Gaby Bayona was born and raised in Vancouver, BC into a household filled with sewing machines, wedding gowns and constant creation. Her mother was a bridal seamstress, and it was this early exposure, a childhood laced with full skirts and fleeting veils, that inspired Gaby to begin designing and constructing her own dresses, at first for her mother’s boutique. Fast-forward just a few years and, after a decision to reinvent the traditional wedding dress, Truvelle was born. Today, Gaby has grown her Etsy shop, selling to more than 23 retailers in the U.S., six in Canada, and in Europe and Australia — all before the age of 25. Here’s how she did it.


 


 

 

My first job ever was… At a mini donut stand during Vancouver’s annual Festival of Lights when I was 14.

 

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I was already going down that path after founding my high school’s store and co-running a business with my mom. I wanted to explore it more.

 

I chose to design bridal wear because… It was something I really knew. I grew up in the industry. My mom would take me with her while she worked in the alteration rooms of various bridal shops and then kept me alongside her when starting her own custom dress boutique.

 

My proudest accomplishment is… Being able to hire/provide for 25+ people before I’ve turned 25.

 

My boldest move to date was… Moving to a live/work studio I couldn’t afford in downtown Vancouver to start Truvelle.

 

I surprise people when I tell them… I used to participate in math competitions, and was my school’s champion one year.

 

My best advice to people starting out in business is… Just start something — anything — because your first year is a write-off anyways. You might as well get that year, and the mistakes that come with it, out of the way.

 

My best advice from a mentor was… Don’t stress out if you don’t work a full 40 hour week, because you will make (and have made) that up tenfold.

 

My biggest setback was… Not having the funds to do big picture things, especially early on.

 

I overcame it by… Bootstrapping & working extra-long hours

 

Work/life balance is… Having a beer while you work?

 

Being a young entrepreneur is… Awesome, because when you make a mistake it’s “because you’re young” but if you succeed it’s all the more impressive. There isn’t as much pressure, so you’re more fearless.

 

If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… I can impersonate a guinea pig (secret’s out).

 

I stay inspired by… Seeing other people’s hustles.

 

The future excites me because… There’s so much opportunity for good things to happen.

 

My next step is… To take care of myself! I’ve been focusing so much on Truvelle that it’s been easy to neglect my own health.

 

 

Photo: Jill Schweber | Jewellery: Wolf Circus 

 

Like this? Meet Miriam Baker, another Canadian designer with the modern, no-compromises woman in mind.