When you meet mother-daughter duo, Donna and Micaela Cook, you quickly learn their smiles and upbeat personalities reflect the bright, bold colours and fun designs of their clothing.
Their women’s boutique in Almonte, Avenir Design Studios, features their fashion label, Avenir. Honing their slogan “Fashions for the rhythm of your life” they offer contemporary styles. Their clothes are designed by women for women and are 100% Canadian made, from the original sketch all the way to the manufacturer and the fabrics.
For 25 years old, designer Micaela has a very grown up eye and is able to design products to match what their clientele are drawn to. Having always been intrigued by fashion, she received her diploma for Fashion Design from Fanshaw College in London, Ontario. Her hard work there earned a bursary to Huddersfield University in England where she then completed her university degree.
For her first full Spring/Summer collection entitled Cadence, Micaela says she was inspired by aerial views of flower fields in the Netherlands. This gave way to the cheerful colours and modern colour-blocking that she incorporates into her designs.
“I don’t really go with what everybody else is going with,” explained Micaela. “I kind of go out of the box. I don’t want to stick with the norms of what you see all the other stores and designers doing.”
True to this, Avenir features fashion designs and styles that are unique, ready-to-wear and multi-wear. The multi-wear clothing are pieces that can be worn various was by simply changing how it is tied, buttoned, zipped, twisted and for some, even turned upside-down! The soft jersey material that their clothing is made of, make this alteration of garments easy, fashionable and still very comfortable. The transformative nature of their clothes not only compliments a woman’s ever-changing sense of style but help to give their buyers “more bang for their buck.”
“What we’re finding is that there is so much disposable fashion nowadays,” said Micaela. “We want to try and battle that by creating clothing that you can use multiple times, multiple ways and that you can mix and match with.”
Their boutique also doubles as Micaela’s studio where she can draw and design, make samples and still have face-time with the customers. This is an important aspect of Avenir designs as they place a lot of importance on the relationships they build with their clientele.
“I want to make sure that if someone is coming to the Avenir store to get quality they also get the designer,” said Donna.
While Micaela handles the creative design side of the partnership, Donna handles the business aspects.
They originally began hoping to get the Avenir label on runways and very quickly gained traction and popularity in Ottawa. They opened up for Ottawa Fashion Week 2013 in September and since then, there has been no looking back. The opportunity presented itself for them to start up their own boutique. Although it was not in the original plan to do this so early in their start-up’s business, the Cooks jumped at the chance and opened Avenir Design Studios in February.
In addition to having the store front and studio space, they are offering specials after hours. With their style parties, they help you to mix and match the clothes you already have from their boutique to complete different outfits for different occasions. They also offer closed shopping parties after hours for you and your friends where you can also get style advice from Micaela and Donna.
“You have the whole store to yourself,” said Donna. “It gives you a chance to be with your friends and be constructive with your friends.”
Things have been moving pretty quickly for the Cook family but it seems any challenge is met with a positive attitude and a cohesive spirit.
“It’s a roller coaster because it’s not just her dream, it’s our family’s dream,” explained Donna.
Donna credits her husband, Chip as her business coach. The two work together to operate the day-to-day business management that ensures everything is going smoothly as well as to encourage Micaela. How close they are as a family is very obvious through their undying support of one another.
“This is Micaela’s passion and she is very good at it,” said Donna. “So why not help her promote it!”
The family-run boutique is located at 96 Mill Street in Almonte and for the spring/summer seasons they are open seven days a week. Avenir Design Studios is a unique place to discover incredible finds, designer quality and genuinely friendly faces that are looking to make you as happy as they are.