Meredith Powell

Forty Under 40 Winner 2015: Co-founder, the Next Big Thing, 38 

Meredith Powell admits feeling awestruck the first time she did a closing show during New York Fashion Week.

“I didn’t grow up with any fashion connections at all. I started my first business with a loan from Gulf and Fraser [G&F Financial Group] out of my apartment in downtown Vancouver,” said the co-founder of the Next Big Thing, a non-profit group providing mentorship to young entrepreneurs.

“To be in New York at the closing show with my collection going down the runway was truly a moment I will never forget.”

After learning to code in the late 1990s, Powell began building websites for small business. But she was soon merging her passion for fashion and technology by getting into e-commerce.

Powell founded a fashion distribution firm and brand management agency that led to partnerships with brands like H&M, Saks and Urban Outfitters.

“It was a very natural fit. The fashion business is very similar to tech. It moves very quickly; it’s filled with incredibly ambitious, thought-leading people,” she said.

“And I found at an early age I had a real nose for the next hot trend.”

Powell said one of the few regrets she has is not becoming an entrepreneur sooner in life, waiting until she graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1999.

It’s one of the reasons why it’s so important for her to mentor the young entrepreneurs coming through the Next Big Thing or the Launch Academy incubator.

“In everything I’ve done, I’ve given passionately. And I really believe that’s why I’ve had any of the success I’ve had,” she said. “I care so much, and on the flip side, I’ve really paid it forward.”

Birthplace: North Vancouver

Where you live now: Vancouver

Highest level of education: Bachelor of arts, English literature and film (UBC)

Currently reading: The Golden Compass trilogy by Philip Pullman

Currently listening to: Tame Impala, War on Drugs, Kendrick Lamar, Father John Misty, old-school hip-hop

When you were a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up: Reporter for National Geographic

Profession you would most like to try: Producer/creative director at Vice

Toughest business or professional decision: To exit from my first company (Canadian scope) and found two new agencies focused on U.S./international market growth with nothing but a small bank loan secured against my car and condo

Advice you would give the younger you: You are never alone. Talk to enough good people about the challenges you’re facing and you’ll always find someone who’s been there before or is there right now. When I was younger I thought asking for help was vulnerable or weak. Now, I understand it’s exactly the opposite: sharing is smart business

 


Join us to celebrate the 2015 Forty under under 40 Awards January 27, 2016 at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel. For tickets and event info visit www.biv.com/events/40under40.