The 33-year-old Vancouverite, in business since 1995, has seen her own exclusive couture line become a must-have for well-dressed women in Vancouver, Tokyo and Hollywood.
In 1995, after training and apprenticing for four years with fashion school owner and couturiere Helen Lefeaux, Eto presented a small but beautifully executed collection of elegant dresses and separates at Holt Renfrew in Vancouver.
That one-night trunk show was a success. It was an auspicious beginning. Eto took orders for $20,000 worth of couture in one evening. However, Holt Renfrew wasn't ready to sign her up as a regular label.
Undaunted she carried on, keeping the focus on the detailed art of her pieces. Three years later she went to New York where she rolled a rack of her designs down the street from her hotel to Barneys. The buyer was overwhelmed by Eto's designs and immediately wrote an order.
Then she took Japan. To celebrate the new millennium, the owners of Isetan, one of Tokyo's most prestigious retail stores, conducted a global search for a new collection that would fit with the store's existing labels -- Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs. Isetan was so impressed that, in an unprecedented move, all the windows of the store were devoted to Eto's clothes.
It was a deep compliment to her design integrity because it is rare in Japan for a big store to take a chance on a little-known label.
To accommodate the large order, it was necessary to find a suitable manufacturer, and one was found in Milan, and the European connection took root.
In the United States, her clothes are also carried by Neiman Marcus, where they hang between those of John Galliano and Chloe. The store also features her bridal collection.
In January 2001, Eto's company received a boost when Marie-Jeanne Becker-Godard signed on as CEO and provided the financial expertise necessary to help Eto tackle the lucrative ready-to-wear market. Becker-Godard brings considerable management and marketing experience to the fledgling company. She previously had a chain of 85 eponymous cosmetic stores in France. When Bernard Arnault of LVMH (Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton) came knocking at her door, she agreed to sell. At the time, Becker-Godard had been planning to expand her operations on Canada's West Coast. She and her family's Canadian visas had come through, so, despite selling the business, they decided to stay in B.C. Through mutual friends Eto and Becker-Godard were introduced, and the French woman now had a new challenge to thoroughly open the U.S. and Japanese markets then concentrate on Canada. Europe, which she understands well, would follow.
Eto's reputation as a designer deserves such care. The details and sumptuous fabrics, which were textured or cut to create patterns, made her clothes both original and distinctive.
Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, Susan Sarandon, Sarah McLachlan, Calista Flockhart, Diahann Carroll, and, yes, Madonna