Shop Goss is the Georgia Straight’s weekly feature, where we give you the lowdown on Metro Vancouver’s coolest independent boutiques—and the spirited minds behind them—that deserve a spot on your shopping radar.
This week, we meet Michelle Rizzardo, founder and creative director of Gastown's One of a Few (354 Water Street).
Describe your business in three sentences or less.
One of a Few is a community-driven, unique, and friendly environment where people can access items not readily available in mainstream stores. Customers find sought-after designers that are hard to find and who produce ethically. They're provided a nonjudgemental space where they can play around or get style advice from staff.
How did you come to own and/or operate your own store?
Without knowing it, I had been doing the due diligence for owning my own clothing store since I was 14. I started working at Below the Belt and continued for many years working in various roles in the industry. After a few years in Asia, I came back and entered the entrepreneurship program at BCIT.
There, I wrote a business plan for a clothing store I didn’t necessarily think I was going to open. I had the intention to continue on and do my MBA, but felt a strong desire and had incredible support to make the business plan a reality. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of family and friends; I was very lucky.
My favourite brands we carry at the moment are…
MNZ (Maryam Nassir Zadeh), a New York–based designer who produces incredibly fun, well tailored, and ethically made clothing and footwear. Caron Callahan, another American designer who makes easy dresses, jumpsuits, jacket, and blouses for women on the move—those working at home or in an office.
Rachel Comey, one of the designers I’ve carried the longest, is an activist, feminist, and incredible designer. All wardrobes should have a few of her pieces. Based in New York, she makes clothing for all women. She is inspiring and her clothing evokes that feeling.
You’re being sent to a desert island with limited Wi-Fi access for an indefinite amount of time. What three products in the shop right now would you take with you?
1) An anyonegirl magazine: I could use it for entertainment, then I could burn the pages for fire and light, and to cook the fish I catch. And I could talk to the pictures of the women to keep me sane—kind of like the volleyball, Wilson, in Cast Away;
2) Reassembly Body Serum Luxury Oil to keep moisturized in the heat;
3) A bowl from Barter Design Co. to collect rain water for drinking.
Name a new arrival you can’t wait to show off.
Another Ilana Kohn jumpsuit, and a pair of neon-green-and-white MNZ Sophie slides.
What’s the weirdest, wackiest, or most out-there item on your shelves or racks at the moment?
There is an amazing Delfina Balda dress that has puff sleeves right at the wrists. It gets a lot of attention because it’s so different. We only have one left, though, so that’s a good sign that people like fun and interesting things.
My last purchase—from the store or otherwise—was…
A Ganni leopard jacket. I can wear it with almost everything: dressy and casual. I’ve never been a leopard girl, but this jacket has changed me.
When I’m not at the shop, you can find me…
With my kids and husband.
What’s another local business you love?
Oh, we have so many goodies in Vancouver. I love having breakfast at the Birds & the Beets (55 Powell Street), coffee at Timbertrain (211 West Cordova Street and 551 McLean Drive), and drinks at the bar at Kissa Tanto (263 East Pender Street).