It’s true what they say: a dog really is a human’s best friend. Dogs are loyal, they are (usually) cuddly, and they somehow always know just when we need a little extra dose of licks or nuzzles. Indeed, our furry pals are often help us through some of life’s toughest moments. For Lara Osen, owner of Misch boutique on South Granville, a rescue dog changed everything.
Osen’s professional life began in the insurance industry, working for her father for 10 years as a broker. Although she loved being with her family (her sister is also in the business), Osen knew it wasn’t the path she was supposed to be on. “Insurance was that Sunday night pit,” she says over coffee at Bump and Grind just down the street from her store. “It was the moment on Sunday when you realized the weekend was over and the week was beginning. You felt really depressed and down.” At 31 years old, she began to think she had missed out on opportunities that would lead to something more suited to her interests.
That’s when Osen decided to adopt her dog, Shadow. “I realized every morning, he made me so happy,” Osen says, smiling in between sips of her latte. “He was the one motivator who made me think, ‘I want to do something where he comes to work with me and I can spend all day with him.’”
Shortly after Shadow’s arrival, Osen started to consider how exactly she wanted to spend her days. She loved fashion, and her constant work travel to Toronto, Chicago, and New York City made her realize Vancouver lacked diverse contemporary womenswear shopping. With that idea, she instantly walked into her sister’s office and quit. “It was so awesome,” Osen says with a laugh. “People always say, ‘Was that scary?’ But I didn’t have a fear of failure. I knew that I was passionate enough and hardworking enough that I would make it work.”
Then she was off to the races. She flew to New York to buy inventory and began scouting out the perfect location for her dream boutique—a space both customers and Shadow would love. When a deal for a storefront on West 4th fell through, Osen turned to South Granville and lo and behold, she found the perfect spot: a charming old bookstore on Granville and 14th that needed a lot of work but had the potential to become something special. Misch (Osen’s childhood nickname) moved in and opened its doors in 2004.
The intimate shop is home to a number of beautiful creations and talented designers. Along the walls hang handmade linen dresses that embody the luxurious style of Three Graces London, timeless and feminine Italian fabrics that come with the style of Forte Forte, and sophisticated bohemian ensembles that are easily recognizable as Australian label Zimmermann. The assortment of fashion, also including Top Expert designed by a fellow Vancouver native, is carefully selected to allow every woman to express her creative side. And details are everywhere: branches of baby’s breath are intertwined gently between gold Satomi Kawakita rings and beach-perfect Maison Michel hats stacked on top of one another. Despite having no previous retail experience, Osen has managed to make Misch one of the top independent fashion destinations for women in Vancouver today.
Eighty per cent of Misch’s clients are repeaters, a reflection of the community that the store has been able to create. “When I first started, I wasn’t aware of how many amazing, strong, cool women there are in this world,” Osen muses. Judges, doctors, dentists, lawyers, and “kickass stay-home moms” all shop here, and it is Misch’s job to make each one of them feel good about the clothes they choose.
This is Osen’s happy place. “I try to say it to as many people as I can: ‘Don’t do anything you don’t like,’” she says. “I know that awful feeling of doing something you don’t like, and now I know that feeling of doing something you absolutely love.” Although Shadow died last year, his spirit stays with Osen each day, reminding her that joy is always worth pursuing.
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