By Meg Sharpley
In the span of just a couple of years, Anu Raina has emerged as an up-and-coming designer in both the Toronto art and fashion scene. In the same year, Anu graduated from the Textile program at Sheridan College in 2010, was selected as an Artist-in-residence at Harbourfront Centre, had her artwork exhibited at the Pearson International Airport and unveiled her ready to wear clothing collection at Toronto Fashion Week. Fashion Weekly got the chance to talk with this busy mom about her rise in the industry, her advice to newcomers and how she juggles it all.
FW: How did you get started in the fashion and arts scene?
AR: Fashion was a passion and art came naturally. As a kid I was always intrigued by color, patterns and textures around me. I felt they talked to me. As this conversation continued into my adult life, I decided to compliment my artistic and craft side with fashion. It offered everything I was looking for in a creative career.
FW: What inspired you to get into this industry?
AR: It is at that intersection of Art and Design where I find my comfort zone. The compulsion within to be known for original work inspired me to embrace fashion as a profession.
FW: Have you encountered any obstacles? If so, how did you get over them?
AR: There are always and will be obstacles in this field. The biggest being the financial one. It is a challenge to survive in this tough industry as the funding support from the government for new designers is practically zero compared to my contemporaries down south or in Europe. Creating new collections to compete with global fashion scene every six months is financially very taxing for new designers. But then you have to believe….where there’s a will, there’s a way…
FW: Who or what inspires your pieces?
AR: I feel inspired by anything that I can connect with emotionally. It could be a place, a memory or a book.
FW: Where can we purchase some of your pieces?
AR: You can buy my pieces at the CN Tower Retail Store, Distill in the Distillery District, Craft Ontario Boutique in Yorkville, and runwaycrush.com, anuraina.squarespace.com
FW: What are your short-term goals for the brand?
AR: Explore the opportunities in the US market and continue my collaborations and expansion of my footprint within Canada.
FW: What are your long-term goals for the brand?
AR: To be the Hermes brand of Canada…
FW: How did you feel about your first show in Fashion Week?
AR: Overwhelming and very exciting at the same time…the thrill was similar to that of Bungee jumping.
FW: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
AR: There are many….The exhibition of my artwork at The Pearson International Airport at the beginning of my career, being nominated for Ontario Premier’s award, seeing dignitaries like Olivia Chow, Karen Stintz, Robin Dolittle sporting my pieces in major publications and my collaborations with eBay, The Law Society of Upper Canada, AGO, Keilhauer and selection of my print by Textile Museum of Canada for the Design Week – New York and Istanbul in May 2016.
FW: How do you juggle being a mother, wife as well as designer?
AR: It’s definitely not easy…..deep breathing and family support keeps me going.
FW: What advice do you have for others wanting to enter the fashion industry?
AR: Stick to your vision and be at it. Being true to yourself never goes out of fashion. It is a lot of hard work but totally worth it getting your work out there.