This series of feature stories highlights those in the Trafalgar community during this time of isolation. We discuss what they’re currently up to, what their isolation experience has been and how they’re getting through.
In Conversation with Lindsay Ditkofsky, Class of 2003
Currently the VP of Brand Development at Hilary MacMillan – a Canadian womenswear brand based out of Toronto – Lindsay Ditkofsky, Class of 2003, is an exemplary version of what a Trafalgar girl can become. Her road to her current career has been winding but it can also be traced back to her days at the Castle.
“There were so many opportunities for leadership at Trafalgar,” Lindsay says. “I’m really grateful for that because it was a safe environment that fostered individuality and gave so many opportunities for students to take ownership over things that inspired them.”
Lindsay took her time finding her niche. She was originally planning to study in the US but eventually moved to Halifax to get a General Arts degree. After two years there she made her way back to Toronto to complete a retail specific business degree, which she discovered was much more in her wheelhouse. Lindsay recently spoke with our Grade 10 students on the topic of career paths and encouraged them all to feel comfortable with an indirect route to success and emphasized the impossibility of figuring everything out at once.
Lindsay earned her Bachelor of Commerce degree from Ryerson University and then combined her love for business with her love for design. She opened Elle Hardware, a jewelry shop, on trendy Queen Street in Toronto.
“It did really well,” says Lindsay. “My sister, Hilary, and I ran it together, she has always been into fashion so she designed and sold her line there while I ran the jewelry side of the business.”
When they decided to close the store, Lindsay’s sister continued to grow her eponymous fashion line Hilary MacMillan. Showing at Toronto Fashion Week and selling all over the world, Hilary MacMillan grew quickly and Lindsay’s business sense was needed to help it continue to reach new heights.
So Hilary and Lindsay were back in business together, this time running and growing a cruelty-free, size inclusive womenswear brand with a strong nod to female empowerment (note ‘The Feminist Capsule’ on their website featuring a series of bomber jackets with statements like: FEMINIST, EQUAL PAY and GRL PWR scrawled across the back in bold type).
Not only does this line have an obviously strong message on the outside, the business has a strong sense of social responsibility from the inside. Fifteen per cent of all sales from The Feminist Capsule are donated to Up With Women – a charitable cause close to Lindsay and Hilary’s hearts.
Both Lindsay and her sister are products of an all-girls education so we asked Lindsay how much she thinks that played into their success. “Oh it did for sure,” says Lindsay. “I was always taught at Trafalgar that I had a voice and that I shouldn’t be afraid to use it. In so many ways our education was the kickoff for the rest of our life decisions, we were taught female empowerment at a really pivotal age.”
Lindsay and Hilary are not just successful business people, they are strong community leaders with a desire to do good work and do good. While their business, as a rule, gives back to charity regularly, they were faced with a new opportunity to give back when this global pandemic shifted everything.
“Our original goal was to make 100 masks a week but the need and demand has been so great, we’ve been making more like 250 a week,” explains Lindsay about their business’ latest charitable endeavor.
Helping to sew and produce masks for people on the front lines at Michael Garron Hospital, Mackenzie Health Hospital, the Humane Society, Planned Parenthood and individuals with cancer or compromised immune systems has been gratifying but also challenging. “We’re a fashion business, not a medical one, so we’ve been tweaking the design and fabrics we use along the way to ensure the safest option. Being innovative while also listening to the needs out there – it’s been a really interesting journey,” says Lindsay.
Lindsay lives in Toronto’s Beaches area with her husband Mark and two young children Parker, three, and Sadie, one.
- VP Brand Development, Hilary MacMillan
- Mr. Palmer – “He was so amazing. Such an incredible storyteller in the way he taught history, economics and law. He could make anything so compelling and I think it’s because he was so passionate. He is the most memorable educator I’ve ever had.”
- Mrs. Campbell – “She was so kind, such an open listener and very compassionate. She really fostered leadership and she was the first person to let me see my own leadership capabilities.”
Advice to Grads:
“In my senior year I organized graduation. It was the double cohort year so it was a huge graduating class and it was our whole world, such a huge milestone at the time trying to figure out how that day was going to go. It was fun and it was a fancy party but looking back it was so much more. It was about what lay ahead that made it so exciting. It was about the window closing and a new door opening in front of us.”
Interested in being featured?
If you would like to share your story, highlight your business, share your isolation experience or some words of wisdom with our students, please reach out any time to our Alumnae Relations Officer, Sarah Harries-Taylor.
Support Trafalgar businesses:
If you want to explore and support some amazing businesses owned and operated by members of the Trafalgar community, check out our Business Directory where you’ll find Lindsay’s contact information and so many more successful operations worthy of all of our support!