Emily Salsbury-Deveaux almost couldn’t get the first dress samples for her clothing brand, EMMYDEVEAUX, made. The manufacturers were flabbergasted that she’d want create a piece with two-layer fabric, and such heavy fabric, and Salsbury-Deveaux had to convince them that it was exactly what she wanted — and what her customer would want. Eventually, they relented and created the samples.
“They didn’t understand our customer,” says Salsbury-Deveaux. “Once I had my samples, I had a friend over who just had a baby, and I had her try the dress on. She came out, and started crying [tears of joy]. In that moment, I knew I had a big company.”
Salsbury-Deveaux spent years working as a business consultant with major retailers, and served as the executive director for the University of Alberta’s School of Retailing. She also gained extensive firsthand knowledge of women’s bodies in her years as a stylist with Southgate Centre, where she worked from 2007 to 2011. “They call me the body scientist,” Salsbury-Deveaux laughs. “I came up with this line system — that’s how I look at a human body. It doesn’t matter what size you are… at the end of the day, I’m still trying to elongate your neckline and define your waist.”
She had a goal to launch a clothing brand by the time she was 35. So, with that milestone approaching, she decided to step away from her steady position. Rebecca Scammell, who was marketing director at the School of Retailing, didn’t get her contract renewed. Salsbury-Deveaux asked if she’d be willing to join her in her new venture, as operations and financial lead — now, Scammell is a partner, and the company recently celebrated its first birthday.
One of EMMYDEVEAUX’s major mandates is that it is a zero inventory waste and zero fabric waste company. Each new piece the brand sells debuts in black, and must graduate to being made in another colour. And, because of this mandate, the brand has turned to Kickstarter a few times to gauge the interest in unique pieces, such as the five-way jacket, to ensure they’re not left with any waste. “I’m about as tree hugging as they come, and I like to show people that sustainability doesn’t always have to be in neutral tones. You can be sustainable and have a very contemporary look. I think we’re not used to that,” says Salsbury-Deveaux.
While the brand always plans to have a presence in Edmonton, the ultimate goal is to become a digital brand that sells a curated selection of items. “Our plan is not to design seasons or follow trends,” says Salsbury-Deveaux. “It’s to design high quality, well manufactured, form-flattering pieces. We’ll probably stop at about 65 pieces in the entire brand, and then our focus is simply to tell the world about them.”