Toronto is a city filled with vibrant businesses — stylish shops, cool concept stores, unique food delivery services and so much more. But it’s also worth noting that more than a few of the city’s most innovative companies are headed by mothers and daughters. In honor of Mother’s Day being around the corner, here are six mother-daughter duos that you need to know about.
Amandine Sol Botanicals
Amandine Azran and her mom Heather run a Toronto-based skincare company which sets out to eliminate all of bells and whistles of skincare routines, offering customers simplified skincare solutions that just work.
“My mom is the ideal partner because she truly is my best friend — we work through the tough parts together, she motivates me when I feel down or shy, and I also feel 10 times more excited and proud when something great happens because we get to share in that together. We still celebrate every single order and new milestone as if it were the first,” says Amandine.
The pair go way back in the beauty industry — Amandine’s family owns colour-focused hair salon Colour Lab — and they’ve been applying hard earned trade secrets to their very own brand. Amandine and Heather draw inspiration from their farm two hours outside of Toronto in order to by-pass the “overcomplicated and underperforming skincare routines” that dominate the market.
“I had been working on a multi-correctional face oil to make for clients as my daughter was about to leave home for law school. I was sick of having so many single-ingredient skincare products that led to more confusion and waste, so I was on a mission to create the perfect formula that simplified the skincare routine. Having Amandine on board, I knew we could bring it to life on a larger scale,” says Heather.
Amandine recalls visiting the university she was set to go to for law school with her mom and immediately crying when she got there. “My mom was like, ‘You don’t have to do this. If you could do anything in the world, what would you do?'” Amandine says. “I said, ‘I would start a skincare line with you.'”
With such different skin types between the two of them, Amandine and Heather focused on creating skincare “staples” — and they’ve stayed true to that mission, perfecting just two products. They’ve obviously done something right: makeup artists have been using their products on everyone from Pedro Pascal to Simu Liu.
While launching this new brand, their family experienced what Amandine describes as “the hardest thing we’ve ever been through:” her mom was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. But Amandine went through with the launch by herself while her mom was going through treatment and surgeries, and she recalls something her mom recently said to her: “She told me her proudest moment was watching me launch this company and told me I should absolutely feel so proud of myself for putting myself out there and making making these moves despite everything.”
Now, the pair donates a portion of proceeds to St. Joseph’s Health Centre HPB [hepato-pancreato-biliary] service.
Mama Loves You
This vintage shop has been enthralling customers with its quality garments since 2012. Daughter Mahro Anfield and mother Melo opened the store on Queen Street West as a way to showcase a diverse range of vintage pieces for men and women.
“We couldn’t imagine running a store without each other. I run the shop and the social media while Melo does all the sourcing of the product. I need her and she needs me. We have the same taste in clothing and trends so we are perfect partners,” says Mahro.
Although the duo aren’t always able to spend time together, they still feel connected through the store.
“Running a store has definitely benefited our relationship. Melo lives in Vancouver and does all the sourcing for the product out there,” Mahro says. “Because of the distance, we need to be in constant communication about what’s selling in-store and what’s going to be the next trend. Surprisingly, even with the distance we always seem to be on the same page.”
If you’re in need of a curated luxury experience with a comfortable atmosphere, look no further than Clementine’s. Christina McDowell and her daughter Kelly are the duo behind the operation, and have been selling high street and luxury goods to Torontonians for years now.
“We opened almost nine years ago because we knew we had a unique opportunity to create something we love together. We also felt the community of Rosedale and Summerhill, that we know and love, would enjoy a service-focused, curated retail shop,” says Kelly.
The duo pride themselves on operating a concept shop with some of the most unique names in fashion. Uma Wang and Helmut Lang remain as some of the more prominent brands at the shop, both in stature and popularity. They also pride themselves on curating the store as a team.
“Working together is pretty great. We each bring a different skill set and perspective, which is necessary in any partnership. We’re lucky that we have so much fun together!”
