Devon Bird - Lia Crowe photograph

Fashion Forward With Devon Bird

Moden Boutique owner expands her business during Covid-19 with Moden Essentials

  • Dec. 10, 2020 10:00 a.m.

– Words by TessVan StraatenPhotography by Lia Crowe

Devon Bird never thought of herself as an entrepreneur, but after launching a successful clothing store in Sidney two years ago, she’s now preparing to open another boutique next door—and she couldn’t be happier.

“Building this business and being connected with what I love to do—it’s not a job,” says the 31-year-old owner of Moden Boutique. “It’s entirely consuming in the best possible way. I’m doing exactly what I want and what I should be doing.”

Devon started working in retail when she was just 16 years old—it was her first job—but despite her love of fashion, she didn’t think it would be her career.

“I always worked in retail because I liked the discount, and it was somewhere I felt comfortable,” she says. “I got my degree in sociology with a concentration in health and aging, and I thought I was going to run an assisted living facility for independent seniors.”

But after getting into merchandising a few years ago, Devon found her passion and decided to push herself out of her comfort zone. She packed up her life in Vancouver and moved back to her hometown of Victoria to open up Moden, which means “mature” in Norwegian (a nod to her grandmother who came to Canada after the Second World War and had a unique fashion sense).

“It’s not an age to me, it’s a mental space,” Devon explains. “I don’t really relate to my millennial generation much, so mature was a state of being, a state of mind, a comfort in oneself—a mature place to be. You know who you are and you’re living that truth and that’s what Moden meant to me.”

That philosophy, of being true to oneself, is also how Devon is running her business. But it’s a lesson she had to learn the hard way.

“Whenyou start a business, you don’t have somebody telling you what’s right or wrong, and I think I started trying to be everything to all people,” she admits. “After I opened, people would say, ‘Oh, the store is too empty’ or ‘you need to carry this’ or ‘you need to carry that’ or ‘why don’t you carry skirts?’ and I would think, ‘Oh gosh, I need to carry more skirts and dresses, I need to do more evening stuff,’ and it started to impact the vision I had for the store, which is everyday comfortable dressing.”

Devon felt like she was being pulled in too many directions and had to stop, re-evaluate, and learn to trust her gut.

“You can’t let people tell you who you are,” she says. “You need to know what your business is about. And it’s a reflection of you, so you have to be true to that, and everything—from how you decorate to what you have in the store—has to come from that vision, or the message is totally lost.”

For Devon, who says she always thought she’d make a better employee than employer, learning to run a business has come with a steep learning curve. But she says the key is not being afraid to ask questions.

“I think what you learn is that you have to be quite shameless and ask questions and not be afraid to look silly,” she advises. “I had to really get over not looking qualified, which was a very humbling experience. But it was also encouraging to see how willing people are to help you when you do ask.”

The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic just 15 months after she opened the store posed a unexpected and unique challenge—one that many new businesses struggled to survive. But it’s also been a valuable learning experience.

“It’s made us more nimble and one of the positives out of COVID-19 is that people’s habits are broken up,” she says. “Nobody wants to go to a big mall full of people now, so they’re looking for their outdoor shopping centres; they’re looking for their local, independent boutiques.I’ve been so encouraged to see people coming back, people really worried about my business and buying gift cards or shopping online for the first time just to support me.”

Devon’s so encouraged, she’s planning to expand and open a new store—Moden Essentials, which will carry lingerie, loungewear and basics—in March.

“Opening a business at anytime is a risk, but you mitigate that risk by being really clear,” she says. “Are you offering something that people need? I want to continue to do what Moden did, which is offer what’s missing and I think the next space that could really be elevated is lingerie and lounge.”

It all comes back to Devon’s approach to business and life—knowing who you are and being authentic.

”If you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing, you’re using your skills and your heart is in it. So it’s really difficult to fail because you’re using all of your strengths and putting that out there,” Devon says. “That’s really the key to success.”

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

Like Boulevard Magazine on Facebook and follow them on Instagram

BusinessFashion

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second-floor balcony continues to smoulder after a fire extinguisher was used to get a small balcony fire under control at the Washington Inn Apartments. Brian Hayward, who lives on the third floor, was alerted to the fire by the smell of smoke wafting into his apartment. Photo by Brian Hayward.
Courtenay firefighters respond to balcony fire at Washington Inn Apartments

Firefighters were called out to the Washington Inn Apartments Sunday, April 17,… Continue reading

RCMP forensics investigators scour the site north of Highland School in Comox, where multiple people were stabbed during a party Saturday night, April 16. Photo by Terry Farrell
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Comox bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault near Highland Secondary

Cumberland is surrounded by trees — and logging. Its council is supporting a call to stop old-growth logging in vulnerable areas of the province such as Fairy Creek. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland backs request to save B.C.’s old-growth forests

The Comox Youth Climate Council is asking local governments to take stand

Danita Bilozaze and her daughter Dani in Comox. Photo by Karen McKinnon
Valley woman makes historic name change for truth and reconciliation

First in Canada to be issued new passport under the TRC Calls to Action

For Leela Harrop, the recent death of her brother Raju Tiwari pushed her to sign up for the vaccine. Photo supplied
Comox woman on fence books vaccine due to brother’s death

Leela Harrop says she did have issues with signing up online this past week

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Most Read