Life as a Designer + Entreprenuer: A Conversation with Tyler Ferguson from MONOXIDE

On this week’s Let’s Talk About… episode, Elise sits down with Tyler Ferguson, designer and founder of MONOXIDE, a luxury jewerly brand she created 10 years ago.

MONOXIDE was launched in the summer of 2012 and it all started with a broken piece of jewelry. Instead of throwing that piece away, Tyler tried to fix it herself. And just like that a fire was lit, MONOXIDE was born and Tyler found herself at the local bead store buying supplies. At first Tyler reimagined vintage pieces into modern treasures and taught herself design through the disassembly of each piece. As demand grew, she shifted away from one of a kind pieces and began creating collections. However that love of being so hands on and discovering a piece bit by bit has never left her. Because of this Tyler does not draw her pieces like most but still constructs each sample by hand before it goes into production for her collections.

Elise and Tyler talk about the story behind Monoxide, her life as a designer, her favourite moments of being an entreprenuer, and advice for other young people wanting to start their own business.

“I was really young and that’s actually the question I get asked the most because when I say I’m in business for 10 years, they’re like, I don’t believe you prove it. So I started when I’m 18 and for anybody who’s listening who is young I do encourage you to just do it. There’s a lot of opportunities out there to help young business owners and it’s been the best decision I ever made, you know? It feels like I’ve always been an entrepreneur. To be honest, I remember when I was a kid playing with my friend, we actually pretended to own a business and be like the CEOs and the executives.” Tyler tells Elise on Let’s Talk About.

To listen to Tyler’s episode of Let’s Talk About, simply click here or search for “Let’s Talk About by STYLE Canada” on any major streaming platform. 

Check out Tyler’s collection at our ‘the edit’ summer pop-up in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Our chic general store located at 1-233 King Street in NOTL, is open everything Thursday to Monday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m..

Check out the show transcript below.

[00:00:00] Elise: Hi everyone, and welcome this week ‘Let’s talk about’ the brand monoxide with founder Tyler Ferguson. Hi Tyler! 

Tyler: Hi, how are you?

Elise: I’m good. I’m so excited to have you with us today. 

Tyler: I’m very happy to be here. Thank you very much for having me on the show.  

Elise: Really, really excited and even more excited, because you have a 10th, this is the 10th anniversary of your brand.

Tyler: Yeah! 

[00:00:25] Elise: So there’s lots of story here to tell and excited to kind of share that with all the listeners. So for those listening, the month of July, we’re focusing on our popup vendors that will be downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake, showcasing their product for the month. We’re open Thursdays to Mondays 10 to five at 233 King Street, and Tyler and MONOXIDE is one of those brands. So we’re excited to have you! 

[00:00:49] Tyler: Yay! Thank you for having me!

[00:00:57] Elise: So why don’t we start a little bit about who you are and your journey. Founding this brand over 10 years ago, would love to hear kind of what you did before the brand and, and what your life looked like then.

[00:01:09] Tyler: Okay. Yeah, no problem. So, as you mentioned, July is gonna be the 10th anniversary of my brand MONOXIDE. I’m self taught, so I started the brand 10 years ago. A piece of jewelry actually broken in my house and I was like, oh, I can definitely fix this – no worries – and then I was just like, I was on the bus with my grandma to the beach store and then fast forward, 10 years later, we’re, we’re here! Yeah, no, it’s been a crazy ride. I started the business when I was 18, so prior to this, I was just you know, a little teeny bopper. 

[00:01:46] Elise: I didn’t wanna ask your age! But when you said 10 years, I’m like, oh my gosh, she must have been really young when she started this! 

[00:01:52] Tyler: Yeah, yeah, yeah! I was, I was really young and that’s actually the question I get asked the most, like how old was I, because when I say I’m in business for 10 years, they’re like, I don’t believe you prove it. So I started when I’m 18 and for anybody who’s listening, who is young, I do encourage you to just do it. There’s a lot of opportunities out there to help young business owners and it’s been the best decision I ever made, you know? And it feels like I’ve always been an entrepreneur. To be honest, I remember, when I was a kid playing with my friend, we actually pretended to own a business and be like the CEOs and the executives. So I’ve just been, yeah, I founded a not for profit when I was eight, so I’ve literally just been like, I’ve got this. 

[00:02:34] Elise: Oh my gosh. Tell us, you do all the things all the time. What was the, not for profit when you were eight? 

[00:02:40] Tyler: So I really liked Michael Jackson when I was a kid. So it was called ‘Heal the World’ after his song ‘Heal the World’.

[00:02:46] Elise: Right, yea, love that song.

