Young entrepreneur profile: FictionFaction’s Ali McQuaid and Olga Kisza

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Creating your personal style often requires more than just matching top with bottom. Not to fear, though, because FictionFaction is a fresh start-up that is here to give your accessorizing a ‘head start.’ FictionFaction designs and sells unique, one-of-a-kind headpieces.

Ali McQuaid and Olga Kisza are recent grads who have been friends since Grade 11. While shared interests initially brought them together, it was their passion for fashion which had them thinking business. With plans for expansion in headband design and boutique carriers, they are just beginning to tap into their potential.

Q. You are currently selling your headbands online and in select stores across the country. So far, which has been more successful for you?

Ali. Actually, selling our creations at trade-shows, like the Toronto Clothing Show and the Elle Canada Show, have been the most successful for us in terms of sales. We really believe that in order to understand the quality of our headbands you need to be able to touch and feel them.

We also love describing to our customers the histories of each piece. We have created headbands with pieces as old as 60 years old from India, Poland, China and beyond. This way they know that they have a piece that is truly unique.

However, a significant portion of our sales does come from fictionfaction.ca, and through boutique stores.

Q. Did you prepare a business plan before starting FictionFaction, and if so would you say it has helped in staying focused and achieving goals?

Olga. We did not start with a business plan right away. We’ve been friends for a very long time and we’ve always had this idea. We started making the headbands and we were like, ‘Wait a minute, we can turn this into a business.’ I guess every entrepreneur, when thinking of starting a business, is told, ‘You need to write a business plan.’ That’s definitely true. We realized a lot of things from writing our business plan that we never even thought of before.

Ali. I think the one thing that actually made us put the pen to paper in terms of getting our business plan written was signing up to do the business plan competition. We had three weeks…

Olga. [The business plan competition] was through Ryerson University with Start Me Up Ryerson. I’m a Ryerson graduate, so they allow their students to enter into various business plan competitions. I believe this one was called the Ontario Partnership for Innovation and Collaboration (OPIC) Business Plan Competition.

Q. The seeds for your company were planted long before you actually launched this year, but you waited to formally start the company until you were finished university. Would you advise current students who have similar aspirations to do the same?

Ali. For sure. You don’t necessarily need money to start a business, you just need to be at the right place, the right time, and you need to have the time. So, when we were in university, we weren’t as focused on starting a business as we were on our studies. But since graduating, we have the time, the time is right, we had the knowledge [from] our degrees and basically the stars aligned for us.

I don’t necessarily feel you need to be finished university. As long as the time is right for you and you think you can make a go of it, then go for it.

But in terms of money, the business plan is so key because once you write it that’s what investors want to see if you want to enter a business plan competition, if you want to apply for a research grant, or even if you want to hit your mom and dad up for a couple grand.

Q. You both acquired relevant work experience before launching your business: Olga, how have you applied your previous work experience in the fashion industry to how you currently operate FictionFaction?

Olga. I learned a lot in terms of the importance of identifying trends, identifying your audience, the resourcefulness that an entrepreneur needs to have, the relationships and networking that you build through people that you connect with and meet.

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About the author

Will Moniz is a recent graduate of McMaster University's biology program and his career goals include urban planning and environmental management.