Young and bold

Photo provided by Mary Young.

[T]he door slams shut. But not for long as students scurry in and out of the design studios and computer labs in Ryerson’s School of Fashion. As the fourth year of the fashion communication program approaches, students are working furiously to finish off their capstone projects.

Amidst the hustle and bustle marches in a petite girl with dirty-blond hair, stomping her hefty fur-trimmed Timberland boots to get the remnants of the messy winter day off.

Her name is Mary Young – designer, and entrepreneur, and fourth-year fashion communication student.

Young instinctively sets up the sewing machine tucked away in the back of the studio, familiar to all fashion students and a haunting memory for most first-year students. But Young swiftly moves around the machine without any hesitation or thought. It’s down to business now. She quickly wraps her long hair up in a neat bun and slides her chair over to lie out piles of fabric on the brown drafting tables across from the sewing machine. The light-coloured, chunky, knitted textiles now scattered on the table serve a double-purpose. Not only will she be using them in her final year collection, but also for pieces to be featured in her personal entrepreneurial venture.

“When you love something enough, it will saturate every part of your life without you even realizing it,” Young says, hunched over the old Juki with a smile growing on her berry stained lips as she begins the day’s task.

Young cites her education at George Brown College and Ryerson University as starting points for helping her discover her professional ambitions. She studied Fashion Design and Techniques at George Brown College for a year before coming to Ryerson. Young says she hopes to work in either end of the fashion industry – from the business side in public relations and marketing or the design side as a product developer.

She’s off to a head start already. She operates her own line of knitted scarves and headbands under the title Marymade. Already well received, her line is currently sold at Brika, an online retailer currently with a pop-up location in Hudson’s Bay on Queen Street in downtown Toronto. The Marymade accessories, which are all handmade, were also picked up by independent retailer Charlie’s Boutique on Queen Street West.

But she didn’t stop there. Young launched a second line of accessories this past summer entitled Thirteen, her lucky number, as an extension of the Marymade brand.

Young, who was born on the 13th of April believes the number has always brought her luck, despite it being popularly known as an unlucky number. “I figured why not name my company that is close to my personal aesthetic something that strongly reflects me and who I am. Also, starting the company in 2013 made it an easy choice!” she says.

With a minimalistic aesthetic, Young uses luxurious textiles such as vegan leather for her collection. The line immediately caught the attention of the Toronto market and was picked up for sale by Toronto-based online retailer Knifepoint within the same month of its launch.

Young’s eyes are focused on the sewing needle as it punctures through the cumbersome fabric. Her keen eye for detail, along with a patient and disciplined mindset, allow her to execute a particular technique that can only be learned through many trials and errors, as Mary has.

It becomes clear that this attentive perception is what aides Young in spotting and focusing ideas that have the potential to grow into something successful.

For those in school who are considering starting up a new venture, Young suggests there’s no better time than the present while attending a school such as Ryerson, with the plethora of connections and resources available.

A striking image of a beautiful woman peeks out of Young’s bag. Pulling out her planner, the woman becomes recognizable as Beyoncé. Laughing, Young explains that there’s a good reason as to why the mega superstar accompanies her everywhere she goes.

“Not only is she a powerhouse and an amazingly talented individual, but as well an extremely successful, caring and strong woman.”

Turning back to her work, Young has a satisfied grin as she polishes off the first look of her capstone collection, a modern take on mixing lingerie and loungewear with a monochrome palette and a focus on the importance of touch.

As she unflinchingly reaches for the next piece in her series, Young says, “Of course it can feel a little stressful at moments, but I’m mostly just excited to hammer out the final result and enter a brand new stage in my life.”

Young’s products can be found on