[00:02:47] Tyler: And so I basically went around the neighborhood, just kind of collecting money. I think I was gonna donate it to like UNICEF or World Vision or something. Can’t really remember now. because it’s been so long ago, but my parents obviously just thought I was like, what are you doing? I’m like, will you donate to me changing the world?

[00:03:15] Elise: I would donate to an eight year old who is changing the world with big ambitions. I love that. 

[00:03:20] Tyler: So I’ve pretty much been doing some form of entrepreneurship since I was a child. And my mom was in the, the fashion business, so I kind of got exposed to it when I was like a little kid and stuff like that, but I honestly had no plans to even go into jewelry. I was going be a writer. I was like obsessed with being an author and being in publishing, but, you know, that this piece of jewelry breaks in our house and I’m making jewelry and because, um, 10 years ago, there’s not really like anything to like teach a person how to make jewelry. There wasn’t really YouTube. YouTube was just starting. You had to basically go to school for it. And then I was young, so I’m like, oh, maybe I’ll go to like OCAD or something. And you know, 10 years fast forward it’s way easier to start a business now, you can literally Google like anything. But for me, 

[00:04:13] Elise: That’s so true. 

[00:04:14] Tyler: Right? Like literally anything, but for me, my dad is an engineer, so I think I get my structural background from him, and then my mom does fashion. So I would actually take apart jewelry and figure out how it was made, I successfully fixed it and I’m gonna put fixed in brackets. The first piece of jewelry that broke that kind of ignited this journey, uh, I would then start going and buying vintage jewelry and taking it apart and remaking it.

[00:04:39] So I went through that whole phase of, the rework before rework was a thing! And then I eventually graduated to creating my own collections and putting out two collections every year. And, I’ve been to London Fashion Week, twice. I was in L magazine, like all this craziness that I was like… 

[00:04:58] Elise: Amazing!

[00:04:58] Tyler: Look, mom, it’s happening! 

[00:05:00] Elise: Yeah. I mean, yeah. I love, well, the, one of the first questions I was gonna ask, when you said that you were playing CEO at eight, was what did your parents do? Because I feel like, kids play the role when they’re younger, that they see. Right? So I always play teacher because you see teachers because you go to school. So that was, sounds like your parents had an influence anyway. Maybe not through the, the CEO part, but like the fashion and the engineering thing and the construction piece very much, so that’s cool. 

[00:05:28] Tyler: Definitely, definitely! Right?! Brain and left brain coming together like analytical and creative. A lot of my jewelry is very structural. Like I’m very interested in how things fit together. So that kind of definitely played a part in what influenced me.

[00:05:41] Elise: Yeah. And then what did you take in school? Because you did, so you didn’t go to school for jewelry design or anything like that. What, what was your path? So you kind of had this passion fixing jewelry, right. Or fixing your personal piece of jewelry, and then what was your next step? I guess, whether it’s school or career that you did go into. 

[00:06:02] Tyler: So, yeah, next step is I, I did go to university. I actually double majored in classical studies and political science was like history and politics. And my first, I would say like, pretty much a lot of my collections even to this day have been inspired by ancient Greek and Roman mythology because I’m like super obsessed with that stuff. I love it, so a lot of my early pieces were visual representations of those myths. 

[00:06:29] Elise: Cool.

[00:06:29] Tyler: And I still carry some of that structural inspiration throughout, but the very early collections were very, very much focused on that.

[00:06:37] Elise: Mm-hmm very cool. So you are teaching yourself, like putting together things. When did the brand come to be, did you have that name from the start? Did you, did that take some time to like went from like hobby to business? What did that transition look like? 

[00:06:59] Tyler: So, it’s a little funny. So it kinda start immediately. Like I had the name in my head, and like the thing you should know about me is I always look at things like super weirdly, if that makes sense. I’m never gonna look at the thing that the general populace is like, oh yeah, this is how it’s. I’m like, Nope. The complete opposite. 

[00:07:17] Elise: Total opposite. 

[00:07:17] Tyler: So one of the questions besides how old I am is like, why MONOXIDE the name of my brand, but I liked what monoxide means when you break it down, because ‘mono’ means one ‘oxide’ is breath and I wanted this whole thing to be, you see the jewelry, you pause, you take a breath and then you go and you just be, you, you know, look good, feel good, do good. That whole thing. 

[00:07:40] Elise: I love that. Yeah. 

[00:07:40] Tyler: It was really about like you wanted to take someone’s breath away and pause and all of those like thought happening all at once. And I was like, yeah, you’re going to see the jewelry. You’re gonna be like, oh, I want that, I like that. Or whatever, you know?! 

[00:07:53] Elise: Yeah, and you definitely do! There’s such beautiful pieces and statement pieces. So you had the name from the beginning? 

[00:08:01] Tyler: Yeah. 

