Support, empowerment, and love — a local fashion startup is on a mission to provide more than just clothes to their customers.
Last month, five women from Ottawa and surrounding communities opened an online fashion boutique, dubbing their shop, “Sunday Morning Boutique.” For founding members Bethany Crawford, Danielle Jolliff, Rebekah McCurdy, Rachel Morsett, and ReJeana Mustain, the store’s opening was a chance to forge a business, let creative passions fly, and empower their customers, all rolled into one.
After deciding to open the boutique, they wasted no time.
“We just jumped,” Morsett said. “We just decided, in March, ‘We are going to open in two months.’ And we just ran with it.
“We decided we wanted to be ready by April 15th, thinking ‘That’s plenty of time.’ And then the date got closer and we were like, ‘What are we doing?’”
The choice to host the business online using Facebook was made to lower overhead and follow an industry trend, the women said.
“We had started seeing [online boutiques] pop up,” Jolliff said. “They have been pretty popular on Facebook. And successful.”
“It was just a business model that other people were using, and succeeding with it, so we thought, ‘If they can do it so can we,’” Crawford said.
The founding members fell into their various roles, and finally, the big day arrived. The group decided to host a boutique-opening event at Main Attraction, a salon in downtown Ottawa.
“It exceeded all of our expectations,” McCurdy said. “I literally cried.”
Customers were lined up early, and the flood of interest kept the boutique owners on their toes.
“I sat down at the checkout at 12:10, and I didn’t get up untl 1:15,” said Crawford, adding she only got up so another checker could rotate in.
“We had people show up early and then stay for the entire time,” Jolliff said. “Just like hanging out, and even helping other customers, saying things like ‘Oh my gosh, you would look great in this.’ They were like our own volunteer sales associates.”
The group offers a gamut of personalized sizings and styles on tap, the diversity borne out of the five founders’ different tastes.
“That’s the fun part: all five of us, we all have different styles, so we all bring something different to what we offer to our customers,” Morsett said.
The group sees the boutique as an opportunity for women to find their fashion groove in the often-frustrating world of women’s clothing.
“We had found that shopping, for women, is sometimes an awful experience,” Crawford said. “No two stores are the same, and no two brands fit the same, so it’s a real struggle. We just want to build an environment and trust with customers that says, ‘If this didn’t fit you, we will try something else.’
“And we really have tried hard to order all sorts of sizes — not just big and not just little.”
The group attributes their explosive opening to the unifying message behind their menagerie of styles. Crafted by the group and fine-tuned by McCurdy, then put on display in the “About” section of the group’s Facebook page, their message lays out the boutiques’ founding as one borne out of a mutual love of for fashion, shopping, and empowering others to love their body. It also pays tribute to where the five women met and what would later become the inspiration behind the group’s namesake.
“We named ourselves after our group that meets for coffee on Sunday mornings,” McCurdy said, referencing a larger group of women referred to as the “Lady Squad” by its members.
Along with providing good clothes for customers, extending the Lady Squad’s climate of support and empowerment into every customer interaction is what it’s all about, the group said.
“Our squad is the most empowering group of women I have ever known,” Jolliff said. “I’m new to this town, and I met these ladies about a year ago, but I feel like I’ve known them my entire life. The amount of support they’ve shown with everything — it’s like a family.
“And maybe if we share that, people can create that for themselves.“