If I had asked Shane Vitaly Foran five years ago when he was graduating with an Arts degree in Politics and Governance, what he would be doing today, he probably would have told me he wasn’t thinking much further than his grad trip to Bali, Indonesia. Although, he did enjoy many of his marketing and business courses, the idea of starting his own creative business wasn’t on his mind.
If I had asked him two years ago where he would be today, he would have been unable to say what degree of success he could anticipate for his accessory and clothing brand, Vitaly, which was inspired by the craftsmanship in Bali and his growing love for fashion and the Toronto community.
When I got the chance to meet and ask him exactly what he has been up to lately, he told me me that Vitaly has just opened their newest pop up shop on 350 Yonge Street (previously The Accessory Bar) which is basically next door to campus. Also, no big deal, but he is anticipating the grand opening of Vitaly’s 3 storey flag ship store and headquarters opening on Queen Street West in June 2016.
Not too shabby for someone who claims the first design he ever put on paper was the worst drawing he’s ever seen. He contributes his business acumen, ability to write, and his networking skills to his time at Ryerson which has been integral to his success as an entrepreneur. It goes to show that your degree and your chosen hustle and/or career don’t have to be a perfect match.
Vitaly is a unisex brand, but I would add that their collections have a masculine energy. However, that definitely would not stop me from accessorizing many of their rings, necklaces, and bracelets with my favorite festival-ready dress. The items in the shop are minimal, but make a statement. As Shane mentioned he doesn’t care much about fast fashion because the focus of his designs transcend what is in season, right now. An emphasis is put on longevity and timeless style which has contributed to their ongoing success as a brand.
It is also this notion that has inspired their most recent branding campaign #VitalyEveryday. Quality, simple, and enhancing basics that you can wear everyday. It’s a simple idea, but it resonates with the minimalist in me. It’s not foreign to the staff working in the popup shop I met as well who claim they’ve worn the same Vitaly ring every day for 2 years and would feel naked without it.
What does Shane have to say to students who are looking to start their own business? Experiencing adversity has to be your favorite because you’re going going to get a lot of it. Shane himself is an extremely nice and humble guy, but you can tell he has a thick skin. Anyone who is starting a fashion business in Toronto knows it’s not a walk through Gould Street.
Although Vitaly has experienced and continues to experience great success, Shane admits that their aggressive business and marketing techniques have led them through some scant times. But that hasn’t stopped them. In fact, he says that’s how they’ve tripled their profits every year.
It’s hard not to be smitten with Shane and his brand after interviewing him. He speaks passionately about his love for the 6ix and his desire to collaborate with artists and friends to elevate the creative community. The launch of their flagship store seems to be the effort of many and isn’t just a win for Vitaly, but their many friends as well.
It’s not surprising that their Instagram (@vitalydesign) bio includes the phrase, “Designed with our friends in mind” which was Shane’s first business model: selling to his friends. It’s true that after chatting with him and a couple of his devoted associates working in the pop-up shop that it felt that I hadn’t just visited a retail store, but I had actually made some friends.
Vitaly’s popup shop is open until the end of April.
For more information about Vitaly, check out their website: http://www.vitalydesign.ca/
Photos from Instagram (@vitalydesign)