Entrepreneurship happened by complete “fluke” for Valarie Midgley — an entrepreneur and Custom Designer based in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
During her senior year of high school — in need of another art credit — Valarie chose to take a sewing class. She already knew how to sew and figured it would be an easy semester.
The sewing class led to a fashion co-op, and the fashion co-op led to the opportunity to work with a Fashion Designer. Once she got a taste of fashion, she was hooked. In fact, Valarie started her very first business at 17-years-old called Masquerade Intimate Apparel designing and creating exotic dancewear.
“At that time we had a number of dance bars in the city so I decided why not give it a shot.”
Valarie turned it into a lucrative business. But it didn’t come without its challenges. Who can remember pre-internet days of going to the library and having to sign out books in order to research simple topics? But that’s exactly how Valarie learned the business side of entrepreneurship. She had to learn marketing, advertising, budgeting and customer service — all essential components of any successful business.
After high school, Valarie attended Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario and immersed herself in the Fashion Technique and Design course. After graduating from Sheridan’s Post Grad Fashion program, she moved back to Thunder Bay for a time, then back to Toronto for 6 years.
“I knew I wanted to go into custom design… and I knew I wanted to have my own shop.”
Fast forward to today and Valarie runs three, successful fashion and apparel related businesses in Thunder Bay; for the past 11 years she’s been Owner/Operator and Head Designer at The Whole Nine Yards, which provides alterations, tailoring, repairs and custom clothing. Recent ventures include Carefree Clothing, which caters to clients who require adaptive apparel due to accessibility or mobility concerns; and Superior Clothing Manufacturing that has a focus on providing mass manufactured nightgowns/nightshirts for men and women with challenged mobility across Canada.