Myla Davey chose to build her life on two principles: compulsion and passion. It’s a decision that has led her to a blistering career as the Brand Marketing Manager for Canadian fashion brand Roots, a new home in Toronto—one of the world’s main fashion hubs, and a distinct personal brand that she’s managed to turn into a loungewear label called Cherry Gardens. By day, Myla is the protector, guardian, and purveyor of the Roots brand content; by night, she designs pieces for her loungewear line. In only a year, Cherry Gardens has garnered the attention of Elle Canada who named Myla as one of the 6 Black Canadian Designers Who Should Be On Your Radar. “I wanted to create a contemporary brand that was locally made, and pieces that are as comfortable as they are aesthetically pleasing. Casting models of colour was a conscious choice as I wanted people like me to feel represented, as I struggled with bi-racial representation growing up.” Though her resume could intimidate even the most fashion-steeped of individuals, Myla speaks with humility, passion, and devotion to the industry that she has dedicated her life to—and strives to make it even better than it is today.
To start off, can you talk a bit about your responsibilities as the Brand Marketing Manager for Roots?
A Brand Marketing Manager are responsible for telling stories. Whether that’s showcasing the overall brand meaning, promoting a new product, or a combination of both, we help bring the brand messaging to life through physical, digital or experiential campaigns. It’s all about getting the audience interested in what the brand has to say.
A Brand Marketing Manager is responsible for telling stories. We help bring the brand messaging to life through physical, digital or experiential campaigns. It’s all about getting the audience interested in what the brand has to say.
So what does a typical day look like for you in your role?
I always start the day off checking emails—preferably with a coffee! Then we will usually have a department-wide meeting to get status updates on current projects. The rest of the day is spent working on said projects, anything from strategy building, conceptualizing brand stories, creative asset production, to working on events or collaborations with other brands. Collaboration is an integral part of working with a creative team, and so a lot of the day is spent working with one another to bring our ideas to fruition. Each day is different and that’s part of the reason I love fashion.
You’ve been in a few Marketing and creative positions at places, such as Fidelity Denim, before Roots. What led you to that specific area of the Fashion world?
Fashion has always been so interesting to me, so it was never really a choice but more of a compulsion. Since I was young, I have always been attracted to it as an art form and method of personal expression. Clothing can speak volumes about a person before they even say a word. The visual and creative nature of fashion combined with the fast-paced commerce aspect of it is an exciting mix. I wanted to be able to tell those stories that I grew up consuming.
I had heard such great things about the program and true to its reputation, it gave me insight into so many areas of the industry and confirmed my career direction.
What led you to Blanche Macdonald?
I attended Blanche right out of high school. I knew I wanted to work in fashion but I wasn’t sure in which capacity. I had heard such great things about the program and true to its reputation, it gave me insight into so many areas of the industry and confirmed my career direction. They had small class sizes, lots of personal attention from instructors and wide-ranging, real-world knowledge. There were just so many factors that set Blanche Macdonald apart from other programs for me. Once I figured out exactly where I wanted to go in the fashion world at Blanche, I decided to go to Toronto to further my education and pursue my undergrad in Fashion Communication at Ryerson.
Fashion has always been so interesting to me. I have always been attracted to it as an art form and method of personal expression. Clothing can speak volumes about a person before they even say a word. The visual and creative nature of fashion combined with the fast-paced commerce aspect of it is an exciting mix.
Has having both of these educational institutions behind you prepared you for your career?
Absolutely. Thanks to both of them, at this point in my life, I’ve been able to experience all sides of the business, from wholesale to retail and everything in between. My time at both BMC and Ryerson gave me the tools to tackle everything that I was to come across when I started my career journey. Both programs were very wide-ranging and gave me a lot of current, real-world knowledge on all aspects of the fashion industry.
That’s so incredible. Did you have a favourite day/class/teacher at Blanche Macdonald?
Peggy [Morrison, Executive Program Director]’s Fashion Awareness classes were invaluable. She fully immersed us in the history of fashion through the decades and it was so incredible to feed off her knowledge and passion for the subject.
Peggy’s Fashion Awareness classes were invaluable. She fully immersed us in the history of fashion through the decades and it was so incredible to feed off her knowledge and passion for the subject.
And how was the transition to Toronto for you?
Not going to lie, the transition was difficult at first. As a born and raised Vancouverite, I wasn’t used to the big city life. I knew no one and I was homesick for the mountains! But 10 years later, I’m still here, which speaks to how much I grew to love Toronto. It’s so diverse, ever-changing, exciting and truly offers something for everyone.
Is the fashion scene in Toronto different from that of Vancouver?
Very much so. I find the range of fashion expression so much more varied in Toronto than on the west coast. This has to do with the sensibilities of each city—the outdoor lifestyle of Vancouver calls for functional, versatile dressing; while Toronto’s more gritty metropolis setting allows for a lot more diverse range of looks. You can do anything and be anyone you want here!
Collaboration and negotiation skills—you’re always working with other people to get the job done. Those group projects in school become real life!
What are the top 5 traits and abilities that you need to have when handling brand marketing for a company?
- A good work ethic—fashion is hard work! A lot of people have the misconception that it’s always this glamorous experience, which it can be at times, but it also requires long hours, dedication and often times blood, sweat, and tears for a campaign to come together. I always say fashion works the hardest!
- Collaboration and negotiation skills—you’re always working with other people to get the job done. Those group projects in school become real life!
- A creative eye—brand marketing really is a mix of left-brain and right-brain disciplines. Impactful campaigns need to look good and perform even better.
- Perspective—you need to think like your consumer and be able to put yourself in their shoes to find out what they really want.
- Flexibility—thanks to the ever-changing nature of fashion and marketing, new situations might throw you for a loop, but the key is to take them in stride and get creative. There are no problems, only solutions.
As a Brand Marketing Manager, what are your tips for making sure the team, and all creative content, stays on brand?
Use every single resource available to you. Refer back to your internal style guides (every reputable brand will have one) whenever possible. And use your manager or department lead as a support system as well—they are in that position for a reason, and can be your sherpa to guide you if the creative idea brainstorming slowly leads you off track 🙂
In today’s climate of things going viral and wokeness, how do you navigate being interesting enough to get attention without going overboard?
It all comes down to perspective. Sometimes great ideas will need a little bit of revision and some tweaks during execution to make sure that they’re hitting all the right notes, culturally and generationally. It’s especially interesting for a brand like Roots where we have such a wide-ranging audience. It’s a challenge to target one group of customers without alienating another. Because Canada is so diverse, we have to think about our entire audience here, as well as in the US and Asia where we also do business. It’s important to stay flexible and always think about the bigger picture.
Thanks to the ever-changing nature of fashion and marketing, new situations might throw you for a loop, but the key is to take them in stride and get creative. There are no problems, only solutions.
Can you describe the Roots brand and voice?
Roots is all about authentically combining comfort and style, and encouraging an exploratory spirit. Roots was started by two friends at summer camp, inspired by the nature and sense of adventure that Canada embodies. As a legacy brand, it’s stayed very true to its original brand voice over the 40+ years in business.
Your favourite part of your job is: Getting to see my ideas come to life in a tangible package.
Coolest thing you’ve gotten to do professionally so far: Travel to Los Angeles on a regular basis for work.
In 5 years you’ll: continue to be happy, healthy, wealthy and thriving!
3 things you’re obsessed with right now: Astrology, humidifiers (it’s cold and dry in Toronto right now!) and the Instagram account @subliming.jpg