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Meet Izzy Camilleri, an iconic Canadian custom fashion designer

As one of Canada’s most celebrated fashion designers, Izzy Camilleri has made a name for herself over the past 32 years. Her pieces have been featured in publications from Italian Vogue to InStyle, and been worn by the likes of Meryl Streep and David Bowie. Her eponymous namesake fashion line earned her CAFA’s coveted ‘Women’s Wear Designer of the Year Award’ and The Royal Ontario Museum also featured a six month exhibit of Camilleri in 2014, highlighting her unique career and her revolutionary IZ Collection, which offers custom and stylish designs for wheelchair users. Get to know the woman behind the legend here.

 

 

 


 

 

My first job ever was… Working at Burger King when I was 15.  I rose up the ladder quickly, from starting at the back flipping burgers, to cashier, to leading the drive through team. I earned ‘Best Darn Employee’ for a month and received a plaque for the honour.

 

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I wanted to create my own fashion empire.

 

My proudest accomplishment is… Having a 6 month exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum which featured my fashion design career and showcased my IZ Collection, a revolutionary line of clothing specific to people that use a wheelchair. The exhibit was called Fashion Follows Form: Designs For Sitting.

 

My boldest move to date was… My IZ Collection, leaving the world of ready-to-wear and entering the world of clothing for people with physical disabilities.

 

I surprise people when I tell them… I’m an avid hiker and walk a minimum of 7.5 km everyday with my regular daily routine.

 

My best advice to people starting out in business is… To believe in yourself, stay strong and stick with your dreams and goals.

 

My best advice from a mentor was… To be true to myself.

 

My biggest setback was… The stock market crash in 1987 known as Black Monday. This started a huge recession that left many of the retailers I was selling to either bankrupt or short of cash to pay me.

 

I overcame it by… Diverting my focus to servicing the film and television industry with custom wardrobe services. We ended up becoming the go to place for costume designers in Toronto to get costumes made for A-listers like Angelina Jolie, Mark Wahlberg and David Bowie.

 

Work/life balance is… Difficult but I continue to work towards finding it.

 

If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… That I’m 4 foot 10 inches tall.

 

I stay inspired by… Working on a variety of projects and living outside my comfort zone.

 

The future excites me because… I continually colour outside the lines.

 

My next step is… A second follow up book to Izzy’s Eating Plan, a recipe book based my eating plan.

 

Do you know a successful female entrepreneur who deserves recognition? Nominate her for the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards!