24-year-old fashion designer launches clothing brand at Flamingo Market during Pride

Seneca graduate Jamille Soriano among over 50 LGBTQ2SIA+ entrepreneurs at market

Jamille Soriano, a 24-year-old fashion entrepreneur, at Flamingo Market in Toronto on June 2, 2024. Flamingo Market Pride Exposition, took place on June 1 and 2, featuring more than 150 LGBTQ2SIA+ artisans and businesses owners. (Yuantong Anita Liu/Toronto Observer) 

During the first weekend in June, over 50 artisans and business owners showcased their products at Flamingo Market, Toronto’s unique bi-monthly market for LGBTQ2SIA+ artists, makers, businesses and non-profits.

Among the entrepreneurs at the market was Jamille Soriano, 24, a recent graduate of Seneca Polytechnic’s fashion arts program, debuting her fashion brand, JamilleS.

“Right after graduation, I started my business. But before that, I worked as a fashion designer for a company. I spent two years there and then I decided, why not try to venture into my own stuff?”

Making the bold move from the corporate world wasn’t an easy decision. Soriano said starting her own business was scary because of the personal financial risk involved compared to working for someone else.

“Especially with fashion, you have to spend more,” Soriano said. “Because of materials and stuff, and you also spend a lot of time. It is a big change and I’m still gradually navigating it.”

Soriano studied in the fashion arts program at Seneca Polytechnic in Toronto from 2021 to 2024, graduating with honours.

“In school, I got honours for my whole program,” she said. “It is still fulfilling because this is my passion. Everything that I’m doing, I’m having fun.”

She said if you love the work you are doing, it brings a deep sense of satisfaction.

A Statistics Canada report states that in 2023, companies with 1 to 19 employees made up 86.7 per cent of all employer businesses in Canada and employed 5.2 million people, representing for 29.8 per cent of the total employed population.

When asked about her future goals, Soriano smiles.

“On a bigger scale, I want to become a fashion brand that’s known in Toronto or even outside Toronto, like Canada-wide. I want to become a known designer,” Soriano said. “Hopefully in 10 years, I can achieve that. I want to have my own boutique, have my own studio, host some events as well — like fashion shows, runways and so on.”

Discussing the brand, Soriano describes its style as embodying a “vintage vibe.” At her booth, she featured dresses, vests, corset sets and handbags that she designed.

“My business revolves around timeless designs and timeless patterns, like flowers, gold accents, and greens. So, a very vintage vibe. And it is very inspired by art, basically like a Renaissance vibe.”

Flamingo Market was founded in 2019, and along with the market there is an online platform where you can buy products from LGBTQ2SIA+ businesses and vendors.

“This market gives me a big chance to connect with people and see what the market is like because this is my first market ever. Since this is my first time, I am gradually observing people. I learn from them as well, and they learn from me. That is like the exchange, we learn from each other, we observe.”

According to a Workhaus interview with Jack Shinton and Sica Saccone, the co-founders of Flamingo Market, they “wanted to create a space that would be welcoming to all LGBTQ2SIA+ vendors.”

“We sat down together and put our heads together on what would give vendors an opportunity to flourish as themselves and where their identity would be celebrated,” Shinton.

“Outside of the month of June, the word ‘queer’ still isn’t viewed in a positive light in a lot of places,” Saccone said. “But with our market, nothing has to be censored and people are your peers so you can sell knowing you and whatever you’re selling will be welcomed and accepted. “

Identifying as bisexual, Soriano cherishes the chance to connect with other artisans and improve networking in the fashion industry.

“That’s why I am into these markets right now, just so I can expose myself to like-minded people and connect with people, because, at the end of the day, connections will get you far, especially in this industry.”

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Posted: Jun 22 2024 4:05 pm
Filed under: Features Profiles