Vertically Integrated Fashion Boutique | Skillshare Projects



Vertically Integrated Fashion Boutique

Laura and Tonia realized their last names — resonated with their vision for their label.

“You twist a fibre to make yarn, you weave a yarn to make fabric. Our names makes so much sense; we are meant to be working together and in this industry,” said Laura.

They met in 2009 to develop a line of ladies apparel while keeping their hands busy with knitting, felting and dyeing that originally brought them together.

Six years later, T&W design, cut, sew, and sell their line in the boutique on popular Wellington West in Ottawa, Ontario and in interesting shops across Canada. Canadian designed and made accessories and apparel can be found in their boutique to complement the line.

Not only did they share an interest in fashion, design, and had quirky personalities - but they shared an audacious sense of curiosity and an ability to enable each other.

T&W are slow makers, vertically integrated, community oriented and supporters of local. T&W share a world view with their customers: one of sustainability, buying responsibly, sharing and being real. #SlowMakers #SmallBatch #InSitu #LocalDesign #SupportLocal #SustainableDesign #BuyResponsibly #Share #BeReal #TheUnCool #CurrentSeason #SmartySkirts #MadeInCanada

Slowly, they created a hub where they incubate young designers, collaborate with artists and cross promote with their sweetheart non-profits and complementary businesses.



  • An image hand drawn covering the entire height of the wall at the entrance. This temporary sugar skull was drawn to celebrate the Day of the Dead. The image has such impact on the street that T&W decided to keep the skull. T&W regularly add to the decorative aspects of the boutique

Keep up to date with Twiss & Weber on the following social media sites:

The Thrill of Supporting New Designer

Twiss & Weber are well aware that there is an emerging interest in supporting a new designer. They do it themselves. Early adaptors flock to the neighbourhood where T&W are located. A neighbourhood more denseley populated with fashion boutiques than many major cities in Canada.

Take Command of Your Own Style

Is a double entendre. Express your personality. Wear what you want to wear - own it - take responsibility for your choices, take responsibility for your purchasing. Take advantage of our customization service. You like a dress but need a different colour - T&W will take care of that for you. You like a trouser but need a different length - T&W will take care of that for you.

Comments heard in the boutique: "Great prices!"

.Positioning Twiss & Weber (T&W) design and produce their own line of ladies clothing. Most items are available in knits and five different sizes are available per style. The way the line is cut fits a number of body shapes and sizes. T&W design for the mature woman's body and create only a few of each style in a particular fabric and repeat that style again in another fabric. Knits are often faster to make and less expensive fabrics therefore the prices are reasonable while paying bills and allowing the sewists and shop gals to earn a fair wage. Because T&W are a boutique it is expected prices to be much higher. T&W balance their products with higher priced items with more lower priced items.

When the mannequins in the windows change the merchandise changes. T&W model their business from ZARA and create mini collections available every week or two. Migrating the slower styles throughout the boutique each time new pieces land on the floor. Making the product rotate, creating a living environment and creating a sense of urgency to purchase now.

.Pricing Since T&W produce what they sell they've handily cut out the middle man. T&W are very consciencious of their pricing and have a complex pricing sytem. Customers feel good about the price of goods. Not too high, not too low. Certainly not intimidating.

.Personalization T&W also customize within the line. Offering a selection of sizes per style and a variety of fabrics for customers to choose from. Customers do not have to compromise on fit or fabric or colour. They may buy off the rack or choose what fabric they would prefer - based on our recommendation - which colour and T&W will make sure the item fits .Promise within two weeks time they will receive their specially ordered item made just in their size and specifications.

"I love to see the designers in the boutique. You give really good advice and we know it is honest."

The advantage is Twiss & Weber's when they can help their customers. Laura and Tonia have hired the best shop gals,  know their customers will get the best service possible and don't want anyone leaving the boutique not looking their very best. T&W want their customers to choose a T&W piece from their wardrobe everyday because that is their "Go To" piece. They always feel good in T&W clothes and get complements when they wear them.

"Where is the XL?"

Upon opening T&W offered four sizes, the most common comment was if an XL was ever made. The XL was added the following season. The first campaign of the spring was: "We're growing: introducing XL". T&W listens to their customers.

"You dames make clothes to fit real dames. Thanks."

Like most, Laura & Tonia have... instead of saying imperfect bodies -- let's say seasoned bodies... want to look stylish and be comfortable. T&W know which body parts to highlight and which to disguise. With guidelines T&W have created a fashionable, feminine, and affordable line of ladies clothing for women who are active, engaged, and interested... or not.

"And, it has pockets!"

The comment is speaking of the most popular piece since opening in September 2013: the PBJ. Named after Peanut Butter & Jam; as important a staple in your wardrobe as Peanut Butter and Jam are in your cupboard. Laura & Tonia name their pieces because someone or something reminds them of the piece. Whether T&W are reading a book about Diana Vreeland or chowing down on fried chicken listening to some country music - they find the silliness and pay homage in names.

