The Story of Fashionmark

Many Cherry Velvet customers are not aware of the story behind our brand. It actually started with a very different business. Our brand designer, Diane Kennedy, purchased an existing pattern-making company called Fashionmark Solutions in 2003. What was Fashionmark Solutions? It was a business that provided pattern management services to the apparel industry both locally and internationally. Since it’s inception in 1996, Fashionmark used the latest available technology to provide its customers with accurate patterns, expert grading, detailed specifications and efficient markers. Starting the process solely from a designer’s sketches, Fashionmark was one of Vancouver’s leading industry pattern makers by turning many up and coming designers visions into full-fledged fashion brands.

Examples of patterns and grading made by Fashionmark
Examples of patterns and grading done by Fashionmark
Example of a marker; which is a layout of pattern pieces in all sizes
Example of a marker; which is a layout of pattern pieces in all sizes

After nearly 20 years in business, Fashionmark boasted an extensive client list. One of the company’s biggest clients was the Vancouver-based fashion brand Lululemon. Diane Kennedy was the exclusive pattern maker from the beginning and during the formative years of that company. For many years Fashionmark did all of their patterns, grading and markers. Eventually, Lululemon grew to the extent that they moved their pattern making in-house, but Diane Kennedy and her keen technical skills were an integral part of the brand’s early growth. Other yoga companies such as Karma and Tonic ; outerwear brands  ArcteryxPatagonia, Helly Hansen, Nordica and children’s wear brands Flora & Henry and Please Mum all used Fashionmark services. They also made the first several seasons of patterns for the fashion brand Tibi. After a long tenure, Fashionmark contributed to the success of many clothing companies including many local brands not as well known as these.

Diane’s dream has always been designing fashion and making clothes that look good on the female form. While she’s had years of experience making patterns and designing for all different sizes, her passion is designing for women sizes 10-12 and up.  Being a curvy woman herself and also shorter stature, Diane understands this very well. In 2007, Diane took her love of design and started her own brand, Diane Kennedy, using the soft, draping bamboo fabric that clients and DK enthusiasts have grown to love. Then in 2011 she started Cherry Velvet with just one dress called the Charlotte that came in 10 different prints. When they sold out in just a few short weeks, she knew she was on to something really needed in the marketplace.

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While Fashionmark was the beginning of the story, it is definitely not the end! Just a few months ago, Diane sent off her last patterns and closed down Fashionmark to focus exclusively on her successful in-house brands, Diane Kennedy and Cherry Velvet.  Fashionmark Solutions provided customers with pattern making for many years, and it gave Diane a strong secure position in the industry where now she is able to pursue her first love; designing!

XOX Cherry Velvet

Fluevog shoes fit wide feet

It’s Diane here, designer of Cherry Velvet dresses. I wanted to share some awesome little facts I discovered during our photo shoot with Fluevogs. Previously I’d been pouting because I wasn’t able to find Fluevog shoes to fit me lately. But then I uncovered the secret…

First of all, Fluevog makes their shoes in families, so if you find a shoe that fits, chances are they’ll make more shoes in that same family that will also fit you. And, as a bonus on their website, there’s actually a little meter that shows you how wide or how narrow each shoe is and also a note about length; whether they fit short or long.

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Ruby Roxx modeling the Brooke dress in Navy Dots and #vog_liz

Armed with this new information, I was quickly able to discover which shoe families were going to work the best for me. My foot is wide with a very high arch (both problematic for proper fit). Now, please correct me if I’m wrong, but as you get bigger elsewhere, I’m guessing that your feet get wider too… So maybe, just like me, there are some plus size Fluevog wannabes out there that might appreciate these tips on finding fabulous shoes that fit.

The widest fitting shoe that I could find is called the Liz and it comes from a family called Kitschy Kitschy Boom Boom (love that name!). It’s a new family and I have to tell you it fits like a dream. They are so comfortable it felt like I had a pair runners on, even though the heel is almost 3 inches high. How is this possible, you ask? Well the reason is the sole of the shoe is about a quarter inch thick of rubber. Yep, I had a bounce in my step that day.

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This is me, Diane wearing Brooke ‘Stardust’ and my #vog_liz in Cherry

The next widest family is called the “Minis” and there are several awesome shoes that are available with this fit. They are the Elif and the Zaza.

I know of at least 3 plus size customers that have also bought the Malibran from the Operetta family. In fact, it’s been so thrilling for me to discover that so many of my Cherry Velvet customers are also huge Fluevog fans. I’m truly flattered and honored to have my dress designs associated with the infamous Mr. John Fluevog in this way. Thank you all for your continued support of our little company and I wish all of you the joy of a fantastic pair of Vogs to to go with your Cherry Velvet dresses!

