Tallow Boutique - Jasmine
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started.
Born and raised in Ottawa, I have always been drawn to the unique small businesses that make our city so vibrant and make shopping and dining a more personal and rich experience. Studying communications at Ottawa U and working at restaurants downtown I began to spend a lot more time in some of my current favourite neighbourhoods including Wellington West where I lived in my early 20's, Little Italy which always fuelled my passion for Italian Cuisine and the Byward Market where I worked at a bistro on Clarence St. During these years I fell in love with the idea of contributing a business to the city or one of these communities that could bring something new and unchartered to Ottawa.
My story starts when I got a job in a posh haute couture bridal boutique- Justina McCaffrey on Sussex Dr. I took such a liking to it that they offered me a full time position within my first year and I worked as a manager there for nearly 3 years thereafter. This experience led me to open my own bridal boutique alongside Ottawa wedding industry royalty Stacey Price (The Design Co) & friend Danica Redden. We had five fantastic and memorable years on Preston selling bridal couture brands exclusive to Ottawa, travelling to NYC twice a year to select the stunning dresses we displayed in our small but luxurious boutique. We dressed & styled so many amazing women in what most consider to be the most important dress they've worn in their lifetime ;) It was an honour, a five year journey full of the lessons you are bound to learn in your first small business venture, and resulted in a huge sense of pride & accomplishment and a whole new group of amazing girlfriends! Naturally - many of my brides have become some of my dearest friends today.
What motivated you to open a clothing store?
This clothing store was motivated by friendship - after meeting Amber & Jen (Of Pure Yoga / Pure Kitchen) while Amber was shopping for her wedding gown at The White Dress we became fast friends. One stint working with them on their in house clothing brand for Pure Yoga, and a stint at Shopify learning about all things commerce... and here we are. We brought in Gemma Riley-Laurin who had nailed what the city was missing in designer swimwear during a summer pop-up in Westboro under the name 'Sona Clothing'
Our vision developed together for what we felt Ottawa was bound to embrace - a beachy laid back boutique full of Australian influence, and brands never before offered in Ottawa or even Canada for that matter straight from Byron Bay (also where our namesake beach resides, Tallow Beach) The boutique aims to serve women looking for something fresh, laid back, high quality and that breaths some fresh air into their wardrobe. Our influence is largely inspired by our own travels to places where the fashion vibe and boutiques are incredibly memorable.
What about the Australian Coast and California inspires you?
The west coast vibe encourages women to live in clothing they can play in too - whether that means swim, surf, hangout with friends on the beach... the vibe is so free and so are the designs that come out of Byron. I persoanlly find California and Australian style to be equally feminine and edgy and to exude a carefree vibe that would make anyone want to let go and enjoy life to the fullest! As Spell (our exlusive Byron born boho brand) so perfectly describes of their customers "we are... driving into the sunset, top down, Fleetwood Mac Blaring, bikinis drying on the backseat, a polaroid camera handy and wildflowers collected on the dash"
Our brands cater to modern women with a deep respect and slight nostalgia for the generations of style that came before them... and who are free spirited at heart.
How do you choose which brands to feature?
We mainly focus on bringing Aussi brands to Tallow in order to stay true to our vision. From there we pick complimentary brands that play well with them. All of us as owners are fairly obsessed with denim, so that's a given. We have the most incredible brand(s) of jeans here and are about to launch a denim club for all of our loyal denim loving customers. The cool thing is that when each of us finds a brand we want to showcase in the boutique we all support and encourage it which is what I think gives the store such a personalized feel. The style is curated by four women with equally great, but unique tastes... working with a shared vision in mind.
What is it like running a business with four(?) people? How are decisions made?
Teamwork makes the dreamwork. Only problem is that sometimes business meeting turn into laughter infused catch up sessions ;)
What’s something you’ve learned about yourself since becoming an entrepreneur?
That having people encourage your success and vision is one of the most rewarding experiences there is.
That contributing to a city's 'cool factor' makes you feel like a bad ass.
That 'white glove' and personalized customer service is a dying craft, and something people really appreciate in todays world.
That keeping your own emotions out of it and 'not taking things personally' when a business is your baby sometimes feels impossible, but is worth striving for and makes you a better business owner in the long run.
That the joy you can bring to a woman when she chooses a wedding gown which makes her feel her most beautiful self in, is similar in ways to the joy a woman feels when she finds a bathing suit, or a pair of jeans that dissolves some of her insecurities and makes her incredibly confident.... and that's why I am doing this.
Why did you choose Hintonburg as the location to open your store?
Hintonburg just might be the new Westoboro... you heard it here. It's the perfect mix of eclectic and established and we love being a part of it's awesome development and evolution. Gemma lives in the neighbourhood and scoped out the perfect spot for us last year - we are so happy with how the space turned out!
What are some of your favourite Ottawa spots to go to when you’re not working?
I like to dress up, it shouldn't come as a surprise! Riviera is great for indulging that urge, and delicious.
Pure Kitchen , healthy and delicious
Best date spot - The Moonroom - follow their rules, in the bar and in life.
Elmdale for a little dancing, still remember my teenage years when my Dad played their blues open mic nights and everyone in the place was at least twice my age!
What do you like to do in your free time?
Mostly hang out with my family, my spunky three year old who lights up my life and tells people she wants to work at Tallow when she's big (oh my heart!) Hope we're still here then... who knows maybe she'll have Tallows in different city's to choose from ;) A girl can dream...