[00:08:02] Elise: But you’re 18, right?

Tyler: Yeah.

Elise: So how do you, you’re not only teaching yourself jewelry, but you’re also teaching yourself how to run a business. So how does that look like, what are some of the learnings there and how did that get started? 

[00:08:17] Tyler: Oh, so many, so many bumbles um, well, I think the best thing I did was I actually registered my business. 

[00:08:24] Elise: Okay. 

[00:08:24] Tyler: I didn’t know how to do anything else, but I was like, I need to register it so it’s real. And, so I did that smart, right. Really smart actually. And then I’m like trying to convince my family that this is a viable thing. Saying also on top of that, like, yeah, I’m gonna like do this business guys, believe in me! Which I think a lot of young entrepreneurs, or any entrepreneurs, actually, you’re just trying to convince people that, ‘hey, I have this business and this thing is real.’ So I register the business, I’m taking apart jewelry, I’m trying to like, teach myself how to like run the whole thing. I’m also going to university at the same time out of province. So I’m eight hours away from my family in Quebec. 

[00:09:06] Elise: Oh, wow. Okay. 

[00:09:07] Tyler: All this stuff is happening. So like, I’m pretty sure my roommate thought I was like insane, because half my room was my studio.

[00:09:15] Elise: Yeah, yeah. 

[00:09:16] Tyler: This, this girl that we live with, she’s so crazy. You know, and I’m trying to figure out, you know, how to even make a website. 

[00:09:26] Elise: Because it kinda relates to my, my question is like you said this earlier, now it’s so easy to learn how to do something. Yeah, it’s also easier to set up a website to, to market your business because you have social media, but 10 years ago, like what channels would you even use to market? Like, I would imagine it’s a lot of friends and family at the beginning. 

[00:09:48] Tyler: Yeah. 

[00:09:48] Elise: Right, cause none of those things were as easy as they are today or accessible as they are today, in terms of you know, you could go on and buy a template through square to create a website. 

[00:10:00] Tyler: Exactly. 

[00:10:01] Elise: So how did you do that? 

[00:10:03] Tyler: It was a lot of word of mouth, a lot of press in the flesh, I guess you wanna call it, and I mean, there was Facebook, but again, Facebook was radically different. 

[00:10:15] Elise: There was no, you know, you’re not shopping on Facebook. 

[00:10:17] Tyler: You’re just like posting statuses. It’s like, I don’t even think anybody really remembers what Facebook looked like. When we had Facebook first come out, like it was pretty rough, you know? And even for me, I got on Facebook super young, like, you know, I was like 50 and I’m like, what’s this thing I’m gonna sign up, you know? And now it’s like, you hook it up. You can run ads off of Facebook. It’s crazy. You can sell. 

[00:10:43] Elise: You can run a business off of the social platforms. Right? 

[00:10:46] Tyler: Exactly!

[00:10:47] Elise: And 10 years ago you couldn’t, so I would imagine you’re selling yes to friends and family, maybe at markets or store, like, I don’t know if you get into stores yet or how that looks.

[00:10:58] Tyler: So I was a little bit lucky, I would say, very lucky because as I mentioned, my mom is in the fashion creative space. She actually did own a store for a couple years, so I would help her in the summer when I was back from school, she was my first stalk. I didn’t even know what that even was then. So I was like, oh, how do I write an invoice? She’s teaching me how to write an invoice, to put the stuff in her story, you know?

[00:11:26] Elise: Yeah. And also like line sheets I’m sure. And like photography, like she helped probably a big help with all of that. 

[00:11:32] Tyler: Yeah. So I was, I was very lucky that. You know, she had the group of friends that were in fashion at the time as well. She had the store, so I could put my stuff in there. And it gave me the opportunity to kind of, if you wanna call it, test my brand to see what I need to change, all of that stuff. And then yeah, Facebook, and word of mouth. I was just like anybody who would listen, I was basically like, this is my, this is my brand. And then, you know, once I kind of figured it out and worked some of the kinks, because we were still very young, I just Googled ‘market in Toronto’, like how do I sell? And honestly, the only one that came up is Parkdale flee. 

[00:12:16] Elise: Okay.

[00:12:17] Tyler: Yeah. Which happens in Toronto, I think every Sunday, every third, Sunday of the month. And I was like, I’m gonna apply, like, look it’s real. And then that kind of really helped me again refine everything. It helped me meet customers, helped me figure out where my brand kind of fell in this giant sea of jewelry because, 

[00:12:40] Elise: mm-hmm

[00:12:41] Tyler: I mean, I was, again, I was lucky, because I’m gonna say again, 10 years ago, everybody was focused on making clothes. They wanted to be a designer, to make clothes. Nobody was really doing jewelry, and now it’s like, everybody is starting a jewelry business. So I’m just like, interesting, I was ahead of the curve.

