20 Under 40: Erica Oakes

Meet Erica Oakes, 35, founder of Os & Oakes and The Blushing Babes Society and one of our 20 Under 40 Class of 2020 recipients

LAUNCHING OS & OAKES as an online children’s clothing brand and ecommerce website, Erika Oakes has expanded the business to include a physical location and, along the way, created The Blushing Babes Society, a social outlet for female entrepreneurs and women to connect with one another.

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Who, or what, has been your biggest influence?

When I first started, I looked up to leaders in the industry — Toronto- and Vancouver-based businesses that seemed to be excelling in the world of sustainable clothing production. These businesses started to close. Some of these closures were happening due to financial strain of producing clothing in Canada. I was confused and questioned if this industry was maintainable. But I started to change my thinking. I don’t want to be in every major retailer or expand our sales globally right away. I want to create a business that I’m proud of and that allows me to provide financially for my family and do what I’m passionate about. Now, Certified B Corporation businesses are really who I look up to and are a long-term goal for me.

“I love spotting Os & Oakes items being worn around the city; seeing people wear and enjoy something I’ve created never gets old” ―Erika Oakes

What has been your biggest achievement?

Opening Os & Oakes’ physical retail location. It is so rewarding to see these last few of years of hard work beautifully displayed at a storefront and validated by support from our community. I love spotting Os & Oakes items being worn around the city; seeing people wear and enjoy something I’ve created never gets old.

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Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing?

I recently started rhythm riding at Lost Cycle here in ­London and I love it! It’s definitely not your average spin class, and I have really enjoyed being able to release energy and get ‘lost’ on the bike a ­couple of times a week.

Knowing what you know now, what would you tell your younger self?

I would have a lot of advice for a younger me, but I think I would say, ‘Try not to care about what people think of you.’ I know this one sounds cliché, but when I was younger, I was consumed by this. I worried often what people would think of me and if I were being judged. I started to realize that I was being brave by just starting, and that people often valued that.

Guilty pleasure?

Chips! I love salt and vinegar. And red wine. 20 Under 40: Erica Oakes Erica Oakes 20 Under 40 Interview by Kieran Delamont

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