October 8, 2009
career karma – Crystal Rickard
Carolyn Rohaly introduced me to Crystal Rickard back when we were working on Rags and Mags, and of course, I was instantly enchanted – look at that smile. Somehow, Crystal is even more sweet and friendly in person than she looks. She is the store manager at Pam Chorley’s Fashion Crimes – Queen Street West’s dress destination. Full disclosure – was instrumental in encouraging me to develop my sponsorship program – of which Fashion Crimes was the first participant.
I asked her a few questions about her career and her other interests.
You are the manager of Fashion Crimes. What does it take to keep a lively, popular fashion boutique running smoothly?
The responsibilities of keeping this multi-faceted machine running smoothly involve non-stop attention to every detail, crazy organization, and super-star flexibility. The nature of the boutique and label pose new unexpected opportunities and challenges every day. I strive to handle these situations with an open-mind and a resourceful manner. Exuding a touch of grace is a quality to keep in mind too – it is Fashion after all!
One of the coolest things about Fashion Crimes is your terrific team of girls in dresses, they are always so helpful and friendly and always seem to be having a great time.. Where do you find them? Do you have any tips for those who would love to work at FC?
I love these stylists. They are incredibly original and always inspired. I am living a dream come true by being able to work with these people every day!
I have occasionally recruited staff through industry referrals or job postings; however most of our staff start by hand-delivering applications. A strong individual style perspective, loads of personality and a sincere eagerness to work hard and learn the ropes will get you in the door here… I will always make room for the right styling consultant, even if we aren’t necessarily looking for new staff.
What is it like working on Toronto’s hippest retail drag, Queen Street West?
Queen Street West is a major tourist destination of Toronto, so there is always lots of interesting people and a great energy. Over the course of the last 6 years that I have been working here there have been SO many changes in terms of local business – I would have never imagined in my wildest dreams that an H&M would end up on Queen West!
The culture of the street has evolved with all of these changes, so I do occasionally miss the neighbors who are no longer here, (Barney’s, The Stem, Chocky’s, Pages, The 360, Le Select Bistro, VICE Mag, Urban Mode, – just to name a few!). With the changes, however, Fashion Crimes stands out more and more as the unique establishment that it is against the “Mall” stores. These massive corporate retailers are here to advertise, so they essentially lure wanderers who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to discover a locally-owned designer boutique. All-in-all, though, my favourite part of being on Queen West is the opportunity to brag about working for the boutique that started it all – as FC was the first fashion store to take-up shop on Queen West back in the day.
You get to dress a lot of ladies for special occasions – sometimes famous ladies. What is the trick to matching the right dress to the right lady at the right time?
The journey to find the right dress begins with tapping into the personality of the woman who will be wearing it. Upon compiling the selection, it is important to keep in mind Pam’s freshest pieces, the stylists’ assessment of the designs that will flatter the client’s body-type, and her comfort level. It is also fun to encourage the client to be daring and try something that on the hanger they wouldn’t normally choose for themselves. I can’t describe how incredibly fulfilling it is as a stylist to witness the excitement of someone who has discovered her dream dress… the look of total confidence and enthusiasm makes for such a beautiful woman.
Besides your day job, you’re a creator in your own right with your own studio. What sort of projects do you like to work on?
SO many fun ideas and projects come from my studio environment! I get to venture in there everyday, as the space serves as a closet to my abundance of dresses and studio all at once. Unfortunately I am unable to devote the time that I would like to for various creative projects due to the heavy workload at the store. It is extremely therapeutic to express my artistic ideas though when I get the chance or in the very least to make patterns. I LOVE pattern drafting. Some of my projects lately have included wedding dresses, garter belts and most recently creating an outfit that I designed for myself the night before my friends wedding. You never know when the creative force will strike!