2019 Speakers

Scott Hawthorn

Co-Founder and CEO of Native Shoes
Scott Hawthorn is a Vancouver based creative entrepreneur who is the Co-founder and CEO of Native Shoes. Previously, Mr. Hawthorn worked for 10 years in Tokyo. Active in his community, Mr. Hawthorn is a co-founder and board member for Design Build Research Institute, a not-for-profit architectural design build school. He is a current Board member at Emily Carr University of Art and Design.

Keynote Topic:


Chip Wilson

Founder of Hold It All Inc.
Chip Wilson is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, loving husband and a father to 5 boys. As the founder of Westbeach Snowboard and lululemon athletica, Chip is a globally recognized innovator in the field of technical apparel. He is widely credited with creating the “athleisure” retail category, now a $100-billion-a year global business. Chip is known for his people-before-product leadership approach. At lululemon, he created a unique culture by surrounding himself with like-minded individuals; creative, driven, athletic locals enjoying a work-life balance inspired by the West Coast. In 2007, lululemon athletica went public. Today they have a market cap of roughly $20 billion. Today, Chip is actively involved in Hold It All Inc. (HIA), a multifaceted organization that houses the Wilson family interests, including Low Tide Properties and strategic private equity investments. The HIA businesses represent a carefully cultivated collection of entities that each hold true to the Wilson family’s vision of providing components for people to live longer, healthier, more fun lives. In 2018, Chip released his business memoir, ‘Little Black Stretchy Pants: The Unauthorized Story of lululemon’ to provide context for building a cultural company. In his personal life, Chip and his wife Shannon are passionate about Vancouver and developing its creative and entrepreneurial community. Through their Foundation, they have supported local art and design initiatives such as the Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) and the Wilson Arts Plaza at Emily Carr University. Together, they also founded imagine1day which went on to merge with the WE Charity in 2017, and Whil, a subscription-based mindfulness platform. In 2019, the Wilson family partnered to buy and take private Amer Sports which owns several brands including Arc’teryx, Salomon, Peak Performance and Wilson Sports.

Q&A with Chip Wilson

Tiffanie Lai

People Manager, Native Shoes
Tiffanie is the People (aka HR) Manager at Native Shoes with the mandate to create a purpose-aligned and best-in-class employee experience. She has built a career growing Vancouver-based organizations, with a goal to create exceptional career opportunities for the people in her home city. Her expertise is to bring a progressive view towards employee experience, where growth, learning and engagement go beyond the 9 to 5.

Keynote Topic:


Laela Blanchet

Dampring Designs
A graduate of the George Brown Fashion Program in Toronto, Ontario, Laela Blanchet has been working in the Ontario & British Columbia fashion industries since 1994. She is a skilled pattern maker, and has had extensive experience with all pre-production & production apparel and accessory manufacturing tasks from design & fit, to grading and marker making. She currently runs her own business called Dampkring Designs; offering pattern making & design development services to Vancouver’s rapidly expanding fashion industry since 2004. Laela has many years of both manual & CAD pattern drafting experience that she brings to the Computer Pattern Drafting classes she both wrote and taught at LaSalle College, formerly the Art Institute of Vancouver for 15 years. Laela is now the fashion coordinator implementing an updated and finely tuned new fashion program, called “Fashion Design with Specialization in Marketing” at the Visual College of Art & Design (VCAD).


  • - How to Get the Idea into a Product I Can Wear and Sell


Kenneth Bontje

Senior Industrial Designer & Product Line Manager at Aqua Lung
My name is Ken Bontje and I have nightmares about every job I’ve had. It’s not the responsibilities, the environments or the peoples. It’s that there are SO many ways for things to go poorly and very few ways that things go well. I’ve worked in the creative departments of 5.11 Tactical, Town & Country Linens and Aqua Lung. They all have a path for successfully launching creative ideas. I’ve found that the trick is knowing the process inside and out. Then making sure the next step actually happens.


  • - A Recipe for Successfully Being Creative

Leonard (Len) Brownlie, Ph.D

Leonard Brownlie graduated from Simon Fraser University with a Ph.D in Kinesiology in 1993. Len's doctoral thesis was titled “Aerodynamic Characteristics of Sports Apparel”. His Ph.D thesis was a survey of techniques to reduce aerodynamic drag created by the racing apparel of downhill skiers, cyclists and runners. Len has been an aerodynamics consultant to NIKE Inc. since 1998. NIKE has provided aerodynamic sprinting suits to track athletes at the 2000 - 2016 Summer Olympic Games and to long track speed skating teams and ice hockey teams at the 2002 – 2010 Winter Olympics, including athletes from The Netherlands, USA, Norway and China. From 2005 to 2010 Len was also a consultant to OwnthePodium2010 ("OTP") - Top Secret Program - a Canadian Olympic Association program that was designed to provide advanced apparel, equipment and wind tunnel simulation training to elite Canadian winter sports athletes. Through this program, Len developed unique test protocols and tested a variety of fabrics, race suits and equipment and coached athlete positioning in the wind tunnel in all Olympic winter sports. Len has also acted as the aerodynamics advisor to three Tour d'France pro cycling teams, and to the United States Cycling, Luge and Speed Skating Federations, Hockey Canada, Athletics Canada, Canadian Cycling Association, BellEaston Sports, Smith Optics, Sugoi, ANTA and Mustang Survival.


