Driving through a quaint subdivision, giant grey warehouses appear around a corner and seem out of place. Amongst the bulking bland forms, tucked into a little niche, emerges a whimsical pink and orange door. The bright colours beckon you closer, inviting to you come inside and explore Sweet Peach Costumes.
Sweet Peach Costumes opened three months ago and focuses on creating, designing and altering dance costumes for local dance studios and dance parents. Sweet Peach Costumes used to run under the name Inspirations Dancewear until one day the company approached Mandy Kowitz. Kowitz had been working as the production floor manager for Inspirations Dancewear for two years before they came to offer her the business.
She didn’t hesitate to say yes.
“I can’t imagine doing anything else. There is nothing else that I’m supposed to be doing,” Kowitz said.
Becoming a business owner might have been quick decision but the journey has been anything but swift. Kowitz’s career in fashion started with a two year program at The Academy of Design in Toronto. With her education in hand, she found a job as a seamstress for a couple of months, sometimes struggling through 14 hour days to meet costume deadlines. It was one fateful night at 3 o’clock in the morning that she found herself online, looking at a job posting for Inspirations Dancewear.
Reflecting on the journey that has brought her to where she is, Kowitz talked about the process of creating Sweet Peach Costumes and the defining moment that made it all real to her.
“I didn’t have my logo yet and I had been painting and renovating. It just felt like all I was doing was renovations. I didn’t feel like that big of a deal,” said Kowitz. “Then I got my logo and for some reason I burst into tears. This is actually happening. This is real. This is my business.”
The tiny crew of three workers seasonally make costumes for their customers. Kowitz had a handful of clients handed down to her from Inspirations Dancewear but is always looking for a way to make her blossoming company stand out. Many dance costume companies talk with the customer once, get the general idea and go and make it without any further consulting.
“Here we sit down and talk about what they like and what they don’t like. Sometimes they will bring in ten pictures for one costume and say, ‘I like this ruffle, and this hemline and this,’ so we have to put it all together and see what works. We can do it with them and I think that’s pretty cool. It’s not just one person coming up with a brilliant idea; you are consulting and being personal. It’s a very unique thing we have going here,” Kowitz said.
The unique care Sweet Peach Costumes gives to each costume is clear when you enter the back room of their warehouse. Coloured fabrics light up the space and feathers and sequins are splashed all over the place. Tiny dance costumes hang on hanger after hanger, waiting for their children to come and twirl them around.
“The best part of my job is seeing a costume finished, absolutely the best, seeing it on the kids, going to a fitting and see them dance around discussing with the other girls, ‘oh my gosh I love it so much.’ That’s the best part of my job,” Kowitz said.
The passion for her business is clear in Mandy’s voice. That passion has led her to consider a way to make her work year round.
“I still have to pay the bills,” Kowitz said.
That consideration in hand, Kowitz has begun to plan Sweet Peach Costumes future.
“Sweet Peach Vintage,” she says beaming.
Beginning in May, Kowitz plans on launching a vintage reproduction, retro inspired clothing line, possibly featuring lingerie as well. Sweet Peach Vintage would be an online store, giving the company a wide reaching audience.
“It’s like I’m pregnant, I’m expecting and in nine months I’m going to give birth to another baby [Sweet Peach Vintage], this one [Sweet Peach Costumes] is still a baby as well. So it’s going to be like I have two toddlers running around. I’m going to be very busy,” Kowitz jokes.
With so much going on and so much future planning, Kowitz repeatedly praised her staff, knowing she wouldn’t be able to make it without them.
“I have the world’s best employees,” she said.
With her future idea growing and her business by her side, it seems Kowitz is looking to make a mark in the fashion world and continue to bring that giddy joy to children.
“When I was in the middle of buying the business, I knew it would work out. I know that sounds so naive, but I can’t image doing anything else,” Kowitz said.
Check out the Sweet Peach Costumes website at http://www.sweetpeachcostumes.com.