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Hey Hayley!

March 15, 2016
I interviewed Toronto designer and #GirlBoss, Hayley Elsaesser, about female friendships, taking risks, and turning your passions into a career.

This past summer a friend of mine said: “This girl I went to high school with is having this pop up shop today, we should go! I think you’ll really like her.” So we did and my jaw literally dropped when I saw the “heavenly” bright pastel colours and nostalgia graphics. This girl, Hayley Elsaesser, now has a permanent storefront on Queen Street West, a few steps from Bathurst.

Of course, since the world is so small I now have another friend that works there. She has only reinforced my girl crush on Hayley while filling me in on what it feels like to work side by side with her. I am always intrigued and enchanted when I meet a #GirlBoss successfully doing their own thangs, especially at such a young age (Hayley is only 27!). This curiosity lead me to know more about the brand, but this time from Hayley herself.


Photos by Kate Burns

Lindsay is wearing Hayley Elsaesser Pins and Rusty Leopard Jeans


Q1:Explain your brand a bit – what are you trying to achieve through it?

A: I’m just trying to make clothes that make people feel good. Clothing that is easy and fun to wear, and looks as good as it feels. To me, fashion is about having fun and trying something new.

Q2: Why do you think people find bold colour and prints so intimidating? Lots of people think “Oh ya that looks so cool..but I can’t pull that off”. 

A: I think at times people are afraid to stand out and show how great they really are. There is nothing wrong with being unique and different, these are usually the most fun and interesting people. It is the biggest cliche, but I would rather have fun and take risks with my fashion than be boring and wish that I would have.
Q3:As a young female who is into the bright colours and dressing “funky”, I find sometimes it is hard to be taken seriously. Especially in a business world, being female and cutesy is tough. Have you experienced this?

A: Within the fashion world I think it is clear from what I have accomplished that I am a hard working person and this helps with getting taken very seriously. However, dealing outside the fashion world I do experience this occasionally. Sadly, this is also simply part of being a woman. I actually find the way I dress can help me feel more powerful not only by feeling really fun in my clothes but certain colours and prints I think are strong and can portray this to the people I meet. At the end of the day too, it’s all about attitude.


Sam is wearing an Hayley Elsaesser Nu Camo Crewneck and 8 Ball Bomber Jacket.


Q4:As you received more success with your brand how have your relationships changed? I’m curious mostly about female relationships. There tends to be this resentment and competition, even when it’s not intentional. It’s a hard thing to deal with, any comments or advice on that?
A: Luckily no. I have a tight group of amazing friends that I support and support me. We are all trying to chase our dreams and make our own way so we help each other get through that. There are times in fashion when you meet people who are very catty and out for themselves but these are not the kind of people I am friends with!
Q5: You are going to be in Toronto Fashion Week this Thursday! I know that you held open casting calls that anyone could come to. I love that you use “regular people” to show off your clothes rather than just professional models. What compelled you to decide to do this?
A: At this point in my career I have met so many models, and know personally that have their agency tell them they need to lose weight. The guidelines on models are just insane. Not to mention my designs are meant for all different people with different bodies, and at the end of the day I am trying to sell clothing. So why not show my customers directly how amazing they could look in the clothes whether they are size 2 or 12.


Julianna wearing an Hayley Elsaesser Serpentine Tee.


Q6: You had your first runway show in Sydney when you lived in Australia for a few years. What is your take on Toronto fashion compared to Australia? I visited Melbourne last year and I’m obsessed with what is going on there. They are way riskier with their fashion choices.
A: I love Australian fashion. There are so many designers there and in Australia people really appreciate designer fashion. I think a big part of the love of fun fashion there is because it is usually nice weather so people like to wear bright, fun stuff. I think Canada could really learn something from Australia!
Q7: Any advice for people trying to turn their creative hobbies/passions into a career?
A: Get as much experience as possible. Internships are a great way to learn skills and figure out what realm of the creative world you can make into a viable career. Not to mention a good way to build relationships. And don’t be discouraged if what you imagined doesn’t work out, my plans have changed so many times and looking back it has all been for the better.

Visit Hayley’s store at 695 Queen St. W or shop her collection here!