Written by Martin Desouza

When starting a business, it is no secret that friends and family often serve as a source of validation and support. Edmonton-born, Toronto-raised Shane Vitaly Foran accidentally discovered that his friends could also represent a market of customers that he cared about.

“In the beginning, I made the jewelry for my friends as gifts. After more and more friends began asking for pieces, I realized that I could create something larger.” Foran said.

It was at that moment when he and friend Jason Readman founded Vitaly.

Foran and Readman visited the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, now the Toronto office of Futurpreneur Canada, and received a $15,000 seed investment.

To say that they have come a long way since receiving their initial investment would be an understatement.

With a product line described as a blend between contemporary street wear and affordable luxury, the clothing and accessory company is one of Toronto’s hottest brands.

Their products are distributed all around the world and they’ve recently opened a flagship retail store in Downtown Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood.

Vitaly is growing at an impressive rate, but the guys haven’t forgotten how they were conceived.

“At Vitaly, everything we do is with our friends in mind. We create products that our friends want to wear and price them at a price that they can afford. Our friends are what got us started, and without a doubt, they are the key to our success.” Foran added.

It is undeniable that the city of Toronto has had a tremendous amount of influence on the company and the brand.

“Vitaly’s brand is becoming more and more distinctly a Toronto style. People used to think we were from California but in the past 5 years, Toronto has begun to develop a distinct identity on the world stage, and our brand directly aligns with that identity.”

More important than the influence that the city has had on the aesthetic side of the brand, has been the remarkable amount of support the guys have received from the greater Toronto community.

“We have definitely benefitted from the wave of pride that Torontonians and Canadians have for their city right now. It began with the likes of Drake and the Weeknd representing Toronto on the world stage and was complimented by the rise in popularity of our local sports teams.”

The success of Vitaly is evidence that Toronto has emerged as a vigorous ecosystem in which fashion and lifestyle brands can thrive.

The company strongly encourages aspiring creators to take full advantage of the resources and support Toronto has to offer, but advises that they keep one thing in mind.

“Know your why,” said Foran.

It is a quote from the late, great Muhammad Ali, and one that heavily resonates with Foran to this day. He feels it is the most important piece of advice that he can relay onto the next generation of entrepreneurs.

“It starts internal and it will attract people to you.” Foran added.

“Designed with our friends in mind came to us so easily because it’s so obvious. You would never design something of poor quality for your friends, and you would never overcharge your friends. I like to think that these are things that will never go out of style.”

To find out more about Vitaly, check out their website at: https://www.vitalydesign.ca/