If there is one thing we love about Toronto, it’s the boutiques on Queen West. It has such a eclectic collection of stores and restaurants to suit the many personalities that roam it’s streets.
Recently, we stopped by one of our favourite jewellery spots, Elle Hardware, located at 695 Queen Street, West, Toronto. This store is owned and operated by sisters Lindsay and Hilary MacMillan — two woman who are quickly becoming a Canadian fashion force to be reckoned with as Hilary is also a fashion designer (with a self-titled brand).
We were given the pleasure of touring this store and sitting down with Lindsay to get to know a little more about this boutique every woman needs to visit.
Fashion Translated (FT): “Tell me about your store and how you got started.”
Lindsay MacMillan: “We opened in 2010. My sister, Hilary and I were working together. We started looking for a location in July and then did all of the construction ourselves. We literally put the ‘hardware’ in hardware before we even opened!
At the time, I was also travelling and looking at different tradeshows to pick out our initial inventory. Since opening, our selections have been edited over the years to really reflect our customer’s tastes. Plus, the more time you spend in the market place, the more you see what sells and what doesn’t. The benefit of different trade shows is that we’ve been able to fill out store with pieces from all over the world, which, of course isn’t readily accessible to everyone. It’s important to our branding that we represent things from all over the world. It’s nice to have that variety for people also.”
FT: “Why did you choose to start a business around jewellery?”
Lindsay: “I’ve always loved it. I traveled a lot with my family when I was younger. My parents didn’t have a lot of money, but felt travel was really important in terms of inspiring your imagination and understanding other cultures. while away, I always wanted to go to artesian fairs and buy the local materials, stones and pieces. I was polarized towards it. I then took a business commerce degree in retail and focused more on entrepreneurship. I always thought it would be cool to own a business. I admire people that are so driven and passionate and thought I could bring my passion for jewellery into a retail space.”
FT: “Where did the name Elle Hardware come from?”
Lindsay: “That was actually the hardest thing to come up with. I wanted something that was interesting as I knew conceptually what I wanted to do in the store. I thought about the utility of jewellery. In comparison to clothing, what does jewellery do for the average woman? Clothing is so soft and jewellery is hard. So, really, it’s like the hardware of your style. Plus, our customer is female so it’s her hardware. And, in Canada, we have both French and English, so they’d understand the verbiage of “elle” which we thought sounded chic. And, if one day we open up another location in Montreal, it would transfer well there.”
FT: “What is the Queen West style? What do people gravitate towards?”
Lindsay: “I think they are looking for something artesinal, something different. I think Queen West is one of the last areas in Toronto of true boutiques. You really need unique pieces in this area, and, our jewellery is different. It’s not your average Pandora bracelet. There is something for everyone here. We have basic layering pieces and then other pieces that are more intricate in their technic.”
FT: “What jewellery do you feel everyone should have in her closet?”
Lindsay: “I think every woman should have a good pair of statement earrings in her closet that can take you from day to night. A good necklace, too. Necklaces are one of our highest selling categories.”
FT: “Do you think there are rules on how many pieces people can wear at once?”
Lindsay: “I don’t think so. I think some people over accessorize, but I think that’s because they like colour and texture. I always think of Phoebe from Friends. She always had a ring on each finger, which was so nineties, but that’s come back in style once more. Too much jewellery is a personal choice and probably for creative personality types. Overall, I would say wearing jewellery is about creating balance in an outfit. It also helps accents different parts of our outfits and bodies that we love. Women are often so hard on themselves, and it’s nice that jewellery is the last thing to make us feel self conscience. It allows us to play and highlight what we love.”
FT: “Do you have pieces that you love the most in your store?”
Lindsay: “I’m a personal fan of the Bora line. He’ll always share the stories behind his creations – where the stones and materials came from, or how a piece was made. It is more expensive, but you receive real silver or gold. It’s great to have things that will last in your collection for years to come.”
FT: “What is the price point in the store?”
Lindsay: “It really varies. Sunglasses start at $19.99, but some of our specialty pieces that are custom pieces are $800. There isn’t a lot at the higher end. I would say most are in the range of $70 – $120.”
FT: “Is there anything else you want to share about the store?”
Lindsay: “Hilary, my sister, who helped me start the store and still helps run it, is also a fashion designer in Toronto self titled, Hilary McMillan. We accessorized all of the models for her show during fashion week and will be exclusively carrying her line.”