[00:12:56] Elise: Yeah, you definitely are. 

[00:12:57] Tyler: Yeah, but yeah, definitely doing markets. Um, that gave me… 

[00:13:03] Elise: Like some exposure and it’s funny too. Cause I feel like there’s so many opportunities now for markets popups, but also at that time, You know, you said you Googled and you found one, right? Like there probably wasn’t as many accessbile because there also, you know, I do think that, and you tell me your thoughts, but I do think that there’s more of a surge of small business and shopping local in all of that, especially over the last few years that likely like didn’t exist as much you know, some 10 odd years ago. 

[00:13:35] Tyler: I would say, yeah. I would say definitely there’s been a big surge in a people just starting businesses. And like you said, doing popups, doing markets, like nobody really understood the concept of a popup to just be like, we’re here for X amount of time, whether it’s a week, a month, a couple months, and then you’re gone. Everybody was like, oh, you’re doing retail. Where’s your store from bricks and mortar, blah, blah, blah. Even square when square came out, it like changed the game. They’re like, what do you mean you’re taking processes on your phone? Like all of that stuff. 

[00:14:05] Elise: Mm-hmm 

[00:14:06] Tyler: So when all of that started happening, entrepreneurship kicked off in Toronto.

[00:14:11] Elise: Yeah. 

[00:14:11] Tyler: Like it obviously was crazy. 

[00:14:12] Elise: Yeah. 

[00:14:12] Tyler: But I would say very, very early on. 

[00:14:15] Elise: Yeah. 

[00:14:15] Tyler: Facebook word of mouth and then like the one market in Toronto. And they’re like the OG, like Parkdale Flee in Toronto is the OG market. It’s crazy. And I was there for five years. I did the market for five years and the organizers they’re like so proud of me! Like it was so surreal because one day the owner was like, I’m posting you on our Instagram because you’re one of the brands that made it and you started here, and I remember when you first came here and I’m like, oh my God. Don’t tell that story. The jewelry was so rough. Everything was terrible, so bad was so, you know, when you’re just doing something you’re in it. 

[00:14:55] Elise: Yeah. 

[00:14:56] Tyler: You look back and you’re like, Oh my God, I have been at this market for five years. That is insane!

[00:15:04] Elise: When have you had that moment of looking back and like, oh wow! Like, this is what I dreamt of, you know, like what I dreamt of it becoming, because you know, you’re saying it took that five year market. Like, wow, I’ve been there five years now, looking back at 10 years. Would a number one would an accomplishment to have any brand last 10 years! 

[00:15:25] Tyler: Yeah. 

[00:15:25] Elise: And the work and tenacity that it takes of the founder to keep that going, right? Because I think that there’s definitely a thought of like, you mentioned a lot of jewelry brands popping up of, oh, let me try this and give a go at it. And I’ll, you know, I’ll make a million dollars next month using the platforms that are out there. But what is, what would you say over those past 10 years? What has been your biggest like, wow, I can’t believe that I did that? And maybe it’s just the fact that you’ve made it to 10 years like that, and of itself is massive!

[00:15:55] Tyler: I mean, as I sit here now and think back at it, I mean, the, the numbers are crazy over 50% of businesses fail within the first year or two. Right.

Elise: Mm-hmm

Tyler: To even sit here and be like, I have a business that is 10 years old, as a female entrepreneur, it’s crazy. The numbers are even like, even worse for female. So to even be in that space to be like, yes, my businesses have made it. We’re thriving. That I’m so proud! 

[00:16:23] Elise: Yeah. 

[00:16:23] Tyler: And I would not be here without the help of my family and all the people along the way that have actually, you know, even if it was a little tiny thing they did for me, they fueled my business and I will forever be so grateful for that.

[00:16:35] Elise: Mm-hmm

Tyler: But for me personally, that mark of pride is going to little London Fashion Week. And that was pretty, you know… 

[00:16:44] Elise: tell us about that. I’d love to hear more about that. 

[00:16:46] Tyler: Yeah. So I was part of an incubator program that the Toronto Fashion Incubator runs, called I think it’s called Accelerate, no Fashion.

[00:16:57] Elise: I think there fashion remember hearing about this. 

[00:17:00] Tyler: Yeah, so I was part of the very first group. So I, I think they’re doing it again this year. If anybody’s listening and you want to start a fashion business, I’ll plug them because you know, but yeah, I did this program and it was super crazy because I had to literally work all the time. It was from seven to three, and at the time I was working from four in the afternoon until one in the morning. So I would be getting up at this ridiculous time, but I’m like, I need to just do this for my business, I need to learn all the things that you know, because you don’t know what you don’t know.

