Adelle Renaud

Adelle Renaud


AGE: 29

COMPANY: Noble Motives Collective

The story: Adelle Renaud was struggling through her Grade 11 physics homework at school when one of her teachers asked her what she was doing. “I have to get through this,” she said. “I’m trying to be a doctor.” The teacher was not impressed. “Look at all your doodling, and you’re always dressed up,” she said. “Why don’t you go into fashion design?” It was a lightbulb moment for Renaud. She had always loved clothes, particularly tomboyish polo shirts and trousers, and so she decided to enrol in the fashion design diploma program at University of the Fraser Valley. Following graduation in 2007, she held a number of fashion jobs, including working for a denim manufacturer in Surrey; for Eco Apparel, a Vancouver-based sustainable clothing manufacturer; and for Hudson’s Bay, working on its Olympic-branded clothing. Then, one night in late 2012, she flipped by Oprah’s channel and heard the self-improvement guru declaring, “You’re not going to be happy unless you’re being your authentic self.” Renaud was struck. She thought about her own preference for menswear-inspired clothing and did some research. She found articles for women on how to tailor a man’s shirt. “I thought, ‘This is crazy,’” she says. “There is nothing in the market for girls like me.” Renaud designed what she considered the perfect shirt–simple and streamlined–and Peau de Loup was born. She teamed up with a Portland retailer with a tomboy esthetic called Wildfang, and they worked the magic of attiring celebrities including androgynous model Casey Legler in PDL shirts. Demand grew, and she moved production from a friend’s garage to the mezzanine in Eco Apparel. While PDL thrived, she took on other projects: designing and producing business suits for the Canadian women’s soccer team (goaltender Erin McLeod is her business partner) and opening a retail store in the Village at Park Royal called Caposhie, aimed at baby boomers.

Markers of Success: In 2015 PDL raked in $500,000 in sales, largely online. Renaud is also committed to social and environmental sustainability: her shirts are solely made in Bangladesh, which is also where she maintains a relationship with an all-girls school and provides the mothers of those students with vocational training so they too can start their own businesses.