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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, but the
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 cash.

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 coming back.

"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 out there."

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