[00:17:31] That’s probably the biggest thing. Totally Sidebar biggest takeaway from 10 years of business. You do not know what you do not know. Ask questions.  

[00:17:40] Elise: That’s a very good lesson to reinforce. Yeah. 

[00:17:44] Tyler: Okay. Anyway, the crazy story, so I was working these ridiculous hours and from that, after you graduate, you actually do like a wholesale show.

[00:17:53] So we’re every show and it’s amazing and everybody’s coming and then they’re like, oh, we’re gonna try to do this thing. Like, stay tuned. And I’m like, oh, okay. Like maybe it’s another thing. And then they send the email out, they’re like, You’ve been selected as one of 10 brands, we’re going to London, UK!

Tyler: I had to re-read it, I thought it said London, ON.

[00:18:14] Elise: Yeah, you’re like, oh, cool. Oh, cool, London is only acouple hours away. 

[00:18:18] Tyler: Like, oh my gosh, we’re going to the United Kingdom! 

[00:18:22] Elise: Oh my God, what a thrill!

[00:18:25] Tyler: It was crazy. But then it’s like, then it gets real, even more real than what I was already doing, because I’m like, okay, we need a line sheet, we need a look book, we need to have all the products shop because at the time, you know, you’re doing things slowly. My focus was you know, in real life. So the popups, all that kind of stuff, my website got kind of got pushed to the wayside. I was uploading when I could, and I was like, okay, I’m just gonna post on Instagram, so people know I’m alive and we have the popups and that’s what we’re gonna do. Now I have to get like super serious and I’m like, okay. Oh, we have to do all this thing. M mom is like my creative director, so she is a visual merchandiser, so she was helping with all the visuals for the brand and everything.

[00:19:09] So I’m like, okay, mom, we’re getting like super serious now I need your help. We have to mock up everything like there, our living room was like the, is like where everything is happening. 

[00:19:18] Elise: How much time did you have to prepare for this?

[00:19:23] Tyler: I started a couple weeks.

[00:19:26] Elise: So not that long, I guess. I was gonna ask, because I’m really curious actually, like, so you get to London Fashion Week and what’s the setup. Is it like a showcase like buyers come through or is your jewelry put on paired with a ready to wear that walks in a presentation or down the runway? Like what does it look like? 

[00:19:48] Tyler: So it was a bit of both, so we kind of had like an opening reception, and we did have some of the jewerly there, there was some clothing brands, so we kind of like combined it a little bit and did like a little, you know, schmooze situation. 

[00:20:01] Elise: Cool. Yeah. 

[00:20:02] Tyler: And then we had the buyers and media and press roll through. So I was super nervous because I was at the time I was kind of going back and forth between like do I wanna be the face of the brand? Do I want MONOXIDE to just stand on its own? And then I’m in the background as like the maker designer, blah, blah, blah. Cause you know, like you have to really think about this like stuff sometimes. Like it’s, you know, there’s like a lot of things you have to think about.

[00:20:30] Elise: totally. 

[00:20:30] Tyler: I want the door to not to shine, you know? 

[00:20:33] Elise: And I think there was a, I think too, like to your point, there’s, there’s a thought of like the brand is its own entity. And there’s also like a, do I really wanna open my own personal world up? 

[00:20:47] Tyler: Exactly.

[00:20:48] Elise: To be a part of this and associated with this? I think now it’s hard. Like what’s your take on present day? I think it’s harder to separate the two. London Fashion Week was like three years ago that you were part or four. 

[00:21:02] Tyler: I was there for 2017 and 2018. I went two years in a row.

[00:21:07] Elise: Okay. 

[00:21:09] Tyler: I would say it’s harder now because customers want that, they want to know who it is. They’re like, oh, this brand is so awesome who is the person behind it? They’re kind of like in awe behind the curtain, you know, they wanna know. Yeah. Right. So I see a lot of brands now that there is no separation.

[00:21:27] They’re like, hi, I’m the maker, and here’s what I do, and please support. But back then, there was more, there was definitely more of a separation and that was actually more accepted that they didn’t want to know who, what. 

[00:21:38] Elise: Right. 

[00:21:38] Tyler: You know, so now we’re kind of have to evolve or die with my brand. So now we’re doing way more personal stuff, because like, you know, Instagram TikTok, there’s the whole shebang.

[00:21:48] Elise: Yeah. 

[00:21:48] Tyler: But at the time I was just like, no MONOXIDE is MONOXIDE. You’re gonna stand on your own. You’re gonna shine. And even during London Fashion Week, like I was to the side of the table, you know, you come in and you see, and then if you have any questions, oh, I would pop up out of nowhere, you but I was very much this is my brand. My brand is to feel the show. And it was, it taught me a lot because a, I had to be super organized because I actually flew my mom down first to go set up. And then I came with whatever was left behind, just because I felt like I was going to forget something. So just like a safety net.

