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 10:00 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

Just Posted

Nurses at the Cowichan District Hospital are thanking the community for following the health protocols during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Pictured from left are nurses Jacqueline Kendall, Melissa Bustard and Heidi Ferris. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Pandemic year like no other, Cowichan nurses say

May 10-16 is National Nursing Week

Island Health’s new Wellness and Recovery Centre at 5878 York Rd. is now planned to be open in the fall. (File photo)
Wellness and Recovery Centre now to open in the fall

Three community dialogues scheduled for May

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data showing new cases by local health area for the week of May 2-8. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island COVID-19 local case counts the lowest they’ve been all year

On some areas of Island, more than 60 per cent of adults have received a vaccine dose

A nurse gets a swab ready to perform a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Island’s daily COVID-19 case count drops below 10 for just the second time in 2021

Province reports 8 new COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island Wednesday

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

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

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 flight demo team returning to Vancouver Island for spring training

The team will be in the Comox Valley area from May 16 to 24

Saanich police and a coroner investigated a fatal crash in the 5200-block of West Saanich Road on Feb. 4, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Police determine speed, impairment not factors in fatal Greater Victoria crash

Driver who died veered across centre line into oncoming traffic for unknown reason, police say

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Bow-legged bear returns to Ladysmith, has an appointment with the vet

Brown Drive Park closed as conservation officers search for her after she returned from relocation

Most Read