From the moment I first stepped into Doll Factory by Damzels in 2007, I knew it was my kind of store; a meld of vintage 1940’s pin up styles with a rock n roll edge. When you arrive, you’re always greeted by a big smile from owners Kelly Freeman and Rory Lindo who will happily help you in your search for that perfect frock.
Kelly and Rory met when they were sewing machine neighbours at George Brown’s fashion program two decades ago and instantly connected with their similar style sensibilities. Soon after the Damzels in this Dress label was born.
Their line did incredibly well, showing at Toronto Fashion Week and selling wholesale to numerous boutiques. In 2007, they made the jump into retail and opened their first boutique in Toronto’s Leslieville and opened their second location in Roncesvalles this year. Now with two stores in Toronto, downtown gals don’t have to venture far to find that perfect party dress.
I caught up with the duo to find out a little more about their journey from celebrated women’s wear designers to local retail stars.
On knowing it was the right time to move into retail
Throughout our wholesale career, we regularly participated in retail type events like The Clothing Show and our own in studio where we sold our dresses direct to the public; they were always a huge success. When an amazing Queen [Street East] store front location came up right in the heart of Leslieville, we couldn’t pass up. We picked up other dress brands with a like-minded aesthetic, and Doll Factory by Damzels was born.
On deciding which other lines to carry
You can’t be everything to everyone, so we focus on having the best selection of pin up, rockabilly, and vintage inspired dresses in the city. If someone is looking for a dress for pretty much any occasion, they’ll find it at one of our stores.
On a successful business partnership
We’ve been working together for 20 years and are extremely fortunate that we are friends as well as business partners. Ultimately, we trust in each other’s decisions, and balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
On their new Roncesvalles Boutique
We really wanted to hit both ends of the city; the Roncesvalles area is very similar to Leslieville in a lot of ways. We love being part of a community and building a relationship with our customers. The shopping experience at one of our stores is very comfortable, and fun, like shopping with a good friend. Being in a strong neighbourhood allows us to focus on knowing our clientele, and providing awesome dresses for them.
Doll Factory carries stop Staring, Trashy Diva, Hell Bunny, Pin Up Couture, and their in-house brand, Damzels in this Dress. Prices range from $60 – $199, with the average dress retailing for $110, shopping sprees are always guilt-free.
Visit them online at damzels.com.