Linda Lundström is an award-winning fashion designer, entrepreneur, public speaker and social activist.
Linda has over 35 years of experience in the apparel industry through founding Linda Lundström Inc., a highly recognizable line of clothing, outerwear and accessories that sold at top retailers in North America.
Linda has received countless awards and recognitions, including three honorary Ph.Ds, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013, and she was named to the Order of Ontario in 1995.
After the economic downturn of 2008, Linda sold her company and started focusing on other passions including the Sewing Circle Project, teaching at George Brown College and Therma Kōta, a new Nordic outerwear brand that she launched with her two daughters Sophie Lundström Halbert and Mosha Lundström Halbert in 2016.
We asked Linda a few questions about how her approach to business changed after she sold Linda Lundström Inc., and advice she has for other leaders who want to reinvent themselves in business:
What were some of the most important lessons you learned as you were going through changes in your career?
I learned that if you are patient, opportunities will reveal themselves.
When I sold Linda Lundstrom Inc., many unexpected opportunities opened up for me.
I got the chance to completely change my life from being high profile and high pressure with lots of responsibility, to having the freedom to pursue other projects I am passionate about and a lifestyle that aligns more closely to my own values.
I also learned that I could be very happy creating things on a much smaller scale than my company Linda Lundström Inc. required me to do just to keep sales coming in and people employed.
How has reinventing yourself in your career changed your approach to business?
I started to focus more on my passion for partnering with Indigenous organizations and collaborating with Indigenous communities.
Since I was afforded more time after selling Linda Lundstrom Inc., I was able to launch the Sewing Circle Project where I am able to leverage my network of suppliers for Indigenous communities that need them.
My approach to business has also changed when it comes to how I want to be connected to the end consumer. With Linda Lundström Inc., I was selling wholesale and was separated from the end consumer through sales agencies and retailers. I decided that I did not want my business to be wholesaling to retailers again. This left us with a direct consumer, online business model for Therma Kōta.
How did your past experiences in the fashion industry help you as you were launching Therma Kōta?
I was able to leverage the many professional relationships I had developed through my 35 years at Linda Lundström Inc.
Our main supplier for Therma Kōta is actually a company I have been dealing with for 30 years. I have also been able to leverage my relationships to help connect Indigenous communities with suppliers for things like thread, buttons and other materials that are needed.
I applied my knowledge of production, costing, sourcing and pattern making to Therma Kōta and my daughters brought with them their own knowledge and experience to make it the company it is today.
When you leave a company behind, you still take so much with you - important relationships, industry knowledge, and key connections that prove extremely valuable for new projects.
What has been the most rewarding part of pivoting your career?
Being able to work on my own passions.
I get to offer my connections and services to Indigenous communities, including the Eabametoong First Nation. Once I committed to that, opportunities started opening up that I would have never thought of.
Do you have any advice for business leaders who want to reinvent themselves in their career?
Think of what you don’t want and move towards what you do want. It's not always a straight line.
Follow your values and passions and you will find yourself on the right path.
Interested in reading more interviews? Check out our blog, where we interview thought leaders and executives across a variety of industries on topics such as goal setting, empathy, resilience, and gratitude.