Daniel Torjman was working in fashion in New York, running the Rogan menswear store, when the company's chief executive officer predicted for him a promising future.
"I remember him telling me, 'You know why you're great at this, Dan? Because you treat the UPS driver the same way you treat Brad Pitt.' Which was true. And why not? My parents taught me to always take the high road in life and it's an important lesson I'll never forget."
It was all the encouragement the Ottawa native, who has undergraduate degrees from Queen's University in sociology and psychology and a degree in fashion merchandising and management from New York's Fashion Institute of Technology, needed to start his own lifestyle brand back in Canada five years ago.
He called it 18 Waits – named for Tom Waits, one of the musicians he loves among many, and the number 18, which is lucky for him. "It's the age of majority in Canada," says the 33-year-old clothing designer and entrepreneur, who is known for effortlessly combining high style with equally impressive social skills, "so you could interpret it as having to wait until you're an adult to be able to do fun things."
Fun things for Torjman include not only fashion and music – "My vinyl music collection and the experience of seeing live concerts are as important to me as the new trousers I'm designing, most likely because the trousers were somehow inspired by a song or a piece of album art," he says – but photography, video, music, jewellery, nature and graphic design, all of which is created by his Toronto-based company and distributed across Canada, the United States and parts of China, Japan and the United Arab Emirates through select retailers.
Everything he creates is proudly made in Canada, making him a leader in his industry. "I'm a firm believer in sourcing from your own backyard first," he says. "There are so many talented hard-working people in Canada and some vital industries that used to be booming here. I'm trying, in my own small way, to help revive these industries and encourage local manufacturing, quality and support."