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Spotlight on Erin Fitzpatrick: Back to School with Radley Prep

Lauren Marinigh | September 4, 2015

It all started in 2009 when Erin Fitzpatrick was asked to design a collection of hair accessories for Canada’s oldest all-girl private school, Bishop Strachan School. The collection featured a variety of girls’ hair accessories that would allow students to express their individuality while staying within the strict uniform dress code. Instantly, the collection was a hit and helped skyrocket Erin’s career into  her company, Radley Prep, that now sells hair accessories and jewelry to over 75 schools and retailers in North America.

As early as she could remember, Erin wanted to run her own business. “I think I inherited this entrepreneurial spirit from my grandfather who ran multiple businesses throughout his life,” Erin shared. Whether it was launching a popsicle stand in the park when she was a kid or a dress company when she was a university student, Erin always had a strong desire to express herself creatively in an entrepreneurial way.

Starting out, Erin worked in her studio space, which was in her parent’s basement, to complete her orders.  Since expanding her clientele drastically, she now oversees production at her studio in downtown Toronto and is constantly trying to stay on top of student trends to stay relevant in the industry. “Every time I visit a school I am doing market research—chatting with students and checking out what accessories students are wearing and how they are wearing them,” Erin explained. “I always remind myself to design for the student rather than myself. Being innovative while staying with the school dress code can sometimes be a bit of a challenge, but luckily I like challenges.”

With back to school season obviously being high season for Erin’s business, there are a few things she does to keep herself at her best and on top of business:

1) To-do lists: Writing down all you have to do in a detailed list format is imperative during busy times. It helps to keep you on track, organized and sane.

2) Stay hydrated and eat healthy: You are what you eat/drink. Eating regular meals and snacks with lots of water in between will help keep you energized when you need it most.

3) Yoga and running: Or any form of physical activity that helps you clear your head after a long day of work and gain strength.

Outside of busy season, it’s important to Erin and many other entrepreneurs who run businesses with peak and low times to think outside of the box. “Talk to friends and family to get ideas and keep an idea book for brainstorming,” Erin advises. “My other accessory line (Erin Fitzpatrick Bridal) came about during my slow season.”

While tackling multiple accessory lines, the art of balance has really been important to Erin. As an entrepreneur you are often being pulled in many directions, and Erin explained that she wants to avoid being a jack of all trades but a master of none. So she has made a point on identifying her own key strengths and outsourcing the rest.

Erin wanted to leave aspiring entrepreneurs with one piece of advice: “Know that you have to work very, very hard to succeed and that it will take time in order for your business to come together. It does not happen overnight—you must be highly motivated, hard-working, and learn to not take rejection personally.”

You can check out Radley Prep’s product line here and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada