A Blooming Affair Fashion Show in Review

Happy Thanksgiving Canadian readers and what a gorgeous weekend it’s been in Waterloo Region. I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of YOU for following the blog and sharing your shopping stories with me. It’s truly been an amazing year, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed meeting many of our wonderful shop owners, reporting back to you on our local shop spots. This week I had the pleasure of kicking off Oktoberfest season in style at the 2015 A Blooming Affair Fashion Show, held at Bingemans Ballroom.

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There was certainly plenty of eye candy at this year’s event, organized and run by a talented committee of 13 community members. The show drew a mixed crowd of young women, sophisticated women and the occasional male companion, all looking for the latest in fall and winter fashions. The styles were hot, with some new fashion features in the show like Gadsby’s Clothing Co. Inc in Cambridge, Plato’s Closet in Kitchener, and Grace the Boutique from Stratford. While La Crème in St Jacobs always puts together a gorgeous collection, this year I thoroughly enjoyed the styles from fb and me, with their youthful and colourful, yet sophisticated designs. It’s definitely worth a visit (especially now) if you’re looking for some new fall items.

Along with the eye candy on stage, attendees were invited to shop till they dropped at Most Magazine’s Boulevard of Boutiques. With some vendors also being featured in the fashion show, it was a great way to bring a piece or two home with you, after checking them out on stage. There weren’t too many familiar faces this year in the Boulevard, an area which I feel could be improved to better showcase our fabulous fashion community. Style may be the focus of the event, but it also does good, benefiting a local charity with a portion of the raffle proceeds. This year, that partner was Lutherwood, a wonderful organization which provides mental health, employment, housing and family support services to thousands of individuals in our community.

Overall, it was a fantastic night, thoroughly enjoyed by attendees and an excellent start to an eventful Oktoberfest season. If you’re already looking ahead to next year, be sure to mark October 5, 2016 (at least, that’s when I think it is) in your calendar for the next A Blooming Affair Fashion Show. Hope to see you there lovelies.

Meet Robyn. Owner of Le Prix – Waterloo.

Le Prix is a true gem. Operating out of owner Robyn Hobbs personal residence, the store is open by appointment only, offering customers a personalized shopping experience. Unique in its mission, Le Prix looks to help women love their bodies again while dressing in fabulous, affordable, pre-loved and new pieces from around the globe. Not only is this a fantastic place to shop, Robyn offers her services as a stylist, to help customers pair pieces together to create gorgeous looks. With future plans to travel/shop in Morocco, Egypt and India, this is one boutique your inner adventurer will adore.

Meet Robyn

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Bubbly, extroverted, and stylish, Robyn has an eye for great fashion. As a student and entrepreneur, she has learned how to find quality pieces at reasonable prices. With a passion for the environment, Robyn has combined her interest in travel, shopping, and recycling garments into a rewarding business venture.

Read on for the rest of our interview.

Thanks for meeting with me Robyn. Are you from Waterloo Region originally?

Yes, I was born and raised in Cambridge! I came to Waterloo to do my undergrad at Laurier and now I’ve been living here for about 8 years. I love Waterloo. I mean I just bought a house here!

That’s great! I know you’re very busy with Le Prix and other things…can you tell me about your life right now?

Along with owning Le Prix, I’m actually a graduate student completing my Master’s in Environmental Studies. I also work part-time at Laurier’s Graduate Students Association doing communications and graphic design. On the side, I sometimes do graphic work as well. Things are definitely busy, but now is the time to establish what we want in life, and I love what I’m doing!

I totally agree! Can you tell me a bit about Le Prix?

Le Prix is a fashion and lifestyle brand that provides pre-loved and new designer clothing, shoes and accessories from around the globe at affordable prices. I also offer my stylist services to help customer’s look and feel their best.

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How did it get started?

I started Le Prix during my last year of undergrad. I have always loved shopping, and when I became a student, it became important for me to find great pieces at affordable prices. That summer, I didn’t have a job that was working out, so my good friend pushed me to finally start the business. My friends always liked what I was wearing, so I would style them, and when I was out shopping, I would find pieces that wouldn’t fit me, but I knew would look great on someone else. Eventually friends of friends started messaging me and asking if I would pick up items for them, or if I would take them shopping. That’s when I realized I had an idea for a business and decided to start Le Prix.

It seems like it’s really taking off too.

Yes! It’s been organic growth which I am grateful for because I’ve been a student the whole time. I started with just a small clothing rack in my room, but it’s been slowly growing since then. I now have a whole room in my house for it which is great! I also got involved with Laurier Launchpad, which really helped me refine my business. The program offered so many resources. It gave me access to lawyers, accountants, marketing support, etc. Each week I worked on one part of my business plan, and then met with potential clients, changing the plan as I went. It was great! DSC_0244

How did you decide to offer clothes from around the globe at Le Prix?

Well after Laurier Launchpad, I finished my undergrad and went travelling for 3 months. I have always loved travelling, and found people really loved the pieces I picked up abroad, so I thought, why not shop for Le Prix while I’m away. That way the pieces are completely unique. I’ve shopped in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain, and this summer, my mom and I went to Paris and Rome.

Wow! So when you’re abroad, where do you shop?

I honestly have incredible luck. I believe most of the time I’m simply in the right place at the right time. I will stumble upon random, one-day markets, or sidewalk sales with fantastic items. Often before I go somewhere, I will look online to see the great shopping areas, or I message bloggers in those cities to see where I should go too.

DSC_0249I bet you find some really great pieces.

Oh yes! Fashion is so cultural and everywhere I travel is completely different for shopping. I get a gut feeling about the pieces I purchase for Le Prix. There are so many different style personalities, so I shop for every one of them. I try each and every piece on myself before buying, even if it’s not my size, just to make sure there isn’t any damage. Sometimes I find that my pieces are actually ahead of the trends here in Canada because I’ve shopped abroad. I Snapchat my shopping adventures to customers, so they can feel like they’re travelling with me!

How did you come up the name Le Prix for your store?

I wanted to invoke a level of luxury with the name, but I also wanted it to represent affordability and fun. The original name I chose was Le Prix D’Amour which means the price of love. I chose this because I really don’t think you should have to pay a lot for clothes you love. The name was just too long though, so over time, I shortened it to Le Prix. I really love the name because Le Prix is a mix of pre-loved and new clothes, but mostly pre-loved. I care about the environment, and think repurposing clothes is key, which makes them more affordable and special then always buying new.

That’s so true. So who do you find are your main customers?

Well with me being a student, many of my original customers were students too. That’s been changing. I would say there are two: young professionals and their moms. These are ladies who no longer have young kids, they are coming back into their own, and want to have fun with their style.

DSC_0253How does the personal styling work for your business?

Currently, I function by appointment only. I have the online store as well that I ship from, but to visit Le Prix, customers call, email or text. I really want the store to feel like customers are shopping in their best friend’s closet. Not only that, then clients get my full attention and they can come alone, or with family or friends, which they love. When customers are shopping, I help them with how to wear each piece, as well as figuring out what other pieces they have in their wardrobes already that could work with the new pieces.

I also get contracted out and go to other stores to shop with clients. I do wardrobe overhauls…I used to love the shows Clean Sweep and What Not to Wear so the styling piece is a combination of those two things, only nicer.

What’s your favourite part about owning Le Prix?

I think women spend too much time hating their bodies, when they really shouldn’t. Everyone is awesome and unique, and I want to help women love how they look. There’s that little mission in there at Le Prix. I love helping clients find their style. Some already know what they like, but aren’t always sure how to pair pieces. I help customers build on what they already know, so that they like what they see in the mirror. My favourite part is helping customer’s feel good, that’s why I do what I do. DSC_0251What’s unique about shopping at Le Prix?

Well I have a 7-day return/exchange policy, which many second-hand stores don’t offer. I also do gift wrapping, and customers’ get high quality pieces at affordable prices. I shop around the world, have a fashion trunk they get to pick a free item out of when they spend $25 and Swiss chocolate as a thank you. I love my job and I love helping customer’s feel better. The one-on-one attention I provide is also unique!

What does style mean to you?

Style is expressing how you feel each day. It’s looking put together, however that means for you. Some people are boho, others’ are preppy. Style is putting yourself in pieces you feel great in. I always tell my customer’s if you don’t feel like a 10 in it, don’t buy it!

DSC_0246I completely agree! Do you have any fashion tips for our readers?

Honestly just wear what you feel good in. I personally don’t like when you can see someone’s’ bra straps in an outfit. It just doesn’t create a cohesive look. A good pair of dark denim, or black skinny pants go with everything and can transition from day to night! A blazer is also a must in a wardrobe. It can be dressed up, or down, with the cuffs rolled up. Since we live in Canada, you also need to think about what your coat is saying about you because it’s one of the first things people see. If you don’t want to wear a fancy coat, try a nice scarf and cute mittens.

