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Home Blog Celebrating Black History Month at STC
BANNER IMAGE: FROM BOYS TO MEN: A VISIT FROM THE PAST BY: ANTHONY GEBREHIWOT

IN CELEBRATION OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH, WE ARE PRIVILEGED TO HONOR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION FROM SEVERAL MEMBERS OF THE SCARBOROUGH COMMUNITY.

THANK YOU FOR ENRICHING OUR LIVES.

STC is delighted to have The Clarendon Trading Company and Shop20 at STC. Strong entrepreneurial spirit, coupled with a strong sense of community ensures that your experience in these unique stores will leave you energized.

We’re honored to pay tribute to their journey through the interviews below.

The Clarendon Trading Co.

photos by: @meliza.took.this & @cozygirlfriend

1. Who are you? Describe yourself.

Johnnel: My name is Johnnel. I was born in Clarendon Jamaica. I moved to Canada when I was 4 years old. I am outgoing and determined. Being an entrepreneur is a huge aspect of my life and in many ways my personality. I am really grateful for the fact that my personality shows through my business in a lot of ways. I enjoy networking and meeting new people. My goal is to utilize my role as a business owner to bring value and wealth to my community.

Colette: My name is Colette, I was born in Canada, but both of my parents are from the small Caribbean island of St. Kitts. I love my life as an entrepreneur. My journey, like most, was filled with trials and tribulations, but I like to see myself as a very positive person. I choose to see the love, and greatness in every situation and I feel that is one aspect that has allowed me to transform into a successful entrepreneur. I wouldn’t characterize myself as a social butterfly, but I love people. One of my passions is to help people understand their personal power and the strength of community.

2. What is Clarendon Trading Company and why the name?

Johnnel: Myself and my business partner started The Clarendon Trading Company back in 2015. We both have always been into vintage and sustainable fashions. At a young age we were both in school, and struggling to pay for pretty much anything, so our interest in vintage and used clothing was mainly because it was affordable. Initially I wanted to open up a used furniture business, but at the time I was living at home and there was no way my Jamaican mom was going to let me store old broken furniture in the house. So I decided to start with something a little more manageable, and that was clothing!

The inspiration behind the name ‘Clarendon’ is Clarendon, Jamaica where I was born. And the ‘Trading Company’ is inspired by Hudson’s Bay, the iconic Canadian brand.

Colette: Both myself and my business partner started The Clarendon Trading Company in 2015. We both have always been into vintage and sustainable fashions. At a young age we were both in school, and struggling to pay for pretty much anything, so our interest in vintage and used clothing was mainly because it was affordable. But we both have always had our own sense of style and fashion. There’s nothing that annoys me more than showing up looking like everyone else. Vintage and used clothing at the time was my outlet to express my personal style at a fair price. Overtime we realized that a lot of other people were interested in the same, so we decided to open a business!

3. What is its philosophy and unique selling proposition?

Both: We strongly believe that how you dress and present yourself to the world has a huge impact on how you feel. We believe that all people should have the ability to have quality clothing that is reasonably priced. This is one of the reasons why we have always gravitated towards vintage clothing. Clothing of the past was made to last. It wasn’t created with planned obsolescence driven by the capitalism of modern times at the forefront. Even something from the 90’s is of greater quality and in our eyes better value than something that was made a year ago. If our clients are spending their hard earned money, it is only fair that we provide the quality they deserve.

4. Why did you decide to open a retail store?

Both: When we started our business, we were 100% eCommerce. This worked well for a period of time. However, after a while our business expanded to the point where we could no longer run operations out of our one bedroom apartment. In search of additional space, we decided to open up a warehouse location in Markham. This location acts as the headquarters for all online operations. When the opportunity arose to expand into Scarborough Town Centre, we were really excited to grow into a new market.

5. Why did you choose STC for your store location?

Johnnel: STC is the mall of the East. We were really looking to tap into a new market. With STC being one of the largest malls in all of Canada and with already great access to our demographic, it was an easy choice!

