Kwantlen honours Sugoi Performance Apparel founder Carol Prantner with Honorary Doctor of Technology

 

June 04, 2007

(VANCOUVER, BC)  Clothing designer and entrepreneur Carol Prantner has had a very productive 25 years. After graduating from Kwantlen’s Fashion program in 1982, she went on to build Sugoi Performance Apparel, a garment design and manufacturing business that became a well-recognized international brand with more than 250 employees—including many Kwantlen Fashion graduates.

In recognition of her work in developing proprietary technologies in performance athletic wear, her business success and ongoing commitment to fashion technology education, KwantlenUniversityCollege awards Carol Prantner an Honorary Doctor of Technology (Honoris Causa) at the 2007 Convocation ceremony.  

Prantner, who grew up in Burnaby, says she didn’t have a grand design for her future when she enrolled in the Fashion diploma program. She had always had an interest in sewing and garment design, but her initial goal was to get through the course load.

“You’re just trying to decide if, number one, you understand what you are learning and, number two, if you can actually put it to use when you graduate,” says Prantner. By graduation, the answer to both questions was yes.

Prantner worked for several independent designers and garment houses in Vancouver—experiences that helped her understand what it takes to start and run a small business. In 1985 she met her business partner and husband, David Hollands, and a year later they started the company that became Sugoi Performance Apparel.

Prantner, who was an avid cyclist, says she was always more interested in sportswear than fashion. Given her interests and expertise, manufacturing cycling shorts seemed a logical place to start. In those early days, “manufacturing” was a three-person operation based in Prantner and Hollands’ home.  

“We started in our basement with one sewer. I did patterns and cutting and David set out to find the customers,” says Prantner.

What began as a company specializing in cycling apparel expanded to include running and fitness apparel in 1995. They built a loyal dealer network and an elite consumer following that eventually spanned four continents.

Along the way, changes in fabric technology were constant and were embraced by Prantner. The day they got their first digital pattern-making program, says Prantner, “was so exciting. We didn’t have to do everything manually.”

A career highlight for Prantner came in 1990 when the company hit $1 million in annual revenues—a couple of years ahead of the 10-year goal she had set for herself on graduating from Kwantlen.

In 2005, Cannondale acquired Sugoi and in 2006 Prantner left to move on to the next phase of her life.

“I’m pursuing all of the fun things that I haven’t been able to do over the past 20 years,” says Prantner. “When you own your own business, it’s 24/7 and there’s not a lot of energy left over for those whims of interest.” Those interests now include intensive Spanish studies, cooking, photography, travel and time with family.

Prantner continues her strong commitment to Kwantlen, serving on the Fashion Advisory Committee where she contributes her time and expertise in high-tech fabrics and advanced
production techniques.  

Of the honorary degree, Prantner says she’s flattered. “It is a great recap of my career in this business. It’s a great sense of accomplishment and acknowledgement from Kwantlen. I must thank [Fashion program coordinator] Mary Boni for her nomination.”

“It’s also inspirational to students graduating from this program—or any program—that you can do anything. Whatever your dream, it’s attainable. You just have to be patient and work hard.”

KwantlenUniversityCollege's mission is to create an exceptional undergraduate university environment committed to preparing learners for leadership, service and success. Kwantlen became a university college with degree granting status in 1995; and has a mandate to develop and offer baccalaureate degrees that will prepare students for well paid, fulfilling careers.