Talk about an incredible female maker! Natalie Dusome, founder of accessories brand Poppy & Peonies, is an inspiring one-woman show—and she answered all our burning questions about her Canadian company in this exclusive Q&A! —Noa Nichol
Hi Natalie! Please tell us a bit about yourself/your background in fashion to start.
I've known since I was a little girl I wanted to be a fashion designer. I grew up in a small town where fashion wasn't a thing, we didn't have access to a ton of shops in our town so fashion magazines and fashion television was my access to this world. I wanted to create my own clothes so I learned to sew, and that opened up a whole new world. I worked really hard through high school, and got into Ryerson University Fashion Design program and moved to Toronto. It was a gruelling program but it taught program but I loved it! I was surrounded by fashion obsessed kids just like me, and I gained the skills I needed and learned a lot about hard work and perseverance.
How did the idea to launch your own accessories line come about? What product/s did you launch with?
I got the idea to launch Poppy & Peonies when I became a mom. Before becoming a mom I would always put fashion first, wear uncomfortable shoes because they were cute, or wear high-waisted jeans because they were the latest trend but they made my tummy hurt (you all know what I'm talking about!). That all changed when Poppy was born, and I had to put functionality first. I was noticing all these functional mom products and accessories could be better designed and still be functional, so that's really when the light bulb went off. We launched with a multifunctional crossbody that you could wear five ways, a reversible tote and a versatile weekender/diaper bag.
What products does the Poppy & Peonies range include today?
We have really expanded our product categories to include everything from bags, jewelry, hats and most recently our Mommy & Mini Collection, plus sunglasses and blue-light protection glasses. We are looking to get into a few more product categories including loungewear as well, so stay tuned!
We hear you're pretty much a one-woman show (and a mom, at that)! How in the world do you do it all?
Oh mama, it has been a tough four years I am not going to lie! I've discovered when you do something you love, it can consume you, especially when the work never ends and you get so much enjoyment from it. Every day I struggle to find the balance. Every day it's a juggling act, and each day is a different act. I used to beat myself up and compare myself to other mmpreneurs, like, wow, they have it figured out, and the truth is none of us do, we're just doing the best we can. I think time is the most precious commodity so I learned a few tricks over the years to buy myself more time like getting dinner boxes delivered like Make Good Food, this seriously saves me, I get some help around the house with cleaning and laundry. In my business I also try to focus on tasks that I add the most value and only I can do, and try to delegate the rest. I used to waste so much time doing tasks that would eat my time but anyone could do, now I'm more strategic on what I work on. This was a lesson that sadly took me a few years to realize.
Will P&P ever expand beyond accessories to include fashion? If yes, what's your vision there?
Yes! I'm always trying to see the positive in every situation, and something positive that the Covid-19 pandemic/self isolation has taught me as a business owner is that we need to diversify our product offering because we never know what's around the corner. We would love to expand into cute sweaters, tees and some adorable loungewear. That is on the horizon!
What one product/concept do you feel most proud of?
I'm most proud of the community we've built. We have the BEST team! We support female entrepreneurs through our influencer program. These are girlbosses who are earning flexible income for their families and we support them with the tools, training and resources they need to start a social-selling business. We are a social-selling company not to be confused with a multi-level marketing company. Some of you might be asking what's the difference: we don't have any pyramid or downlines or aggressive recruiting. Our influencers are independent business owners who earn a commission from their sales, no strings attached.
If you were stuck on a desert island, and could only take one P&P bag to take with you?
This is the best question! I would take our Voyager hands down! It's one of my favs. There is a compartment and a pocket for everything, and plenty of room to carry coconuts around my desert island.