C/O The Reloved Boutique

Reloved Boutique strives to provide a conscious solution for fashion lovers of all sizes

Nestled in the heart of James Street North sits new consignment store Reloved Boutique. The store carries a selection of products by Canadian businesses as well as racks of one-of-a-kind clothing pieces. Curating a collection of beautiful secondhand items is the goal of this boutique headed by mother-daughter duo Raquel and Lateisha Brown.

Raquel and Lateisha have dreamt of opening Reloved Boutique for about three years. Although born and raised in Hamilton, Lateisha currently lives in Calgary where there are a plethora of consignment shops. After visiting Lateisha in Calgary, Raquel realized that Hamilton doesn’t offer the same range of selection for secondhand shopping. Together, they saw an opportunity to introduce a new consignment boutique to the Steel City.

Last December when Lateisha was in Hamilton for the holidays, the pair stumbled upon their current location and signed the lease almost immediately. In January, they began setting up the space and launched their Instagram page. Planning for a launch date of March 21, they began collecting items for their spring consignment collection.

However, when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on March 11, the pair had to re-evaluate their opening. Instead of opening their brick and mortar location, they launched an online shop instead. While navigating these new challenges, they were supported by a great landlord and by the local business community.

“The [business] community has been really supportive. We are in a bunch of networking groups that are just trying to support each other and give each other advice for the best. Like how to get through this or what this new life looks like,” said Lateisha.

Two months after their initial opening date, they unlocked their physical location in May with additional COVID-19 protocols. As Lateisha is still in Calgary, she handles the behind-the-scenes logistics, finance and social media while Raquel operates the storefront.

It was important to the mother-daughter duo to create a boutique experience for secondhand shopping. While they do not look for particular brands, they ensure that the items that make it to their racks are carefully curated based on current style trends, brand popularity and condition.

“I think that we’ve nailed it in terms of the aesthetic and how we want our stuff to be presented . . . I remember when I was a kid, I was mortified when we would go shopping at a thrift shop. But we created  . . . a secondhand shopping experience . . . [that] doesn’t feel like you’re shopping secondhand, nor do the clothes look like they’re secondhand,” said Lateisha.

“I think that we’ve nailed it in terms of the aesthetic and how we want our stuff to be presented . . . I remember when I was a kid, I was mortified when we would go shopping at a thrift shop. But we created  . . . a secondhand shopping experience . . . [that] doesn’t feel like you’re shopping secondhand, nor do the clothes look like they’re secondhand,” said Lateisha.

Where Reloved Boutique stands out most is through its mission for size-inclusivity. The fashion industry has continuously underserved plus-sized women and this has unfortunately been a trend in secondhand stores. Reloved Boutique strives to fill the gap in secondhand fashion and allow everyone to explore sustainable options. They actively promote larger size donations and consignments on their social media to ensure they have stock of all sizes.

Any unsold items at the end of a season that aren’t returned to consignors are donated to a local charity. Right now, the boutique has partnered with Interval House, a shelter for women survivors of intimate partner violence and their children. They hope to donate to different charities on a rotational basis.

The response from the Hamilton community has been positive. Since they began accepting items in January, people have been consistently dropping items off. Many of the items they’ve received have been great quality, which has made the pair even more excited about the store.

“The excitement from the community is what sets a fire in me, that they’ve never seen a boutique that looks like ours or they’ve never experienced consignment the way that we do it. I’m really happy and proud that we’ve accomplished that,” said Lateisha.

“The excitement from the community is what sets a fire in me, that they’ve never seen a boutique that looks like ours or they’ve never experienced consignment the way that we do it. I’m really happy and proud that we’ve accomplished that,” said Lateisha.

With the amount of clothes they’ve already received, Lateisha sees the store growing larger in the future. As a women-owned business, they also hope that they can host networking events and workshops for women entrepreneurs after COVID-19. Whatever the future holds, having overcome the challenges of COVID-19, Raquel and Lateisha have shown their resilience as business owners and the value of their store to Hamiltonian fashion lovers.

Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.