Shop Toronto / Sylvie and Shimmy

DSC_2336Sylvie 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.

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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.DSC_2344DSC_2346DSC_2349

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.DSC_2354DSC_2355DSC_2360

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.DSC_2362DSC_2363DSC_2364

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.DSC_2369DSC_2430DSC_2375Favourite 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.DSC_2380DSC_2384DSC_2388

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.DSC_2392DSC_2400DSC_2402

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.DSC_2403 DSC_2405DSC_2411

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.DSC_2416DSC_2417

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.DSC_2390DSC_2424

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.DSC_2425DSC_2371Thanks 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
Toronto, ON

If you are interested in seeing some other Toronto shops I’ve featured, you can fine them here.

 

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If The Shoe Fits

DSC_0908Shoes are another item I don’t buy often. I own a lot of shoes, but most of them don’t get worn on a regular basis (and were bought years and years ago when I used to buy things just for the sake of buying something). In some respects, I am a hoarder of shoes. I have a very hard time letting go of them, so the huge shoe rack I have filled is mostly made up of shoes that I keep solely for “what if one day…” or for photo shoots I’m styling. I have the same few shoes in rotation on a day to day basis, and you see those on here quite often. Those shoes are the ones that I sought out after I saw them floating around the internet and fell totally in love (that’s sort of how I buy shoes now, I must be riveted by them first). The same goes for this pair I’m wearing. I follow a lot of local shops on instagram, one being Sylvie and Shimmy, a quaint boutique located in my old neighbourhood, Parkdale. I saw these shoes, (and another pair I ended up buying) on their instagram and knew I had to pop by. I was in luck that day. They had one pair left of each shoe, and both were my size, so I guess it was fate, or something like it. I now pretty well only by shoes I know will get a lot of wear, and slowly but surely I will hopefully start to let go of (or sell) the pairs that are collecting dust.

*photos by Meaghan

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DSC_0914Blouse: H&M
Skirt: vintage via Public Butter
Coat: vintage via Gisela & Zoe
Shoes: Sylvie and Shimmy
Tote: H&M
Socks: Target

5 Years of Coriander Girl

DSC_0891On Sunday, Meaghan and I headed over to Coriander Girl for their 5 year anniversary party. Since chatting with Alison back when I interviewed her and took pictures of her shop for this blog, I knew what an important day this was for her. I’m sure when taking a leap of faith and diving head first into your dream job, you can only hope for the best, never really certain of the long term outcome. Being a business owner has got to be hard, and being a successful business has to be even more difficult. But if any shop would be a success, this one would be it. So congratulations Alison and the whole Coriander Family! I had such a lovely evening, meeting some new people, seeing old faces, snacking on delicious desserts (those donuts!!!), and getting my wine and cheese fix.

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Come on get down with the sickness (Richard Cheese version)

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Well, I came down with quite the illness – one that I am all too familiar with. Since always, I have had issues with my god awful tonsils. They are incapable of doing their job (which is to fight illness) and leave me, at least 4 times a year, totally bed ridden, sounding like a weird frog, and unable to consume anything. This time around wasn’t quite as bad, since I managed to avoid needing emergency care for severe dehydration.  However, it looks like the end is near (hopefully). I have an appointment to see a specialist about having these stupids removed from me. It could solve my never-ending problem, or it may not…but it’s worth a try in my humble opinion.

I felt well enough today to get out of bed and snap some photos. They were very as is though – no make up, hair freshly washed/unbrushed, and wearing some of my very favourite underthings by Fortnight Lingerie (okay, that’s not as is, I put those on for the photos). I figured, if I’m not feeling well, why not just shoot myself the way I am at this very moment, no fussing, just a pale sick gal and her pretty (toronto-made!!) lingerie.

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Bra & Panties: Fortnight Lingerie via The Future of Frances Watson

 

 

 

Cool Careers: Alison Westlake & Coriander Girl

DSC_0935I met Alison about a year ago when Meg and I were putting together a post for Blooming Leopold – sharing some of our favourite haunts in our neighbourhood, Parkdale. Alison is the amazing lady behind the beautiful floral & antique shop, Coriander Girl. Located in our lovely little neighbourhood of Parkdale, she opened her doors in 2009.  Alison has such a beautiful aesthetic, and her shop reflects that in the most undeniably sweet & charming way. Seriously, this woman is incredible. Not only is she talented with her wee hands, and knack for interior decorating, she is also such a kind and gentle person.