All of us from our shoot at Fluevogs downtown location. Back row: Helly Hepburn, Lucy Lopez, Shelly Reinhart, Shimona Henry. Front row: Nova Beth, Diane Kennedy, Ruby Roxx
All of us from our shoot at Fluevogs downtown location. Back row: Helly Hepburn, Lucy Lopez, Shelly Reinhart, Shimona Henry. Front row: Nova Beth, Diane Kennedy, Ruby Roxx

xox Love Diane

P.S. The Brooke Stardust Dress I’m wearing in the photo will come back in stock in about a month or so. It’s available to pre-order in our Coming soon section.

 

The Story of Shelly

The first time I ever set eyes on Shelly was in a photo posted on Facebook by a plus size store in Langley called Lucy. Shelly was a popular shopper there and I have a memory of staring a very long time at her picture and reading the comments posted about her and the dress she was wearing. It was one of ours in Black and White speckles called the Annette. For whatever reason, I felt something unusual when I looked at the photo….not sure quite how to explain it. I’d like to share this story of my pretty friend  Shelly, our friendship and how much love and attention she brings to everything she does.

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A ‘Vintage’ Cherry Velvet dress called the Annette (no longer available)

Months later I was having a shopping day in my studio and in walked Shelly. I recognized her right away. Not so much from the picture, but as someone familiar. She said “I didn’t know you were that Diane Kennedy” (of the Serene pants she loves to wear). Since that moment, we’ve become fast friends.

How do you explain meeting someone for the first time but feeling like you’ve known them forever? It turned out that Shelly lived only about 6 blocks from me and soon she invited me over to her charming apartment. It’s like deja vu being there because everything in her apartment, the colours, the objects, and the furniture all felt like I could have picked them out myself. Even the artwork on the walls and her jewelry in the bathroom had a weird feeling of association. Then we discovered that Shelly and I are only one day apart in age…both Virgos and both turning 50 this year.

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Shelly and I having afternoon tea at the Vancouver Hotel

Can you feel this weird power in our relationship? I sure do. Shelly really believes strongly in the power of women. It’s her mantra. I’ve met so many wonderful new friends through Shelly. She’s great at bringing people together. You may not know, but it was her idea to have us do the photo shoot at Fluevogs. Shelly has been a Fluevogs collector for years and introduced me to the manager of the downtown store. Since then, so many customers have come forward about loving Fluevogs together with their Cherry Velvet dresses. Thanks for making this fantastic idea come true, Shelly.

Shelly is also very involved in our local community and works tirelessly to help promote local events. She’s been hugely involved in New West Pride for many years. This year she’s worked on a huge project to improve our local hospital. Wherever we go together in the city Shelly runs into someone she knows; in fact, she’s so well known around the city, she is affectionately named “The Queen of New West”.

Shelly hard at work
Shelly in the Danielle Dress “Bazaar”

No matter what she’s wearing Shelly frequently gets stopped by people complimenting her and asking her where she got her clothes. She’s the best dressed babe wherever she goes! Shelly loves to help women look their best and to give advice on fashion and jewelry. Recently Shelly became a Stella and Dot rep. If you come to our shopping days in the Cherry Velvet studio, you might get to meet Shelly and have her help you choose what to wear and which jewelry to best compliment your outfit (she is a stylist on her own time too…so let me know if you need me to “hook you up”).

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Shelly is wearing the Danielle “Celestial Damask” with a Mirror Mirror Bijoux necklace and her own Fluevogs

I just want to say a heartfelt “thank-you” to Shelly for being such an amazing person and friend and for all the love and support she’s brought to me and my business.

XOX Love Diane

(Designer at Cherry Velvet)

If you’re curious about Shelly’s fav Diane Kennedy “Serene” pants, they are here.

or the Mint green dress “Danielle Celestial Damask” here. 

Girls in White Dresses

GirlsinWhite_6Surely you’ve heard the song lyrics “Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes…these are a few of my favourite things!” White dresses are definitely some of our favourite things. You know, it’s not always all about the little black dress. There are just so many reasons to fall in love with white dresses.

White is invigorating. As a colour, it’s wide open and airy. It’s understated, crisp, clean and neat. It can invoke all the seasons: fresh linens hanging on the line in spring, light and fluffy clouds on a summer’s day, the alabaster light of the autumn moon, the first powdery snow of winter. White is pure and innocent. It’s cool, refreshing, wholesome milk in a glass. White is about lightness and perfection.

White is versatile. White dresses can be worn in so many different and interesting ways. It is a fresh canvas waiting to be filled in with what inspires and captures your individuality. Add a splash of colour with a dramatic, flowing scarf. Bring a dash of drama with some brightly hued shoes. Let there be contrast to magnify the glowing gems of elegant jewelry. Give your cheery handbag the chance to really pop. White lets your accessories be the star of the show.