[00:22:25] I also have to get time off work because I was still working and all of this stuff was happening in the moment. And I was just like, we’re going to London! I don’t care what happens. I’m not gonna sleep for the next week – we’re making all the samples, everything. And that’s the thing that I think a lot of people don’t realize is that when you start a small business, especially in the fashion realm, everything on TV’s a lie, okay?! Like it’s not, it’s not like Gossip Girl. It’s not like Emily and Paris. You are not walking down in heels. 

[00:22:57] Elise: No! That always annoyed me. 

[00:23:00] Tyler: The lies, the, lies.

[00:23:03] Elise: That always annoyed me, because like similar to you, I’d be like schlepping things around wearing flip flops, sweating. 

[00:23:11] Tyler: Exactly. 

[00:23:11] Elise: If we’d have Paris market, like that’s not, you took the word, you’re not looking right outta my mouth.

[00:23:16] Tyler: I’m like, there is sweat. Okay. There is sweat. You are literally schlepping. Like you basically have to bring everything, set up everything super quick and do a quick change there. You know, you’re not coming in glam.

[00:23:29] Elise: And you hope you aren’t still sweating by the time people start walking in.

[00:23:37] Tyler: Exactly! So it was crazy because when we went they didn’t know who we were. You had to send all your information down because it was at the Canadian embassy. 

[00:23:49] Elise: Oh, okay. 

[00:23:49] Tyler: So there’s like a lot of security hoops you have to jump through and everything, so we’re sending everything down, all this stuff. Like my mom’s suitcase almost got like taken at security and the jewelry was in it. I’m like, oh my God, like, make sure they don’t lose it! The whole TAs, like I had to bring the busts. She brought the jewelry. It was a whole thing. Right? Because you’re trying to like, not break the bank on this crazy trip and, you know, everything is like basically double in the pound. 

[00:24:20] Elise: Yeah.

[00:24:22] Tyler: So you’re like getting everything, like not to break the bank and then you get there, we’re setting up everything and we literally just like sneak out into the bathroom quickly, just like do our face and put on our clothes, and we come back in and everybody was like, were you here the whole time? Like, are you, you know? And I’m like, you gotta be able to, to glam, you know?! 

[00:24:43] Elise: Yeah! You, and you gotta be, I mean, I think it’s true of fashion, likely other industries too. I mean, fashion is a predominant industry I’ve been in, it sounds like you too. Yeah, but you gotta just like, like snap it on kinda and yeah. Get ready to in this case where you had media and some buyers, ecetera.

[00:25:04] Tyler: Okay, cool. Both. Yeah. Medias and buyers like coming through, and that was the first time that I really had to be on my PS and QS. Like people were asking me questions about the brand that I had never really thought about. Like. Just like, why? Like, like basically now, now I’m like, I’m better at answering it. I hope fingers cross like my, why, what does the name mean? When did I start? 

[00:25:29] Elise: Mm-hmm 

[00:25:29] Tyler: And that’s always like the crazy thing, like, oh, you’re so young, like blah, blah, blah. But I’m like, you know, I feel like young people get kind of a bad rap, especially millennials and younger. They just get like a really bad rap, but they’re very creative.

[00:25:43] They just need that, that push and that guidance. So I’m very thankful that I started my business so young. Honestly, if I had to think about it now, I’m not sure if I would, because there’s so much happening in the market. It’s kind of intimidating, but at 18, I was fearless, I was just like, I’m just doing my thing.

[00:26:00] Elise: You need like a little naivete thing sometimes to start a business 

[00:26:04] Tyler: Yeah. 

[00:26:04] Elise: In a way. Right. And be like, oh, this can’t be that hard exactly to figure it out. And it sounds like you had such a supportive environment around you with your parents to kind of nurture that, which is also at that age is, is critical. Right? Like you have, you have someone that’s kind of your cheerleader and your support. 

[00:26:20] Tyler: Yeah, definitely. For sure. My mom was definitely my cheerleader. My dad, he was the one who was also my cheerleader, but he was like, but how are you gonna do it? So he had always asked the hard questions. 

[00:26:31] Elise: The realist. 

[00:26:32] Tyler: Like I’m doing this, watch me fly away! You know? So it was definitely, it was definitely good. Sorry I interrupted you. Go ahead. 

[00:26:40] Elise: No, I was just gonna say, so you did London in Fashion Week and then was that kind of another turning point for the brand? I’m guessing because you would’ve had a lot of exposure. 