Alison was sweet enough to let me come by for a few hours, snap some photos of her shop (and little bunny Harry), and talk flowers & antiques with me. She was also kind enough to answer some interview questions so I could share them with you.

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DSC_0776How did you get into your line of work?

I was an actress living in Parkdale. I dreamed of opening a flower boutique, not
because of any real experience but just based on my love for garden grown flowers.
I worked for a landscape design company when I was in school and fell in love with
flowers then. I turned 30 and started really questioning my career, I thought, “why
not now?” I put it out there verbally to friends and family that I wanted to open
a flower shop and a friend told me about the ‘for rent’ sign down the street from
my apartment. I met the sweetest little old man who asked me “You take?” I said,
“I take.” With $50 in my bank account, I ran home and spent 3 days writing my
business plan, borrowed $10,000 off of my Nana and opened the doors to Coriander
Girl one month later.

What came first, antique love, or floral love?

I always thought antique love came first but when I really think about it, I was
making floral bracelets out of dandelions when I was 7.

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DSC_0781All-time favourite bloom?

All time favourite bloom remains Queen Anne’s lace. It grows wild everywhere
including the fields on my mom and stepdads farm. Those fields were so romantic
to me as a teen. I’d curse the sky, crying over some lost love, wistfully dream about a
new crush, dream about traveling the world, all the while surrounded by these little
lacey snowflakes, no two exactly the same. They’re just so exquisite. Second to that,
any garden rose really, Astrantia is also a top 5 and Scabiosa too. It’s like choosing
your favourite child! How can I possibly do that?!

Favourite recent antique find?

A chippy old drop leaf table from one of my favourite
auctions on lower Roncesvalles. But I have an obsession with mason and apothecary
bottles. There has to be a 12 step program out there somewhere.

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DSC_0789Advice for anyone aspiring to open their own shop?

DO IT! If you think about all the reasons you shouldn’t do it, you won’t do it.
So stop thinking about it! Dreaming is great but doing is so much better. And if it
doesn’t work, you can always un-do it.

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DSC_0807How would you describe your aesthetic?

My aesthetic is a soft, neutral palette with floral accents, lacey textures. I always
say if it looks like you found it in grandmas closet, I’ll probably love it! Nothing
too contrived design wise. I like a house that’s lived in and comfortable but not
cluttered. With florals, the look is natural, like they were just picked from the garden
and loosely arranged.

Where do you look for inspiration?

I find inspiration anywhere from a city stroll to a country bike ride. I’m a sucker for
design blogs and magazines. A favorite Sunday afternoon is often spent catching up
on blogs and curling up with a favourite gardening magazine and endless cups of
tea.

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DSC_0819Favourite non-vase vase?

Favourite non vase would be anything old that holds water, from an old milk bottle,
to a watering can. I love using tea cups and creamers for wee arrangements. Old tins
are a staple for us.

Describe your process when styling a wedding.

When styling a wedding, it’s really about marrying the brides vision with our
aesthetic. We always make sure the couple loves the look of what we do because it’s
quite specific. The service we offer is unique in that we work with a local grower
and most of the florals are coming straight from local gardens. We ask our couples
for their colour scheme and most people are just so excited to see what’s blooming
the week of their wedding and they trust us to make beautiful arrangements from
what’s in season. We encourage our couples to supply their own vessels or rent
antique ones from us.

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DSC_0864Where do you like to get your flowers?

Our flowers come from a local grower, My Luscious Backyard and we frequent the
markets near the airport for specific things we need that our local grower is unable
to supply.

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DSC_0904Tell us a little about your home.

Our home is like the shop, creamy white walls, chippy furniture and doilies
everywhere. When I can, I bring home flowers and put them in every room. That’s
how I know I am doing what I love because even after a 14 hour day, I’ll still arrange
flowers for me and my husband.

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DSC_0927Do you host any workshops?

This Winter I’m so excited to finally introduce a series of floral workshops at the
store. It’s been a part of my business plan since that day I signed the lease and ran
home in tears.

You must feel incredibly accomplished.

To watch my wee business grow from a tiny seed into something so remarkably
rewarding, to check the boxes of all the things I had hoped for my business but can’t
believe actually came true. I realize just how powerful the laws of attraction can be
when you decide you deserve happiness.

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Thank you so much Alison for sharing a bit of your life with us!