It is 11 am on an unusually sunny winter morning in Toronto and I am set to meet co-founders of local sustainable brand People’s Product, Eva Parell and Chelsea Mazur, in the DMZ Fashion Zone on Gould Street. These ladies are a part of the small group of people in the city who dropped their stable jobs and are committed to slowly chipping away at their dream. As I walk into the workshop on the ground floor of the zone I am reminded of their work ethic: they’ve already set up their laptops among all the equipment, and with smiling faces, are ready to begin. A disclaimer that the Fashion Zone has various work rooms fully equipped with a kitchen and comfortable seating but Eva and Chelsea, more often than not, find themselves most comfortable with a pattern cutting table nearby. Once I’ve de-layered myself and we’ve caught up on their plans for a future product drop*, we begin:
How did you transition from doing what you “should” do, to working your dream job?
Eva: I had to do a lot of things I didn’t love first to realize that this is something that would make me happy. So that included internships, working at corporate jobs, freelancing and none of it was really meshing with me but I always had the dream of having my own line. That’s the goal. When you’re a kid that’s what you dream of, so for me I was just like i’m just going to go for it. But I also had to figure out how my job was going to fulfill me outside of fashion, so that’s when I started pulling from the other things I was interested in, which were traveling, community development and working with not-for-profits in order to merge those passions with my interest in fashion.
Chelsea: I feel like it was similar for me, I worked in a bunch of jobs like luxury retail. Truthfully, I didn’t love it and I just ended up quitting a lot of the jobs because I just wasn’t happy. And I was always concerned with supporting fair-trade but I only knew about it from buying crafty jewelry for my mom and my friends. It wasn’t until I started being around Eva, when she was trying to build this passion project that I also got involved, cause I was always just hanging around her.
What’s your favourite part about your job?
E: Mine is definitely more on the artisan and product development side. I like being on the ground in our workshops with our artisans.
C: I find for me I like engaging with our customer, like having conversations with them because I generally run the social and so if people comment, I get really excited. And I love when people want to ask questions and learn more.
You’ve had a really stressful day, so when you come home what is your go-to way to destress and indulge in self-care?
E: Self-care for me changes all of the time. I wouldn’t say I have one thing I always do but I’m definitely a people person so my self-care after I’ve had a long day is talking to the people I love for sure. Things I do for myself are usually hot yoga, taking time alone, getting my nails done, having a long shower and moisturizing from head to toe. Also sometimes what I’ll do if I know I have a long day ahead is blow out my hair. I’ll just do an extra step in my morning routine to feel extra good that day.
C: I will make my favourite comfort food which is always some kind of Thai food, so lots of pad thai’s and curries. I generally also like baths, I’m an old lady at heart. Then I’ll probably do a face mask and my nails.
Who was the main person in your life that taught you the importance of taking care of yourself?
E: In terms of beauty, its my sister. She’s always been into that. She prioritizes herself that way and seeing her do that made me realize I should do the same. But beyond that, my mom goes for a run everyday and when she’s feeling stressed out, she takes a walk in the forest. So she taught me to turn to nature when you’re stressed out.
C: It’s my friends for me and I’m like “ok i need to learn a little bit from them”. I look to them to see what they’re using on their body or what they’re doing to take care of their mental health. They inspire me to treat myself a little better.
What is something you do for yourself on a regular basis?
E: I make coffee at home in the morning, and I drink it with whoever I’m with, sometimes its my sister, sometimes my partner. I honestly think it’s been passed down to me from my parents. We all just become our parents in the end.
C: I always get ready in the morning, even if I’m not going anywhere. Sometimes we work from home and I’ll still make sure to get ready because something about it just starts me off for the day. It’s become a habit by now.
What is your favourite dose of pleasure?
E: It’s not something I do often but if i’m feeling like i deserve something special, getting my nails done is always the first thing that comes to mind.
C: I get my nails done a lot! I try to make a commitment to have bare nails, but then that makes me sad so I just end up getting them done and I walk away so happy.