Twisted Sisters Boutik
is a kooky little shop with a definite big-city vibe, even if it is
located on Water Street in Newfoundland's capital.
The twisted sisters are Tennille and Jaclyn Ashley, and they opened
five months ago to sell clothing by emerging Canadian designers, some of
it fairly offbeat, such as mesh shirts, dresses and skirts with all
sorts of pockets, Velcro features and zipper collars; military
camouflage sweats with pink flowers; and teensy florescent tube tops.
This tiny boite wouldn't stand out on Toronto's Queen Street West,
concept is pretty much unheard of here.
The sisters had trouble selling the idea to investors,
but instead of shelving it they moved back into the family home to save
money (now they share a bedroom). Tennille, 27, moonlights as an
electrolysist, while Jaclyn, 25, works as a hairstylist to bring in some
And what of their taste in clothing? Do they have the same fashion
sense? "We are similar, but our shoes are different," Tennille
says. "I don't like her shoes."
They say they were inspired by "very boutiquey" stores they
saw during stints off the island. "We'd look at the clothing and
take cards and kind of joke about starting our own place at home, but we
didn't really know how to do it," says Tennille.
Then, while visiting an older sister in Ottawa, they chatted with the
young owner of a boutique called Amuse: "She was actually a
hairstylist who decided to open a clothing store as well," Jaclyn
jumps in. "It was so cool. So we left there and walked down the
street and Tennille said, 'Want to open up a clothing store?' And I was,
like, 'Yes, let's do it.' She made it seem more realistic for us."
They were encouraged by the success of Wenches & Rogues, which
opened just down the street in 1994 with a similar concept and shaky
beginning. Unlike that store, however, which sells established Canadian
designers, Twisted Sisters is more about promoting newcomers. It's all
edgy streetwear geared to a younger set. When I was there, a pierced
teen bounced into the store saying she had saved up her allowance for a
black T- shirt with a skull and crossbones on the front.
"We try to find labels that are not as well known,
especially here," Tennille says. "We like to find young
designers with interesting detailing. We are not conservative."
They carry Castledream and Bodybag by Jude from Montreal; i clothing
co. in Toronto (which makes a great red halter-top dress, $115); and
Blackhole from Vancouver. It's mostly women's clothing, but there is a
small men's section to test the market. There are funky bags and locally
made jewellery as well.
They carry only a few sizes in each item to allow for quick turnover
(and also to prevent customers from bumping into one another in the same
outfit in the small community). There's just enough stock to keep people
"We have so many people coming in and saying they had been
waiting and waiting for a place like this to come along in St.
John's," Jaclyn says. "I mean, there is so much more than Gap
They admit not everyone wants their offbeat wares. But everyone loves
the candy necklaces in the big jar on a shelf and, of course, the name
of the store.
"Everyone who has a sister has used the expression," Jaclyn
says. "There are a lot of twisted sisters out there."
(So Newfoundlanders abroad, a new place to shop the next time you
visit St. John’s.)
By: Susanne Hiller For the National Post