Amber Kelly discovered what she hopes will be a niche in the womenâ€™s jeans market.
The 24-year-old Newmarket resident expects to open her new store, Denim Diva. She is part of a growing number of youth entrepreneurs, striking out on their own.
The trend is underscored by the provinceâ€™s Summer Company program, operated under the Ministry of Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
It is open to students 18 to 29, keen on gaining hands-on business experience.
Kelly believed in her business concept and remained dedicated to seeing her idea through for a specialty denim store for women. The idea was spawned from years on the retail sales floor where finding a pair of jeans that fit properly became a rallying cry for fashion-conscious women.
â€œThatâ€™s what I would keep hearing from female customers again and again. I couldnâ€™t find jeans that me properly either,â€ she said.
With the help of a $150,000 grand prize from Ivanhoe Cambridge she hopes to turn the traditional retail model on its ear when the doors open at her Upper Canada Mall store.
Just three months ago, she was attending classes at Ryerson Universityâ€™s retail management program.
Her store will carry more than 700 pairs of jeans, featuring 12 brands, organized through a cleverly concocted system based on womenâ€™s body types.
She threw out traditional names used to describe a womanâ€™s figure, replacing them with more youthful and flattering categories. At Denim Diva, hour glass translates to â€œcurvieâ€ and if youâ€™re pear-shaped, jeans from the â€œbootieâ€ rack should do the trick, Kelly said.
The prize money covered construction and start-up costs.
But she will be flying on her own now, bringing feelings of excitement and fear likely shared by even the most seasoned entrepreneurs. â€œItâ€™s an amazing opportunity for me,â€ she said.
Photo by yorkregion.com.