Futurpreneur Canada recognizes the hard work, determination and passion it takes to start a business. That is why we teamed up with CIBC for a campaign to recognize the milestones (big or small) that our entrepreneurs reach while starting and growing their businesses.
As a part of the campaign, we’re encouraging our Futurpreneurs to share their start-up successes using the hashtag #FuturHighFive on social media. Zahra Peal of Atelier Tonomy is one of those success stories.
People who work in fashion are notorious for challenging the status quo and continuously innovating with every design and product launch. Some people even take it a bit further and try to create clothing that makes a real impact on people’s lives.
That’s what designer Zahra Peal is doing with her company, Atelier Tonomy.
The brand and online store is dedicated to helping people uphold their personal dignity, comfort and pleasure in life by creating beautiful and useful accessories that respond to challenges due to disability, illness and aging.
“It is very exciting to be a part of the growing movement to make life better for older adults,” says Zahra. “I have always felt the need for my contribution as a designer to have a social benefit.”
Long before launching her own fashion brand, Zahra would often help out her mother, a geriatric nurse, by visiting her long-term patients.
“I would find it quite uncomfortable and saddening spending time there, as the quality of life of the elderly folk was lacking,” said Zahra. “Fast forward 25 years and now my parents are themselves in their early eighties, and are starting to lose their autonomy. Services for seniors have evolved in the last 25 years, but there is still room for improvement.”
Launching Atelier Tonomy was her way of improving the quality of life of people who are losing their autonomy – even the name is inspired by this purpose.
Atelier Tonomy carries various fashion items designed to make a person’s daily life a little bit easier. From stylish purses that attach onto walkers to bib-like accessories that comes in various patterns, this brand’s products truly stand out.
For example, one product that she shared online as a part of Futurpreneur Canada’s #FuturHighFive campaign in partnership with CIBC, is an innovative purse that attaches to rotators and walkers.
This versatile bag is different from a regular purse because it not only keeps the purse from possibly dragging on the floor or falling off a mobility device, but it also keeps it at arm’s reach, making it convenient for the person using it.
However, with such unique products came the challenge of figuring out the right place to sell them. Should they be in a specialized store? In pharmacies? Zahra eventually decided to start online and soon her products will be available for sale on Amazon.
While starting such a unique business has its challenges, Zahra’s participation in Futurpreneur’s Start-up Program, which paired her with her mentor Toby Stewart, has been a huge help in bringing her business idea to life.
“My mentor is great. She always reminds me of the big picture as I can easily get bogged down with the daily ups and downs of starting up and running a business,” she said. “We touch base every six weeks or so. It has been friendly and motivating. She is a master of strategy and always on top of her game.”
Aspiring entrepreneurs may be hesitant in jumping to a journey like Zahra’s, but the accomplishments make it all worth it.
“We are seeing real momentum,” says Zahra, who adds that outside of her success, she has also noticed an increase in research and community groups focused around these types of innovative products.
“We have received great feedback on our products, specifically on how they make life a little bit easier from the daily challenges.”
Thinking of starting your own business? Learn more about our Start-Up Program!
Written by: Sara Pivato, Social Media & Content Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada
Want to be featured in a #FuturHighFive Entrepreneur Spotlight? Share you start-up milestones using #FuturHighFive on Instagram and Twitter!