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Start Up Fashion Week’s Launch Party—Plus, Getting to Know 2 of the Designers

Start Up Fashion Week | The Lady-like Leopard

After many, many fashion weeks in Toronto over the past couple of months, it’s finally time for Start Up Fashion Week. I’m especially excited to be a part of this fashion week to explore the tech side of the industry. After all, I recently decided that I was so into fashion tech that I wanted to start another blog about it. However, it had kind of gotten pushed to the side while I focused on more fierce adventures here at The Lady-like Leopard.

Start Up Fashion Week aims to connect both worlds—fashion and tech—into one glamorous and spectacular weeklong event. At the launch party, we got to get a sneak peek of what’s to come for the week and what we’ll hopefully get to check out on the runway this Friday. The launch party was super cute! It was held at WeWork—which I finally found after Google Maps led me astray. There were delicious drinks, complimentary manicures and, of course, a stylish crowd. (Especially me in my gorgeous leopard print faux fur coat, but I’m biased.)

I had the chance to chat with a couple of the designers to find out more about their brands! Keep on scrolling to check out my mini interviews with EMY ARMOR and KODA NIVOLI. See you guys at the show!

Start Up Fashion Week | The Lady-like Leopard

Start Up Fashion Week | The Lady-like Leopard

Start Up Fashion Week | The Lady-like Leopard

5 Questions with KODA NIVOLI’s Ksenija Dias

The Lady-like Leopard: Tell me a little bit about your brand.

KODA NIVOLI is all about affordable, stylish luxury. I specialize in leather handbags and have translated staple pieces into modern design. Initially, I wanted to do this 20 years ago and focus on a kids luxury line but it morphed into what it is today. KODA represents the initials of myself and my daughters. NIVOLI is a blend of their names—Anivia and Olivia.

My background is not in fashion or design—it’s fitness and boxing! I had a very successful studio. It was the first women-owned and operated boxing studio in Vaughan. I ended up getting cancer (I’m ok now) but you re-evaluate your life when a doctor tells you, you have ‘6 months to a year’ to live. Since this was something I always wanted to do—and with my husband’s support—I’m following my dreams. To build a brand, provide exquisite luxury goods, have a loyal customer base and leave a legacy for my girls.

The Lady-like Leopard: What made you want to participate in Start Up Fashion Week? Have you been active in the Toronto fashion community previously?

Whatever fashion week was presenting, I always asked if there would be a platform for accessory designers to showcase. I’m so thrilled Start Up Fashion Week has this outlet for us. The garment industry has all the glory! We want a runway show too—and not just limited to praying clothing designers will collaborate with you.

In a nutshell, I launched April 2016 and within 3 months I had my collection in a VIP celebrity showroom for celebs, their stylists, magazine editors and for editorial. By that September I was immersed into TIFF where we had our first round of success with our products on Canadian talent for red carpet appearances. We’ve been featured on blogs, magazines, have notable people commenting and responding to our products, tagging and following our social media. We have collaborated with Lesley Hampton for 2 TWFW shows and I just launched our new #status6 sunglasses that had our social platforms on blast. A huge success that we’ll be adding more styles and designs in the coming new year!

The Lady-like Leopard: Which are your favourite pieces from your brand?

My favourite is the BLADE TOTE. It’s so versatile and it’s a staple black piece. Also, SENIA (named after me) because of its light cream colour and capacity for when you’re galavanting around the city. All of our handbags have a name and I’ve been inspired or had a life impact from these people.

The Lady-like Leopard: Describe your ideal Koda Nivoli client.

Our demographic is primarily established women who appreciate design and want to stand out—even with just a handbag. Perhaps a business executive carrying files and laptop in a stylish carryall and not just another boring canvas tote. Or a mom in ripped jeans and sneakers elevating her sleek style with our arm candy.

The Lady-like Leopard: What’s been your favourite moment as a fashion entrepreneur so far?

My favourite moment is when you’re at a celeb-filled event and only dream of ever meeting them and they walk up to you and say, “Omg you’re KODA NIVOLI. I love your stuff!”

5 Questions with Bianca Cordileone of EMY ARMOR

A post shared by EMY ARMOR (@emyarmor) on

The Lady-like Leopard: What’s your favourite part about being a fashion entrepreneur?

My favourite part about being an entrepreneur is the complete freedom to create my own path to success. As a designer, FREEDOM is an important part for my creativity. Not feeling pressured to stick to a particular “business-model” allows me to think outside the box and create new opportunities. Knowing that I have endless possibilities, and complete control in choosing which steps to take in order to move my business forward is a true privilege I feel fortunate to have. Being a fashion entrepreneur for me means that I am not limited in my quest to bring my vision into fruition. I can structure, restructure, change and or adapt my business to reach different platform—something I might not have been able to do if I wasn’t a fashion entrepreneur.

The Lady-like Leopard: Where do you draw inspiration for your designs from?

A lot of my inspiration comes directly from seeing something someone is wearing and SEEING how I can make new shapes and adorn their outfit. Sometimes just seeing the silhouette of an outfit sparks a vision in my mind for a piece I can create. Another source of inspiration has been watching Game of Thrones and paying attention to the royalty wardrobe as well as the Knight’s armours.

A post shared by EMY ARMOR (@emyarmor) on

The Lady-like Leopard: Who’s your ideal EMY ARMOR client?

My ideal EMY ARMOR client is any person that wants to express their sense of style in a new and unique way. My accessories are called “ARMORs” because they are meant to empower the individual wearing it. They are “STYLE-EXPRESSIVE” rather than “STYLE-SPECIFIC” pieces and therefore act as a TOOL for self expression through fashion. They can be dressed up or dressed down depending entirely on how the individual sees himself or herself wearing it. Each ARMOR is made to accessorize and accentuate different parts of the body creating different ornamental impressions on the individual’s clothing. The intention of my work is about giving people an ARMOR that they can use to express themselves and allow them to be unapologetically bold and daring in their own way.

A post shared by EMY ARMOR (@emyarmor) on

The Lady-like Leopard: What’s your favourite piece from your current collection?

My favourite piece has to be the HOOD-THANG ARMOR. It is a very diverse in how it can be styled and it is multifunctional. On its own it is a statement piece that completes and elevates any outfit by giving it an avant-garde feel. However for winter—it can be THE hood for all winter jackets. The Harness part of the design hugs the body under the jacket while the placement and hood design can be worn as a functional hood on the exterior of a jacket.

The Lady-like Leopard: What has been the biggest moment in your career so far?

The biggest moment in my career so far has to be when one of my designs was worn at the 2017 EMMYs. I was so excited and honoured to have my work worn on a red carpet event such as this, and I am excited for all the new and exciting opportunities that await EMY ARMOR.

Melina Morry Signature - Fashion Blogger at The Lady-like Leopard


Melina Morry is the author behind the blog The Lady-like Leopard. She has a journalism/fashion design degree and all that other boring stuff but most importantly she's a master of her own spots and is always hungry for more adventure. Melina works as a writer and fashion journalist all over the world. She's been spotted in New York, Paris, London, Sydney and Toronto—to name a few. She loves to be raw, fierce and a rare breed. Follow along with her on social media at @ladylikeleopard.

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