With summer in full swing I am super excited to be sharing this new series with all of you! In addition to Josephine’s Creative Career Moms series, I’ve just launched Josephine’s Blooming Boutiques and my very first feature is here!
This month I am so pleased to introduce Rena and Mavis of Smithery Style, two ladies who’ve looked to the past to revolutionize the shopping of the future. Using their backgrounds in advertising and fashion styling, they’ve come up with a unique and modern concept for online shopping based on an old-fashioned idea that they coined as stylesmithing, or helping you to shop for your shape. Using a shape finder tool, the ladies have built an entire on and offline shopping experience based on real women and their unique body shapes. Curating a vast variety of styles to suit your body and taking into consideration that “real women” want multi-purpose pieces; they customize your order explaining how you can wear each piece in a variety of ways!
The more I’ve learned about this dynamic duo and their up-and-coming e-boutique, the more I love them! In addition to curating some of the most beautiful pieces I’ve seen in a long time – but seriously there wasn’t one thing on the rack I didn’t like and refraining from buying pretty much everything was incredibly difficult – they’ve also added a new element to their vision. This past Wednesday, Mavis and Rena hosted their very first Sip & Share. Collaborating with Canadian Olympian Alexandra Orlando, the keynote speaker at this event, Smithery is taking their concept of positive body image to a whole new level! Alexandra spoke candidly about her own personal experiences struggling with body image and what it means to embrace fear as you journey towards becoming fearless. Talk about practicing what you preach! This event and new series epitomizes Smithery’s mission of not only shopping for your shape, but also loving and embracing the shape you have.
As someone who is experiencing pregnancy for the second time, I know first hand what it’s like to struggle to find clothes you feel good in. So, in addition to the five body shapes that are available on Smithery’s website, I am adding the “B”, or “The Bump”, into the mix and sharing a few ways that some of the fabulous pieces available at Smithery can be worn to style your bump and make mamas-to-be feel beautiful as you embrace this new shape!
Who doesn’t love a good maxi dress? This is not your standard maxi though; the tiny details like the low back, the high low cut and the lightweight material make this one especially elegant. As someone who loves to find multi-purpose clothing options, this one kind of made my day! The ladies at Smithery provided me with some different options for this dress; add a jean jacket for a more casual daytime look or get wedding season ready with a statement necklace and a strappy sandal. In addition to these options, what I love most about this dress is the fact that I can wear this through my pregnancy, feel elegant and glamorous and then throw it back on post-pregnancy and still love it! I don’t know about you, but I get very excited about finding “non-traditional-maternity-wear” that I can still feel great in after my pregnancy.
The Circle Hem Tee
A good tee that fits right and feels good has always been a staple in my closet. The material on this one is super soft and has a bit of a sheen to it, which makes it kind of fancy. As an expectant mom, this tee is perfect for throwing over a pair of leggings, or shorts and it can also add a little flare to a pencil skirt or tight fitting dress. It’s loose enough that it looks great during pregnancy, but is also an awesome choice post-pregnancy as well.
Ok, so I have to admit that I completely share the Instagram crush that Smithery had on this sweatshirt and decided on Wednesday evening that it was a must have for me too! This cozy, cute sweatshirt reminds me that being me while pregnant is huge. I’m not just pregnant me “I’m blonde, loves to be cozy” me too! I bought it without checking if it would fit over my bump and was pleasantly surprised when it did. So while this one is quite simply a cozy classic, I feel amazing in it, because I feel like me.
I am so happy to have met Mavis and Rena of Smithery and had the chance to chat with the ladies over dinner at one of my favourite spots in the city, Collette Grand Café. We ate, a lot, laughed and shared our stories for hours. They told me all about their journey and their hope for the future of this flourishing fashion boutique.
- I love hearing about beautiful new boutiques in the city and when I heard aboutSmithery Style I was blown away by your unique vision! Can you tell us a bit more about the creative concept behind Smithery?
Thank you! It truly makes our day when Smithery strikes a chord with someone!Like many small businesses, the idea of Smithery really came from our own life experiences and conversations around fashion. Rena loves, loves, loves shopping and Mavis always found it a chore and was frustrated by the lack of solutions available to Canadian women. We basically took all of our complaints about online shopping options in Canada and the research we gathered and created Smithery as a new way to shop. Two of the best insights that propelled us are that only 1 in 10 women know their body shape (which is the key to fit and style!) and that models are typically 6’ tall with 34”B-25”W-35”H while the average Canadian woman is 5’4”, 155 lbs, with a 33” waist and 41.3” hips.
The result is an antidote to the typical shopping experience by curating, styling, and modeling the clothes on real women of different shapes and sizes. No duties, no surprise shipping fees – essentially taking all of the guesswork out of the online shopping experience.
