Devon Bird - Lia Crowe photograph

Fashion Forward With Devon Bird

Moden Boutique owner expands her business during Covid-19 with Moden Essentials

  • Dec. 10, 2020 11:00 a.m.

– Words by TessVan StraatenPhotography by Lia Crowe

Devon Bird never thought of herself as an entrepreneur, but after launching a successful clothing store in Sidney two years ago, she’s now preparing to open another boutique next door—and she couldn’t be happier.

“Building this business and being connected with what I love to do—it’s not a job,” says the 31-year-old owner of Moden Boutique. “It’s entirely consuming in the best possible way. I’m doing exactly what I want and what I should be doing.”

Devon started working in retail when she was just 16 years old—it was her first job—but despite her love of fashion, she didn’t think it would be her career.

“I always worked in retail because I liked the discount, and it was somewhere I felt comfortable,” she says. “I got my degree in sociology with a concentration in health and aging, and I thought I was going to run an assisted living facility for independent seniors.”

But after getting into merchandising a few years ago, Devon found her passion and decided to push herself out of her comfort zone. She packed up her life in Vancouver and moved back to her hometown of Victoria to open up Moden, which means “mature” in Norwegian (a nod to her grandmother who came to Canada after the Second World War and had a unique fashion sense).

“It’s not an age to me, it’s a mental space,” Devon explains. “I don’t really relate to my millennial generation much, so mature was a state of being, a state of mind, a comfort in oneself—a mature place to be. You know who you are and you’re living that truth and that’s what Moden meant to me.”

That philosophy, of being true to oneself, is also how Devon is running her business. But it’s a lesson she had to learn the hard way.

“Whenyou start a business, you don’t have somebody telling you what’s right or wrong, and I think I started trying to be everything to all people,” she admits. “After I opened, people would say, ‘Oh, the store is too empty’ or ‘you need to carry this’ or ‘you need to carry that’ or ‘why don’t you carry skirts?’ and I would think, ‘Oh gosh, I need to carry more skirts and dresses, I need to do more evening stuff,’ and it started to impact the vision I had for the store, which is everyday comfortable dressing.”

Devon felt like she was being pulled in too many directions and had to stop, re-evaluate, and learn to trust her gut.

“You can’t let people tell you who you are,” she says. “You need to know what your business is about. And it’s a reflection of you, so you have to be true to that, and everything—from how you decorate to what you have in the store—has to come from that vision, or the message is totally lost.”

For Devon, who says she always thought she’d make a better employee than employer, learning to run a business has come with a steep learning curve. But she says the key is not being afraid to ask questions.

“I think what you learn is that you have to be quite shameless and ask questions and not be afraid to look silly,” she advises. “I had to really get over not looking qualified, which was a very humbling experience. But it was also encouraging to see how willing people are to help you when you do ask.”

The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic just 15 months after she opened the store posed a unexpected and unique challenge—one that many new businesses struggled to survive. But it’s also been a valuable learning experience.

“It’s made us more nimble and one of the positives out of COVID-19 is that people’s habits are broken up,” she says. “Nobody wants to go to a big mall full of people now, so they’re looking for their outdoor shopping centres; they’re looking for their local, independent boutiques.I’ve been so encouraged to see people coming back, people really worried about my business and buying gift cards or shopping online for the first time just to support me.”

Devon’s so encouraged, she’s planning to expand and open a new store—Moden Essentials, which will carry lingerie, loungewear and basics—in March.

“Opening a business at anytime is a risk, but you mitigate that risk by being really clear,” she says. “Are you offering something that people need? I want to continue to do what Moden did, which is offer what’s missing and I think the next space that could really be elevated is lingerie and lounge.”

It all comes back to Devon’s approach to business and life—knowing who you are and being authentic.

”If you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing, you’re using your skills and your heart is in it. So it’s really difficult to fail because you’re using all of your strengths and putting that out there,” Devon says. “That’s really the key to success.”

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

Like Boulevard Magazine on Facebook and follow them on Instagram

BusinessFashion

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ryan Bavin of Bavin Glassworks in Invermere. Photo: Submitted
Call for entries for Columbia Basin Culture Tour

Deadline for registration for artists and venues is April 15

The public transit buses in Cranbrook — and the East Kootenay region — will be operating under the auspices of Trail Transit, BC Transit announced this week. (Townsman file photo)
East Kootenay operating services contract awarded to Trail Transit

The public transit buses in Cranbrook — and the East Kootenay region… Continue reading

'Gone Fishing,' by Lynn Taylor
Taylor’s dreams take life at Cranbrook Arts

Lynn Taylor grew up in Ontario and dreamt of being an artist… Continue reading

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

Over the last few years, over 300 hectares have been treated at the city’s southern boundary for wildfire risk reduction. Photo courtesy BC Government.
Wildfire mitigation projects reducing risk around city boundaries

Over the last few years, there has been over 300 hectares of… Continue reading

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled Feb. 26 that the estate of deceased Sooke man and Hells Angels prospect Michael Widner is to be divided between his wife and his secret spouse. (Black Press Media file photo)
Estate of dead B.C. Hells Angels prospect to be divided between wife, secret spouse

Michael Widner’s 2017 death left a number of unanswered questions

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of its Janssen subsidiary’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Johnson & Johnson via AP
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine

It is the 4th vaccine approved in Canada and the 1st that requires just a single dose

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second death reported in Kelowna General Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

A total of seven cases have been identified at the hospital: six patients and one staff

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read