  • - Aerodynamic Optimization of High Performance Apparel

Jeffrey Clark

Sales and Ops Professional
A management professional with 25 years of global experience working with fortune 500 and specialty brands, specializing in lean manufacturing, product, supply chain management, procurement, sourcing, and operations. Proven proactive leadership, vision, creativity, and successful strategic business skills to drive revenue and profit growth in highly competitive domestic and global markets. A strong relationship builder functions effectively as an integral member of a cohesive senior executive team. Proven ability to source, identify and capitalize on emerging trends and niche market opportunities.


  • - The importance of understanding your S&OP (Sales and Operational Planning)

Steven Sal Debus

Product Design & Marketing Consultant
From founding the multi million dollar Canadian brand Modrobes in the 90’s, 2 successful pitches on Dragons Den and spearheading the explosive growth of local brand DUER, Steven Sal Debus has always focused on leading edge tactics to grab attention in an overcrowded marketplace. After managing 10 Kickstarter campaigns and raising over $1 million dollars he has learned a process that can now be applied outside the crowdfunding platform. In this presentation he will not only talk about how to explode your growth through crowdfunding but also other proven strategies to get your audience begging for more.


  • - Crowdfunding Your Way to Success

Andrew Drigola

Director of Operations & Relationship Management at Apparelmark
Andrew is one of the co-founders and original partners at Apparelmark, responsible for daily operational decision making and business development processes. Coming from a sales and marketing background, Andrew has blended the roles of communication, number crunching and critical thinking in his role as head of operations at Apparelmark. With daily crisis management of 10+ brands at any given time has given Andrew an invaluable insight into the apparel industry and what it takes to succeed in the harsh world of fashion.


  • - Making Dollars and Sense of Your Clothing Brand

Max Feldman

As a Sourcing, Product Development, Quality & Production expert, Max has helped globally recognized brands such as lululemon, Arc'teryx, Kit+Ace & Sugoi build resilient value chains and maximize opportunity. After 15 years of working at Top-tier organizations, Max now primarily works with emerging brands, social enterprises, educators & entrepreneurs driving positive impact for people, planet & profits. He has an undergraduate degree from Ryerson and an MBA from the University of British Columbia. When I'm not 'working' he can be found riding bikes, devouring books or spending time in nature.


  • - Sustainable Sourcing

James Friedrich

Merchant (Buyer) at MEC
James has a unique lense on the Go-to-Market process. From beginnings in a start-up, where he built and developed his own snowboard brand Class Five Snowboards, to working as a Product Manager at Mustang Survival, James has lived through the Go-to-market process on both sides. Currently, James works at MEC as a retail buyer, where he receives hundreds of product pitches every year. Through it all he’s seen the inner workings of top brands & retailers, and gained insight on how successful products are brought to market.


  • - Go-to-Market - How to Build & Launch Products that are Amazing AF

Selina Ho

Founder of Recloseted, a consulting agency dedicated to righting the harmful fashion industry
Selina is the Founder of Recloseted, a consulting agency dedicated to righting the harmful fashion industry. With Recloseted, she’s working with businesses as well as consumers to collectively march towards slow fashion. Selina scales sustainable brands through business consulting and educates consumers about slow fashion through the Recloseted Radio podcast, an e-book, and Recloseted's social media channels. When she's not working, you can find her on the mountains (she’s an avid hiker & snowboarder), unwinding at a yoga class, or trying new restaurants.


  • - Converting Consumers to Buy Sustainable Fashion in an Era of Greenwashing

Ruth Kelly

Founder of Weft x Warp – Fabric Development Consultancy
Ruth has three decades of fabric and raw materials experience from a variety of global companies, encompassing brands, manufacturing and education. Prior to founding Weft x Warp, Ruth lead the Women’s’ Fabric Development Team at lululemon. Here she showed her technical knowledge of athletic apparel fabrics to be one of the best in the industry, integrating her creativity, leadership and problem-solving skills. A true global fabric expert, Ruth has worked in Raw Materials Teams for apparel manufacturers in the UK, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka. Experience over multiple products and fabric types, has provided her with an international network of connections, and the practical in-depth knowledge of the fabric development, sourcing, validation and production processes. During her time lecturing in ‘Global Supply Chain Management’ at Nottingham Trent Business School and in ‘Global Textile Processes’ at De Montfort University, she pursued her love of learning and inspiring others, while perfecting her research and education skills. Ruth has a Bachelor of Sciences Degree in Textile Technology from the University of Manchester, Institute of Science and Technology, UK, and holds her designation as an Associate of the Textile Institute (ATI). She is also a certified 200-hour yoga teacher graduating from the Mind-ful-on, lululemon Yoga Leadership Teacher Training. Ruth lives in Vancouver, Canada with her husband and three children. Growing up in the UK, and having lived all over the world, Ruth deeply appreciates common human connections, within the teams she leads and the partnerships she creates. When she’s not mothering, working, or practicing yoga, she sings, goes to book club and cycles to raise funds for the Ride to Conquer Cancer.


