Nathalie Roze and Co
I didn't know it at the time, but the day I walked into Leslieville's Nathalie-Roze & Co., they happened to be celebrating their two year anniversary. Practically upon entering the place, I was greeted by a grinning woman bearing a tray of tiny, complimentary cupcakes and lemonade. Yes! Obviously I accepted one, but I also couldn't help wondering how often the staff had to step in if any pair of overly crumb-caked hands moved to paw disastrously at the wares.
No one seemed worried. The girls at Nathalie-Roze & Co. are sincerely chill, friendly, and helpful - if any one of them was concerned about any frosting-related messes that might ensue from the store-wide party they were throwing, they certainly didn't show it. No one tailed me or tried to press anything on me, yet the moment I needed a changing room or had a question, someone was there to meet my needs instantly.
The space of the store itself is narrow, deep, and jam-packed full of goodies from literally dozens of local artists, as well as pieces designed by Miss Nathalie-Roze herself. It's a veritable Who's Who of indie Toronto fashion design--there are pieces from Jack & Marjorie, Dagg & Stacey, Snoflake, Paper People Clothing, and a bamillion others.
There's not much in the place that's over $150, and there're a multitude of cute finds for under $25. Normally, it'd be easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount and range of pretty to be discovered, but the store is extremely navigable -- painted in earth tones, furnished in hardwood, coyly framed with frills and pink trim... It feels more like you're browsing an intimately-designed tea house than an edgy Queen Street boutique.
Any urges I had to snark about the mega-trendy oxymoron of eco consumerism have been firmly quashed. Worries that stock may veer from cutesy into kitschy or even from hipster-chic into hippie-granola survived my eventual, sobering, realization that this place does not ply their customers with snacks year round, but this shopping experience is one I can unreservedly recommend. There's practically guaranteed to be something for everyone, especially now that 'green' goes with everything.
The place is packed with a funky, eco-chic aesthetic; the store brims with items made from natural, recycled, and vintage materials, and the accessories sold are quirkily craft-inspired. Sure, you could probably make some of them at home yourself --items I was self-consciously drawn to included a pair of earrings made from recycled bicycle tires ($15), and a shopping tote patched entirely with discarded frozen food packaging ($40)--but Nathalie-Roze has seemingly intuited such DIY daydreams, and cheerfully calls your mental bluff with her weekly in-store workshops. On top of that, the shop actually solicits suggestions for its monthly charity. It's not a cupcake, but I'll take it.
Contributed by Jessica Gurd