Toronto small business owners Noor W and Danijela D are having to make the tough decision to uproot their lives and relocate their operations to the United States in efforts to cut costs that come with running their clothing brand, High Definition Studios.
Speaking to blogTO, the two young entrepreneurs opened up about their decision to move their clothing brand from Toronto to the U.S., shedding light on the challenges of running a business in Toronto.
The two best friends started the clothing brand in 2020 during the pandemic and cooked up a line of what Noor called “luxury essential clothing and everyday off-duty dressing.”
Because everyone was cooped up at home during the pandemic, people had all the time in the world to go online shopping.
“It was really good in the beginning,” Noor told blogTO. “Everybody was on social media, and many people were online shopping. So we started it at kind of the perfect time.”
But things have shifted since, and the growth of the clothing brand has hit a wall since they first launched.
Now, the two co-founders are struggling to make their business grow like it did at the beginning, and it’s becoming increasingly evident that for that to happen, leaving Toronto is a necessary step.
Noor cited rising expenses, such as exorbitant shipping fees, high taxes, and increasing overheads as huge reasons behind their decision.
“Shipping within Toronto often costs more than shipping to the US, and that’s just one of the many financial challenges we face,” Noor explained.
“Our shipping for someone in Toronto that is maybe 20 minutes away from us is $20. Meanwhile, shipping to New York costs us $11.”
But the decision to shift their business to the U.S. was driven by other factors, too. While expanding their customer base played a crucial role, the founders emphasized the practical advantages the move offered.
“The U.S. market has a more significant community of fashion-forward individuals willing to invest in our brand. The influencer scene is more prominent, directly impacting our reach,” Daniela explained.
The transition to the U.S. also offers access to more resources.
“Manufacturing costs in Toronto are notably higher, and the availability of sustainable manufacturing options is limited,” Daniela added. “In the U.S., we’ve found more resources, from fabrics to manufacturers, which will undoubtedly aid our design process.”
As they embark on this new chapter, the HD Studios owners expressed mixed feelings about leaving their Toronto roots.
“Toronto will always hold a special place in our hearts. It’s where we started, where our community blossomed, and where our brand took its first steps,” said Noor.
Their decision to leave the city has very little to do with the Toronto community, with Noor sharing, “It’s more to do with tax and logistics. It honestly has nothing to do with our customer base here because we love them, and they’ve gotten us here by buying all of our collections.”
“We love them, but it’s just too hard for us right now.”
As they prepare to launch their business in the U.S., Noor and Daniela are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.
“We’re thankful for the support Toronto has given us, but we’re also eager to take the next step in our brand’s journey. We’re ready to embrace new challenges, expand our reach, and continue growing.”