Q & A with Coordinator of Canada’s Breakthrough Designers Rebecca Lowson.

With this year’s Canada’s Breakthrough Designers Competition fast approaching, I took the time to sit down with Rebecca Lowson; fellow colleague and blog contributor, to ask her a few questions about her job; Coordinator of TÉLIOs annual Design Competition!

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Photo Credit: Chloé Caravelas

Q: What is your role in Canada’s Breakthrough Designers?

A: I am in charge of coordinating all aspects of the competition. From brainstorming a theme along with many other creative minds at TÉLIO to putting it into words, to searching and booking an amazing jury panel, to writing many, many, many documents in both French and English, to corresponding with over 23 schools across Canada throughout most of the year, to planning the final event… and so much more! Year round, I work hand in hand with the competition director, Sonia Serfaty.

Q: What is the best part of your position?

A: I have more than one; I love that I am a part of promoting tomorrow’s talent and that I work in an environment that allows me to meet and exchange with passionate, creative and driven people on a regular basis.

Q: What is the hardest part of your position?

A: {laugh} ‘Good’ question, I think the hardest part for me E-V-E-R-Y  year is being unable to partake in our jury panel.

Q: What do you look forward to most every year, in regards to the competition?

A: Without a doubt it has to be when we receive the designs from the participating schools. Lucky for me this happens twice a year! In October we receive the sketches from all the participating schools and then in January the finalists’ 25 finished garments. On both occasions it feels like my birthday all over again! All the boxes shipped from the schools are sent to my attention which means I’m the first to get a look at them! The two days spent with the jury are like candy for me as well!

Q: One thing you learned through working on CBD that has changed your outlook?

A: I have learned so many things in my three years at TÉLIO! But if I must pick one it would have to be, becoming a better organized person. An important quality to have when you’re a coordinator.

Q: Give us a snapshot of a day in the life of Rebecca during the last couple of months of the competition.

A: It’s busy, but so exciting! I usually have an intern at that time, which helps me so much. A couple of months prior to the grand finale fashion show at Montreal Fashion Week, I’m in full gear communicating with Sensation Mode (the team behind MFW), our amazing PR firm Bicom, the finalists schools, our partners, stylist, SPECS model agency, an incredible partner since this competition began 9 years ago. And of course going back and forth with our graphic designer Katelyn for all things visual, including the website, program book, and official invitation. Everything at that moment is about fine tuning, making sure every detail is perfect, and not forgotten.

Q: Give us a snapshot of your work days during the competition finals

A: I’ll divide this into parts, so the day before the fashion show, the jury meets for the second and last time to carefully select the 5 winning garments. We have two professional SPECS models that wear each design one by one, in order for the jury to see the garments in detail and to get the overall feel of the outfit. Top secret decisions are made at this point since the unveiling of the top 5 will only be announced the next day!  Meanwhile, all the finalists and their professors are on their way to Montreal by plane, train or bus from all over Canada. The Montreal Fashion Bureau, a partner of TÉLIO, hosts a welcoming supper where for the first time everyone gets to meet the stars of the competition. Our partners are invited as well, which helps them get a concrete grasp on how important their role is.

It’s always funny to see, year after year the students reaction to us calling them by their names and totally knowing who they are (little do they realise, we have been seeing their pictures and garments for months at that point).That night, the group heads back to the hotel. We make sure they are spread out and paired up with new faces so that everyone gets to know each other better. It’s crazy how this little detail makes a huge difference on the intermingling. We are always thanked at the end when new friends are made, even though it’s a bit challenging at first {laugh}.

Fashion Show Day: My intern and I meet up with the finalists and their school representatives at their hotel. We start bright and early with a visit to a renowned Montreal company. In 2012 we were welcomed by Cirque du Soleil and received a very privileged guided tour of their Montreal Head Quarters! The schools loved it! Last year, we visited Jack Victor, a century old family business in Montreal that makes high end suits for men. We got to see the whole process from A-Z as everything is designed and produced in house. Then we all go to TÉLIO’s head office. After a catered lunch we move on to one or two conferences for the finalists. Last year we had Carly Stojsic, Market Editor for WGSN. The final hours before the competition we take the group on a guided tour of our beloved city; Montreal. Then straight to the Montreal Fashion Week Venue for the final countdown to the show!

Fashion Show: The show! Yes, at one point, it really does happen! The students are, to say the least, excited, nervous and amazed. We’ve all worked so hard to get there; it’s a big moment for everyone!

After all the garments have been modeled down the runway, the final 5 winners are announced on stage. Immediately after the fashion show it’s all about the press and media for the winners and jury members. During this I’m backstage helping the stylist wrap up and making sure all the garments are redistributed to the finalists. In the meantime everyone gets to mingle in the cocktail room and this is also when the TÉLIO team says their goodbyes to the students and their professors.

Q: One word of advice for the students wishing to compete?

A: Bragging totally aside, I highly recommend to all Fashion Design students across Canada to take a chance at this truly amazing competition and opportunity. There are so many things to gain by participating in such an adventure and the camaraderie is always mind-blowing. This being said, my “one” word of advice to any future participant is to edit, edit, edit their sketch and finished garment to the final thread. The juries are very demanding when it comes to detail, which makes all the difference in the end!

Jess: Thank you Rebecca, looking forward to seeing more on the competition!

Rebecca: My pleasure, stay tuned next Tuesday October 15th we are officially announcing the 2014 jury panel and within the next two weeks we will be posting individual interviews with each one of them!