- As fashion lovers, you ladies must really enjoy the process of curating new outfits that suit the shape and tastes of modern women. The name Smithery Style is inspired by the “old age” concept of being a “style smith” or an expert in your craft. How did you come up with this idea and what was some of the inspiration behind the name?
We do love the process because we love the idea of helping ladies who didn’t have the tools to make shopping and getting dressed every morning easy! Or who thought that the services of a personal stylist were totally unattainable.
Both our backgrounds are in advertising and branding and in the process of helping our clients find success in the digital space, there was a best practice that became obvious — the best online experiences are the ones that save people time and energy by helping them shop the category like an expert would. Food and travel are great examples of that. Fashion, however, seemed to be left behind and they were simply offering more choice online as opposed to better choices. We knew there was an untapped niche for stylesmithing and that by using the principles of personal styling, we could offer women the service of expert choices for their body shape online.
- Smithery Syle is co-founded by Rena Rutkauskas and Mavis Huntley. How did you two lovely ladies come together to form this up-and-coming Canadian-based company?
We met while working at another Canadian company, john st. advertising (we’re proud to say, one of the top awarded agencies in the country.) Rena ran the Winners and President’s Choice businesses as an account lead and Mavis was, and still is, the head of integrated production (working half weeks). We always had a great synergy working together and our bond over our shared roots — we’re Martimers and a love of country music made it fun to come to work every day! Once we cracked the idea for Smithery, it was a no-brainer to pursue it together.
- I love fashion, but sometimes have a hard time finding the time create outfits that suit me, and my body shape. What are some of the ways that your e-boutique helps shoppers and “real” women find the right clothes for their body shape?
Well you’re not alone there! Like we said, Rena loves to shop and Mavis loved the end result of finding an outfit that fits (just not the chore of doing it). But whether you like fashion or not, most of us really don’t have much time for shopping anymore. And because only 1 in 10 women know their body shape, it can make shopping harder than it needs to be.
So what we do on smitherystyle.com to combat that is offer an easy Shape Finder tool so you can learn your body shape. We have 5 body shapes – X, H, A, V, O – no more fruit names! And we provide tips on the site for your shape’s best cuts. Next, you can shop your shape by simply searching the site by your letter to see every piece modeled on real women for whom we provide height, weight, measurement info, and the size she’s wearing. Lastly, at check out let us know your shape and we’ll send you personalized styling tips to make three outfits from every piece.
- In addition to offering a wide array of brands and clothing options, you’ve also developed something called a Smithery Style Box. Can you tell us about the style box?
The Smithery Style Box is a style concierge service we’ll be piloting this fall where we do the shopping for you with the eye of a personal stylist. You fill in a fun “shortie” quiz, we help you confirm your body shape, and we’ll drop off a recommended selection of pieces to try on, complete with styling tips. Keep what you want, return what you don’t at no cost. For anyone in the Toronto core who’s interested, shoot us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put you on the list for launch.
- I love hearing about e-boutiques that are connecting with their costumers in real time! The concept of aSip & Click (which is like hosting your very own shopping party) is such a great idea! Who wouldn’t want to hang out with friends, sip a little bubbly and do some shopping? How does a Sip and Click work and what made you decide to include this face-to-face element?
We are by nature an online boutique, but in order to build credibility and trust with our customers, we created an offline format of the concept as well. It gives us the opportunity to meet women in the community, bond over shared style wins (and challenges), and talk about why it’s time that the traditional retail model starts to shift!
Just grab eight or more friends, set a date, and we’ll bring the racks and some bubbly to your home / office / condo room. We do measurements and help women learn their shape, talk them through their best cuts and how to create a personal uniform. Bubbly + your girls + personal styling = a really fun night! The hostess receives a $100 gift card as well.
- As an up-and-coming Canadian company with so many unique elements to offer customers what do you hope for the future of Smithery?
We really believe in the Smithery concept and the need for it in the marketplace so we want to continue fighting the good fight by helping ladies across the country (and eventually North America) feel more confident in how they present themselves every day!
We spend a lot of time curating brands for the site that also support this movement (for example, that carry a broad range of sizes including both XS and XL) and we would love to continue to grow those relationships and offer even more Canadian up-and-coming brands that meet our quality and pricing standards.
At the end of the day, do we want to take over the world? Only if it means we’re having as much fun as we are now!
If you haven’t checked out Smithery yet head on over to their website, find your shape and start shopping! I’m excited to share their story and small shop with you and super excited to offer readers 15% off when you use code: ACREATIVELIFE . This code expires Sept. 15, 2016 so start shopping now!
Disclosure: Companies featured in this series often sponsor my posts and, or send products for review. If I love the company and their products, I am more than happy to share them with you!