Sylvie and Shimmy is an adorable fashion boutique located in my old neighbourhood of Parkdale. They opened their doors in February 2013 (very nearly two years ago, woohoo!) and have been such a wonderful addition to the neighbourhood. Since independent businesses are very near and dear to my heart I thought it would be nice to show you guys around this adorable shop and get to know it’s owners, Caroline Sylvester and Kyungjoo Shim.
Tell us a little about yourselves, and how Sylvie and Shimmy came to fruition.
We met in Fashion School at George Brown in 2011. Caroline was involved with creating her own jewelry line, which used to be presented in local boutiques. Shim has a variety of experiences in the fashion industries of both South Korea and Canada. We both shared a dream of creating our own space, and finally had a chance to put forward all our effort and were able to realize our ambitions and open our first brick and mortar shop in Parkdale in 2013.
How would you describe Sylvie and Shimmy’s aesthetic?
We did a lot of research into fashion trends, consumers’ shopping patterns, and so on and wanted to create a unique and comfortable boutique, where people can enjoy their shopping experience. The concept for our store is a dream apartment, which is mixed with classic and simple components. The majority of our beautiful furniture and props, such as tea cups, are from Caroline’s grandmother, and are very meaningful to us. We added vintage and modern items to represent our personal tastes, like old cameras, LPs and frames.
How would describe your personal aesthetic?
Caroline: I often type myself as a chameleon. Overall, I’d say I like to add some vintage flare to my daily outfit. It depends on my mood or current inspiration. Some days I like to dress very feminine in a girly dress, others I like to be comfortable in loose pants and a basic top. Some days I’m inspired by mens fashion and will dress like a tom boy.
Shim: I like feminine, classic but fun items. I love colour, patterns and different textures, but I also like simple and classic styles as well. I like to mix colours and different patterns along with simple items so I often enjoy layering different pieces.
Do you carry any local or independent designers?
We import our clothing mainly from Korea. Most of our Korean clothing is from independent designers or small brands. We do carry 3 local clothing designers including Sara Duke, 1% Talent and Crywolf Clothing. The majority of our jewelry is from local/Canadian designers including Moonrox (Toronto), Liana Marie (Toronto), Kara Yoo (Vancouver), Type B (Vancouver), Tilly Doro (originally from Montreal but now based out of Brooklyn, NY), and COVEN (Toronto) just to name a few.Favourite item currently in the shop?
Its hard to choose just one piece of clothing. We have recently started to bring in our pre-spring items. The spring collection has not been completely set, but a lace fitted dress is our favorite from the pre-spring collection. We carry a lot of different designs which are updated on a weekly basis, but there is no doubt that lace items are often our favorites.
Best thing about running your own business.
Caroline: Its great to be your own boss and make decisions about the shop, we only have to consult with one another. Personally, I love getting to know our customers individually and their needs and wants within the fashion we sell. I love to pull a piece for someone I have in mind and am so delighted when they walk away a happy customer and a piece of clothing has a new happy home.
Shim: There are tough and difficult moments of being a small business owner, but at the same time I believe we do not have any limitations in developing ourselves and our brand. I believe that any small business owner has a lot of potential for growth. We are very grateful for the opportunity to work with different individual designers or brands and we are very pleased to be able to introduce small or independent brands to customers who are looking for unique items which are not mass produced.
Advice for anyone aspiring to open their own shop.
There are many rewards to opening your own business but there are also many sacrifices one must make as well. Choose something you are very passionate about and focus your energy on being the very best in that particular sector of business. Always learn from your mistakes and strive for growth.
Your personal favourite shops in Toronto.
We love the other shops in our neighbourhood – we all try to help out one another and support each other wherever we can. Check out our friends and neighbours North Standard, Jinks Coffee, Kitten and the Bear, Cambie Design, Kid Icarus, Coriander Girl, West End Comics, Glory Hole Donuts, Skeir Gallery, Quinn West Hair Salon, This Little Piggy and Crown Flora.
Where can we find you on the weekend if you’re not running things at the shop?
Caroline: I’m really into live music and you can often find me at concerts after work and on weekends. I most frequent The Horseshoe and Lee’s Palace.
Shim: I love to spend time with my friends and family, we often invite each other for dinner or out for drinks. We love visiting new places. I also like to visit downtown or queen west to researching trends or street fashion.
Other than Sylvie and Shimmy, is there anything else you do?
Caroline: My hobbies include crocheting, reading and music. I used to be a jewelry designer but now there isn’t enough time with the business to design jewelry. I find that crocheting allows me to be detailed oriented, creative and focused as I used to be with jewelry design. I love a good book, a story can take you away from everyday life and transport you elsewhere. As stated previously I really like checking out bands and I like a wide range of music.
Shim: I have already attended school for fashion design and for fashion management; however I would love to study marketing and advertising. Another interest of mine I hope to pursue would be fashion and lifestyle blogging. I have a keen appreciation for elements of design, especially in housing, classic and modern art, photographs, and cuisine. So I would like to create a lifestyle blog in which I can share the things in which I’m interested.Thanks to Caroline and Shim for letting me snap some photos of your sweet shop and taking the time to answer some questions.
Sylvie and Shimmy
1640 Queen St. W
If you are interested in seeing some other Toronto shops I’ve featured, you can fine them here.