Kim McCormick | Dawn & Jude
I have the wonderful opportunity to meet and photograph all kinds of amazing human beings.
While they are in studio, it is a privilege to learn about their businesses, or the work they do, their family, their interests, and hear a little bit about their story.
Meet the dynamic force of innovation and entrepreneurship, Kim McCormick, a serial entrepreneur whose ventures have left a mark on the business landscape. Located n the picturesque town of Parry Sound, Kim wears multiple hats as a previous owner/operator of a thriving resort, a partner of Bay Bound Solutions, a flourishing barging/landscape maintenance business on the Georgian Bay, a Founder of the Parry Sound Area Founders Circle, and most recently, launched Dawn & Jude, a sustainable luxury dress rental solution in the Parry Sound and Muskoka area.
What inspired you to start a business that focuses on sustainable and stylish clothing for special occasions?
I recently attended a wedding in Toronto and really struggled to find a dress. I have been trying to focus on living a more environmentally conscious life, and really wanted to avoid buying a new dress for single use for this event. Some of my friends were renting dresses in Toronto, but the logistics were too difficult to get down to the city before the wedding. So, I decided to start a dress rental business here in Parry Sound!
Could you elaborate on the unique value proposition that sets your luxury dress rental solution apart from traditional retail options?
Our unique value proposition lies in offering luxury dress rentals at a fraction of the retail cost. We make high-end fashion accessible and affordable. This not only saves our customers money, but also reduces the environmental impact associated with fast fashion.
Can you share the story behind the name and branding of your business, and how it reflects your mission?
The name is a combination of my daughter’s and my middle names. I wanted a modern, stylish name that would reflect the brand identity, and after making a list of business names, this was the winner! The logo itself reflects the essence of Dawn & Jude, embodying modernity and luxury with a sustainable twist. To exude quiet luxury and style, a sleek, timeless font was chosen for the brand name. The color palette, comprised of muted, earthy tones, echoes the idea of sustainability and natural beauty, simultaneously conveying simplicity and elegance.
Sustainability is a key focus for your brand. Could you elaborate?
The fashion industry produces over 100 billion garments a year and 87% of these will end up in a landfill or an incinerator (approximately 40 million tons) with only 1% recycled. Additionally, the apparel industry is responsible for 4% of greenhouse gas emissions – the same as the countries of Germany, France and the U.K. combined. Unchecked, fashion production would account for 26% of all carbon emissions by 2050. Reference
Renting dresses instead of constantly buying something new is just a small step one can take to contribute to a more sustainable future.
What differentiates your clothing from traditional special occasion attire in terms of style and sustainability?
Often, when we attend weddings or special events, we want to buy a new dress. Many women usually only wear these dresses once and then they sit in our closets. Our goal is not to reinvent fashion trends or styles, but to promote circular fashion.
Renting a dress creates an opportunity to try something new, wear something that you wouldn’t normally buy, reduce waste, and save money; all while looking and feeling amazing!
How do you ensure that your suppliers and manufacturers align with your commitment to sustainability and ethical production?
When buying dresses, I prioritize those that use eco-friendly materials, ethical labor practices, and embrace sustainable production and handling methods. One such brand is Reformation. Reformation is a sustainable brand out of Los Angeles that makes everything from low-impact materials, rescued deadstock fabrics, and repurposed vintage clothing. While not all dress brands that I purchase focus on sustainability, I do my best to source previously loved luxury dresses to maintain alignment with Dawn & Jude’s mission. Many of the dresses in the collection have been purchased from friends and family, local women, and second-hand online marketplaces. Much of the time, these sources have luxury dresses in their closets that have only been worn once, and in some cases, not at all.
Can you describe the process of selecting and designing your clothing pieces with sustainability in mind?
I select clothing that is timeless and versatile, reducing the need for constant new purchases. I seek brands that consider eco-friendly materials and production processes, ensuring that our dresses are not only stylish, but also sustainable. I do, however, like to look for pieces that are “in-season”. For example, I am currently focused on purchasing fun dresses for holiday parties.
What is your strategy for acquiring high-end, sought-after dresses for your inventory, and how do you maintain their quality and condition?
I extensively research the “in” brands of the moment, dresses trending at major retailers, and the tried-and-true classic luxury brands. When I find dresses that fit the collection, I will then look to acquire those dresses, or similar, on websites such as Poshmark, The Real Real, or Vestiare which are online marketplaces for second-hand dresses. Quality is of utmost importance, and Dawn & Jude will maintain it through rigorous cleaning and inspection after each rental. This ensures every customer receives a top-notch dress.
