Nadine Devereux is carrying a sexy beast on her arm.
As the founder and CEO of Pelle Imports, Devereux is responsible for transporting exotic leather handbags from Italy to Canada. Her hand-picked leather goods are then sold at home parties (called Pella Festas) and major events such as the National Home Show.
The sexy beast in question is a gorgeous deep red bowling bag, which is a personal favourite of the Toronto-based accessory maven. Devereux is refreshingly relaxed and laidback, a rare quality in the famously competitive fashion industry. While she is at ease, she reassures me that the dynamic and daring import and export game is often anything but.
She launched her home-based company in December of 2011, after settling into an advertising and marketing career in digital publishing. Devereux, who had always admired classic style and simple design, realized she had connections through her Italian fiancé and his family.
“You’re relying on everyone to get their part in, and you just don’t know,” she says of the competitive business.
With an eye on details such as zippered tops and closures, good quality components, and practical pockets, Devereux set off on an adventure to bring the finest pieces back to Canada from her travels.
There is no doubt that a great deal of family support has gone into creating Pelle Imports. Devereux and her fiancé met while working in Amsterdam several years ago. She visits Italy several times a year to source her imported pieces, staying with her fiancé’s family. His mother has very classic taste, Devereux explains. Not only does she assist with the language barrier, she also offers input and her personal views. With the perspective of two different generations, Devereux is able to source eye-catching pieces while on her journeys.
Her mother has also been a source of inspiration for the fashion-forward entrepreneur, telling Devereux early on that she had a good eye for style. When combined with the ability to know products, market, and advertise, it seemed like this sartorial sensibility gave birth to Pelle Imports.
With a range of authentic leather handbags, wallets, tote bags, and evening clutches, the brand is quickly gaining popularity among women who want sensible yet elegant style.
This is no surprise, as Devereux herself is a natural beauty who describes herself as a “simple person”. She got her start in the fashion game at age 14, as a part-time model who appeared in advertisements for a teen clothing line. From age 17 to 18, she bought every issue of Vogue, tabbing her favourite pages as she wanted to avoid tearing out the beautiful images. With a love of photography and fashion editorial spreads, a brief stint behind the camera, and an education in marketing, being at the helm of a fashion import business seemed like her next stop.
Despite the high-end luxury, Pelle Imports focuses on casual and short home parties, useful pieces which women can carry all day, and most importantly, on the comfort factor.
Devereux advises aspiring entrepreneurs in the fashion industry to ask for help and take on challenges, one step at a time.
“Don’t feel like a failure if you can’t do it all yourself, and don’t be stuck on perfecting before launching. Everything can always be tweaked,” she adds.
However, it seems that the accessory business is far more than just a job to her. One might describe it as a passion for customer service, and most importantly, for doing her part to make style user-friendly. As for the coveted handbag which the smiling Devereux describes as a “sexy beast,” one could say that she’s testing out her own product, on herself.
“I’m aiming to provide ladies with what they desire.”