Over the coming weeks, the Parkdale BIA will be posing questions to some of our fabulous business owners for our “Parkdale Profiles” section.
Our first profile is Michelle Germain, owner and curator of Shopgirls Gallery Boutique, a 1800 square foot retail and studio space at 1342 Queen West, featuring 80 Canadian artists and designers. Michelle’s dedication to promoting the arts combined with her business acumen and industry knowledge recently earned her the title of Aboriginal Business Woman of the Year. I recently talked to her about Shopgirls:
PVBIA: Hi Michelle, can you tell me about the beginning of Shopgirls?
MG: I first started Shopgirls with a friend of mine. We used to do what today we refer to as “pop up shops” where we would feature artists and designers that we loved (most of which were friends of ours). Having worked in fashion and marketing for several years, I came across a lot of talented folks and when I asked “You made that? Where can I buy that?” more often than not, these little treasures were not sold anywhere, hence the beginnings of Shopgirls!
PVBIA: It seems like Shopgirls has exploded online, on sites like Shopify and Pinterest. How have online sales and marketing changed the way you do business?
MG: By exploring the online potential we are now reaching customers internationally! We get most of our online orders from the U.S but have also shipped to Switzerland, the U.K. and even Australia. Obviously we are now able to promote Canadian artists and designers to the world. What a great feeling!
PVBIA: Something that I love about Shopgirls is that you cater to all types of women’s bodies. Why was that important to you?
MG: I am not, nor have I ever been a “off the rack” kind of gal. I’ve struggled my whole life with finding clothes that suit and fit my body and quite frankly, I quickly realized, I was not alone. My approach to buying the right styles is not looking at a woman’s size but rather her shape. (Shop by body shape here). This approach provides women of all shapes and ages to look for certain cues on what might suit them best. My knowledgeable staff is trained to help women feel good about themselves by finding pieces that fit their particular shape as opposed to their size.
PVBIA: Can you tell us about a new piece or designer that you’re excited about?
MG: This question is like asking me which of my daughters I love the most! One thing I can say is that the selection in the shop is better than it’s ever been. I’d rather hear what our customers are most excited about – it’s just too difficult for me to choose!
(Editor’s Note: I really love this beautiful Galina dress! I want it!)
PVBIA: Finally, what is your favourite thing about Parkdale?
MG: Everything! The good, the bad, the ugly! The vibe, the residents, the cool indie businesses, the support, the community, and the location!