Jaclyn Genovese knows a thing or two about running a successful business.
The 27-year-old is the owner of the hip West Queen West boutique, Jacflash. After graduating from university in Halifax, the Torontonian returned to her hometown and opened Jacflash in September 2007.
Between throwing some of the city’s best industry parties and hawking high-end brands like Alice and Olivia, Mink Pink, J Brand, Dolce Vita and Sam Edelman, Genovese (and the boutique) has quickly caught the eyes of Toronto’s shopping elite.
In the four years since Jacflash opened, Genovese has built a customer base worth swooning over: Rachel McAdams, Jessica Alba, Shenae Grimes, MuchMusic VJs Liz Trinnear and Jesse Giddings, MTV Canada VJ Dan Levy, and TV hosts George Stroumboulopoulos, Tanya Kim, and Matte Babel.
What advice do you have for aspiring fashion designers or boutique owners?
“It’s very important to start small. This way, any mistakes you make aren’t so significant and you can learn from them and grow. You must establish and stick to your market, and ensure you have a sustainable brand that is unique from everyone else but is still sell-able. Remember that fashion is made to be unfashionable, so pieces that are overly trendy usually sell best at a lower price point.”
What does it take to be a store owner?
“A positive, outgoing and alluring personality, and being creative, organized, determined, and honorable is very important. One must have great foresight to lay out long, mid and short term goals, the ability to recognize what works and what does not and the decisiveness to separate them. It takes being a good leader, salesperson and, of course, blood, sweat and tears.”
Why did you decide to open your store in Toronto?
“In my opinion, Toronto is the best city in the world. It’s diverse, friendly, safe and clean. It’s great for raising a family, great for young singles, and because of Toronto’s diversity, it has a melting pot of ideas, which embraces innovation and change and therefore makes Toronto a great environment to open a business in. Though I love travelling, I wouldn’t want to live/work anywhere else in the world.”
What’s been the highlight moment of your career so far?
“There hasn’t been one highlight, but many in my career so far, from interacting with our amazing customers everyday, to going on buying trips, to our JacLife online reality series, to learning from and helping out in Amanda Lew Kee‘s fashion shows. Everyday challenges make each day as exciting as the next.”
What’s your favourite fashion memory?
“From the ages of 6 to 11, I was a major tomboy — but very into fashion and I loved standing out from my friends. I was always cutting up my mom’s gloves to make them fingerless (a la Michael Jackson). I wore one hoop earring because I was obsessed with Devon Sawa, and I would make holes in my jeans by shredding them with my mom’s keys. I was always “ruining” new clothes to make them my own. Then the Spice Girls changed it all for me and I started to grow out of my tomboy phase (though I am still a true tomboy at heart).”
What is your favourite “fashionable” film?
Bonnie and Clyde. Beautiful cable-knit sweaters, berets and long pleated skirts. Bonnie’s classically rebellious style was unique for its time and I love that she brought the bra-less look into fashion. And alternatively, The Craft. I’m obsessed with the punky/goth, 90’s style that the girls had in the film, mixed with their school-girl uniforms and of course the crosses, studded chokers and black leather.”
What are your favourite sources of inspiration?
What’s your favourite fashion quote?
“‘Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.’ – Cecil Beaton.”
What does fashion mean to you?
“I don’t believe that one needs to have a particular style to stick to. Dressing yourself every morning can change depending on your mood, the occasion and who you are with, and that is the exciting part of fashion. You can be a different version of you everyday. Dressing is a way of life and inspiration comes from all around you. It gives you confidence, distinction and splendour.”