  • - Tips and Tricks when Selecting and Developing Fabrics

Arthur Kononuk

Creative Director at tentree
As Creative Director at tentree, Arthur Kononuk is responsible for helping guide the brand's strategic vision and product development. Arthur earned his start building international campaigns, brands and strategy in the advertising industry, He later decided to go back to his roots, starting an environmentally progressive lifestyle brand with his best friends. Over 6 years later the brand has grown to plant over 30 million trees creating a positive impact around the globe.


  • - Hacking Social Media to Co-create

Michael Li

Founder and President of The Data Incubator
Michael Li is the founder and president of The Data Incubator, a data science training and placement firm. Michael bootstrapped the company and navigated it to a successful sale to the Pragmatic Institute. Previously, he headed monetization data science at Foursquare and has worked at Google, Andreessen Horowitz, J.P. Morgan, and D.E. Shaw. He is a regular contributor to Wall Street Journal, Tech Crunch, Wired, Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, Entrepreneur, Venture Beat, Tech Target and O'Reilly. Michael was a postdoc at Cornell Tech, a PhD at Princeton, and a Marshall Scholar in Cambridge.


  • - Getting Started with AI and Data Science

Stephanie A. Melnychuk

Associate at Oyen Wiggs Green & Mutala LLP
Stephanie Melnychuk assists clients with all aspects of identifying, protecting, and benefiting from their intellectual property, with a particular emphasis on prosecuting patent applications in the chemical, clean technologies, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device fields. She has experience in preparing and prosecuting domestic and foreign patent applications, industrial design applications, and trademark applications. Stephanie is a registered Canadian patent and trademark agent and is registered to represent Canadian residents before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Stephanie represents a broad client base ranging from startup companies to universities and international corporations. She is passionate about obtaining the most strategic intellectual property protection for her clients. She enjoys working for startup companies who require creative intellectual property for a host of technologies, including: sporting goods, apparel, medical devices, pharmaceutical and veterinary products, chemical processes, pesticides, and many others.


  • - Intellectual Property 101: Issue Spotting

Emily Miller Palmquist

Trend Consultant
Spanning over two decades, Emily’s career in Fashion is marked with consulting and leadership roles in Creative Direction and Marketing for both independent and global brands. Emily’s formal training began in Vancouver in 1998 with a Diploma in Fashion Design from Helen LeFeaux. Following this, she relocated to London, U.K. to study at UAL, London College of Fashion and apprenticed with both established and cult labels such as Roland Mouret, Fake London and Future Classics. In 2003, she was chosen by the British Fashion Council as a rising star to complete certification in Fashion Management under Industry Guru, David Jones. In 2013, Emily returned to education and achieved a Master in Fashion Trend Forecasting from esteemed Institute, Polimoda, then under the direction Linda Loppa. She is among one of the few graduates based in North America with this specialized degree. A serial entrepreneur, Emily has worked since 2006 as an independent Fashion and Trend Consultant based in both Toronto and Vancouver. In this time, she has maintained partnerships with some of the Industries top Think Tanks & Creatives such as Promostyl Paris, WGSN, Hilde Francq, Mode...Information and Shoesplanet.Com. In this time, Emily is has been sought to provide future and brand solutions to clients such as Lululemon, Aldo group, TJX Canada (Winners, Marshalls) and The Hudson’s Bay Company as well as countless Small and Medium Enterprises within the realm of fashion and consumer goods. Most recently, she returned to the West coast to spearhead Merchandising and Curation at award-winning startup, Respect your Universe and is currently the Interim Program Director of Fashion at LaSalle College Vancouver as well as Fashion and Trend Consultant to established and emerging brands. Emily is passionate about shaping fashion through branding, trend forecasting, sustainability and thought leadership. She continually enjoys working with individuals who make creative investments for their futures in the Industry.


  • - The truth [is flexible]. Gen Z and the Future of Fashion

Glynis Tao

Apparel Business Specialist
Glynis is a clothing brand owner turned business consultant with 20 years apparel industry experience. Glynis developed and built her first business from start up to generate 6-figure sales in the 2nd year of business. Now she teaches people how to build a purposeful and profitable clothing business. She’s the founder of Chase Your Dreams, which offers sourcing, business consulting, and SEO services for clothing brands. She’s also the host of Apparel Business Summit, an online conference for designers and entrepreneurs in the apparel and textile industry. She has been featured in the Vancouver Sun, National Post, and The Globe & Mail.