Cherry Velvet White dresses
From left to right: The Kelly Dress in Floral Noire; The Elly Dress in Ivory Jacquard and The Robin dress in White Rosy Dots

White is the stuff of movie legend. White dresses let you channel your inner Marilyn Monroe. Happy Birthday, Mr. President! She made the white dress iconic and memorable. This classic look was first made famous as part of the 1955 movie The Seven Year Itch and it will leave you itching to recreate more moments of fashion history.

White dresses are invigorating, versatile souvenirs of movie legend. While little black dresses can blend into the shadows, white dresses bring you into the light. These are all the reasons why they are some of our favourite things, just like the song says.

XOX Cherry Velvet

P.S. If you love the new Brigitte Black Cats dress (upper left) it’s in our Coming soon section and will be available approximately June 21

Interview with Pin-up Perfection

Shimona Henry is the photographer behind Cherry Velvet, and has been an integral part of our brand since 2012. Her business, Pin-up Perfection, is pinup and glamour photography for women of all shapes, ages and lifestyles. We caught up with Shimona after our last photo shoot and she answered a few questions for our readers.

Shimona Henry, Pinupperfection, cherry velvet photographer, plus size pinup, pinup photography, vancouver pinupCV: When did you get started in Photography?

SH: I launched Pin-up Perfection in 2007 but had been dabbling in photography for a year or two prior to that. I trained at Vancouver Film School for makeup for Film & Television, and started by photographing my friends for my portfolio. I always had an interest in photography from watching my mom, who is also a photographer, I am self-taught like her. I have been doing photography full-time now for over 3 years.

CV:  Is this something that you always dreamed of doing?

SH: I always had an interest in Pin-up style, and Pin-up Photography wasn’t as popular when I started my business in 2007. I think there was one other photographer in Eastern Canada that was doing it, so it was really a niche market.

CV: You have a really large social media following…tell us about that.

SH: Yes, we utilized Facebook in the early days of our business and continue to do so. Our facebook following is now over 40K and we are growing on Instagram too with almost 4000 followers. Last week we had two bookings that came solely from our Instagram feed.

CV: What do you do on your days off?

SH: What is a day off? Haha! I need to practice more self-care. I love photography and so I spend time working on personal photo projects too, but I have to make time to do other things for myself. I love going to the lake or beach on my days off and doing other things like gardening; just being outdoors!

CV: What is your favourite project that you have worked on this far with your business?

SH: There are a few! The first would be a Charity Fundraiser project I did with Helly Hepburn for the SPCA. I photographed 24 models and their pets for a calendar. It was a great project. The second is the Taboo Show that happens every January in Vancouver. I now have a team of about 20 people; Pinup girls, and volunteers that help me with my booth at the show. My third is Cherry Velvet! I have been working with you since 2012 and our shoots together range from studio catalogue to awesome location work. I love the models we work with, the energy on set, memories made and the dresses, obviously!

CV: Are there any people that our readers would be surprised that you have photographed?

SH: When I started my business, I thought that my clientele would be women in their early 20’s, when actually my clients tend to be women aged 25-55. It seems that a lot of women gain more confidence and acceptance of their bodies at a later age, and so they are more willing to try new styles (like pinup).

CV: What has been your biggest hurdle in the business to date and what lesson did you learn from it?

SH: There are days when the tasks are piling up and I feel like there simply isn’t enough time in the day and I think to myself  ‘maybe I should get a day job instead’, but those thoughts are brief and my passion for what I do keeps me going. Stability is always attractive though, and not having stability is the hardest part—I am constantly looking forward, pre-planning for the season ahead. I am a sole proprietor, but I have an amazing team that works with me that allows me to focus on taking photos/doing hair and makeup, which is where my skills are at! Maria Christina does all of the inquiries and bookings for the business, Miss Dottie does the social media, Stela Licina and Lucy Lopez are part-time makeup artist/hairstylists, Emma Meow is my location assistant and Helly Hepburn does blogging and event planning.

CV: If you could give a word of advice to other women out there regarding woman starting a business and building a brand, what would it be?

SH: A business is hard work and it takes time and many sacrifices—I’ve lost a lot of sleep staying up past dawn on the computer, shot until my bones ached after 12+ hours without a break. I have also laughed so hard I’ve cried, made awesome friends and amazing memories! It’s all so worth it in the end!

CV: Last question – Who is your biggest inspiration?

SH: My biggest fan, my mum Eve! She is strong, intelligent, caring, creative, driven, generous and she inspires me to follow my dreams. We share the same motto: Don’t Dream it. Be it. (from the Rocky Horror Picture Show).

Shimona Henry, Even Henry, photopgrahers, pinup photographer, cherry velvet photographer,
Shimona and her mother, photographer Eve Henry, circa 1995, and today.

 

We LOVE you too Shimona!

XOX Cherry Velvet