Studio Fitzroy co-owners Angela Pastor and Julie Buczkowski opened up their first pop-up shop in Yorkville six years ago. Under the name of Fitzroy Boutique, they curated a collection of boho glam clothing, accessories, candles and anything else you could want from designers and distributors in Australia and LA, exclusive to their boutique.
They evolved Fitzroy Boutique into an online shopping portal with events taking place during the year to reach new customers and hold on to that brick and mortar feel. The name Fitzroy was taken from a trendy area in Austrailia that one might parallel to Toronto’s own Queen Street West. Pastor and Buczkowski tested and perfected their business plan with well attended pop-up shops, learning from their customer base and evolving with them. By noticing a gap in the market, they were inspired to transform their shop into a successful dress rental business that allows women to wear fantastic statement clothing while simultaneously maintaining an eco-friendly lifestyle. To clarify, when you buy less, you’re wasting less water that goes into the production of fast-fashion.
How long have you been running Studio Fitzroy?
Jules: Since October! We permanently opened here, we had a few racks at our last pop up shop, testing out the idea. We started with two racks and grew it out to five racks, eight racks and realized, this is the business! People kept coming back for the rentals.
How did you meet?
Ange: Kindergarten! I must dig up our class photo, Julie looked ADORABLE.
Jules: We’ve been best friends, and then Angela moved away to New Zealand and London, and I went to school and when we were both in Toronto at the same time we decided to do Fitzroy. A lot of the reason that we started Studio Fitzroy was that we noticed that there was a gap in the market. We found that there was a lot of the low-end retailers like H&M and Zara, and then Canadian designers that were more high-end, there wasn’t that middle ground at the time, and we noticed that Austrailian designers were killing it, but it wasn’t as popular then. Angela discovered a lot of the designs when she was in New Zealand and Austrailia.
What inspired you to work together?
Ange: We had always talked and dreamed about it growing up, and the timing was finally right in our late 20s to sit down and get started on an actual business plan. It’ll be six years this September.
Jules: A lot of people say that working with your best friend is a bad idea, but for us, it works. We have the same aesthetic, and it’s been working out!
Why did you choose to get into dress rentals?
Ange: Honestly, it came from listening to our customers in the boutique who were sick of buying dresses and saw it as a stressful chore rather than a fun experience. People were genuinely sick of spending hundreds of dollars on “wear once” occasion dresses. It just doesn’t make sense in this age of social media anymore when no one wants to repeat an outfit. It becomes costly and wasteful. We got into rentals to take the stress, cost and waste out of finding a dress for your next event, and it seems to be what the city was waiting for.
What are your favourite new designers?
Jules: Asilio! We’re getting so many more pieces for fall and holiday; they have killer stuff. Another designer that we’ve brought in is Jordan de Ruiter; she’s Canadian, she’s from Toronto. She makes really fun tulle skirts with amazing details.
What do you look for when picking out dresses for the studio?
Ange: They have to be unique, great quality and fit in with our edgy/boho aesthetic. We’re not sending you out to an event in something that won’t look hot in photos and get you a million compliments!
Tell me about how you designed your space.
Jules: That was all Angela, she has such a great aesthetic, such a great eye, we’d just chat about it. For example the ceiling, it used to look like horrible office cubicle ceiling, what can we do with it? Our first thought was to paint it gold, but then we came up with the checkerboard. We also found this great wallpaper online, and thought, we love palm print but let’s do it differently. It’s a bohemian Austrailian LA vibe meets edgy New York glam. We’re still in the process of designing. We want it to feel like you’ve come over to your best friends house if your best friend were Carrie Bradshaw, and to have fun trying on dresses.
What’s your favourite part about working together?
Ange: Working so closely with someone who shares and understands your vision, your taste, everything! AND having your bestie there as a shoulder to cry on during the tough times and person to celebrate your success with in the good times. I couldn’t ask for a better partner!
Jules: Exactly what Ange said. Plus going on buying trips is always fun. We both love the buying aspect and when we’re able to travel to do it its just a bonus.
Have you dressed any local celebs?
Jules: We’ve dressed a bunch of actresses for the red carpet, and a lot of local TV hosts. Some are super regulars, and they’re so sweet! They say to us “We didn’t know that you were around and now that we do we come for every event!”.
Do you rent online as well?
Jules: Yes! You can rent online, and we’ll ship it out we’ll include a return envelope that they can just pop the dress back into. We do encourage people to come in because it makes such a difference to try stuff on.
I gotta know, what are your astrological signs?
What do you love about astrology?
Ange: It’s fun! I don’t know how much truth there is to any of it but I’ve been a devoted Susan Miller reader for over a decade, and she is too often spookily correct! I love reading her column at the beginning of every month and planning any big moves accordingly. Plus I feel like I have a lot of the supposed Gemini “traits.” I’m married to a Gemini too, so there’s basically 4 of us!
Jules: I love reading my horoscope but I’d say I’m more into spirituality and being present and in the moment.
The ladies let me take a stroll through their showroom to pick out the best-suited dress for each sign. Would you wear what I picked? Let me know on Facebook! Hot Tip: a few of my favourite knowledgeable astrologers have let me know that your moon sign is the sign you dress yourself by. Use this online calculator to find out yours so that you can find some astrological style options.
🔥 The Fire Signs 💥
🌎 The Earth Signs 🌍
🌈 The Air Signs 💨
🌊 The Water Signs💧
Fun fact: As I got to know the ladies and their many great pop-up shop parties, I came across a line of t-shirts with astrology symbols, and the idea of The Star Crossed was born!
Studio Fitzroy is located at 1227 Dundas Street West, 2nd floor, Toronto ON M6J 1X6 one block west of Ossington. You can find their hours and contact them here!