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Elisa Dahan, Co-founder of Mackage

With Montreal still reeling from its New Year cold snap, the need for warm outerwear clothes becomes more important than ever. For years, winter was synonymous of unflattering puffy coats and ill-fitting parka jackets. Fortunately, when Elisa Dahan and Eran Elfassy united their talent and creativity to start their own fashion label, they made it their goal to revolutionize our outerwear staples.

Today, Elisa and Eran's Montreal outerwear brand, Mackage, is the go-to label for comfortable yet stylish coats and accessories. With a presence in over 20 countries and a strong celebrity following, Mackage is a true Canadian success story. 

Despite her busy schedule shared between taking care of her family and overseeing the growth of the Mackage label, Elisa was kind enough to answer my questions on behalf of Her Campus McGill.  

Kim Laurence for Her Campus McGill: When did you start working in the fashion industry? What are the qualities required to break into the fashion industry?

Elisa Dahan: I started working in the fashion industry after graduating from LaSalle College. I think you need to be driven to succeed.  Persistence is key.

KL: With your partner, Eran Elfassy, you have created one of Canada and North America’s most successful fashion brands. Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

ED: I am not sure I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur…but we knew we had a dream and a goal and that we would do what ever it takes to make it happen. To this day, we still set new goals for ourselves and continue to dream, as that is what keeps us motivated.

KL: Where does the inspiration for Mackage outerwear come from? How did the brand come to life?

ED: Fifteen years ago when we started there was no collection truly focusing on a contemporary fit in the coat market. There were definitely coats within nice collections, but not a true coat collection that made a women feel sexy and warm at the same time. Being Montrealers, we know the cold and how important your coat is. We were tired of people running to coat-check when they arrived somewhere because they wanted to get their coat off as soon as possible. We wanted your coat to be part of your outfit, not just a coat, and something that you are proud to wear and feel beautiful in. We started as a leather collection and evolved into a complete coat collection including wools, downs etc. with leather details being our trademark since that is how we started.

KL: Mackage is sold in some of the most prestigious stores worldwide: Bloomingdales, Holt Renfrew and Saks Fifth Avenue, just to name a few. How did you manage to take your brand from Montreal to fashionable cities such as New York?

ED:  I think when you are 20 years old you are fearless and you do not take no for an answer…when I look back on how persistent we were, it actually makes me laugh. We believed in our product and were confident that the stores we were targeting would be successful. 

KL: You’ve expanded your brand to children's outerwear and recently to handbags. What awaits Mackage in the future?

ED: I think the goal is to become a full lifestyle brand, but we like to master one category before starting the next one…so, not sure what is next, but there are definitely plans to expand further.

KL: Working as a creative director, what does a typical day in your life look like?

ED: It is never the same. Eran and I are hands-on in everything we do. So we could be designing, doing fittings, strategizing out marketing, meeting with buyers, doing trade shows, model-casting, photoshoots…no two days are alike and the day is never long enough.

KL: Mackage has gained tremendous popularity worldwide and many celebrities have been spotted wearing your designs. What is it like to dress celebrities?

ED: It is flattering…it makes us happy that people that have access to all brands [would] choose Mackage.

KL: I recently made an amazing discovery: your blog infashionated.com. I love how you write about fashion, your travels and even your day-to-day life. What motivated you to launch your own blog?

ED: I just really want women to know that you can do it all if you want. It is a question of determination. My whole life, I set goals for myself, and once I reached them new goals were set. In many ways, I am a traditional woman that wants to be a mom and be there for my kids and my husband.  However, I also love my career. This means that if I want both, I need to make it work, so I do. I think all women have it in them.

KL: As a mother and a successful businesswoman, what are your tips for managing motherhood and a hectic work schedule?

ED: Organization is key. Planning ahead for everything.

KL: Not long ago, I read an article about how numerous women still have to choose between a successful career and having a family. What is your opinion on the matter?

ED: I disagree, I do not think you need to choose but you need to be able to make some sacrifices, as you cannot be in two places at once. It is a given that you will miss some things at home but that is not always a bad thing. I know how to appreciate and maximize on the time spent at home and I have learnt over the years that our team is key. You have to have a good team that surrounds you that love what they do and are passionate.

KL: Finally, as a Montrealer, what are your favorite places in the city?

ED: As a Montrealer, my favorite places are restaurants, as we have amazing food in this city. These days it is: Ryu, Monsieur Restaurant & Bar, Le Richmond, Grinder…I can continue with a long list! I also love walking around in Old Montreal


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