Entrepreneurs like Shannon Grewer take calculated risks and that is just what she did in the twenty-teens. Grewer left the comfortable confines of corporate law. Her entrepreneurial interests took over and she founded Victoria Road clothing company to satiate her desire to create.
On a trip to Pakistan in 2010, Grewer discovered the country’s rich culture. She found the country to be completely different from what the American media had portrayed. Through her travels, Grewer learned more about Pakistan and fell in love with its fashions. Grewer launched Victoria Road based on the inspiration she gained, but it wasn’t just the fashion she saw that inspired her. Grewer was influenced by the people and the stories of the country, and it is those stories that Victoria Road shares with its customers.
The start-up fashion company doesn’t just take inspiration from Pakistan, but its facilities are located in the country. Victoria Road offers ethically produced fashions and it pays its employees a fair wage. It is something that doesn’t always happen in the Asia nation.
Victoria Road has a lot of big plans for 2019. The company is growing and more people are finding its great fashions. Recently, Grewer sat down to tell Totalprestige Magazine about Victoria Road and its progress since opening its doors.
Shannon, you visited Pakistan in 2010 and discovered the people, culture, and fashion of the country. What inspired you to bring the fashion back to the US and found Victoria Road?
I have always loved fabrics and textiles. My exposure to the wonderful traditions and the craft of fashion in Pakistan was something I wanted to share. I wanted more people to experience what I had, so I brought it back with me. You can say, I wanted my home country to see what I had seen.
Had you had any experience traveling in Pakistan or any knowledge of the country prior to your original trip?
I had done some research but I was not prepared for the enormity of the experience I had when I landed there. It was a whirlwind of color, vibrancy and warmth.
Victoria Road’s mission is to bridge cultures through designs. How can this promote cultural understanding?
Cultural understanding starts with the people to people connection. Once you get to know someone you realize that they are not so different from you. We don’t just make clothes, we share stories. We tell the story of the people involved in all parts of the process from making the fabrics to the design and stitching of the clothes. Thus, we are aiming not just to be a bridge between industry but between cultures and personas as well.
How close to the design process of each Victoria Road piece of clothing are you?
We have a very collaborative design process. I work closely with Farina, our head designer, to determine the mood of the collection, and from there we select the styles, colors and finishing for each piece. The design process is the most fun part of what I do. It is fantastic to watch something go from concept to creation and watch the designs’ aesthetic come to life.
Victoria Road’s clothing is made at a Fair-Trade workshop in Lahore, Pakistan. There are a number of major clothing brands that exploit Pakistan’s workers in sweatshops. How important is it to you to offer workers the chance to work in a Fair-Trade environment?
We initially looked to outsource our production, but it quickly became clear that we would have limited control over the wages paid to the workers and their working conditions. This was the reason we decided to invest in setting up our own dedicated facility. I believe that if our workers are treated well, the overall product will be superior. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it also makes business sense, too. We believe in providing every facility possible to the people associated with this brand. They aren’t our workers, they are our colleagues.
Is there a growing desire in the US for more people to buy and wear ethically produced clothing? Will we see more companies join the ethical movement in the near future?
The ethical fashion market in the US is still small but it is growing because of the millennials. This generation is paying more attention to where and how their clothes are made and we hope that this will dictate the trends to come.
You have previously stated there are some misconceptions of Pakistan that Americans have. The media’s portrayal of the country is far different than it actually is. How have your experiences there changed your mind about the country and its people? What are the biggest misconceptions about the country in your opinion?
For most people that have not traveled to Pakistan, there is an assumption that it is a dangerous place to visit. On the contrary, I have always felt very safe while working and traveling around the country. The people are very gracious and hospitable. The culture is very vibrant and people are eager to share their experiences and work with you on every level.
Shannon, you have an expansion in the works for 2019. Can you please tell us about the expansion and where customers can find Victoria Road’s fashions?
We are excited to announce that we will be expanding our facility to establish Pakistan’s first fashion design incubator. We hope to have more than 30 designers working with us through this program by the end of next year. We are also expanding our sales in the UAE and launching a Victoria Road online shop localized to Dubai. https://dubai.victoria-road.com/
Can you tell us about some of the fashions, designs, and release that Victoria Road has in store?
We are working with some amazing new fabrics that we have sourced directly from a small village that still practices traditional methods of weaving. We also have a fantastic new partner that will be providing access to incredibly talented embroidery artisans around the country.
Before founding Victoria Road, you worked in corporate law. How did you make the transition into the world of fashion?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial streak. I decided I was ready to retire from practicing law and use my skills to do something that was more creative and would have an impact on the lives of the people around me. My background in corporate law has been very helpful in navigating the challenges of launching a start-up.
Shannon, what is a day in your life like?
Hectic. There never seems to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. I travel most weeks so there is a lot of time spent in airport lounges and battling jet lag.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I used to sew my own clothes when I was growing up.
What makes you smile?
When our customers appreciate a culture alien to them through our enterprise it makes me smile.
What scares you?
Bootstrapping a company which I am putting everything into scares me but is also thrilling.
Which historical figure do you most admire?
Can you share two of your favorite quotes with us?
“The wound is where the light enters you.” – Rumi
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?
The inequality that exists throughout the world.
For more information on Shannon Grewer and to explore the fashions of Victoria Road, please visit https://victoria-road.com/