What challenges have you encountered in creating sustainable clothing for special occasions, and how have you overcome them?
When I see a dress that I like at one of the major retailers, I will spend hours trying to find that dress on one of the marketplaces mentioned above. This takes a LOT of time. It would be quicker to purchase the dresses new, but finding the dresses used (usually only worn once so they are still in great shape) is super important to me and Dawn & Jude.
How do you plan to communicate your sustainability efforts to your target audience and potential customers?
Dawn & Jude will use social media to share our sustainability initiatives, educate customers about the impact of their choices, and highlight the benefits of renting over buying.
In the fast-fashion industry, how do you plan to compete and promote your brand's sustainability to stand out in the market?
Dawn & Jude plans to stand out by highlighting the value of sustainability and making it accessible to everyone. Our competitive edge lies in offering luxury dresses at a fraction of the cost, coupled with our commitment to the environment.
As a startup, what are your long-term goals and vision for your business in terms of both sustainability and growth
The goal is to be the go-to destination in the Parry Sound/Muskoka area when in need of a dress for a party, an event or a special occasion. It would be great if more consumers got on board with reducing fast fashion’s environmental impact.
The vision is to have a destination location for women to go: a brick and mortar collective and event space. For example, the location could offer hair, nails, and lashes along with luxury dress rentals and also serve as a space to gather and bring people together in the community.
In terms of expansion, Dawn & Jude will eventually offer party rentals.
What is keeping you up at night?
Looking for dresses, social media (it is not my strength), and more often than not, my kids!
Describe some of your key routines or habits that you have to keep you going?
I work out most mornings at JF Fitness or Evolve. It keeps me sane. I drink a lot of water, but it’s necessary to counteract the massive amounts of coffee I drink. I listen to lots of podcasts and read quite a bit as well.
Do you, and/or, how do you find time to develop your creative process?
In 2021, my husband and I sold a business. This gave me the space and time I needed to think about my next venture. It took longer than I had hoped. I have brainstormed many, many ideas over the past two years, but when I had that epiphany moment, it was a good feeling.
What are some hard choices that you had to make to get where you are?
Since entering the workforce, my life has been a series of hard choices (as is the case for most of us): starting a career, switching industries, moving away, moving back home, starting and operating two business with my husband, selling one of those businesses, starting a family, and then choosing to take time to focus on my family instead of my career for a little while. All of these (and probably more that I haven’t thought about) were not easy decisions and have all led me to where I am now.
Can you describe a memorable success story or moment that reaffirmed your commitment to your business's mission?
Each time I get a high quality, used dress in the mail, I get excited and feel good about the choice to buy second-hand.
What is your relationship with failure?
My relationship with failure is one of continuous learning and growth. The last couple years have been difficult. After ending a major chapter in my life with the sale of our resort business, although a successful decision, the slower pace of life had made me feel uncomfortable. It had become hard to focus on the many things going right in life, and any previous successes up until now. I felt like I wasn’t doing anything productive (even though I was raising two small kids, managing the household, and running the back end of our other business). Some days were hard, but I continued to focus on self-improvement, learning and exploring. This venture may fail! And that is okay because I will have taken a chance and put myself back out there.
What book and/or podcast are you enjoying right now?
Oh boy, it will be hard to narrow this down. I love my news podcasts (The Daily, The Journal, Front Burner, The Decibel), and my health podcasts (mainly The Drive and Andrew Huberman). But I also love a good and entertaining scam or crime podcast – Scamanda was a recent one I listened to that was a wild ride!
I generally veer towards fiction books, and my last 5 star book on Goodreads was Remarkably Bright Creatures which was incredibly charming and heart-warming. I did, however, finally got around to reading Atomic Habits which contained some really helpful nuggets.
What is one thing people would never guess about you?
I don’t really like chickpeas. For some reason, people are always shocked when I tell them that.
What is one thing you wish people knew about you?
I am an extroverted introvert, which is becoming more apparent as I get older. I am in my own head a lot.
Anything else you want to add and/or share?
I encourage anyone who would like to check out the dresses in the collection to contact me through Instagram, Facebook, email@example.com, or phone (705-346-0896). Once contacted I will send out a questionnaire asking about the type of event you are attending and the style of dress that you are seeking. You can then set up an appointment to view and try-on dresses in the showroom/dressing room.
Thank you Peter for the opportunity to share my story!
Where to find Kim: