CLEMENTINE’S is a one-of-a-kind atelier-style boutique founded in 2014 by Christina McDowell, a former National Spokesperson and Image Consultant for Holt Renfrew, and her daughter Kelly. This luxury concept shop has just re-located to a beautiful historic building in Rosedale, and in celebration of this, we sat down with the mother-daughter duo to see how they balance family with business and get insight into how they are standing out in the fashion world.
Image via CLEMENTINE’S
Tell me about yourselves and how CLEMENTINE’S came to be.
Kelly and I launched CLEMENTINE’S five years ago. Our vision was to start an atelier style concept shop that carried beautiful collections of contemporary and niche luxury brands. Having worked in luxury fashion retail all my life, it was a natural progression for me. That experience has been an invaluable asset and I draw on it every day. CLEMENTINE’S has evolved into a luxury concept shop whose focus is to Curate Fashion | Home | Design. We have recently relocated to our beautiful new home in the iconic building at 1054 Yonge.
In a city where everyone is looking to pave their own way, how does CLEMENTINE’S stand apart?
Retail has been turned on its head in recent years with many believing that bricks and mortar shops were done. We clearly don’t agree. I think what sets us apart today is how much we value community, authenticity and making connections with our customers. The experience is welcoming, inviting and fun. From the edit to the curation, to the collections and the intoxicating scents, our clients know we care about how they feel when they walk through our doors. It’s not enough just to track your every purchase and form a client profile. It’s about understanding who your customer is and expertly guiding them to make their best purchase. It becomes a relationship built on trust and I think that’s what retail is missing. Even our online shop has a more personalized approach.
What inspires you most right now? How does this translate into the brands and designers you choose to work with?
We continue to be inspired by brand stories that draw us in. Brands that are thoughtful and care about their business as much as we care about ours. We’ve found that often, these brands are female-led. There has been a sharp increase in female-led businesses from jewelry, fashion, and lifestyle and we’re happy about that.
Image via CLEMENTINE’S
CLEMENTINE’S is a mother-daughter business. How do you keep your personal and professional lives separate?
As mother and daughter, we knew starting a business together would have its inherent issues. We spoke very openly about our concerns and knew that as two strong women we would have our challenges. We each have our separate specific roles with Kelly as Retail Director and I as Creative Director, however, we work through it all and find common ground. We know we’re very lucky to work together and our relationship always takes priority. We actually have so much fun.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in building a business from the ground up?
The biggest lesson is that even when you think you know, you don’t know. Retail is an ever-changing business, so stay flexible and adapt. Having said that, it is very important to understand who you are and to stay true to your vision. Fine balance!
As your business grows, how do you stay true to your roots?
As our business grows, we must stay focused on who we are and where we want to go even when we have doubts. Focus and ignore all the noise because there’s always noise.
What advice would you give to others who are looking to start their own business?
Do your research! Make sure what you’re selling (product or service) is different enough and that there’s a market for it. It’s a lot of hard work to run your own business, regardless of what it is. It’s so much harder than anything we’ve ever done but it’s also the most inspired we’ve ever been.
CLEMENTINE’S is such a beautifully curated boutique. What do you look for when bringing in brands? Thanks for saying that. We love hearing that from our customers when they come in and notice. We love to edit, curate and share our point of view. We like to partner with brands that align with ours, from product to packaging to philosophy.
Who is your dream designer to work with?
Visit CLEMENTINE’S at 1054 Yonge St, Toronto ON, and online at www.clementinesluxury.com/