Where there's passion, success is bound to follow

By Donna Marrin

[caption id="attachment_1312" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Chris Zownir"]Chris Zownir[/caption]

When Chris Zownir entered the corporate world 11 years ago as a commodities  trader, last on his mind was the thought that he would someday launch a business
very different from his financial career. “Although I enjoyed my job, I questioned
whether it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I felt that I needed a change, but I had no idea what it was that I wanted.”

Zownir asked himself how he could apply the skills he’d developed in another field. He also asked: “What am I truly passionate about?” Althoughhe’d spent years working in a field demanding conformity to a highly conservative dress code, he harboured a fashion sense that he kept reigned in. “While working in finance during
the mid-nineties, the basic Bay Street wardrobe was pretty boring – grey and navy suits, white shirts. The only way to express my personal style was by wearing French cuffs and a distinctive pair of cufflinks.”

[caption id="attachment_1316" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Jumbo Jet cufflink"] Jumbo Jet cufflink[/caption]

Zownir discovered that manufacturers of unique cufflinks were few and far between. A light bulb blinked, and his idea to make cufflinks materialized – Not high-end cufflinks for special occasions, but a line that was a little quirky, stylish, affordable – a fun, everyday wear line that would appeal to his generation. “I wanted to design pieces that grab attention with their unique styling, but could also be worn to the office. Why save cufflinks just for special occasions? Isn’t every day a special occasion? Dress Up The Moment was the mission statement that came to mind.”

Avoiding risk, Zownir remained at his day job, using nights and weekends to source out suppliers and build on his idea. In early 2005, he incorporated his company, Cuffwear, and just before Christmas that year, he launched his Web site to target online shoppers.

[caption id="attachment_1319" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Turntable cufflink"]Turntable cufflink[/caption]

In 2006, after hearing from several companies looking for custom logo cufflinks, he began developing a branch of his business that would appeal to
the corporate sector. Soon, he branched out once more by selling his line in stores. Zownir says, “By then, I realized that if I was to take my business to the next level, I had to quit my day job. The prospect was frightening. I enjoyed my job, but I didn‚t want to look back someday with regrets. My driving force was my passion for what I was doing with Cuffwear.”

In 2007, Zownir made the leap and has never looked back. Today, the three components of his business are online shopping, selling to retailers, and corporate custom orders. He now spends less time designing, more time handling the business side. With only occasional help from family and friends, and some sales reps, he recently hired his first employee of sorts, a business development consultant.

The future of Cuffwear? Instead of working to expand his business in different directions, Zownir plans to keep his focus on what he does best: creating a distinctive brand that helps his customers Dress Up The Moment.

Visit http://www.cuffwear.com to view the entire collection.


Donna Marrin is a freelance Senior Writer/Editor specializing in corporate communications and advertising. She also founded and runs the Markham Village Writers. You can visit their website at www.markhamvillagewriters.com

By Adam

March 15, 2010