THUNDER BAY - Carly Vieira has always loved thrifting – influenced by her mother, she started going to flea markets at a young age. “I just love it for the hunt,” she says. Over the years her growing collection of vintage clothes got too big for her home, since she couldn’t resist buying clothes even if they weren’t the right fit for her. “I need an outlet for this,” she thought and started her store, naming it Jewels of Crown after the street she lived on for seven years.
Now she has expanded beyond the market, opening a “studio/boutique” on the top floor of 278 Bay street. The studio is open only on Fridays and Saturdays (her store at the Thunder Bay Country Market is still open during regular market hours) and is not just a place where people can browse and shop, but also a “home base” for her business, since the country market is so tightly packed. Here in this spacious bright studio she can alter pieces to make them more wearable, organize her merchandise and take photos for Instagram and Facebook.
Vieria gets some of her wares locally at estate sales and from people cleaning out a family member’s house, but she always makes a point of checking out thrift stores whenever she travels. Last year she was in Europe and filled her luggage with unique pieces she found there. She’s not interested in selling brand new clothes, but will buy and sell modern pieces that are of good quality. (She defines modern as 21st century, while vintage usually means it’s from the 80s and 90s or earlier.) While she loves the styling and aesthetic aspect of vintage clothes, she also believes upcycling and reusing old clothes is the most sustainable way to do fashion. Since trends go in cycles, she is passionate about finding the original pieces fueling the current trend. “The original is so much better than the remake made-in-China version, made in the thousands,” she explains.
“I want to change people’s thought process,” Vieira says. “I like to target girls that shop at all these places that are really trendy and they want new things. Girls that would say they wouldn’t ever wear second-hand. I can find them the same piece (that’s trending), but it’s going to be much more sustainable a source. Sustainable fashion is a good thing.”
Personally, she likes fashion from the 70s, but loves mixing eras and mixing old with new. “I want all my things to be wearable, it’s not costume vintage,” she says. “I say that I curate, because every piece is handpicked – I don’t order lots online. I see a piece, and I think this could be cool for someone, it’s a good quality piece and it’s made well. Those are the things I look for when I curate. I care about every piece.”
Her current goal is to get her online store going. Balancing family (Vieira has a three-year-old), a part time nursing job and Jewels of Crown is a challenge, but she believes this city is the right place to be. “Thunder Bay is really great about shopping local, supporting local and I feel like there’s a really strong support system. I want to follow my passion and I feel like this is a doable city to do that,” she says.