By Phil McLachlan
Emma Stevens traveled to Canada 12 years ago, after visiting 30 countries around the world. After she finished college in England, Stevens left the land of familiarity at the age of 18 and set out to travel the globe.
After years of traveling, Stevens met her boyfriend in Panorama, B.C., while snowboarding in the mountains. Quickly finding out that they shared the same love for traveling and the mountain lifestyle, they moved to Fernie together after her boyfriend was hired at the mine.
Stevens has long since had a dream of owning her own business, and since she came to Fernie two years ago, she has established Untamed Designs, a clothing company based off of her visionary fashion ideas.
“I ended up here, living in the mountains,” said Stevens. “And I realized that the perfect thing would be to work for myself.”
A style of clothing that Stevens has come to love as a woman is tights, leggings, and all-around casual, comfortable clothing. She noticed that there was very little variation to this style, and that it was becoming hard for her to find mature, yet fashionable clothing for women between the ages of 30 and 50. This motivated here to take on the task of designing clothes for herself.
“I woke up and thought, I’m going to go to fashion school,” said Stevens. “The more I got into sewing, I just love piecing things together and seeing it come alive, I think that’s pretty cool.”
Stevens traveled to study at Olds College just north of Calgary, and did extremely well in her program. She found that this helped her passion for fashion to take off.
“I went to school not knowing where it was going to take me or how I was going to make my dream come true,” she said.
After graduating, Stevens dabbled with a few designs, and eventually ended up with a model she was proud of, the hoodie dress.
“I starting making them for myself, and they were super comfy and flattering, and people kept commenting,” said Stevens. “Like, I went to Calgary and three different women in three different stores stopped me to ask where I got my dress from.”
It was at this point when Stevens knew her design not only had potential in her own life, but also in the lives of others. Extremely nervous at first, she was encouraged by peers and friends to start putting her work out into the business market, to show off this recent success.
“It felt like I had to be good at everything before I could start,” said Stevens. “And then I realized that’s not true; why don’t I just be good at one thing… Why not just start off small and see where it develops.”
Feeling that her skills were yet to be perfected, Stevens worked for hours upon hours, trying to get better.
Stevens marked the start of her clothing business, Untamed Designs, when she participated in the Mothers Day craft show this past June. She came to the show with only two dress designs, but received much encouragement from the Fernie community.
Being a smaller woman, Steven’s hadn’t noticed just how difficult it is for bigger women to find a variety of flattering clothing. Many compliments she received about her clothes at this fair were from bigger or pregnant women who, when trying on the dresses, felt very attractive and fashionable.
“I kept hearing, every time they put them on, they’d be like ‘Wow, this is really flattering, or this is so different,’ words in the fashion industry that you need in order to succeed,” said Stevens.
This boosted Stevens’ confidence, and instilled in her a purpose for her work. Since June, she has expanded Untamed Designs from two models and one size, to seven designs, five different sizes and three varying lengths. In addition, Untamed Designs in currently working on a maternity product line, to provide a variety of clothing options for pregnant women. The goal is, through production and experimentation with a pregnant friend, to shape and form the perfect maternity dress within a year’s time.
In addition to the upcoming maternity line, Untamed is currently offering a multitude of other options. Marvel superhero characters also have an influence on her designs, and Stevens loves to create clothing with themes associated to this. Custom designs are also available, which allows the customer to perfect their idea of a hoodie dress.
Stevens also hopes that the future allows her to incorporate her photography into some graphic print designs for her clothing, and she may expand into male clothing later on as well.
Stevens has found Fernie to be a perfect place to start her own business, and since becoming established in June, Untamed Designs has been extremely busy with orders. Working tirelessly behind the sewing machine at home, Stevens has toiled to bring her business to the point it is currently at, and hopes it continues to expand into the future.
“To do what I love, living in the best place in the world, is the dream really,” said Stevens.