Closet Couture Boutique opened its doors on July 29, 2013 through a grant from the Trillium Foundation. The store is unique, as high-end items are donated to Nova Vita which is a shelter for women who are fleeing domestic violence situations or homelessness. All other merchandise that doesn’t fit the needs of Nova Vita and Closet Couture Boutique are shared with many other community resources.
When the donated items arrive at the boutique, volunteers and employees inventory, steam, tag and display one-hundred to three-hundred pieces of clothing, each week. The cost of the clothing reflects the brand name but remains low, because part of the store's mandate is to make great fashion accessible to everyone. All proceeds, after the over-head cost of the boutique, goes to Nova Vita's shelter and many outreach programs.
Shar Schmidt has been the store manager of Closet Couture Boutique since February 2015. She started in the fall of 2013 as a volunteer and was later hired in March of 2014, as part-time staff. Her current responsibilities are to hire and train staff, manage inventory and customer service.
“I wish I had this job all my life,” says Schmidt.
Her previous job experience has typically been retail management; selling everything from children's clothing and shoes, pets and related items such as high-end jewellery and giftware.
Schmidt loves the customers and the professionals she gets to work with.
“Because of who we are, people feel comfortable sharing their journeys with us," Schmidt says.
Schmidt and her team love to chat and make their customers feel respected and honoured.
“Many retail jobs feel empty; it's about making the buck, selling the product...but Closet Couture is all about empowering people to help themselves,” she explained.
Many walk into Closet Couture Boutique and feel “cheered up” by the timely customer service.