Wenches & Rogues - Pioneers in the Canadian Fashion Industry
When Newfoundlander Jane Mifflin opened her first Wenches &
Rogues clothing store in St. John's, few would have predicted the
national success that followed.
Wenches & Rogues
was born when Jane Mifflin realized there was nobody else who cared
enough about Canadian designers to feature them in their stores. In
fact, Canadian designs were merely considered "stock" by most
retailers. Mifflin set out to change that. She believes in buying
Canadian, and promoting Canadian. Eighty to ninety percent of the
designs featured in her store are Canadian designed, Canadian made.
"There was one line, Comrags, that . . . [our] little store in
Newfoundland ended up being their biggest wholesale customer in
Canada," said Mifflin proudly.
|If this sounds like a feat, it is. Mifflin has
single-handedly turned the Canadian fashion scene on its ear. Her
active participation and promotion in all aspects of fashion, from
retail to consultation on campus curriculum to designing her own ad
campaigns, has earned her a distinctive place in the fashion domain.
So much so that in 1996, just three months after opening her first
store in Toronto, she was named City of Toronto Fashion Retailer of
Jane Mifflin and Claire Miller
of Wenches & Rogues
Mifflin's drive and determination were evident in the very event that
led to her involvement in the fashion industry. When she was fifteen,
Mifflin lied about her age in order to get a job at Giant Mart, then
located in Churchill Square. It led to a series of part-time jobs in the
industry and eventually to a full-time career. After graduating from
Dalhousie University, she headed to the heart of the Canadian fashion
industry - Toronto. There she worked for various retail outlets
Harry Rosen, Robin Kay and Le Chateau
, rising through the ranks from salesperson to manager to opening over
twenty stores for her various employers.
It was this extensive experience that gave her a solid background to
springboard to the success of her own stores.
With a small amount of savings, she rented a small location on Water
Street in St. John's. Friends and family helped her to open this
little goldmine. To begin, she bought as cheaply as possible, saving the
money from the sales to put back into the store. She bought cut-rate
seat sale airline tickets for her purchasing trips. Scrimping and saving
paid off, and in just two years, she had saved enough to open a second
store, this time in Toronto's Little Italy. In an unusual twist
in the business world, it was actually the Newfoundland location that
financed the operation of the Toronto store.
In 1998, the St. John's store moved from its original location of 800
square feet to a 2,200 square foot location across the street,
effectively giving Mifflin another store. In a carefully planned
expansion, yet another location was added in June of 1999 on Yorkville
Avenue in Toronto.
A great support of fashion features widely on Mifflin's agenda. That is
why Mifflin was not satisfied to merely open her stores and enjoy their
success. She envisioned the entire Canadian fashion scene as a cohesive
network, working together to promote Canadian talent and goods across
the country. And that is just what she did. In the great Newfoundland
tradition, she invited one and all, from designers and fashion school
faculty to retailers and press, to a get-to-know-you party in Toronto.
She was banking on the curiosity factor to draw them all in. It was a
resounding success. This move garnered Mifflin much respect in the
Bringing everyone together is only part of Mifflin's overall plan. She
has a social conscience that puts many in the industry to shame. Not
only does she stock primarily Canadian-made goods - no slave labour here
- but she is also an active volunteer with Toronto's Fashion Incubator,
a non-profit organization that supplies locations and equipment to
up-and-coming designers who could not otherwise afford to produce their
As Mifflin puts it, the Incubator is "a fabulous nurturing
ground for young designers." Her work with these designers has led
to her appointment as volunteer president of the Fashion Incubator
board, a post Mifflin relishes.
Jane is continuing to make her mark in the Canadian fashion scene. In
February 2001, she received another award for Industry Achievement as
Image Builder at the 2000 City of Toronto Awards for Excellence in
Fashion. Past recipients include Jeanne Becker of Fashion Television,
Phillip Ing of Fashion Cares, and Frank Toscan of MAC.
"The most important thing to me is that I get up every morning and
I love every single minute of what I do. Sometimes it's frustrating and
sometimes it's scary, but there's not one minute that I don't think that
I can do it, or that I'm not looking forward."
Note: Wenches & Rogues' is staffed by Newfoundlanders in all
three locations. They provide awesome service along with a good chat
about home. Drop by one of the three locations when you have a chance!
St. John's - 179 Water Street, (709) 739-7373
Toronto - 605 College Street, (416) 536-9593
Toronto - 110 Yorkville Avenue, (416) 920-8959
Main excerpts courtesy of ANNE TILLER of the MUSE.
%>Canadas Hot New Newfoundland Host - Seamus ORegan
Academic. Political Junkie. TV talk show host. Ranter and Roarer. St.
Johns native Seamus ORegan is a poster boy for Newfoundland
In December 1999, MacLeans magazine named Seamus as one of the 100
young Canadians to watch in the next century, noting that his resume
reads like a road map to political office. After graduating with a
political science degree from
St. Francis Xavier University
in 1992, Seamus spent three years as executive assistant to provincial
Minister of Justice Edward Roberts. Wishing to experience life abroad,
he headed to Ireland with a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to study at
University College of Dublin
where he received a degree in Irish studies (and an unofficial degree in
Guinness at the local pubs).
His love for Newfoundland politics lured Seamus back to the Rock in 1996
where he took a position for two years as
Policy and Planning Advisor to then Premier Brian Tobin
. Not one to stay still (some might call him a blue arse fly), he
decided to return to academia, this time to Cambridge University in
England to obtain a Masters in Philosophy. He wrote his dissertation on
the impact of large economic developments on the Labrador Innu, an issue
important to Seamus, who spent 14 years growing up in Goose Bay,
Newfoundlanders Abroad in
We know snow and this aint' it!"
The summer of 1999 found Seamus studying French at the
, and then working at
, the international MBA school outside Paris, where he researched
marketing and branding strategies of major corporations. In May 2000,
Seamus was back on the Rock with no agenda. A Newfoundland friend
working in the broadcast industry informed him of auditions for a new
talk show being developed by CTV. She thought Seamus would be perfect
for a hosting job, given his eclectic background and love of lively
discussions. CTV agreed, and relocated Seamus to Toronto to host
CTVs The Chatroom.
Currently broadcasting live Monday to Friday for six hours each night,
The Chatroom invites everyone from newsmakers to ordinary folks into the
studio to discuss current events, politics, pop culture trends, fashion,
entertainment, the digital world and life issues from sex to stress.
Although he spends his days hobnobbing with the likes of Sarah Jessica
Parker, Leslie Nielson and Sarah Polley and makes regular appearances on
Canada AM, Seamus remains true to his Newfoundland roots. He ensures
Newfoundland topics are covered in The Chatroom, including check-in
broadcasts with NTV and repeat visits to
. Newfoundland performers Kim Stockwood and Shaun Majunder often pop in
for a visit and Minister of Industry Brian Tobin has offered his
opinions on a variety of topics. Even Seamus wardrobe has a
Newfoundland connection. He is outfitted by Wenches & Rogues, a
fashion boutique in St. Johns and Toronto owned by fellow
Newfoundlander Jane Mifflin. A diehard Newfoundlander, Seamus exudes
passion for his province and may well become a Newfoundland icon in
Canada. Catch Seamus on CTVs The Chatroom LIVE Monday to Friday, 5
p.m. to 11 p.m. EST on digital TV or log onto
to find out more information about the show.
Newfoundlanders Abroad profiles will
be updated monthly, starting July 15, 2001. If you know about an
interesting Newfoundlander living abroad, let me know.
E-mail the name, e-mail
address and phone number, along with a brief description of the