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Start-Up by Design: One-on-one with Gabrielle Roy, founder of Stitch & Stone

November 06, 2018 4 min read

Start-Up by Design: One-on-one with Gabrielle Roy, founder of Stitch & Stone

When Gabrielle Roy feels like dressing up, she doesn’t want to look like everyone else – and frankly, neither do her customers.

“I’ve always had a very eclectic, tomboy-type style. Some days, I dress like a lumberjack and other days, like a free-sprited, boho mama – but I always feel like 100% me,” says the owner of Stitch & Stone, a modern bohemian-inspired fashion boutique that carries a distinctly Canadian vibe.

“When you shop here, I want you to be inspired, and that starts with a unique collection of clothing and accessories that will help you express your individual style,” Gabrielle says.

Stitch & Stone began as a series of successful pop-ups before setting up permanent shop in downtown Sudbury in 2015. Today, Gabrielle employs 24 people between two locations (58 Cedar St. and 1332 Kingsway) that are truly one of a kind.   

“I knew that when I had the opportunity to open a store, I was going to create a space that I absolutely loved working in and that people would find as inviting as walking into their best friend’s bedroom closet,” she says. “I imagined a place where people of all ages would not only feel at home but be able to lose themselves in the moment even for a short period of time.”

Richly layered in a variation of colours, patterns and textures, both of Stitch & Stone’s locations tells a story – the kind with plenty of feels. Gabrielle says the intention was to create a warm, welcoming experience for everyone who steps into their space, believing that shopping should always be a positive, empowering moment for all women.

Gabrielle, what inspired you to start Stitch & Stone?

While adjusting to my new “mom bod” after two kids, I found it difficult to not only find clothes that fit properly but a place where I actually enjoyed shopping. The stores I visited seemed too young, too fancy, too expensive or they just didn’t make me feel good about myself. So I set out to create the type of business I believed was lacking and that other women might be longing for as well.


Were you always so fashion-forward?

I would say that I was always very creative. When I was younger, I spent much of my time sewing scrunchies, pants and backpacks that I would sell at my school. If I wasn’t sewing, I would be in my room drawing or painting – at one time, I dreamt of being a cartoonist for Disney! As an adult, I now get to do all of these things now and call it work.


Who is the typical Stitch & Stone customer?

I think she’s a lot like me. I grew up in a small northern town, moved to Sudbury for school, ran two businesses while working full-time, got married and had two kids. Then one day, I woke up and decided to do something that would make my soul happy. Now these aspects of my life experience are reflected in my business. I also think it’s why I really connect with our customers. At the end of the day, we are all working incredibly hard and taking on multiple roles as mothers, wives, bosses, co-workers, students, etc. I totally get that.


Do you believe design and decor enhance the shopping experience for customers?

Design and decor are definitely key to a great customer experience – believe it or not, they might even be more important than the product mix at first! Just think about it: you can walk into two stores that carry the exact same merchandise, yet get a terrible vibe from one and have an amazing experience in the other. It all depends on your environment and the feeling you get in each space. For me, once I have the store’s design concept nailed down, I can focus on curating merchandise and let the rest all fall into place.


How important is colour and texture in your design decisions?

They’re extremely important. As a retailer, I try to choose neutral colours as a backdrop so that the merchandise is truly the star of the show. To add layers of warmth and visual interest, we bring in texture, whether with white-washed brick or plywood, rough-cut lumber and even mod podge. Natural elements like wood and stone carry an energy that really warms up a space.


What’s your favourite colour?

Purple has been my all-time favourite since I was a kid; it just makes me so happy and that’s why it pops up on all of our branding for Stitch & Stone. If we’re talking about paint, two of my favourite colours right now are Collingwood OC-28 and Iron Mountain 2134-30 from Benjamin Moore. The gals at Barrydowne Paint were wizards in helping choose colours for our locations, and they really nailed it with these ones!

 
Are you more of a trendsetter or trend follower when sourcing products to carry in store?

We definitely march to the beat of our own drum, and we love to hear customers say how much they appreciate being able to find unique items in our store. It’s a priority for us to carry Canadian designs and Canadian-made apothecary, accessories, jewelry and gifts. When sourcing out new products, we make a special effort to seek out brands that are ethically produced, which means they are cruelty-free, made of natural, organic materials or when possible, vegan friendly. It’s the right thing to do, plus we want people to feel good about what they buy from us.


Visiting Sudbury? Shop Stitch & Stone’s two locations at 58 Cedar Street and 1332 Kingsway or browse and buy online at stitchandstone.ca.

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