[00:26:50] Tyler: Yeah! Yeah. I would say they were very, very receptive to my brand and that was kind of the turning point of okay, I haven’t priced myself out of the market because there’s a lot of things happening before I went to London Fashion Week, I was worried that like my pricing wasn’t, wasn’t uh, good for where I was. 

[00:27:11] Elise: Mm-hmm 

[00:27:11] Tyler: If I should change how I was making it, I feel like it’s kind of like the crossroads that a lot of designers come to and then either, you just stick with what you’re doing and just believe that your brand is, you know, gonna survive or you try to do like a weird pivot.

[00:27:26] Elise: Pivot a little. Yeah. 

[00:27:28] Tyler: And then that’s kind of, when you see designers start designing things that are not what their brand is and you get kind of confused. I didn’t wanna do that.

[00:27:35] That’s why I was just kind of like, you know what? My brand has a home. I just have to, you know, find it and. You know, just keep going there, keep going there. London was very illuminating for me, because the fashion there is incredible so as a person coming from Canada to the UK, I felt like a little guppy in a giant ocean.

[00:27:56] I was like, oh my God, everybody is so nicely dressed and it’s so effortless and I can just see them wearing my jewelry and then they would stop me and be like, oh, you look so nice, your jewelry’s so nice, and I’m like, oh my God, I actually design it! Like, thank you! You know? So it was very humbling, but also very inspiring. And it gave me that kick to be like, don’t stop doing this beause five year you kind of gets like that five year itch where it’s like, am I, should I keep doing this? Like everything, that kind of stuff. So it was awesome. It was so awesome. I did it again, you know. 

[00:28:30] Elise: Well, it kept your momentum going, because then we’re kinda coming into we’re we’re almost like we have a year and then we kind, we get into COVID, right? And so what did that look like for a jewelry brand? Because I would imagine you know, not people aren’t going out, maybe aren’t wearing their jewelry as much at the same time. I don’t know. You tell me like, maybe they are because zoom it’s like the one thing, like you kind of, you know, you can do a statement, necklace, you can do a statement hearing. What did, what did that last two years look like for the brand? 

[00:28:58] Tyler: So for us, I mean, we did have the prior to COVID we had like a flagship location. We were part of the Toronto designers market, which was on queen street, and we were there probably for five, or six years actually. 

[00:29:14] Elise: Oh, wow. Okay. 

[00:29:14] Tyler: The person who owned Parkdale Flee opened that store and then was like, I want you to be in it. So from then on, I stopped doing Parkdale and was like, this is my retail location, I’m there, okay. And then COVID happened and they closed and I was like, oh no, what am I gonna do? And it was really weird. I mean, everybody took a, hit, our sales took a hit, but then we kind of had this like weird resurgence once everybody realized, like you said, oh, Zoom video calls are happening. We don’t know when we’re going back in, and then, when we had the first lockdown and then back in everybody was like, I need to now dress nicely because I’ve been in lockdown. 

[00:29:54] Elise: Mm-hmm. 

[00:29:55] Tyler: So we had that whole thing happening that ping pong. But I would still say that we definitely took a hit, but for me, I was just like, I used that time to deal with anything that I had pushed off to be like, I don’t have time to do this right now because we are… 

[00:30:11] Elise: Yeah. 

[00:30:11] Tyler: Running from point A to point B. So I was like, okay, any gaps in our marketing, any gaps in our, you know, product like our visuals, anything that I had made that we couldn’t figure out the kinks, I brought it out of archive and was like, okay, let’s figure it out. Stuff like that. We really tightened up the brand and then I also have like another brand called Regalia. It’s like my play area. So anything that didn’t really fit into MONOXIDE’s overall, look, that was where I like stored it. So I was like, oh, maybe I’ll pull it out and figure it out. So it’s all like crazy, like very cool, like body chains and all that stuff. So I was like, oh, I’m just gonna spend this year doing what I want and whatever. 

[00:30:56] Elise: So being creative and kinda like tying up some loose end and being creative. 

[00:30:59] Tyler: Yeah. 

[00:30:59] Elise: And so what do you have looking forward? Like now that we’ve hit the 10 year mark what’s what is the next, the next 10 years not putting on the spot, maybe the next year look like for MONOXIDE? 

[00:31:12] Tyler: World domination! No kidding! I mean, right now we’re in a really good spot. I think the next, not even 10 years, just the next step for me is just maintaining what I’ve grown and what I’ve earned so far. You know, we’ve made a lot of great connections, everything like that. And now it’s like, I was just talking to my friend about this, like now I’m at the point in my business journey where 10 years ago I was looking up to the person that I wanted to be like, so now I have to really consider the impact that my brand is gonna make to other people, as well as in the business world, but as well as to other people who wanna start businesses. I get invited to like a lot of like summits and stuff like that, to speak to female entrepreneurs that are young to be like, how did I do it? And what do I have to say to that? And I was like, oh my God, I’m getting so many questions about like this. And it’s so weird to be like, oh, am I actually like.

