“It doesn’t feel like five years, which is crazy,” gushes Rebecca Rawlinson, owner and founder of the Kitsilano women’s boutique Rebecca Bree. The neighbourhood is lined with cozy book shops and eclectic mom n’ pop specialty stores—a sharp contrast to the Rebecca Bree storefront, with its signature blend of pastel pinks and blues. A little bit of sparkle on the edge of Kitsilano, Rebecca Bree Boutique has provided the fashion-forward women of Vancouver with a tasteful mix of contemporary and feminine pieces since 2012.
“I always wanted to open a store. It was always in the back of my mind,” says Rawlinson. But before dreams became reality, she attended fashion school in Montreal, and worked her way up in a retail setting before managing a Club Monaco. Years later, she and her husband made the move to the West Coast, where she landed a job at Vancouver’s Holt Renfrew location as a personal stylist. During a five-year tenure at the department store, Rawlinson worked with several eminent brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Oscar de la Renta, and Elie Tahari. She enjoyed the job, but knew that deep down she was destined to open a store of her own.
When it was finally time to take the plunge, Rawlinson originally planned on going the e-commerce route. “I got the idea when I was reading The New York Times,” she recalls. “Natalie Massenet at that time had sold Net-a-Porter for a huge amount of money, and I thought, ‘Maybe I should do an online thing?’ So, I started a business plan and was almost done, when I woke up in the middle of the night and remembered I would be in a warehouse the whole time. I wouldn’t be with people and I wouldn’t be doing what I love most: styling clients and making people feel great.”
Rebecca Bree brings wardrobe staples and effortlessly chic pieces sourced from quality brands around the world—something that Rawlinson observed Vancouver was missing at the time. “When I would go to boutiques in Vancouver, I would see all the same stuff in every store, and it really frustrated me because I didn’t really want to dress like everybody else,” she explains. “We focus on bringing in lines that are obscure.” Some highlights from the shop include contemporary blazers and jackets, everyday crisp button-downs, cotton sweaters, feminine footwear, and during the warmer months, floral dresses. Customers can sift through one- or two-of-a-kind pieces from high-end labels like Australia’s Camilla and Marc, England’s Joseph, and For Love & Lemons from Los Angeles.
Inside the fitting rooms, beautiful gold-rimmed mirrors and a snug seating area emulate a 1920s powder suite. Back out at service desk, the marble counter plays host to pink jellybeans sitting in a quaint, antique dish; behind, a buttercream yellow and pink tart flower arrangement surrounds the store logo. The entire space takes on a very Parisian aesthetic, which is something Rawlinson wanted from the beginning: “I’m inspired by Paris and that vintage vibe that you feel when you’re shopping there. You want to look at everything, you want to touch everything, and you want it to just be that feminine experience.”
Rawlinson’s ability to retain loyal customers is not only because of her store’s exceptional brands and beautiful space, but also due to her professional approach to the overall customer experience. “Our service is honest and approachable,” she says. “It’s not a pushy sales environment. It’s about making people feel great and making people’s lives easier.” Rawlinson provides her clients with style advice on what she thinks will make them feel the most comfortable and confident in their own skin. It’s not about making a sale. It’s about sending each and every customer out into the world feeling empowered and ready to take on the day.
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