A STYLIST’S EYE SEEKS THE GORGEOUS GOODS FOR THIS DUNDAS WEST BOUTIQUE
Story by Jacqueline Flaggiello
Photos by Ashley Capp
What started out as Nicole Manek’s quest to find a boutique that encompassed both an eclectic selection of quality brands and an array of vintage gems, turned out to be her own personal pursuit of creating an ideal shopping experience. Her new store, Life of Manek, is a nod to her personal vision, creative sensibilities and passion for, well, dare I say it? Fashion.
The interior of the boutique evokes a crisp and contemporary art deco vibe; palm leave plants are perched along the front display, while colour-coded garments outline the interior – ideal for the efficient, wandering eye. As we sit among the exotic décor, Manek’s energetic personality instantly comes through in her eccentric yet chic style. Dressed in a deep-hued striped silk tank and paisley heirloom pants, it is clear that this entrepreneur is no stranger to strong pieces and progressive taste.
The range of unique, well-made and reasonably priced vintage wares speaks volumes about Manek’s work as a stylist, her travels, and her intuitive understanding of how people like to shop. Neatly displayed on the front counter is a beautiful beaded shift dress from D-licious, a brand out of Los Angeles, while just nearby is a display of glamorous vintage purses (hint hint, they pair perfectly together).
Gathering most of her vintage gems from New York and L.A., Manek states she also collects some of her pieces from film sets. “After styling a film, I would sometimes bring some pieces home.”
Gravitating towards vintage from a very young age, Manek discusses its importance to her as a stylist and now, as an entrepreneur. “Sometimes I would want a certain look for a television show or movie set, yet I wouldn’t be able to find it anywhere cause it wasn’t in season,” she recalls. “If I wanted, let’s say, a distressed fringe purse or pencil skirt, where would I find that before it was popular? Vintage! This store grew out of necessity…and collecting vintage was just second nature to me.”
With a mix of old also comes an infusion of new, with Life of Manek carrying some of the latest cult brands like the We Are Handsome swimsuit line straight from Australia, and the popular denim line, J Brand, in every sunny sorbet shade just in time for summer. To keep the store in tip-top shape, Manek relies on her trusty assistant buyer and the store’s manager, Clara Gold, to give her advice and expertise from the world of retail.
Only six weeks into the world with her retail space, Manek discusses some of the challenges she’s encountered as a first time entrepreneur. “Honestly, just like they say, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’…well, it honestly took a village”, she recalls of the help she received from stylists and close friends in the business. Manek also divulges that some of the best advice she has received came from her entrepreneurial icon, Martha Stewart. “The best advice I received was from her book, The Martha Rules, and it was to let your business grow, not jumping too ahead of yourself,”’ she states. “Also, don’t wait til it’s perfect to open it, there is no such thing as ‘perfect’.” Manek takes a moment to sit back and observe her shop. “It honestly feels surreal at times, ” she says.
Manek’s attention-grabbing selection is indeed real, and her amazing dynamic with customers, energetic personality, and obviously awesome taste help launch her shop to the top of a long list of great boutiques in Toronto.
Life of Manek, 1504 Dundas West, Toronto