In the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season, it can be easy to get caught off guard—lest you forget anyone important on your list!—but thankfully there are so many great shops right here on Queen Street West that make holiday shopping easy, fun and affordable; and by shopping local, you can also support some amazing creatives and entrepreneurs who do truly unique work.
Made You Look Jewellery, just down the street from the Gladstone, is the perfect example of how and why keeping shopping local is the way to go this holiday season. We sat down with Sarah Dougall, owner and founder of Made You Look, and got her insights on how the neighbourhood has grown over the years, online shopping, and how to trick someone into giving you their finger diameter.
With over 20 jewellers who work on site, Made You Look has a huge range of products starting at just $10. The store is also huge neighbourhood ambassador: This year they’ve got a holiday radio ad in the works with Indie 88 that’s all about shopping on Queen West!
You‘ve been on Queen West since 2001. How do you find the neighbourhood has most changed & evolved? What do these changes mean for you and the community of makers you work with?
Since there’s been so much change on Queen West, it’s so important to have certain places that are anchors year over year. Jewellery has been part of human culture forever, so in some ways, what I’m selling is change-proof. Certain aspects of what we do aren’t going to change; people convey symbolism and emotion through jewellery.
That said, guests shopping online has changed how people who have stores do business. It means we have to be more than a store, we have to be an experience. There are 20 jewellers who work on site which is a huge part of our story and experience. That story has become a lot more common with the rise of the DIY, makers, shopping local, and buying handmade movements; and now these movements have come along to reinforce what we’re doing.
This idea of art becoming more accessible has come into fashion too, so that’s working out for us. Now we’ve got customers who are here because they don’t want to be at the mall. People’s value systems are changing. They’re moving away from the big box looking stores and to support smaller shops. We always felt that way, but now were hearing if from customers too. We hear: “I did all my shopping on Queen West!” We’ve stopped having to pound it into people, they’re just showing up now, which is so cool!
What about the rise of online shopping — how does that play into everything?
I don’t have an online store, and I do that because I’m trying to convey a value system. My reason for not selling our goods that way is that we’re trying to make a uniquely Toronto experience, and we don’t want to devalue it my making it available to anyone in the world. We keep the specialness alive by getting people to see it in person, with the customer service and the custom boxes. Again, it’s an experience; it changes the way you see your purchase and who you‘re giving it too. We’ll keep doing that even at the risk of making a bit less money.
Are there any big trends in jewellery making that stand out year over year, or does it really depend on who’s making and/or buying? What’s hot in 2019?
We’re definitely aware of trends in jewellery. You can go into the mall and notice themes form shop to shop, and inevitably people want the stuff that’s on trend. You can’t fight trends; they become the aesthetic language of the moment. That comes into to what we do, but we try to put the unique twist on everything.
For example, birds were super on trend 10-12 years ago. Everything had a bird theme. Portlandia had the famous Put A Bird On It skit. So one of our designers had a bird brooch that also came along with a chain and bird poop. It was a play on this trend that was becoming so over-done. That links back to the name of our store; we’re going to do things to capture your attention. People are going to see things that are current and relevant, but they’re also going to be seeing things that bring relief to that.
Right now, we have a pendant that says “Fuck Off Pandora” on it, and people are really loving that piece and engaging with it. People are noticing the trends and also making playing with the trends.
How does it work if you want to size something for someone who doesn’t know they’re getting a piece of jewellery this holiday season? What’s the best way to trick someone into giving you their finger diameter?
99% of what we have can be adjusted once it’s presented. Fingers can change on a daily basis because of water retention & temperature, so nailing down the exact size is hard to pinpoint. We recommend giving the gift, and then adjusting the size after the fact.
That said, we do have disposable ring sizers. In that case we recommend having a friend to give the ring sizer to the recipient, and casually say “Oh look at this thing I found at this jewellery store. I’m a size 7, what size are you? ;)” Really you can do what you want — like try put it on someone’s finger while they’re sleeping — but ultimately the measuring is a bit like throwing darts at a moving target and resizing after the fact is a more sure-bet.
4) Will you share a little teaser of that holiday jingle with us?
When your patronage feels just right
and your gift comes straight from the heart
Then you’ve really won the night
Buying Special, handmade, local art!
Oh, Queen Street West is relying
so my dears stop your big box buying
and as long as you have a soul
Let it show! Let it show! Let it show!