Let’s be real, we are not planning to hit the malls anytime soon. But locally-based Smithery Style has adapted its business to the changing landscape due to COVID19. While they have enjoyed a steady following of women who have relied on their personal styling services, they, like many others have had to rethink how to move forward. Our needs and wants are evolving and adapting as well, so what’s next?
Many of us are all too familiar with standing in front of our closet with that “I’ve got nothing to wear!” panic in our eyes. We’re still doing that only it’s a bit different now as video conferencing becomes the new norm. That’s where Smithery comes into play by taking that stress out of the equation and sourcing items that fit well and that were also well-made. They’ve made styling accessible and approachable for more women and we’re here for it. Smithery has also been seen offering style advice on CityLine, CHCH-TV and many other media outlets.
What makes them stand out is their starting point. Head to the site to find out your body shape – and we’re not talking apples and pears. We are not fruit. Instead, they define shapes by letters. I’m an H. You can find out your body shape now on their site and then dive right into their online shop if you don’t any further advice.
Also consider your lifestyle – are you looking for fresh new work from home pieces and need items that are more versatile? Are you stuck in a style rut and don’t know how to get out of it? Are you on Zoom calls that require you to be “on” camera all the time? They can offer up some great advice!
When we visited with them last year in their pop up studio space downtown Toronto, we could easily see how Smithery Style’s business would be a go-to for many women. The space was comfortable as though you just walked into your BFF’s massive bright, spacious, and dreamy closet. Visual boards offered inspiration on how they would pull various options together with images of women like you and me. Rolling racks of clothing from a variety of brands were categorized based on body shape so options weren’t overwhelming.
We had a chance to catch up with Mavis Huntley, Founder and “Chief Stylesmith” to learn what’s been happening since lockdown and how the business continues to evolve…
How has COVID19 impacted your business?
I do recognize that Smithery was lucky enough to have a pre-existing online presence when this started, but in terms of sales we typically have a 60% in-person (style sessions at our Whitby location combined with pop-up events), 40% online split. So, right away I re-forecasted the rest of the year to be 50% of what we originally had planned. And what that meant is that I needed to cut our costs by 50% as well, which wasn’t a fun exercise which included losing 2 members of a very tight knit team.
What changes have you made and what are we expecting moving forward?
We started focusing all of our efforts on our online platforms, showing up consistently every day through IG stories. We decided to give away more of the body shape information than we ever had before, showcasing the different shapes as well as the tips and tricks we normally give through style sessions. And we came up with some creative ways for our customers to have fun with us such as virtual online auctions and themed virtual happy hours, which for us have been so fulfilling because we actually get to put a face to the name that we see come through on the site.
We have gotten such a huge, positive response from our customers. And these were all things we had wanted to do, but our attention and focus were always split in so many ways.
So as the weeks have passed and we’ve fallen in love with what we are doing in the online space, we have decided to permanently close our retail space in Whitby.
What’s been the silver lining?
To be honest our goals for 2020 were to increase our online sales, pop-up around the country and finally move forward on a little secret dream of ours! We don’t know why it took something like this to really dial it back and become laser-focused on those things?!
Do you have any style tips for us at this time? Many will continue to work from home, what are some ways to refresh our wardrobe with this in mind?
Invest in good t-shirts.
Don’t think that the person on the other end of that video screen won’t notice your faded, stretched out tee. They will! By investing in basic staples like a good tee, that you can layer on jackets, blazers, cardigans over – you will not only extend your wardrobe options but feel like you have upgraded it too (but in the most comfortable work-from-home way)!
Alabama T-shirt – buttery soft and not too deep of a neckline.
How about colours and patterns? Should we be concerned about what works well in front of the zoom lens in conference calls?
Coming from an advertising background, where we made TV commercials for a living, we have always been conscious of what we are wearing on camera.
Stay away from pure white, black and red options as well as stripes. The camera has a hard time balancing those colours – unless you add some contrast. For example a white shirt under a blue cardigan. Red as a secondary colour in a top.
Pastels tend to work well and we have always found that blue and green tend to pop!
Another tip, avoid jewelry or accessories that move, make noise or could hit your microphone.
Are there a couple pieces that you look forward to adding to your wardrobe this summer?
The Denim Jacket
By adding a 3rd piece, you create an outfit and feel totally pulled together. The denim jacket will be the go-to this Summer as wardrobes and the environment call for a more relaxed approach to style.
Lindsay Denim – not too short, not too long, not too fitted and not too loose.
One and Done Dresses and Rompers
An easy and comfortable way to upgrade from those college sweats you have been living in that doesn’t require a lot of thought or planning ahead.
Eli Romper, Bambi Dress – both of these have elastic waists 😉
What are some of the brands that you like to work with and why?
We’ve always treated the brands we work with as real partners and that has really served us well as we navigate this change together. We’ve been able to work with them and the wholesalers that we work with in a way that no-body is losing because the effect has touched all of us.
Stacey and her team at Jade Sales have been so supportive through this by providing their retailers’ documents on how to market or start a store online and creating databases of images that we can use in the absence of being able to shoot our own.
When realizing that retailers may not be able to afford to take their Spring orders, Amir from Pink Martini offered drop shipping and even gave a step-by-step tutorial on how to set that up on the backend of your store.
Gentle Fawn, a brand from Vancouver has been one of our go-to’s for years and during this we have leaned on them for restocks of pieces that are more appropriate for the time.
And then of course a fan favourite (also from Vancouver) and something we can’t keep in stock right now are Smash + Tess rompers and lounge wear.
How can our readers learn more about your business and support you?
Smithery is an online shop that helps women shop their shape. We curate the most flattering cuts for each body shape, give tips and tricks for dressing for the different shapes and model the clothes on REAL women representing different shapes and sizes.
We pop-up across the country to offer one-on-one style sessions or for $20 you can sign up for an online session where a stylist will send you an email to help you figure out your body shape, give you tips and tricks for dressing for that shape and a list of recommended pieces just for you based on your answers to our 5-minute style questionnaire.
Check us out at smitherystyle.com or follow along on IG @smitherystyle
(FYI….there’s a great sale happening online now)