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Starting Franc: An Interview with Brandy About the Beginnings of Franc

Starting Franc: An Interview with Brandy About the Beginnings of Franc - FRANC

It takes courage to take the plunge and start a business from the ground up. We get to see the final product and curl up in the clothes that are someone’s life’s work. Franc’s someone is Brandy, and here is an inside look on what it took to start Franc.

above image: 2016 Brandy creating markers by hand for the first collection


What was your life like before starting Franc? 

I'll start back a little bit for a better picture. In 2010 I lost my job when the company I worked for decided to drop/sell the brand. This was around the same time my second mat leave started. When my mat leave ended, I found a great new job. But I wasn't able to find a day care that would take both my kids. So, my husband and I decided that I would stay home until we could figure out another option.

I had a small "for fun" blog, which I started as a little creative side project while I was on mat leave. I took that and started treating it like my job. Eventually I made a small income from it. Blogging was never a real passion for me, but I now see those years as an 'internet university.' I learned so many invaluable skills and lessons in that time. That—paired with my fashion training and experience—helped lead me to Franc.


What made you take the plunge?

As my kids got a bit older, I started to find more ways to bring my fashion experience back into play. I started collaborating with brands and consulting with small businesses that didn't have a full-time designer budget. When both of my kids went to school, I started designing more exclusively with mini mioche on a part-time basis. (They were a long-time partner, turned client, turned employer.) Having the time to take a deep breath and truly look at all my options, weighing what was most important in my life, I concluded that blogging was out, and I needed to start my own business. While I loved designing clothing for mini mioche, I knew that this was the time I needed to take the step and start my own thing. I reached a point where I felt like it was now or never. So, I began Franc on the side of being a full-time mom and having a part-time gig.

Owning my own clothing line was a long-time dream. Over the years as I shopped and designed for other brands, I realized there were a few things I was spending way too much time hunting down: timeless basics that were made to last—classic but not boring. I was also increasingly frustrated with many of the practices that are commonplace in the fashion industry. I knew things could be done better. This inspired me to finally take my dream of owning a clothing line and do what I could to do better. I launched Franc in April 2017. 2016: Brandy working on Franc image: 2016 Brandy working on Franc between school pickups/work

What were some of the first initial steps that you took?

I started by writing down everything on my mind and then refined it (over and over and over). Since I dreamed about starting a brand for years, I had a ton of notes and sketches to refine. Once I felt like it was now or never, I started making to-do lists of all the things I needed to start and run the business. I started by checking things off those lists, starting with what I could do for free (with my own skills), then crossing off the things I could ask for help with, and—lastly—qualifying for a loan. To start, I borrowed approximately $22,000 from Futurepreneur and the BDC. It wasn’t enough, but I scaled back my plans and made it work.


What were some of the biggest hurdles you've had?

My biggest hurdle was financing. Not having the personal funds to pull from held me back anytime I thought of starting my own brand. After years of telling myself that "eventually, I'd make enough to save enough," I finally talked myself out of that story and found another way. Thankfully I found Futurpreneur, which provided me with invaluable help to refine my business plan and qualify me for a loan with them and the BDC. (Writing my business plan was like pulling teeth for me—definitely another hurdle.)

My other limitations were almost always financial. It took about 2 years before I could pay myself, so I was back to living without making any income. Peak stress! In those first 2 years, having to buy more fabric and pay for production each season was the cherry on the stress cake. Even though sales were great from the start, it wasn't always enough to reinvest in more. All of my hurdles were the balancing act of making terrifying decisions without a fall-back, safety net, or any kind of financial pillow.


What are some of the best feelings and results that have come along with this journey? 

The best feelings and results—Feeling like all the individual and very different pieces of my skills, experiences, likes, wants, and dreams all finally fit together in one puzzle; Knowing I accomplished something that was a dream for so long; Ultimately, knowing I did it on my own. Of course, I had fantastic support, a wonderful network, and lots of help along the way. But it's always been crucial for me to prove to myself that I can do something and sustain it on my own. And lastly, the feedback, comments, and kindness of customers light my days up in a way I would never have imagined.  

Francs launch collection circa 2017image: circa April 2017 our launch collection

We all have those moments where we look back and cringe. What are some of the moments you cringe at and what moments are you proud of?

The cringe moments:

  • When I had to photograph everything myself and even sometimes photograph myself wearing something.
  • The feeling after the launch when I realized the hard work hadn't even started yet.
  • Having the demand be more than the supply I could afford to buy/make.

The proud moments:

  • Paying off that initial loan in a shorter amount of time than I planned.
  • Paying myself!
  • Hearing the little notes, emails, comments, DMs from customers.
  • Having the demand be more than the supply I could afford to buy/make.


Any advice for someone waiting to take the plunge themselves?

Learn as much as you can beforehand about every small aspect of the business. You will need to wear as many hats as you can and avoid as many costly mistakes as possible. Look to people who have been where you are now and have made it where you want to be (they are everywhere). Those people remind us it's possible to embark on hard things.


Cheers to Brandy for being such a badass, taking the leap, and bringing us consciously made basics that are comfortable, versatile, and look GREAT. Feel free to leave some love and questions in the comments below!


Jade is a freelance writer and copy editor, living in a sleepy town in Northern Ontario. She loves growing plants, playing with dirt, and staying cozy. 


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