Patty Shapiro started out in the fashion industry, selling trend books that inform designers and manufacturers on what's going to be in style for the upcoming season. Soon she had garnered distribution rights for all of Canada, for these books. Having been a student of Psychology and the Arts in her teens, Patty was able to get in tune with what people around her were looking for, besides trends. Clients asking for talent, talent asking to be placed. Patty quickly recognized a distinct need for specialized services to cater to the Montreal fashion industries staffing requirements. One customer and candidate at a time, through credible service and word of mouth, the business grew to a current staff of 10 employees, overseeing a variety of niche services for the fashion industry in Montreal.
Identifying the fashion industry's needs has always shaped the evolution of the company. "You got to listen to people, to what they need, to where they are hurting, where they are lacking" says Patty. When around the year 2000 the Industry underwent a metamorphosis, almost overnight, and switched from manufacturing to importing en masse, Patty identified yet another need. "Pattern makers, markers, cutters everyone suddenly lost their jobs and needed to acquire new skill sets. So we decided to teach courses in Patternmaking, Illustrator, Photoshop, Coreldraw etc". This proved to be a great success and has become a mainstay of the services provided by the company.
Having access to talent and also being able to provide training in new skill sets that were in demand by the fashion industry put Patty Shapiro and Associates in the unique position of being able to help companies with their temporary staffing needs.
"Not every company finds it necessary to assume the overheads associated with a full-time employee for requirements that are temporary or occasional. For example say a company requires a graphic artist for 2 months, we have a division that works at either the company location or at our office, on a daily/weekly/monthly basis...as per their needs. We are in a position to supply talent to meet various outsourcing needs of companies in the Montreal fashion business. Dan Pereda is in charge of the fashion outsourcing division here.
It's a changing world; we've got to change with the times and be one step ahead of everyone else. In Europe they have 'flex time' which has not really caught on here yet. Many of my freelancers like to work on a more temporary basis that affords them more flexibility in terms of the other things they want to do with their lives. So the outsourcing and temporary arrangement works very well for all concerned." This also works with Patty's personal philosophy of a 'Life- Work-Balance'. "You need to have fun and you need to work hard, however you also have to learn how to balance it out together."
Infact, Patty Shapiro practices what she preaches by facilitating a fun environment to work in, for her employees. She thinks that it's important to work with people who like what they are doing.
Patty clearly holds her team in high regard"To whom do I owe my success? My team. I surround myself by smart, hard working, fun loving, honest, success driven people like myself and could no way achieve any of this without them, so it's all for one. Patty Shapiro is successful because of the people she associates with, not the other way around"
What differentiates her from the competition is that every single person working for Patty Shapiro and Associates has had working experience in the Montreal fashion industry "...the girl that recruits pattern makers was a pattern maker herself and then a teacher, so she is finely tuned in to the employers needs when she is recruiting for a pattern maker position. Similarly another of my recruiting staff was a designer graphic artist,so when she places people in a similar job she understands the position and the employers needs. That's what really sets us apart. The fact is that there are no other companies that recruit strictly for the fashion industry AND do training AND can supply temporary workers or outsourcing needs AND provide trends. In that sense we truly are an original one-stop shop."
Patty Shapiro and Associates take a hands-on approach to helping candidates find a job in the Industry " Everybody who comes to us is evaluated thoroughly, we go over their C.V, we may suggest they take some courses, we go over their portfolio. Isabelle may make sure they can upgrade their portfolios to industry standards. We do our best to make sure that our candidates are a good fit for the industry and are well positioned to grow in the business. "
Patty Shapiro & Associates also delivers quantity candidates to the retail business. Joel B. Davine is the in house recruitment specialist who deals with fashion retailers across Canada.
Patty is optimistic about the future for the Montreal fashion industry and the unique position for Patty Shapiro and Associates within the industry. She is also a realist " Its been a terrible year, probably the worst year anyone had in business. However, it has also been the most wonderful three months at the end of the year. Almost everyone I have spoken to about it... their business is really on the up. I'm not completely convinced that manufacturing will return, though the timing factor is what makes a lot of people think differently about domestic production now. When one imports, it takes a while for the product to get here...whereas when the production is domestic, delivery is almost instantaneous.
Fashion is never going to go away. Montreal has an immense amount of talent and an enviable standing in the fashion world. The schools are good, the curriculum's ever changing. The companies that have been able to weather the recent storms will reap the benefits of the future. Montreal is a mini New York. As far as fashion in North America is concerned its New York, LA and then Montreal."
With the range of services and the ability to evolve with the changes in the industry Patty Shapiro & Associates are convinced that they will continue being an integral and influential part of the Montreal fashion business. "Love what you do and you will be successful" are Patty's parting words, borne out of her own experiences for sure.
Patty Shapiro & Associates website: www.pattyshapiro.com
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