[00:32:12] Elise: You’re that person now. 

[00:32:13] Tyler: Yeah. 

[00:32:14] Elise: You were the mentee now you’re at the mentor level. 

[00:32:17] Tyler: Yeah! I’m like, okay. Yeah, I guess I’ve done my 10,000 hours, probably more like 50,000 hours at this point! So now I’m TikTok and like reels and things like that, I just, I post little things to be like, this is what I did when this was a problem. And, and I noticed that there’s like a lot of people that don’t wanna tell you certain things. And one of my biggest things, like I’ve said before is just ask questions. You’ll be surprised with the answers that you get. That’s always what I tell young entrepreneurs. So for me, for the next like 10, uh, year, let’s say next year.

[00:32:50] Elise: Yeah.

[00:32:54] Tyler: Just really building that transparency to foster other entrepreneurs, because I feel like it’s so easy to discourage somebody. You have no idea the impact that your words can make on somebody. So I’m always, if you have this great idea, start it, you may crash and burn, but you’ll definitely learn something.

[00:33:12] And I always tell people, like, message me. Like, I don’t care if you go and you design something that is like, quote unquote, better than me. Like I want that! I want people to start and create things and everything like that. So that’s kind of my focus for me and yeah, just spreading the knowledge and building MONOXIDE and maintaining because I feel like when you get to five years, 10 years, that’s when you kind of get a little tired, you get a little sloppy. So I’m really taking steps to make sure that that doesn’t happen to me because, you know, there’s no one making jewelry like me. So I wanna make sure that I make it for a little while. 

[00:33:50] Elise: Yeah, let’s talk a little bit about the jewelry itself. Where does your inspiration come from? How would you describe the style or aesthetic of the brand?

[00:34:00] Tyler: Okay. So the style and aesthetic of the brand is very much, jewelry for any occasion. That’s kind of how I market it, my jewelry takes you from day to play to slay. 

[00:34:13] Elise: I love that. I love that!

[00:34:14] Tyler: It’s so it’s bold, but it’s definitely not gaudy, it’s not ostentatious. So it makes a statement without yelling, if that makes sense. 

[00:34:23] Elise: I love that. Because I felt like I was saying in my mind, it is a statement, but it’s not, but it’s also like, like a classic kind of look. 

[00:34:37] Tyler: Exactly! 

[00:34:37] Elise: If you will, or like a simplicity in a way, like it’s not an in your face statement, so yeah. Okay. So say what you said again, a statement… 

[00:34:46] Tyler: So jewelry for any occasion, occasion takes you from day to play, to slay. And yeah, it’s bold with like a classic edge.

[00:34:58] Elise: Cool. I love and you know what, like where can everyone, so we’ll obviously have some, we’ll have some styles at the popup, which I’m really excited for! Where else can everyone find you and, and kind of visit the website to purchase online? 

[00:35:11] Tyler: Yeah. So my website is All of my social media is also @monoxidestyle. Currently, if you’re in the Toronto area, I am doing, monthly popups at West Elm, which is the furniture store every Saturday, two Saturdays a month. I’m here in your popup from July 1st to the 30th, and I’m also doing a popup on King Street and Spadina in Toronto until September.

[00:35:43] Elise: Amazing. 

[00:35:44] Tyler: I am nearly everywhere. 

[00:35:46] Elise: I didn’t know West Elm had popups. That’s very cool!

[00:35:49] Tyler: Yeah, so West Elm is super cool. They partner wit, it’s called West Elm local, so they partner with local brands around the city. So you’ll see me at the Midtown one or the Liberty Village one. 

[00:36:00] Elise: Awesome. Awesome. So lots of places to find you this summer, then! 

[00:36:03] Tyler: Lots of places and I’m also in the us too. I’m in like California all over the place. Yeah. 

[00:36:07] Elise: Oh, very cool. Yeah. So all over North America.

[00:36:10] Tyler: Yeah. 

[00:36:11] Elise: And London. It was so. Honestly, refreshing to chat with you. I feel like I could talk to you for hours more. 

[00:36:24] Tyler: It was very easy to chat with you. 

[00:36:25] Elise: Such a great story, and I think so inspiring from such a young age to 10 years in business, I feel like is kudos to any, you know, any brand let alone an 18 year old that made it happen. So congratulations!

[00:36:41] And yeah, I’m excited to see the product. 

[00:36:43] Tyler: Yes. Thank you so much for having me! And I’m very excited for you guys to see the product too. 

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