Interview with Jackie O’Brien, Owner of Jonathan + Olivia
Jackie O’Brien is the owner of the super cool and trendy Toronto boutique Jonathan + Olivia. Having always known that she wanted to work in fashion and eventually be her own boss, the first Jonathan+ Olivia store was opened in Vancouver in 2005. Just a few years later, in August 2008, Jackie opened up shop in the big T.O. The store carries top designer brands such as Alexander Wang, Rag & Bone, and Zero + Maria Cornejo. Located at 49 Ossington avenue, Jonathan + Olivia recently made local headlines for being the first store to introduce Topshop to the Canadian market (which will officially happen this upcoming Saturday June 19).
I asked Jackie questions about the store, who her favourite designers are, and what advice she has about opening up a boutique.
Q. What made you decide to open up a boutique in Toronto?
“I think Torontonians have a genuine interest in style, however don’t buy into fads or fast trends. I wanted to introduce Toronto to new and upcoming designers who may not have had a forum to show and sell their work”.
Q. What in particular drew you to the [Ossington] location?
“I saw the potential that Ossington Ave had. I knew that within a short time it was going to become a new ‘destination‘ area of the city. This part of Toronto is youthful, full of energy and has a lot to offer”.
Q. Where did the name of the store come from?
“The store is named after my niece and nephew!”
Q. What are the daily challenges that you face as a store owner?
“Being a business owner everyday is different; I am a buyer, a manager – the list goes on. I have never backed down from a challenge, and enjoy the variety it offers”.
Q. Did you always know that opening up a store was something you wanted to do?
“I always knew that I wanted to work in fashion and I wanted to work for myself”.
Q. If you were not doing this (running a store), what do you think you would be doing right now?
“I try not to think of ‘what could be‘ if I had done something else. I am exactly where I should be, and where I want to be”.
Q. Aside from the holiday season, what other time of the year is the busiest?
“We’re lucky to have lots of new and exciting projects going on year round, so we’re busy all of the time!”
Q. What is the craziest or most unique experience you have had in the store?
“Jonathan+Olivia introducing TOPSHOP to Canada has been a very exciting project to take on, and I feel very privileged to be able to offer a much coveted international brand to a whole new audience”.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who aspires to open up their own boutique?
“Have a strong vision of what you want and where you want to be, but be prepared to do the work”.
Q. Which Canadian designer(s) are your favourite?
“I think that the designers I carry at Jonathan+Olivia are a reflection of my personal style and interest. We carry so many strong designers both local and international – it would be unfair of me to choose just one!”