Thanks so much for sharing Le Prix with us Robyn! It truly is such a fabulous shopping spot. Just to finish off, when you’re not here and at school, where do you like to go in our community?

I love the St. Jacob’s Market, especially the Mennonite cinnamon buns The Fritter Co. apple fritters. I also love the Seven Shores Cafe, Huether Hotel, Starlight Lounge and Masala Bay.

DSC_0254Are you looking for a new look? Need some help with your style? Want to shop fabulous pieces from around the globe? If yes, then a visit to Le Prix may be just what you’re after. Using her expert eye, Robyn will help you find pieces that truly reflect your personality, at budget prices. Yahoo! Be sure to follow along with Robyn’s adventures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (@RobynLePrix).

Meet Rachel. Owner of Auburn Vintage – Conestogo

Imagine a time when dressing was a true art form. A time when individuals took pride in their outfits, invested in quality and expressed themselves with colour and sophistication. While it seems the clothes of today have lost their luster, shopping vintage is both an eco and stylish choice for true fashionistas. In a store that can be considered both a library and a museum, you will be impressed by the selection of gorgeous pieces at Auburn Vintage. Whether you’re looking for a 20’s inspired flapper dress, or a 70’s boho floral crown, you’re sure to find something to suit your tastes.

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Meet Rachel.

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Creative, inspiring, and community-minded, Rachel Kaufman has a long-standing history in Kitchener-Waterloo. A true dreamer, Rachel has combined her passions for theatre, clothes and people into a gem of a store in Woolwich Township. When not at Auburn Vintage, Rachel enjoys writing, supporting the local arts community, and spending time with her daughter.

Read on for the rest of our interview:

Rachel, your store is amazing! Have you always worked in fashion?

Thank you! My background is actually in theatre, acting, directing, and producing. Before Auburn Vintage, I owned an arts studio in Downtown Kitchener called Kaufman Arts Studio. I have always loved and worn vintage clothes though.

They are stunning. So what inspired you open Auburn Vintage, especially in Conestogo?

I was inspired by the people, and I loved the small town feel. When customers come to visit, they are living the life of a small town person…even just for an hour. Someone from next store will pop in, or a friend of mine. For me, it was really all about the community.

I was also inspired after reading the book Alligators, Old Mink & New Money by Alison Houtte. The book describes her experience opening and owning a vintage store in New York City. Reading the book made me realize I needed to follow and live my passion, which I feel is an important lesson for my daughter. It has been terrifying at times, but I know I’m doing the right thing! Opening Auburn Vintage has allowed me to mix my passion for theatre, with my love for people and my appreciation for really great clothes.

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When did you open the store?

In the middle of winter haha! December 15, 2014.

I’m not too far behind in hearing about the store then haha! What was the inspiration for the name?

Auburn is made up of the first letters of Audrey and the last letters of Hepburn. The “B” in the middle is for Bronte, my daughter. She helped me come up with the name.

You’ve created such a unique and eclectic atmosphere here. It seems to really match the clothes.

There’s a lot of myself and my family in here. My great grandfather, Jacob Kaufman started a lumber mill in Kitchener, so we have quite a history in this community. The seat by the fitting rooms was the bench in the church where my parents got married. All the doors and the ladders I use to display the clothes were my grandfathers. The mantle in the front of the store was from the house I grew up in on Margaret Avenue. It’s not there anymore, but the house was built by my grandfather and great grandfather during the depression. It was a way to keep the workers at the mill employed during that time.

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How unique!  So why do you love vintage?

Every piece has a story. When you shop vintage, you’re buying a piece of history. My store is almost a boutique, library and a museum all at the same time. Vintage stores are also one of the few places where different generations can enjoy shopping together. We get grandmothers, mothers, and daughters all shopping at the same time in the same place.  For some, it’s almost a walk down memory lane. The clothes manufactured today aren’t made with the same detail as they were in the past, with the lace and the bead-work. It’s much harder to find that quality today, unless you’re buying high-end designer garments.

I’ve never shopped vintage myself, but I’m starting to feel the connection with the clothes and the stories. I love it!

Clothes inspire people. In line with my love for the arts, I’m considering picking a dress, setting it up here in the store, and inviting writers to create a story about it. I have this beautiful wedding dress, which looks like it may have been one that a mother passed down to her daughter, and the daughter made it her own. Her name is even in the dress. Clodagh McGonigal. It’s like the Harry Potter dress haha.

Who is Clodagh McGonigal?

Exactly. Who is she, what was her life like, and how did the dress play into things.

What a great idea.