Colette: One of my personal missions is to change the face of what it looks like to be an entrepreneur. When I was young, I never saw people that look like me in the business realms that I currently navigate. As a kid I would go to STC with my friends on the weekend, and shop in stores that were owned by large businesses, who were not typically representative of my community. I think it is really important for people within my community to understand that success and success in business can come in many different forms. And just because you might feel underrepresented, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t space for people that look like me and you.

6. What does Scarborough mean to you?

Johnnel: I grew up in North York and a lot of my friends growing up lived in Scarborough. So, it was an area I visited frequently. And of course, the mall of choice for a Friday/Saturday hang out.

Colette: I grew up in Ajax, which was historically much less diverse than Scarborough. However, every Saturday my parents would take my siblings and I to a school in Scarborough to learn about Black History. So to me, Scarborough was always a place of great connectivity and belonging.

7. What is the best advice that you have received?

Johnnel: Go to school and get an education.

Colette: To always be a champion for the people that you believe in. As a minority, if you make your way into a room, or unfamiliar avenue, try your best to advocate for those in your community.

8. Who is your customer?

Both: We have an amazing base of young people who have a passion for all of the latest trends in fashion. Our customers tend to typically be high school to young adults. However, being at the mall where the age demographics are so diverse, we are starting to see a broader age range.

9. What is your least favourite word?

Both: Can’t.

10. Where do you come from?

Johnnel: Clarendon, Jamaica.
Colette: I was born and raised in Ajax.

11. What is #1 on your bucket list?

Johnnel: Pave the roads in Jamaica.
Colette:
 Help as many people as possible to understand their true power and potential.

12. What do you like to do in your free time?

Johnnel: Watch sports. Basketball mainly.
Colette:
 Eat really good food. Minus the cooking part!

13. What music do you listen to?

Johnnel: R&B, Rap, Reggae, 90’s easy rock.
Colette:
 Anything that makes me feel good.

14. What causes do you find most important?

Johnnel: Building up my community.
Colette:
 Personal empowerment.

15. What makes you happy?

Johnnel: Providing tangible value to other people.
Colette:
 Acts of service.

16. What is your message to youth?

Johnnel: Be consistent and purposeful.

Colette: Trust in your process. And understand that life is a journey, and each of us are on our own path and trajectory. Enjoy the process and the goals and accomplishments will come. Stay focused but don’t forget to smell the roses along the way.

17. Who is your hero?

Johnnel: My Mother. Single black mother – immigrated to Canada on her own and paved the way for my brothers and I.

Colette: My Granny. She faced a lot of adversity in her life, but it never tainted her spirt. No matter what she always had an excitement for life that she shared through her kindness, warmth and encouragement. She is the strongest person I have ever known.

18. What is your favourite quality in a person?

Johnnel: Hardworking.
Colette:
 I love people who are genuine.

19. What do you hope for 2021?

Johnnel: Consistent growth and work ethic.
Colette:
 A world with greater empathy and understanding for the experiences of others.

20. If you were a cartoon character, who would you be?

Johnnel: Mickey Mouse.
Colette:
 Ducky from the Land Before Time. People say I remind them of Ducky… not sure why.

Shop20

Instagram: @shop20inc
Website: https://www.shop20inc.com/

Samantha & Stephanie from Shop20

1. Who are you? Describe yourself.

Sam: My Name is Samantha Smith. I’m a 29 year old, Gemini. I am a Full-Time entrepreneur as 1 of the owners of Shop 20. I love business and I’m absolutely grateful to be able to say I love and are obsessed with what I do on an everyday basis. Which allows me to be a happy, bubbly, outgoing, independent but fierce individual.

Steph: My name is Stephanie Boachie. I’m 29 years old. I am a secondary educator with TCDSB and 1 of the owners of Shop 20. I love learning and experiencing new things, places and cultures. I am definitely a travel bug. I love fitness and exercise. I find it therapeutic and energizing. More so, I’m resilient, independent, loyal and compassionate.

2. What is Shop20 and why the name?

Sam: Shop 20 is an online concept store in a physical location. Where we provide our customers with exclusive on trend product all within $69 and under.

Shop 20 was originally supposed to be a store where everything was to be priced at $20.But after taking our 1st buying trip to LA and seeing the items we could realistically afford within our budget, especially going up against a strong US dollar. It became evident that we wouldn’t be able to provide the styles we were aiming for within that budget.

