Importing Your Favourites
Bringing clothing to the True North Strong and Free
Looking for one of your go-to intimate apparel brands, such as Hanky Panky, Munki Munki, or PIP Studios? Chances are that the Morega Agency are the folks to thank for bringing the pieces across both the border and the Atlantic. But what how did this important player in importing and distributing come to be?
Offering representation all over Canada, Director Janice Fleming-Gole explains over the phone that Morega has exclusivity with its brands in the Canadian market. The point of difference that Fleming-Gole is quick to articulate is that the business also acts as distributor, which is unique for intimate apparel. In other words, instead of having a representative taking an order and bringing it back to the parent company Stateside (or sometimes, back to Europe), the Morega team takes care of it all, which cuts out redundancies, creating efficiencies.
It comes as an immediate surprise to learn that Fleming-Gole has a BA in health and physical education, as opposed to one in business. Then again, course of study does not always dictate your path. With her first job at Levi Strauss & Co., followed by positions at Alfred Sung and Ellen Tracy, grasping the fashion industry by its handles came naturally. Between career and personal life, Fleming-Gole took a breather to spend time with her kids before embarking on her next adventure.
Before Hanky Panky exploded into mainstream culture, they were in search of a Canadian distributor; and just like that, the Morega Agency took off.
The importing business does not come without its challenges. As an outsider, the first things I could surmise would be the dollar exchange and being at delivery’s mercy. The intricacies become apparent when the list of things to consider spill: pricing accounting for duties and disparity, the lack of duty drawback on the Canadian side, finding the right broker to get the goods across the border.
When it comes to the other half—distribution—a 2013 interview with advantage.com, there is the mention of “tak[ing] it one step further and get it into a state that’s viable for the retailer.” To expand on this statement, Fleming-Gole discusses the placing of goods (e.g. ensuring that retailers aren’t all clustered, vying for competition with one another), making sure that both the brand and retailer fit each other’s personalities, and determining when exclusivity in location is appropriate.
Before our time is up, I ask the question, “what is the one piece of advice yo would give to someone starting their own business?” An innate response, Fleming-Gole quickly responds: “The most important thing is to only start with a passion—it cannot be about the money; [passion] is going to be everything.”
And lastly, how did the name “Morega” come to be? Each pair of letters corresponds to the first two letters of Fleming-Gole’s children: Montgomery, Redmond, and Gaelen.