Regine Paquette and Katie Frappier co-own Victoire Boutique, a women’s boutique specializing in Canadian design. The shops are celebrating five years in the business this Saturday with its biggest sale ever taking place at both shops during the day, and a big party in the evening at the Dalhousie location.
So, let’s flash back to a little over five years ago: how did Victoire Boutique begin?
We started the shop right out of university. We knew we wanted to be our own bosses and felt the hole in the Ottawa market when it came to Canadian-made clothing for young ladies who like vintage inspired fashion with a twist!
We figured, what have we got to lose, and so we set about doing it!
It’s obviously tough to start a small business, what challenges were you facing at the outset? How did you overcome them?
Oh gosh, well we were so young that banks thought we were a joke. But that all worked out for the best because we found a very, very happy home with the Ottawa Women’s Credit Union. We also had a lot of people advise against starting a shop with your best friend, but on that front too it has all worked out!
It has been five years and the shop is now two shops (one on Dalhousie and one on Wellington), and you’ve also been named one of the best places in Canada to buy a dress. How would you describe Victoire’s style to someone who has never heard of you?
Victoire offers a well-edited mix of ideas and trends – mixing edgy wares with more classic pieces. We strive to create a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. Focusing primarily on Canadian designers, mixing in a select few American designers, the store’s aesthetic point can only be described as a “Rock ’n’ Roll tea party.”
The result is a shopping experience akin to going through your most stylish friend’s closet – you know, the one who always manages to look great, but effortless at the same time, and is always mixing old with new, high with low, tradition with transgression? Loved by rebel girls with good manners everywhere, Victoire is a shop obsessed with anything made-in-Canada, super cute, gold or embroidered.
What are your must-have fashion pieces for this summer? The fall?
We don’t really like to think of things as this season’s MUST HAVE. We more like to see each season as offering us something to add to our closet. If you are thinking sustainably, you need to not only look for higher quality items but also for pieces that have a more classic look to them. Of course never boring, just pieces that feel really perfectly you!
That being said we are so excited for dresses and tops from Valerie Dumaine (especially her best-selling style the “Jean” dress, now in this awesome faux-suede).
Also there are some really beautiful dresses in the most amazing prints from Dagg & Stacey, which is quickly becoming one of our favourite new lines…every last detail down to the perfect brass buttons on their fall pieces is so well-thought out and beautiful.
Also Birds of North America, she of the perfect fit dresses, will be making the coolest leggings to wear with all these dresses!
Have you changed and adapted over the years as you’ve grown?
Oh gosh yes!
We carry more Canadian designers now than when we first opened and we will continue to carry more and more (we are currently at about 85 per cent).
We are so proud of all the talent in our beautiful country!
We have also gotten much more involved in the online fashion and small business community. In 2006, the Internet was just starting to impact people’s shopping habits.
We have also adapted to the way Ottawa has changed, so many young person owned shops, restaurants and galleries. We are loving the energy in the city!
How do you use digital media to contribute to your company’s growth?
Well we love that people can get a feel for the store and the shop girls through these means. Boutique shopping can be intimidating and we hope that our social media is breaking down those barriers and making our shops inviting and approachable.
It is so important to us that people get out of the shopping malls and big box stores, they only move into towns to kill off locally owned and created businesses.
Whether you shop at Victoire or another one of the fantastic shops we call neighbours on Dalhousie Street or West Wellington, we only hope that reading about us gets you curious about what is here in Ottawa especially for you!
We love that through the Internet we can make better connections with our customers, because they are 100 per cent who we strive to please everyday and why we still exist five years on.
Tell us about what’s happening this Saturday, June 25th.
It’s going to be the biggest sale in Victoire history: $50 bins, past season’s collections at 50-70 per cent off, and the craziest part: This season’s collection is 40 per cent off from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., then 30 per cent off until 4:00 p.m. and then 20 per cent off until 6:00 p.m.
It’s our first ever “Beat the Clock” sale and we couldn’t think of a better way to reward our devoted and wonderful customers.
The Dalhousie shop will also be having a big ol’ party from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
The theme is “Dreams really do come true,” ’cause our customers have all made ours dreams come true (swoon).
We will have a tarot card reader, a Ouiji Board cake, a keg of Kitchissippi, 20 per cent off, and a lot of laughs!
Any advice for other local small business owners?
Call us, we should go out for drinks!!
Congratulations Regine and Katie! We love Victoire, and we hope to check out the shop this weekend. Do you have a favourite Ottawa-based fashion designer that you want to feature? Send us a note!