Featured Founder: Uniquity’s Ren Guidolin
Style and comfort are no longer mutually exclusive. Uniquity is not only combining style and comfort, but putting sustainability front and centre. All of Uniquity’s pieces are crafted from sustainable fabrics so you can do your part for the environment without sacrificing fashion.
Now Creative Group is proud to support founder and designer Ren Guidolin, a university student balancing entrepreneurship and Environmental Studies to build Uniquity.
Where did the idea for Uniquity’s sustainable fashion come from?
On a family vacation to the Cayman Islands when Ren was just 10 years old, he bought a t-shirt made out of bamboo material that keeps you cool, especially great for hot weather. For the next few years, he would reach for that t-shirt frequently until he outgrew it. Even after many years of wear, it retained its original shape and design and would become a hand-me-down for one of Ren’s cousins. Motivated to spread the word about this innovative fabric, Ren would go on to create Uniquity, inspired by the longevity and eco-consciousness of bamboo cotton.
Where did the name ‘Uniquity’ come from?
In a conversation about his vision for a clothing brand, Ren used the uncommon word ‘uniquity’ – the state of being unique – as a quality he would like the line to embody. While it stirred laughs at the time, it would become the perfect moniker.
What is it like balancing school and business?
The initial stages of building uniquity were a steep learning curve for Ren. There were times when he spent all day working on school obligations, and had to commit his evenings to Uniquity, which can be overwhelming for a young founder. During the York University strike earlier this year, he was able to use the time off to work on his business.
What lessons has he learned in Uniquity’s first year?
As a Brampton local, Ren had to get used to the travel it would take to network outside of his city. He learnt to overcome the awkward networking situations, and become more comfortable talking to people at events. As the founder and face of Uniquity, Ren would have to get used to speaking up for and representing the brand.
What’s been one of the highlights of starting Uniquity?
This summer, Ren participated in the City of Brampton’s Summer Company, an Ontario government program for students from the ages of 15 to 29 offering online courses, networking opportunities and mentorship on how to run a summer company. Participants receive grant funding as well to help them get started. Ren also picked up transferable skills and built strong relationships in the program.
What advice would Ren give to other young entrepreneurs?
Be prepared for the time commitment. When just starting up, you may be slow to pick up new business skills and bring things together. As a new entrepreneur, there’s a lot to learn. Putting in the time in the beginning will pay off in the long term.
What’s been the value of a strong network in starting a business?
Ren enlisted the help of friends to help him build Uniquity’s vision. From bookkeeping to design to introductions, fellow students joined forces with Ren to help him piece together a clothing line, successful business, and relevant connections. He worked with Now Creative Group to put together visuals for Uniquity. The collaborative atmosphere allowed Ren to feel like he was part of a team working towards a common goal to achieve his creative vision.
What are your goals for Uniquity for the near future?
Ren would like to add artists to his team of designers, and teach them how to run a business, so they can gain more exposure for their art and move on to start their own businesses where their art can earn them a living.
What other brands have similar values?
Many brands use a guise of eco-consciousness to entice customers without the transparency about their environmental and ethical practices. Frank And Oak does a great job of being honest about where their clothes come from, and what it’s made from without any of the frills. Ren is also a fan of New York-born TALLEY, who makes high-quality denim. They practice transparency when it comes to the intricacy and care that goes into making jeans, including their customers in the process from start to finish.
What is a common misconception about fashion?
You don’t have to wear what everyone else is wearing! Ren himself doesn’t put any labels on his sense of style; he wears whatever he feels like wearing on a day-to-day basis. You can wear whatever makes you feel your best – follow the trends if you’d like, or set the trend.
Uniquity & Ren Guidolin’s fresh but fair approach to fashion is fitting for these times where greenwashing is taking the fast fashion industry by storm, and transparent sustainability will play a part in solving our biggest global challenges.
Uniquity is Sustainable Streetwear. All of their clothing is made with sustainable fabrics. Their aim is to show the world that we can do good to the environment without needing to sacrifice the things we’re used to.
To work with the Start Now team on your own business, visit StartupSuccess.ca for more on the package.