This past spring, I had the opportunity to meet with two dynamite girls! The gals are Lisa Pestano and Natali Osadchin, the co-owners of Toronto’s Shop Nopal. The chemistry these BFFs have is undeniable, the same chemistry that right away made me feel like we’re all old friends. I knew right away that I MUST write about them and Shop Nopal!
I’ve always had the admiration for people who are genuine go getters. These Toronto kids are just that; they radiate passion and are making a name for themselves and literally turning heads! You may have seen a girl wearing a t shirt that says “Feelin Myself” or “Wineosday” and you probably thought to yourself, “I need that shirt in my life”. Well, you’re in luck because Natali and Lisa has got you covered! Their shirts are chic, sassy, and affordable. They encourage personalities to shine by letting their clients customize their orders too!
We wanted to give our readers a peak to Shop Nopal – so we sat down with Lisa and Natali again to chat about starting a business in Toronto, working with your BFF, where they see Shop Nopal heading, and our shared love of humour and food!
1. Please tell us a bit about yourselves.
“Nopal is our brainchild – we are the yin and yang of the operation. We’ve have been travelling, binge watching Love and Hip-Hop, and swishing every Pinot Grigio on the market together since 2012. We always dreamed of creating our own line and decided to merge and create Nopal early January 2015.”
2. How would you describe Shop Nopal to a new acquaintance?
“Shop Nopal is an apparel company created by two female entrepreneurs based out of Toronto, Canada. The beauty about Nopal is that customers have the ability to customize the designs. Want to create a shirt from scratch with a funny saying between you and your friends? No problem! Love one of our shirts, but you want the font to be a different colour? Again, no problem! Our customers aren’t forced to buy what we have online, they can create a shirt that represents them. We would never design anything that we would not personally wear. All of our apparel is witty, funny, and occasionally thought provoking. These shirts can often serve as the ice-breaker in the room. We also pride ourselves on being affordably priced and often 30-50% cheaper than our competitors.”
3. What inspired you to start this venture?
“We have spent years working in retail and marketing fields. We decided that it’s finally time we used the combined skills and tools acquired through our years of experience and apply it to our own venture. We have both been very ambitious and always had a goal of working for ourselves. Natali started by designing a couple of shirts for herself, and eventually she was getting so many compliments, she decided that there was room in the market for a viral apparel company. We’ve worked together in a previous setting, so there wasn’t a question about being business partners.”
4. Obviously you two have that electric friendship chemistry and you’re also business partners. What do you love most about working with each other and what are some challenges that come with that dynamic?
“We met at work in 2012, which we both quit shortly after and went in different directions. We’ve been able to maintain a solid friendship for 3 years before thinking about starting a company together. More so, we bring diverse backgrounds in retail, eCommerce, apparel printing, and marketing. It’s crucial that prior to launching a start-up with another person, you evaluate the different skills in the team and ensure they are complimentary (and relevant!) to the operation.
What we love best about working with each other, is that we get along very well. Sometimes it’s too well, where a 30 minute business meeting turns into 2 glasses of wine, listening to the new Miley Cyrus song, and watching 2 episodes of Broad City before working on our Nopal agenda. Working with one of your best friends on a project you are passionate about is just about as good as it gets!
There will certainly be times when we don’t see eye to eye. Whether it be new designs for our site, which demographic to market to, or price points, there is always room for different opinions. We aren’t the same person, we both have very different opinions and likes. When we hit a point where we see differently on a certain topic, we communicate our thoughts and have a meeting until we hit a consensus. Communication is totally the key when working with someone!”
5. Toronto is brimming with talent, what do you think sets you apart from the rest?
“What sets us apart is that this is a passion project turned into business. This is truly a business born out of what started as a hobby for us. We truly enjoy collaborating with customers and creating unique apparel while working on all our social media posts. Starting a company from scratch is a ton of work and this would not have worked if we weren’t obsessed with our own products.
There is definitely a market for what we are doing right now in the city, and we feel Nopal fits right in. We are proud Torontonians and mention ot whenever possible – we even have Toronto themed apparel on the site. We aren’t a cookie cutter company in the sense that we put a lot of thought and time into the designs we include in the store. We also chose to be price conscious in an effort to set ourselves apart from the competition.”
6.What’s next for Shop Nopal?
“To try and take over the world? But in all seriousness, we market ourselves as a global company and we are looking to expand our market reach over the next 3-6 months. While most of our customers are from North America, we can’t wait to reach clients in the UK, Australia, China, you name it! We also would love to expand our current assortment to sweats, crops, baby, and pet. Who knows, maybe you’ll see us around in a pop-up shop or two in the next coming months, you’ll have to stay tuned!”
7. Which shirts have been your favourites lately?
“It’s no secret that we love food & carbs. We recently launched Carbivore and Strip for Chipotle and they have been hits! We love that there are people out there in the world who share our sense of humour and love for food.”
8. Lastly, why Nopal?
“We make every purchase with us an experience. Whether it’s creating a custom shirt with us, or modifying one of our designs, we want the customer to feel in control. Each order is packaged with care, with little notes and details that we hope brighten our customers’ day. We are always updating our social media and adding new designs. We are the opposite of a boring company! We have a lot of stuff going on, and we truly appreciate each customer interaction that comes our way.”
Want to wear your thoughts? Order your shirts from Shop Nopal now! Their products are priced from $25.00 CAD and up. Shipping is a flat rate and if you live in Toronto, you may be able to pick your shirts up directly from Lisa or Natali – if you ask nicely!