While fashion is a medium that can brings the masses together, Kelly and Christina find that their expertise furthers their bond with each other.
“We’re very fortunate. We’ve learned and grown within the business and definitely brought us closer together as mother and daughter,” says Kelly.
Sherry Caldwell and her daughter Ashley pride themselves on merging fashion and advocacy with disability-positive online marketplace GoodOnU.ca. The pair started the label just last year as Ashley was in high school.
“We decided to embark on this adventure. You see, Ashley was born with disabilities, but that has never stopped her from dreaming big. She’s a rockstar who uses a wheelchair and AAC [Augmentative and Alternative Communication] to communicate, and I knew she deserved more opportunities. So, we said goodbye to the typical employment hunt and decided to create our destiny!” says Sherry.
The duo have slowly grown the brand over the last year or so. They’ve done so by putting just as much emphasis on the social aspects as they do the fashion.
“Our vision for GoodOnU.ca goes beyond just running a store. We’re on a mission to make some serious waves in society! Through our advocacy work and our one-of-a-kind merchandise, we’re spreading awareness about accessibility, equity and inclusion for individuals with disabilities in a fun and fabulous way,” Sherry says. “We believe in a future where everyone’s voice is heard, and employment barriers are overcome. GoodOnU.ca is not just a business to us but a social enterprise for positive change, and we’re proud to be part of this fantastic journey together.”
Sherry and Ashley are the dream team. The pair have input on all of the garments they release, down to the drawings themselves.
“Sure, we’ve had our fair share of learning curves, but we’ve laughed, we’ve cried and we’ve nailed some seriously cool hats and Ts! Ashley is not just the face of our social media, but she’s also an artist who designed our heart logo for the My Heart collection,” Sherry says. Ashley and I have been long-time advocates for individuals with disabilities, and we wanted to fund our advocacy efforts while spreading positive vibes about disabilities. That’s why every sale at GoodOnU.ca supports our grassroots advocacy initiatives, with a mission to create a world that’s inclusive and accessible for all.”
Self-love and empowerment
Girl Gang Strong is a subscription box created by Toronto-based event planner Kennishia Duffus and her tween daughter, Kyree. Each box contains five to eight specially curated products to help young girls love themselves, empower each other and embrace their differences.
For Kyree, working with her mom has not only been fun, but also inspiring.
“When I see my mom working hard, it makes me feel like she loves what we’re doing and it makes me want to do more.”
Despite the stress of starting a business during a pandemic, the pair is committed to their cause.
“Sometimes I feel like giving up, but then I remember how the work we do puts smiles on so many girls’ faces,” says Kyree.
It was also important for Kennishia to show her daughter that she believes in Kyree’s dreams, supports her goals and that despite any challenges that arise they can still push through.
“We overcame by believing in ourselves, having faith and knowing that we are Girl Gang Strong,” says Kennishia.
Working together has also shown her just how creative and hard-working Kyree is.
“We laugh together, celebrate together, pack boxes together and cry together. It’s an amazing experience that we will always cherish,” says Kennishia.
Ai (meaning “children/daughters” in Korean) Toronto Seoul is a Toronto-based, sustainable fashion brand run by Hun Young Lee and her three daughters, Hannah, Joanna and Rebekah. They carefully curate and produce PETA-approved vegan handbags and accessories made in small batches in Seoul, South Korea.
Hannah Kim and her sisters are not only inspired by their mother but also continue to learn from her.
“We adore having the opportunity to work with our mom, and we’re constantly inspired by her creativity and work ethic,” Kim says. “Our mom continues to teach us to be strong and have faith, especially in tough times. She is one of the most robust people we know and we strive to be as strong as she is.”
Working together also showed the family just how much they all think alike.
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover that we often don’t have to think twice or question anything we put into motion — there’s an incredible amount of trust between the four of us, and so we’re able to make decisions quickly knowing that there aren’t any personal agendas,” Kim says. “We definitely attribute that to the trust between us as a close-knit family.”