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Designing a Life of Entrepreneurship

With fast fashion being a hot topic of conversation among consumers and environmentalists alike, intentional brands like Carmina de Young shine bright through the weeds of endless fashion options, offering Londoners a hometown, Canadian-made, sustainable addition to their wardrobes. Founder Carmina Young has been designing and producing garments in London, Ontario since 2015. A woman-owned business that prides itself on caring about people and the planet, the company’s garment production is socially and environmentally sustainable. With 100 percent of production in-house, its dedication to quality products and commitment to environmentally friendly fashion sets it apart from the rest. 

On the tail of continued growth, Carmina de Young was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic in a way many businesses were, with a drastic loss in profit and a terrifying need to pivot quickly to survive. A principal trait of any entrepreneur is to be capable of rolling with the punches, and as de Young considered her options while her manufacturing facility sat empty and her employees needed work, she and her partners used their inventive entrepreneurial drive to build CY Health. Using their seasoned manufacturing capabilities, they began making sustainable and high quality PPE gowns to aid in protecting Canadian frontline workers. Having produced 750,000+ isolation gowns to date, de Young’s drive to remain thoughtful and give back to her community allowed her business to succeed and gave more Londoners an opportunity for employment through what was an indisputably hard time for the manufacturing industry.  

I am a driven person by nature, so I’m always looking to do more. There is always a part of me that is looking to give to others, so creating my own destiny where I could provide job opportunities for people was a no-brainer. I’m thankful to be able to support London’s local economy

Carmina Young, Founder of Carmina de Young Fashion

Carmina de Young Fashion is a recent i.d.e.a Fund recipient. Supported by a $10-million Government of Canada investment through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), the i.d.e.a. Fund is led by Innovation Guelph in partnership with five Regional Innovation Centres (RICs): WETechAlliance, Haltech, Innovate Niagara, Innovation Factory and TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario. The program helps high-potential ventures access the tools they need to succeed by providing financial and business advisory supports to develop or redesign products, services, processes, and technologies that reduce impacts on the environment and create made-in-Canada solutions. 

Through Startup Advisor guidance provided via TechAlliance, the i.d.e.a. Fund helped Young relaunch her women’s clothing line called Carmina. With an urge to return to fashion design, Young was able launch her new clothing line in December 2022 with the fund helping the company bring on team members for marketing, shooting images of her newest designs and products, and providing materials and machines that aided in the production of these newest creations. With ideation of a men’s line on the horizon, Young has been able to utilize the funding and business advisory support to reimagine her business post-pandemic and get back into the passion that brought her to successful entrepreneurship in the first place; sustainable, Canadian-made fashion.  

With her line of modern essentials now available at carmina.ca and in-store at 370 Saskatoon Street in London, Ontario, Carmina de Young Fashion boasts an inspirational entrepreneurial story derivative of community care, creativity and an essential ability to navigate tricky situations. Christina Fox, CEO of TechAlliance and champion of entrepreneurs like Young, reflects on Young’s impact on our regional entrepreneurial ecosystem, noting “Young is a staple in London’s business community, and her ability to maneuver her venture through the Covid-19 pandemic is a key example of the tenacity that we see in so many of London’s vibrant entrepreneurs and founders.”  

With more designs in development and her team rapidly growing (and currently looking to hire experienced sewers!), London is lucky to have a creator and community-builder like Young contributing to our prosperous innovation economy.  

To learn more about The i.d.e.a Fund, go to techalliance.ca/idea-fund
To learn more about Carmina de Young Fashion, go to carmina.ca
To learn more about FedDev Ontario, go to https://ised-isde.canada.ca/site/feddev-ontario/en 

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