Monday, May 2, 2011

Profile: Laura-Jean Bernhardson

The focus of our newest profile is no stranger to many in the Toronto fashion industry. Laura-Jean Bernhardson is the designer of the clothing line Fresh Baked Goods. She started Fresh Baked Goods in 1994, and became know as the Knitting Queen. Bright colours and playful charm characterized her unique knitwear. Laura-Jean has since moved away from knitted designs and now creates a versatile, fun collection of ladies clothing. She is also the founder and business guru behind The Fresh Collective.

Designer Laura-Jean Bernhardson
Fresh Baked Goods

I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to interview Laura-Jean, at her new Roncesvalles store. Recently opened in April, this beautiful shop is just steps away from High Park, antique shops, and charming little bistros. I initially thought that I would do a Shop Review on The Fresh Collective, but soon found myself overwhelmed by the wealth of information and inspiration. Hence, I have decided to do a two-part profile.

I feel like this was a long overdue conversation with someone that I have admired for many years. I fondly remember walking into her quaint little shop on Augusta Avenue in Kensington Market. The walls were covered with colourful knitwear, a unique collection of one-of-a-kind pieces embellished with her handmade buttons in playful motifs. My personal favourites were the fruit buttons.

Fresh Baked Goods at Fresh Collective
Queen Street West location
Photo by Crafted Spaces

Her fun, feminine and locally made designs grew from her desire to do something creative. Her designs and business have grown into a viable creative business venture. Prior to 1994, Laura-Jean first ventured into making jewellery. When asked about her journey over the years Laura-Jean indicated "I learned as I went along."


She also loves working with the designers of Fresh Collective, where she is the founder and proprietor of three Toronto retail locations. Laura-Jean is also the mother of an energetic four-and-a-half-year-old son and like many of us, deals with the juggling act. She chuckled, when asked about having personal time. Laura-Jean has found some balance and organization by taking a step back and delegating various aspects of the business to her staff.

It is evident that she has not only refined her own craft, but that she is passionate about helping other designers live their dreams of creating and growing with and through their creativity. Laura-Jean describes herself as "self-taught" and encourages others to "take leadership in what you are doing." She identifies that one of the challenges is "riding out the highs and lows." "Taking a leap of faith" and "belief in what you are doing" are some of her insightful suggestions. She also emphasizes the importance of creating standards for what you want, and "promote yourself." Laura-Jean's newest collection is cute and flirty, with retro, wearable classic shapes.

Below: Photograph of Fresh Baked Goods newest designs, available at the Roncesvalles location. Photographed by Crafted Spaces.

Laura-Jean's Fresh Baked Goods can be found at all of the following retail locations:

Fresh Collective
401 Roncesvalles Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario
(647) 352-7132

Fresh Collective
692 Queen Street West,
Toronto, Ontario
(416) 594-1313

Fresh Collective
274 Augusta Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario
(416) 966-0123

Join us later this month for our "Shop Review," as we give you an inside look into Fresh Collective, and some of the very talented designers.

I hope that you have found this profile insightful and I invite you to visit our Profile Page for interviews and features of individuals who have chosen to create and live creatively.

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