By Flannery Bloom
In this series, The Georgia Straight goes behind the scenes with fashion professionals to explore the workings of the local fashion industry.
Jennifer Rainnie is the owner of Rainnie Marketing Inc., a national sales representative agency for swimwear. RMI focuses on representing the top swimwear, resortwear, and intimates brands to retailers across Canada. It has offices in British Columbia, Quebec, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada and was founded in 1999.
1. How did you get to where you are today?
“My education is in fine arts but when I graduated I actually went into medical sales, and I was working for a division of Johnson & Johnson. I thought I wanted to follow more of a corporate path...[and] I did that for a number of years. After a few years of that my husband started working with Quicksilver, running an agency, and an opportunity opened up to do Roxy, and that’s when I decided I would be happier in the fashion and action sports industry. So I made that change...about 18 years ago. I represented the brand for Western Canada and then I went in-house with them and was their national sales manager for a few years.
“Through that experience with Roxy, because swimwear was one of the categories that I was managing, I really gravitated to the whole swim segment of the industry and realized I wanted to specialize in that category. It [swimwear] sort of speaks to what my lifestyle has been....It’s such a great part of fashion. It’s evolved so much and swimwear nowadays is fashion--they actually make a lot of the trends now. So that’s when I decided to leave Roxy and open a swimwearonly agency.”
2. What is a typical workday like for you?
“It’s always different, which is great. I get bored easily, and I wouldn’t want to be doing the same thing every day. We go through different seasons [and] in swimwear there’s two main seasons, spring and summer. Depending on what time we’re in within that season, you go through a cycle basically every four to five months where you are receiving samples.
“I could be in the office unpacking samples or I could be on the phone booking appointments for the upcoming trade shows. Then you’re showing, you’re at trade shows, you’re on the road, and you have people coming into your showroom. Then you have about a month of chasing orders and entering orders, calling everyone to get their orders in. “
3. What is your favourite thing about your job?
“It’s just that I love it so much. It’s so nice to do something that you wake up and want to do. I’m so inspired by the creativity in this business, and not only in swimwear.”
4. What is the most challenging thing about your work?
“Right now it’s our dollar. We’re dealing with a lot of suppliers out of the U.S.A. and that’s tough. I would say the other thing in terms of the retail environment in Canada right now is that we’re being hit with a lot of competition from the United States. The online U.S. companies are really affecting my business and other reps in Canada--even just the big U.S. stores that are coming in to Canada.”
5. Who or what is your biggest fashion inspiration?
“I think there’s a lot of inspiration that comes from artists and just different fashion icons. I would say in swimwear, Amahlia Stevens, who is our head designer for Vitamin A--I’m always inspired by what she’s doing. She’s unbelievable, she’s got so much attention to detail and she can produce the most beautiful colour palettes every season. She’ll redo a green or a blue every single season and it’s different and better. She has this amazing eye for colour.”