Your Open Closet exists to provide a body positive undergarment shopping experience for all genders. Their mission is to create a safe and welcoming space where people know their freedom of self-expression is valued. We’re grateful to have such neighbours as Your Open Closet so we decided to let our clients know that this amazing store exists. Lesley McHale and Ann Boone are the owners of the store. Their names might sound familiar – we introduced them and their other venue, Womyns’ Ware, back in March. This time we asked them to tell us about Your Open Closet and we’re happy to share it below.
– Where did the idea of the business come from and when?
The idea to open an undergarment store came from requests from customers over at Womyns’ Ware, our sex-positive sex toy store at 896 Commercial Drive. Over the years, our customers had asked us to bring in products other than sex toys, such as chest binders and quality underwear that accommodate packers or STP devices. Reasonable requests. It also wasn’t unusual for folks to pop their heads in the door looking for various other types of underwear and lingerie items. Clearly, there was a need for undergarments in our neighbourhood! Bring on the bra fittings!
Our customers often tell us that they enjoy the safe and welcoming shopping space we provide at Womyns’ Ware. Since there was a big open space available across the cue street at 902 Commercial Drive, we decided to create another safe space where all bodies could enjoy a positive shopping experience.
– How is what you do distinctive?
We opened our doors in November 2017 with a limited selection of items we knew our customers were having a hard time finding in brick and mortar stores for various reasons. We were solving specific challenges we knew already existed for our customers. Then, we put up a sign on the counter asking people to tell us their thoughts about what they wanted to see in the store. We had conversations with every person that walked through the door, took requests and set about finding what they were looking for. We asked people to let us know about local designers so we could support local economy and cut down on the footprint. It worked! There is talent in Canada, to be sure
There is a noticeable paucity of pictures of bodies wearing clothing on our walls. Folks don’t need to be assaulted with messages about how they should look.
– What kinds of things does your business do for the community?
The community where we do business is incredible and we are presented with many opportunities to help out. Since funding can be a challenge for local educational institutes, local artists, performers and sports teams, Your Open Closet and Womyns’Ware gift bags often show up at events for silent auctions, raffles and prizes.
– What are your most remarkable and inspiring projects?
Our customers are our biggest inspiration. They are brave, generous with their and truly wanted to be a part of providing solutions to challenges many folks are experiencing. When we were finally at the point where we could start to create our own line of items, they offered their time, ideas and bodies in order to help us create gender affirming prototypes.
Photos: Georgia Straight, Charlie Smith