Building a clientele with style

Colten Engedahl of Colt's Men's Wear talks about establishing a boutique clothing store from scratch in Calgary

Colten Engedahl is owner and founder of Colt’s Men’s Wear.

Colten Engedahl

What’s the history of Colt’s Men’s Wear? Where are you located and what do you do?

Engedahl: I opened Colt’s Men’s Wear on July 1 2018, so we have been open for little less than a year so far. As for where the shop is located, we can be found north of the Chicken on the Way. In the Kensington/Hillhurst area. Being on 14th Street rather than the main shopping area on Kensington Street.

Why did you decide to start this business?

Engedahl: Being a bit of a clothes horse, I have always enjoyed dressing well. So I eventually started working as a sales associate in a few men’s wear stores. Working for a larger company never allowed for as much freedom as I would have liked. So I started selling clothing through home consultations and markets. After a year of independent sales, I moved toward opening my store so that I could build the boutique I like with the styles I enjoy.

What were your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur just starting?

Engedahl: One of the biggest challenges would have to be finding the right spot to set up shop. I probably spent two months looking at different locations throughout Calgary. From small to larger and high traffic areas to low. At one point, I was even considering a kiosk rather then a full unit.

But I was familiar with the Kensington area, having grown up Bowness, and always coming here to shop and explore. So when I discovered my current location, I knew it would be a great spot.

Another challenge would be spreading word about a new store in the area as not many people would know about me immediately if I didn’t find a way to draw attention. To help with this, I went around the Hillhurst community and hand-delivered invitation cards to my grand opening week.

But of course I didn’t stop there. By putting on different store events and collaborations, I always find new and interesting ways to work with the community, from art showcases and fashion shows to podcasts.

How has business been?

Engedahl: At the start is was definitely slow and uneventful, as I expected. But over time, I’m slowly developing that essential customer base that every store needs.

As my goal for the Colt’s Men’s Wear is to eventually become a community icon, building a strong relationship with the people and neighbours is very important. I’m ecstatic to have customers who bring their friends and colleagues to the shop.

What are your future plans for business?

Engedahl: Future plans would have to definitely include expanding my big and tall collection. Recently I added a new brand for the larger men in Calgary. One Bone is based out of Montreal and is made in Canada, plus being one of the best brands I have seen for plus-size clothing.

Another aspect I want to bring in is more local brands and Canadian product. As of right now, 75 per cent of my stock is Canadian-based and I hope to bring that up to 90 per cent by 2020.

Supporting other local business and people has become another passion of mine, besides the shop. Since opening Colt’s Men’s Wear, I have gained an even bigger appreciation for anyone who aims to build their dreams.

– Mario Toneguzzi for Calgary’s Business


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