“Should I wear the…”
“But do you think it’s too short?”
“No, not at all, it looks great.”
Angela and Julie practically finish each other’s sentences as they prep and change outfits for their photo shoot. Within the first five minutes of meeting the pair, it’s obvious they’re more than just business partners and friends—they’ve built their boutique from the ground up, and fashion is more of a passion than a job.
Friends since kindergarten, Angela and Julie always talked about opening a store together.
The two went their separate ways after university, but after a few years of odd jobs and international travel, the two got serious about the endeavor, with Angela’s experiences while traveling in Australia as their inspiration.
“My idea was to bring all their fashion lines here, so you can really see a strong focus on Australian lines in the store,” Angela explains. “I was also in London for a bit, and the fashion sense is just so different — people are so progressive. That’s what we’re trying to do here at Fitzroy, while keeping it wearable.”
After a year of planning and creating a business plan, the duo was able to go out to New York to do their first buy, and their first pop-up location in Yorkville opened.
“The pop-up stores were a really good way to test the market—to see what people liked and what they didn’t without committing to an actual store,” says Angela.
“We were still working full time jobs at the time, and it was a good way to see if people liked what we chose.”
But as of May 5th, after several successful pop-up locations, Fitzroy Boutique has found permanent residence in the trendy BYOB Bar and Cocktail Emporium. While Angela and Julie were originally looking to rent office space to support an online store, the spot was just too good to pass up.
“There’s a lot of foot traffic here, and we became friends with [BYOB’s] owner when we had our pop-up here,” Julie says. “It was a perfect storm.”
Fitzroy’s trendy, affordable items fit right in with the Queen West crowd. Angela characterizes their store as “boho glam” — there are sequins and sparkles, but a lot of items have a relaxed, everyday look as well. Their aim is to have every itemhave something unique about them. And don’t expect to find your basic t-shirt in the store – Julie and Angela follow a “no filler” philosophy.
“We want every piece to be special, and if it is a basic, it’s because there’s something special about it,” explains Julie.
While Angela and Julie hand pick each item that they sell, they admit it’s been a learning process when it comes to choosing items that are right for the customer.
“You can’t just go based exactly on what you can wear and like, because not everybody has your body type,” says Angela. “That’s why you really have to listen to what the women are telling you. It’s been tricky for us because we have the exact same taste and similar body types.”
“We’ve refined our buying based on consumer response,” Julie adds. “That’s so important — you’re not going to sell anything if your customers can’t wear it. We’re trying to do our look and our style, but for every girl.
Keeping their pieces readily accessible is another important priority. The girls take pride in providing classy, edgy clothing, all under the price point of $200 — a pretty impressive feat given the designers Fitzroy carries.
“Australians are way ahead of the curve,” Angela says of their Australian-inspired clothing — the name “Fitzroy” is actually inspired by the name of a neighbourhood in Melbourne.
With their new location, Angela and Julie are hoping to find a loyal clientèle, and are always open to expanding the number of designers they carry. Angela in fact, has opted to quit her day job in favour of working at the store full-time. While continuing to expand Fitzroy, the pair also has plans to open an online store by June 14 so they can offer their pieces across Canada.
The enthusiasm the pair generates while talking about Fitzroy is palpable—they reiterate that even during the hectic time when they worked full-time jobs along with managing their then-pop-up location, coming into a Fitzroy was never a chore.
“We love coming to work every day,” gushes Julie. “If you love what you’re doing, it’s not work.”