Humber fashion arts grad opens vintage store in Port Hope

Published On October 13, 2020 | By Liliia Smichenko | News
Jeanelle Perez, Autumn Saunders and Amanda Seto at the grand opening of Tall Birches. (Courtesy Autumn-Leeh Saunders)
Liliia Smichenko

Autumn-Leeh Saunders, the owner of the store Tall Birches in Port Hope, may have had her plans of travelling this year cancelled due to COVID-19, but the pandemic did not derail her dream of opening up her own clothing shop.

“I thought what better time to start a business now when you have to adapt to the times,” Saunders said.

After graduating from Humber College, Saunders moved to Port Hope to pursue her entrepreneurship by opening a shop in Port Hope instead of the big city.

The Humber alumna said that Port Hope has fewer COVID-19 cases which makes people feel safer to shop and visit the stores.

“For the most part people are okay with it (COVID-19), they say: ‘We’re wearing a mask, we’re doing our part and why can’t we come out and enjoy yourselves for a minute’,” Saunders said

Her former professor Jennifer Reitano, Program Coordinator for Humber’s Fashion Arts and Business Diploma Program, visited Tall Birches to see how her student was doing. Reitano said she supports Saunders’ decision to open up a business during the pandemic because more Canadians right now are shopping local.

“I think if you have a business idea now is the best time to launch it, because we may be at home for who knows how long so it’s best to use this time to your advantage,” Reitano said.

Reitano cited another former student of hers, Amanda Seto, who launched a business selling masks during the pandemic.

Seto, a Fashion Arts and Business program grad student, donates some of her masks to seniors’ homes and social workers; as well as sharing some of her proceeds with Canada Helps.

Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, or perhaps because of them, many people are finding ways to innovate with their own businesses.

Toronto barber, Cindy Ngo, has begun the process of opening her own barbershop

Before the pandemic, Ngo worked at another barbershop that was closed during the Stage 1 lockdown. After that, she decided to work for herself

Ngo started travelling to clients houses to cut hair after the Stage 2 restrictions were lifted and she is planning to open her shop called SE7EN Studio in November.

She said that because of the pandemic the paperwork has become delayed.

“The process has been a lot because of COVID-19, but also it’s going to be worth it,” Ngo said.

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