received as the things we have designed because we loved it and got a kick out of doing it.
We have been so pleased to meet so many people around the world that share that love. We can’t say we have had failures because we have learned so much from it all.
When you are doing what you love even when it doesn’t pan out as planned, you are still acting on your passion.
You can never be apologetic or regretful about that so I’m not sure they are failures. Or maybe we just don’t look at it that way.
11. What’s a typical day in your life like?
We get up early and get any outside tasks out of the way before we meet up so there aren’t distractions.
Estee brings her dog over to play with my dog while we work in our office. Estee does a lot of the creative work from editing the photos from shoots she is working on to doing sewing work for custom orders.
I create online content for our social media pages, work on new designs and get orders ready to ship out while working with customers and answering emails.
We work at night on our screen printing or often for afternoons during the week depending on our inventory and if we need to work on restocking items for orders. Every day it varies. Sometimes we have to drive out to our supplier out of town or drop orders off for local customers or work on finalizing art work.
We spend most of our day together and in the evening when we are at home we are still working on things and sending each other ideas back and forth.
12. What’s one of the highlighting moment in your career? Why is it so?
One of the highlights was seeing the cast of IT wearing our shirts. We are huge horror buffs with a love for all things Stephen King. IT was the first horror film we watched in the early 90s and when we were in contact with the producer Barbara Muschetti we were floored to find out they wanted to wear our gear on set of the new film.
We are big fans of Andy Muschetti and his sister Barb. I think anytime we see our items out there in the world whether its on someone super bad ass like Elle King or on a cool little kid in an ice cream shop wearing a Pennywise t-shirt outside of our city – its very humbling to see and we are eternally grateful for any and all support we get.
13. What stops you from throwing in the towel and giving up during those frustrating days of being in this industry?
This is what we have been doing since we were children. We are sisters and this is what we love to do.
Create, explore and evolve by using what experience we have and what we love to do and produce a product with great pride and love. Whether we succeed or not we will still evolve on our own terms. There are tough times when it does become a lot to handle but this is what we wanted and we are prepared to put in the work.
14. Biggest risk ever taken?
Driving to New York and back in 24 hours to make Nylon’s editorial deadline. Long story short I had lost my passport somewhere between Scanton and Manhattan but our merch got their in time and was featured in their shop and on the website which was awesome!
We ended up driving all the way home right after dropping the package off but it all worked out. It was either try our luck with express shipping that still left it a day late OR drive there and back and we did it. From Hamilton, Ontario to Manhattan, New York we did it!
15. Who has influenced you most and been your greatest inspiration?
Our mother! She is a hard working strong woman that never gives up.
16. How do you go about marketing your business or yourself?
Social media, SEO content building. We create original images, videos and content using our products and imagery in house with our small team.
The photography and styling coincides with our clothing brand as one.
We like to have an umbrella of things we are pushing in relation to each other all branches leading back to the same thing which is what GIRLSWITHGUNZ is all about.
What has been your most successful form of marketing?
17. How do you plan to grow your brand/business further?
We are investing into marketing and wanting to expand by doing trade shows. We hope to do Comic Con one day and some cool horror trade shows when time permits. Its a great opportunity to travel and meet with large groups of people that all love the same niche things.
We won’t ever be Forever 21 and we don’t focus on that. We want to focus on our small place in the world and making it really magical and also successful too.
18. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Patricia Field is one of our biggest inspirations ever. She is a genius and has created such iconic characters in television and film with her brand.
She showed the world how important and influential costume design is when bringing characters to life with clothing! Oh and all while having a kick ass insane store.
It was in the East Village and they had the craziest set up, amazing clothing for every price range and Estee still rubs it in my face that after years of us visiting her shop while in NY she ends up meeting Patricia in her store.
I wasn’t there. I’m still pressed! Her brand is so authentic and fun. Its creative and innovative and you can see something she has done and know its her – thats what we want.
19. How do you achieve balance in your life?
That is something we are still trying to figure out!
20. What is the definition of success for you all, and how much of it do you think you guys have achieved?
Success will be when we are able to employ others by creating a product we are proud in and is created cruelty free and at the hands of passionate people.
21. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
We see us working together with our family and friends. Creating, evolving and hopefully working in different mediums and outlets.
22. What’s the first thing you guys would say to the world if all attention was on you now?
WTF Planet Earth lets get our shit together! At this point the aliens will never want to visit us if we keep messing this up.