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How I Name My Designs

How I Name My Designs by Colleen Kanna, Photos by Wil Orellana
Photos by Wil Orellana
I am always inspired by the women I meet, their strength, courage, compassion, and determination. It shows up in different ways but I see it in all of them. In coming up with new designs, I always keep in mind the many women who have touched my heart. So it makes perfect sense to name my styles after those who inspire me. The only problem is it's hard to keep up.
My very first design was my basic all season zip front top. It is named after my beautiful daughter, Maddison, who inspires me every day with her spirit, energy, determination, independence, curiosity, and enterprising nature. Maddi has always been a bit of an old soul and wise beyond her years, more comfortable speaking with adults than kids her own age. 
On our outings to the park, she would be drawn to the parents chitchatting with them and asking questions rather than playing with the other children. She had an incredible memory. She greeted the parents by name, knew their kids' names, their dog's name, and even what type of car they drove.
Maddi was her own kid with her own style., Photo by Wil Orellana
Maddi has always been her own kid with her own style
She has always had a love of dogs. From the time she was a toddler, we taught her to first ask the owner, "May I pet your dog?", to hold her hand out for the dog to sniff, and then to gently pet the dog.
She attended Farm Camp at the Canadian Agriculture Museum every summer from the time she was 5 years old to 13 years old. She loved looking after the cows, the bunnies, the horses, and all the other animals.
Maddi was born a problem solver with an enterprising mind and an independent streak. She has earned her own money from a young age doing a variety of activities from dog walking and pet sitting to raking leaves and babysitting, and now cleaning the ice at Junior A hockey games.
Maddi and Colleen, Photo by Wil Orellana
On Fridays, I would take her for lunch at the Miller's Oven, a non-profit restaurant operated by a group of senior volunteers. At 3 years old, Maddi asked how old she had to be to volunteer as a server. She was told 12 years old. She patiently waited 9 years to become a volunteer.
Now at the tender age of 14, she has moved away on her own to train and go to school. She attends a high school co-op program for competitive athletes. She is a figure skater. Did I mention her independent streak?
Colleen and her daughter, Maddison, Photo by Wil Orellana
As her mom, it has been the hardest thing in the world to let her go at such a young age. At times, I feel like a bad mother, but deep down in my heart, I know she was never ours to keep. It is my job as her mother to encourage her to pursue her dreams, to let her soar. It doesn't matter how far she goes. When all is said and done, I wish her no regrets. That she walks away on her own terms knowing she gave it her all.
Parenting Maddi has always been an immense privilege. It has not been smooth sailing. We have had our ups and downs, our rewards and challenges. It continues to be an unpredictable, fun, and thrilling ride. She is the only person in the world who makes my heart sing and drives me crazy at the same time, and I can’t imagine life without her. I will always hold her heart in my heart.
Courage is to be true to yourself, Photo by Wil Orellana
Maddi is the reason I am pursuing my creative dream. She inspires me to be true to myself. And in doing so, I hope I am inspiring Maddi to follow her dreams.
Courage is to follow your dreams, Photo by Wil Orellana
Photos in this post by Wil Orellana for a blog interview with Cindy Orellana, December 2013
Colleen Kanna, Photo by Anna Epp Photography
Colleen Kanna is a recovered Chartered Accountant and breast cancer champion turned fashion designer. She is the creator of COKANNA Designs, a line of stylish bamboo Canadian-made clothing for women over 40. Five percent of Vesna Cardigan sales is donated to Rethink's Metastatic Breast Cancer support, education & advocacy work with 5 percent of the rest of sales going to the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre's Head Start Program for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer.


  • Colleen

    Cheryl, thank you so much for your encouraging words. It is heartwarming to hear that my articles touch you. Gives me the motivation to carry on so thank you for that. And I agree that life is too busy!

  • Cheryl

    Just reading your message now and am too late for your pop up shop. Life is too busy! I really enjoy reading your articles as they really touch me. Thank you for such inspirational reading. Cheryl

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