I really think there is something there. Building community is important to me as well, so it’s a great way to bring people into the store. I was involved with a festival here in town called Unhinged which puts writers in places that are somewhat disturbing and they have to write a play. Not that the store is disturbing, but you can imagine it’s 3 am, you’re alone, you’re in an old building. What’s going to happen?

A man came and he actually picked out two pieces of clothing and wrote a play called the Little Black Dress. I love this, but I’m looking to broaden it a bit by inviting maybe 5 people to come for a few hours, just to write. Sometimes you wonder what the story is behind a piece.  For this reason, I find it difficult to put a price tag on the clothes because they really are priceless.

Have you learned a lot about the history of fashion through opening the store?

I’m definitely learning. I buy vintage from shows, sales, and from private collections. You need to know whether the vintage pieces you’re buying are real or knock-offs. For example, pieces that have zippers up the side are genuinely authentic. Different decades also have different styles. Anything with a collar, cinched-in waist, and crinoline under the skirt is typically 40’s….

I think people are sometimes afraid to come into stores like mine, because they are used to being nickel and dimed in Toronto. I price my items much lower because I want people to be able to wear and enjoy the garments. The clothes are designer quality, without the price tag.

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Do you have any favourite pieces?

I have beautiful wedding gowns here. When I purchase a gown, I hand wash it to ensure I don’t ruin any of the details. I find many gowns today look quite similar, so if a woman is looking for something a bit unique, vintage should be considered. Many of the gowns have long sleeves, which I think is right on trend again since Kate Middleton chose a style like that. Even Ralph Lauren is coming out with a line of dresses in this style now. I tell woman that if they want a vintage dress, buy it and make it your own.

Do you have any tips for shopping vintage?

Vintage clothes are fun to wear. They are almost like art pieces. I tell my customers to choose one vintage piece for a look that can be the statement and then pair it with something more traditional. Like funky floral pants, with a black blazer. I also tell my customers that if they love something, try it on. You never know how it will fit on your body. I don’t have sizes on the clothes because measurements really vary between decades, and some fabric is more forgiving than others. I don’t have 16 of the same piece in varying sizes, I only have one. Try on the items that speak to you.

Is altering pieces common when shopping vintage?

It’s very common. The benefit is that you get a piece of clothing that you love, and it’s been made for you and your body. A lot of the clothes I sell were made for a specific woman at some time. I think a continuing trend in this business will be reconfiguring authentic items to fit new shapes.

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A custom look at an affordable price, I like that!

I admit, owning the store I’ve become more outgoing in my clothing choices to show customers how to wear them. I’m a fairly traditional dresser, but I’ve tried things I never thought I would wear. Like pant suits. I own the craziest floral pant suit, but it makes me feel amazing when I wear it. You learn a lot about yourself and what looks good on your body when you shop vintage.

I see you carry men’s clothes here as well.

We have some pieces, mostly overcoats, blazers, accessories. Quality men’s vintage is difficult to source though because the sizes were so much smaller then, or they literally wore it until it was rags!

Do you have any interesting customer stories to share?

Hearing customer’s stories are my favourite part. People have lived. Some of them write to me after shopping in the store, or send me photos of where they wore the item. A little while ago, a girl and her mother were visiting the store from Acton. They were looking for a formal dress. The girl ended up buying this really pale blue dress. It was very simple in design, but had layers of soft tulle. It was the perfect dress and so beautiful! I found out afterwards that she had been looking for a dress because she was going to England to have cocktails with the Queen!

Wow!

I know! I knew that piece was special. I just didn’t know where it was going to go.

It must be hard finding the perfect outfit to meet the Queen haha! Have you participated in any local fashion events?

I’ve had 2 small, private fashion shows here for customers and have a 3rd one booked. It’s a fun idea for a private party or a girl’s night out. I organize the show, and bring in the models. The ladies bring the chairs and the munchies. Then after the show, they get to shop. They love it and it’s a great way to bring the community into the store as well.

How fun! Well I know you’re very busy, but what are your favourite places to go locally when you get the chance?

I love both Downtown Kitchener and Uptown Waterloo. My favourite spots are the Seven Shores Café for lunch and Sole Restaurant for dinner. When I’m not working though, I just enjoy spending time with my daughter. We like to go to the library and get lost in the books.

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Classic designs, individual attention, and an abundance of stories await you at Auburn Vintage. If you’re looking for pieces that truly reflect and express your personality, this store is worth a visit. Be sure to like Auburn’s Facebook page and follow their Twitter account to keep connected with this treasure trove.