Need to be social results in new shop

Painting too lonely for Mia Boutique’s Sandra Muscat

Painting too lonely for Mia Boutique’s Sandra Muscat

Sandra Muscat’s lifelong love of fashion can be traced back to her mother, who was a professional seamstress and taught her to appreciate design and fabrics when she was still a young girl.

Although Muscat’s career led her in many other directions, like marketing, business and art, she says she’s always felt called back to retail.

Her varied experience culminated with the June opening of Mia Boutique, her Junction showroom that has an extensive mix of new, vintage and pre-owned clothes, shoes, purses, jewellery and accessories. This comes after almost a decade’s worth of time spent as a painter.

“I felt the need to build something,” she explains. “My kids are grown and gone from home and I have a lot of time to myself and painting was a really isolating experience and I’m a very social person.”

Muscat says she hopes to expand her store by offering more personalized shopping services and hosting special events with specific themes like how to rock the little black dress from day to night or how pick clothes to suit different body types.

For now, the main idea behind her store is simple: It resembles her own closet.

“I’ve got everything from $12 dresses to $250 dresses and everything in between and that’s what my closet looks like and I think that’s what most women will shop for and why not be able to get it in one place?” she asks.

Muscat, a self-proclaimed bargain-hunter, says she never tires of the thrill of the find — the excitement that comes with tracking down something like a coveted and rare designer piece, at a fraction of the price.

“The store really is full of unique finds. I think it suits the person who really loves the hunt and loves to find that great thing that no one else has,” she says.

She says she’s constantly searching for new stock such as designer samples and one-of-a-kind items, which she hunts down from a roster of contacts in the city, New York and San Francisco.

“So it’s this really odd mix of merchandise,” Muscat says. “Most retailers don’t do all of those, most will focus in one area.”

As a longtime Junction resident, Muscat knew she wanted to set up shop in the area because it’s close to home and because she loves the neighbourhood’s artsy and funky feel, which she says captures who she is.

Muscat actually secured her Dundas Street West location through her art connections, having been at the site for several art installations in the past, which she says was a blessing after her initial venue fell through.

Although she has taken a break from painting to pursue this new endeavour, Muscat says she continues to be artistic.

“It really is a fantastic creative outlet,” she says. “There’s the creativity of pulling the business component together and how to make that work, but there’s also the merchandising. I’m really focused on design and style, so there’s a huge creative component there and I really feel like I’m still creating — just in a different medium.”

About this article:

By: Ann Ruppenstein
Posted: Jul 28 2011 12:33 pm
Filed in: Business
Edition: Toronto