For nineteen years, Darrell Graham of Darrell Thomas Textiles has graced Ottawa with the most exquisite and exclusive collection of fabrics and dressmaking textiles. He offers sewing classes at his beautiful Preston Street boutique to those who are passionate about creating their own gorgeous garments.
FIO sat down with Graham to learn more about his love affair with fashion, and the legacy of Darrell Thomas Textiles.
FIO: When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career as a designer and textile merchandiser, and create a brand that bears your name?
DG: After graduating from fashion school in the 90s, I was really dissatisfied with my job, and I was inspired to open my own studio.
FIO: What are some of the things that you feel are quintessentially Darrell Graham when you purchase fabrics and textiles, and when you design?
DG: I look for exclusive, quality fabrics that are beautiful and different. They’re original. I enjoy sewing and creating garments from unique fabrics and textiles.
FIO: Describe your personal style and how you express yourself.
DG: My style is conservative, yet sporty. I am not a three piece suit type of guy, and I don’t wear black and white! I love colourful, semi formal and avant garde apparel. I have to feel comfortable in what I’m wearing.
FIO: What is your favourite part of your work?
DG: I love finding beautiful fabrics and textiles and selling them to my clients, and giving them guidance and inspiration to create a fabulous garment.
FIO: What marketing channel was the most surprisingly successful for you?
DG: Facebook and Instagram, but Instagram hands down! It was like getting known around the world overnight! Really helpful. I like sharing little slivers of the product as a story on Instagram.
FIO: Who's your favourite designer, and how does he/she inspire you and influence your textile/fabric collection?
DG: My favourite designer is Gianni Versace! I love how unapologetic he was about his love of the female form, and how he enhanced their features with his gorgeous designs and vibrant colours. Just superb quality!
FIO: What was the most valuable fashion/business advice you were given?
DG: I was told to focus on who you are and your reputation! Take baby steps when starting your business, and don’t sacrifice quality or service to jump ahead of the game. Be honest and nice to clients, and they’ll have an enjoyable experience, and they’ll come back. Know your brand completely!
FIO: If your younger self was standing before you, what advice would you give about starting your own business/entrepreneurial journey in Ottawa?
DG: OMG! Believe in what you’re going to do, and forget about the negative people! Be passionate about it and keep your eye on the ball. Be bold and not afraid because it will all be fine!
It’s clear that Darrell Graham loves fashion, fabrics, textiles, sewing and people! It’s no wonder his boutique is essential to Ottawa’s ever expanding community of creatives and designers. His dedication to excellence and to carry the finest quality textiles is unsurpassed. He genuinely cares about his clients and students feeling happy, satisfied and having fun! Aren’t we fortunate that he was dissatisfied with that old job?
To find out more about Darrell Thomas Textiles, please visit www.darrellthomas.com