The Business of Fashion: An Interview with Libby Ordel
Continuing our series of interviews with Sympli’s top ranking Sales Representatives, award-winning agent, Libby Ordel, talks to us about how she got her start in the fashion industry and how she parlayed her passion for style into a successful career.
How she got started in her career
Thirty-five years ago, Libby Ordel was busy doing freelance work and teaching in the Fashion industry in Vancouver, when during a visit to Toronto she picked up a collection from a local Fashion manufacturer. “I was working on an assortment of projects and contracts at the time. I met a designer who needed representation out West and I suggested some stores that I thought might be interested.” Gradually Libby added more lines and grew her business to what it is today—a successful multi-brand wholesale sales company called The Ordel Group Agency.
Did she always know she wanted to work in fashion?
After graduating from the Fashion Merchandising Program at Ryerson School of Fashion in Toronto, Libby says that oddly enough she wasn’t really aware of all the opportunities that existed in the fashion industry. She knew that she wanted to pursue a career in fashion but says, “I had learned about being a fashion show coordinator, a designer, a pattern maker, a buyer, but I really didn’t know much about the wholesale ladies wear business.”
She credits her success in the fashion industry not only to good luck and good timing but to all the hard work she has put in and says it helps that she’s passionate about what she’s selling.
What’s your favourite part about your job?
“My favourite part about my job is definitely the lovely relationships I’ve built with my customers” adding, “It goes beyond just working together.” She stresses just how important these relationships are to her and says she takes great pride in helping to put together the very best orders for her customers, orders that are tailor-made for each and every one of them.
Libby also emphasizes how valuable her employees are to her company, “I love working with my fabulous staff, including my daughter Eryne. Eryne has an extensive background in PR and Marketing and has been around this business all her life.” Libby proudly acknowledges Eryne’s recent contribution to the company and says that she adds a new and innovative dimension to the business. Another person who Libby considers a wonderful asset is Ros, who has been by Libby’s side for almost 15 years and is an integral part of running the showroom.
How she was first introduced to Sympli.
Libby recounts her first meeting with Sympli founder Jan Stimpson, who at the time was designing a collection called Revival, a line that predates Sympli. “That’s how I first met Jan,” Libby says nostalgically. “A customer of mine from Nanaimo came into my showroom and told me that I had to go and find something called a Revival jacket that her sister had told her about.” Determined, Libby travelled to Seattle where Jan was taking part as a vendor in an Arts Festival Show. “I walked up to Jan and told her I had a two-pronged mission: One, was to try and decide which incredible Revival Jacket to buy, and the other was to pick up the line and sell it, so I did both!” Libby explains.
After several successful seasons selling Jan’s Revival line on a cash-and-carry basis, Libby started carrying Krakerz, another line created by Jan Stimpson. “I represented Krakerz for its entire existence, but it was a collection that was difficult to create.” She describes Krakerz as “a brilliant line of unique yet wearable designs made of wonderful assorted fabrications and findings brought in from Italy.” Libby explains that Jan eventually abandoned it to create her most successful line yet, Sympli. “Sympli was a collection that was simple to put together, that’s where the name comes from. I was the first rep to carry Sympli and I’ve happily continued for all of these years.”
What are your favourite Sympli pieces?
“Personally, my favourite piece(s) are the Leggings and the Mini Skirt, (also called The Extender).” Libby describes these pieces as the perfect canvas for anything else you ‘top them off’ with, whether it’s a Sympli top or an item from another brand. “These two pieces for me are essential classics,” she says, adding that she has been wearing this combination for years. “It truly is the perfect combination for me.”
What makes Sympli stand out among brands?
Libby believes that the culture of Sympli and the feel-good buzz around the brand is what makes it stand out. “It’s also the story behind Sympli and the quality of the line, which is just fantastic!” She believes that women can relate to the brand, it’s a line of clothing that women actually want to wear.
She talks excitedly about the self-proclaimed ‘Sympli-holics’, consumers who literally know everything about the line. “It’s unbelievable how some women track the collection!” She adds, “They know all about the history of the colours and the styles. They’ll go into a retail store and if there’s a new version of an old style, they’ll immediately know. It’s really quite amazing the following that Sympli has built!”
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