.People like us The classic client is like T&W. She is active and interested. She is worldly and compassionate. She supports local businesses and likes a good story. She is not interested in being "cool" because she already has a good style of her own and she hardly has time to research let alone mannage whatever cool is. T&W encourage their customers to "Take Command of Your Own Style". She isn't afraid to tell us what she doesn't like. What she has to say is important. T&W listen.

.Placement The neighbourhood the boutique is stiuated in is a popular shopping destination with a number of boutiques, restaurants, other businesses which bring the masses to street level.

.Promotion There are two main organizations T&W support which are oriented to the benefit and well-being of women.

.Promise Because we produce the collection on site T&W brings in new merchandise weekly. T&W promises to bring in new merchandise frequently and promises not to over saturate the market. They create scarcity when creating a sense of urgency to buy now or it won't be there when you come again.

.Pavlovian T&W have created a sense of urgency to purchase since only a few of each style in each colour exist and if a customer is interested they must buy today. Groupings will be pulled throughout the season and sent to wholesale accounts (i.e. boutiques across Canada). When items are pulled fequently the scarcity is increased and hence the urgency to purchase greater.

.Partager T&W collaborate with other designers, artists, and local businesses.

T&W execute monthly events individually and in conjunction with other businesses in the district.

  • The collection of photographs above is an example from a series promoting a local shoe store, Canadian made jewelry, accessories and T&W dress and styling.

  • The image above is an example of a collaboration with local hand dyers who provide hand dyed silks of which T&W design clothes with

The Parkdale Food Centre

Believing that everyone should have access to healthy, nutritious food. For individual or families facing an emergency food shortage.

The Centre focuses on providing fresh, local, wholesome foods to the Hintonburg neighbours in need.  They also offer nutritional education and cooking classes to show how simple ingredients can be transformed into fresh and flavorful meals that foster improved physical and mental health.

PFC is  a registered not-for profit charity staffed by a team of energetic volunteers and supported by a network of community partners who share their vision of building healthier, more connected communities through good food and friendship.

Dress For Success - Ottawa

Dress for Success Ottawa is a charitable, not-for-profit organization that provides professional attire, a network of support and the tools to help women thrive in work and life.  

DFS has opened its doors to serve economically disadvantaged women who are looking to enter or re-enter the workforce in the National Capital Region. Since January 2011 DFS have assisted over 700 Ottawa women who are taking that step to secure their own economic independence.

.Permission T&W have earned their customers' trust and have gained permission to show them new merchandise, offer suggestions, offer advice, include them in the process of designing and workshoping.

One interaction is require for customers to trust enough to give T&W a try. T&W treat their customers equally and give their very best at every opportunity. 

Because of strong, insightful, and delightful product and service customers return. Customers who purchase and future customers who browse, T&W recognize the faces who return and welcome them equally. T&W does not descriminate.

Friends bring in their friends. There are many times when these loyal customers will do the selling for the shop gals. This is an important opportunity to learn what customers are saying about T&W. 

.Patriotic T&W supports Canadian Design. There is much talent in Canada and Twiss & Weber feel important to offer an assortment of accessories and other clothing lines to complement the house brand.


The hard part is deciding how to best advertise. T&W have decided to place their advertising dollars through charitable contributions while networking. Utilizing each to payoff the other. While donating a "customizable shopping experience at T&W valued at $200" and attending the silent auction. Promoting the experiential gift to potential bidders while delighting with personable attention.

The network effect are a slow build. T&W are in their first year on a high street level. Cusotmers who've had good experiences will be the best advertisers. The calibre of women who shops at T&W have the attention of their friends and aquaintances. These women value supporting local design, especially designers who listen to them. The loyalty achieved from these women is invaluable. Be it simply a conversation about the products available, what is happening in the city, a restaurant suggestion, or a sale it is essential that every client leaving T&W is happy with their experience in the boutique.

One must not limit the experience to be only during boutique hours but social media extends these hours. When promoting T&W over SM platforms it is important to always be consistent and interesting.

Can you describe which are the key pillars for your brand? Where are you spending your time and money? Do your colleagues agree? Prioritize and describe your top 6 and share internally. See what ensues.

Do you have one? What do you believe? What changes are you trying to make? What won't you do?

Key pillars to the T&W brand are customer service, unique fashions flattering for the everyday woman, comfortable and quality made clothing and accessories.

The hard part...

  • Establishing procedures. As the business grows the procedures change. Changing procedures can be interpreted as fickle, lacksidaisical, or spineless; not leadership qualities
  • Being patient. T&W want to take the business to another level almost every quarter but have to wait for the dollars to appear before the next step
  • Online boutique. Building the structure for online shopping is complicated and overwhelming. Strong items for sale. Ability to produce items on order (strengthening production skills), ability to follow through with promises to worldwide customers, ability to offer continuity of product from computer screen to postal delivery
  • POS system. Finding the right fit for the business
  • Incorporating

Notes to include:






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