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Most people would say Shopgirls is the creative expression of founder and owner Michelle Germain, whose passion for fashion is at the fleshy beating heart of all we stand for. Michelle, on the other hand, would credit the Shopgirls team for bringing her vision to life by adding their style and personality to the shop. And she might be right. We’ve got A LOT of personality.
Shopgirls showcases Canadian-designed women’s clothing and accessories in a way that brings out the bangin’ in every body, shape, and size. We also carry select housewares and paper goods – all from Canadian designers we’re madly in love with. You can find us at our original and much-loved home base, 1342 Queen St. W., on the corner of Queen St. and Brock Ave.
For this reason, comfort-first brands such as Yoga Jeans and C'est Moi "fit" in perfectly at Shopgirls. Yoga Jeans is known for starting the athleisure denim trend, and we offer the biggest selection in the country, with over 11,000 happy bums served. C’est Moi produces a wide selection of those basic essential layers that every woman should own in multiple colours, so we figured we should carry the entire collection.
Shopgirls was founded in 2007 by Michelle Germain, an avid fashion fanatic with a body shape that never quite fit the fashion mould.
A lifelong fan and supporter of Canadian designers, Michelle had been working in marketing roles with some of Canada's biggest fashion retailers, including Holt Renfrew and Hudson’s Bay Company. She was motivated to become an entrepreneur following the arrival of her daughter Stellarose. Her time home with baby inspired her to put down entrepreneurial roots in her own neighbourhood, and motherhood made her realize that body positivity had to be part of the message.
Two weeks before the end of her maternity leave, Michelle signed a 5-year lease and opened Shopgirls in Parkdale. At the time, Parkdale was an up-and-coming neighbourhood on Queen St West in Toronto, but it’s now known as the second-most fashionable street in the world (according to this article in Vogue). Michelle’s foresight helped build the neighbourhood’s rep as a mecca of independent fashion.
Shopgirls’ Queen St. windows may turn heads because of the eye-catching items on display there, but Michelle’s mission goes deeper than that. She aims to help women build “wow” wardrobes, and that means offering the basics that make the fashion pieces in an outfit really pop.
To that end, Michelle and her friends, Andrea McPhail and Maggie Murphy, teamed up in 2014 to launch a line of trusty staples called Ninety-Eight. So named because it aims to serve the 98 per cent of women who (proudly!) don’t have fashion-model bodies, the line offers work wear with a twist and is available in fashion stores across Canada.
Motherhood continues to inspire Michelle, and body positivity is ingrained in everything she does. So don't be surprised if you hear Stellarose or her younger sister Zara repeating the “love your body” mantra at the shop.