The creation of London-based boutique family clothing store, Os & Oakes may sound like a step-by-step guide on how to build the perfect brick and mortar business, but it has taken persistence, dedication, and exceptional entrepreneurship behind the scenes. Erika Oakes is the Co-founder of Os & Oakes, and she is also a teacher, a mother, a community member, and a spirited entrepreneur. She built Os & Oakes from its conception to its present day online and in person stores, all while focusing on the values of the business and her goals that pushed her through to success. Because of her hard work, Oakes has a self-titled storefront in downtown London, a booming e-commerce store and inventory warehouse, a popular Instagram page (32.9k followers and growing), and an incredible story to tell because of it.
Moving from her small-town job as a teacher in northern Ontario to London, Oakes took time off from teaching to have her two children and change her career direction. She worked at Fanshawe College’s Leap Junction teaching students and young entrepreneurs business basics to help them curate and cultivate their ventures. With a foundation built in learning and entrepreneurship, Oakes made the decision in 2016 to start building her dream boutique clothing business. Initially an e-commerce-only business, Os & Oakes started when the sister and brother co-founder duo realized that their collective interests and skills were the perfect match to create something beautiful. Erika Oakes has a love for children’s clothing, having spent her early motherhood years looking for stylish, comfortable, safe, and organic clothing for her children. This love for children’s clothing and styling was more than just a drive for a cute insta-photo (although baby photos are always cute, let’s be honest), but propelled by a need for softer, safer fabric options for her kids. Her brother, Michael, joined the founding team as a tech and fashion lover, molding their ideas into what eventually became Os & Oakes.
This perfect sibling storm created a Shopify-based store with a small selection of items but hit an unfortunately not-so-small snag post-launch – Online orders were hard to come by. Entrepreneurs see this success trajectory every day, with each small action and piece of work taking more time and energy than ever predicted. Oakes’ story is like that of many others trying to build their businesses, but her drive allowed for success to come her way, regardless of how launch day ended. “Something that I learned right away is that success wasn’t going to happen overnight”, said Oakes. “I realized that this process can and will take years, and there’s no point in getting discouraged about how slowly things are moving. It just takes a little bit of time and patience”.
Building relationships from the ground up, Os & Oakes has found a community of product-lovers and supporters who continue to curate their popular online and social media craze. Supported with influencer marketing from the likes of Jillian Harris and TheBirdsPapaya, Os & Oakes has cultivated a die-hard fan base built from one important entrepreneurial key – connection. Oakes spent years networking and putting herself out there, participating in Toronto’s infamous One of A Kind Show when the business was still online-only, and making personal connections with these insta-famous influencers that have given her brand the reputation it deserves. She emulates the honest and sometimes difficult story of an entrepreneur, spending intentful energy and time to create meaningful connections that benefit her brand. “I think social media makes things look like an overnight success, but it’s not”, said Oakes. “It is years and years of nurturing those relationships, communicating with people, and getting yourself out there”.
The future for the Oakes family and their busting clothing company is full of endless possibilities. They opened a central London retail location in March of 2019 and completed their 2020 goal of owning and operating a warehouse location for online fulfillment. The evolution of the Os & Oakes story from online children’s clothing store to a vibrant, insta-famous, well-recognized family brand is an inspiring one, and this success is all lead by their hard work and dedication. As their little ostrich logo finds itself on clothing for all types, it is a reminder that everything starts as an idea that can be cultivated, loved, and worked into a brand that tells the story of true entrepreneurial spirit.
Looking to shop locally for yourself and your kiddos? Look no further.
Head to www.osandoakes.com or to their London retail location at 526 Adelaide St N, London, ON