"Fundamentals of design, colour theory and how to present design in a way that appeals to people are all skills that are important to running and marketing the business." - Anali Reizvikh
The Interior Design Technology program at Lethbridge College was a natural fit for Anali Reizvikh, owner of Lethbridge-based True North Slings. “My dad was a builder so I grew up watching him design and build homes from drafting to finish so design had always really interested me,” she says.
Anali graduated from the college in 2006 and moved to Toronto with her husband, Dmitri, where she focused on dance and worked as a ballet teacher at several of Toronto’s top schools.
She was also one of the founding members of Intrinsic Dance Project, a contemporary dance collective that won the audience choice award at the Fresh Blood Festival at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. The couple later returned to Lethbridge to start their family and be near their parents.
In the fall of 2016, as they were expecting their first child, Anali and Dmitri tried to find a highly recommended linen ring sling. But they couldn’t find a Canadian-made option, and so decided to start their own business, True North Slings.
“Babywearing was a huge part of our lives with our first son—he was a colicky baby with reflux and we really struggled with him” she says. “Being upright and held was a big help for him, and having a tool to calm him was a life saver for us.”
Anali and Dmitri focus on creating affordable linen slings made in Canada from high quality materials. They spent months studying safety regulations and having their slings safety tested. At first, Anali sewed all the slings herself, but the business has grown in its first year and a half, and now employs local moms who work from home as seamstresses. Sewing, packing and shipping all happens in their home-based shop.
Anali says they value running a low-waste shop and because of this they connect with other small businesses who use True North Slings remnants, such as Fawn and Lace, which makes bonnets, and Parker and Posie, which makes baby shoes. She also gives back to the community in a number of ways, including as one of the volunteer leaders of the Bridge City Slingers – Lethbridge’s babywearing group and baby carrier lending library.
While Anali doesn’t currently work in interior design, she applies what she learned in her college studies to her business. “Fundamentals of design, colour theory and how to present design in a way that appeals to people are all skills that are important to running and marketing the business,” she says.
Last November, for their unique and innovative entrepreneurial success, the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce recognized Anali and Dmitri as two of Lethbridge’s Top 40 under 40.