Thankfully, my partner Stephanie suggested an alternative theme of 3 price points, which were $20, $25, $29.

Eventually over time as our following and the demand grew, and with the help of our Business Development; O’Neil Thompson we expanded our price point and added 8 new prices to our roster; $35, $39, $45, $49, $55, $59, $65, $69. These new price points allowed us to bring in better quality product, create higher transaction amounts, all while still maintaining the affordability aspect.

3. What is its philosophy and unique selling proposition?

Both: The Shop 20 experience is one of kind, as we can guarantee you won’t get the same experience anywhere else. We provide our Shop 20 babes with tasteful yet refined affordability while staying away from anything cookie-cutter.

  • Fresh and unique new product every week, to keep our Shop 20 babes frequenting our stores on a weekly basis
  • We offer product that can typically only be found online, and requires a wait time to receive
  • Limited amount of each style to keep our Shop 20 babes in exclusive pieces
  • A well-diversified selection of the best stylists that all have their own unique personalities and style to offer
  • Inclusion of Curve sizing 1XL – 3XL
  • Modern, refreshing shopping experience accompanied by great music
  • Inclusion of all ethnicities, ages, and sizes. LGBTQ friendly
  • Online store that offers a wide array of product and swift pick up and shipping options

4. Why did you decide to open a retail store?

Sam: I’ve always felt online has better options to offer but as a picky woman with a complex body it’s imperative for me to see, touch, feel, try on and just get that in person experience with the garment before making a decision to purchase. I also despise the shipping process; it can be messy and long.

So, shop 20 was created to infuse the 2 worlds and offer these on trend products that are typically only available online, in store. And now our Shop 20 babes can come in and get these pieces in person with confidence and convenience.

Steph: Samantha. My entrepreneurial spirited best friend led me in this direction and I couldn’t be happier. Having certain curves, I also felt like there weren’t enough places for me to shop in store in Toronto. I wanted us (Sam and I) to bring a new flare to the city that hadn’t been seen before, especially in a retail space.

5. Why did you choose STC for your store location?

Sam: Scarborough Town Centre is my home mall. It’s the mall I grew up in, it’s where I shop, it’s where I eat, it’s where I had my first job. So, the thought of having my store in such an establishment so near and dear to my heart, neighboring the stores I grew up shopping in. Is nothing less than a dream and is full circle for me.

Steph: Raised in Scarborough, this was always a goal for me. From after school hang outs to my first job to first dates, STC has been a part of my experience growing up. To now have a Shop20 location in this mall, beside retailers I grew up shopping in, is still surreal. A dream come true. Definitely humbled, proud and motivated than ever before.

6. What does Scarborough mean to you?

Sam: EVERYTHING! Scarborough is HOME! Born, Raised, and still Residing.

Steph: Scarborough is large part of who I am. No matter where I travel or go, Scarborough is always home.

7. What is the best advice that you have received?

Sam: Risk is the price you pay for opportunity.
If it comes easy, it will go fast.
You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.
There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.

Steph: There’s a solution to every problem.

8. Who is your customer?

Both: We have 2 different types of customers.

The 1st type of Shop 20 babe, uses Shop 20 as an outlet to get out of her comfort zone. We provide her with a safe space to try new riskier pieces that she typically wouldn’t come across, think to entertain, or have convenient access to. She can now indulge, without breaking the bank.

Our 2nd type of Shop 20 babe, is our Diva. She is trendy, particular, and fashion forward. Although this Shop 20 babe has access to and will purchase online outfits, we are her convenient in person option. And help fuel and keep her deeply admired closet up to date.

9. What is your least favourite word?

Sam: CAN’T. As an entrepreneur, we do not like to hear that word in any scenario.

10. Where do you come from?

Both: Scarborough, Ontario.

11. What is #1 on your bucket list?

Both: Financial Freedom

12. What do you like to do in your free time?

Sam: Shopping. Traveling. A good TV Series/Movie. Listening to Music. Social Media
Steph: I love to travel, exercise, read, spend time with family and friends

13. What music do you listen to?

Sam: Dancehall/Reggae. Hip Hop. RnB. Top 40.
Steph: I listen to everything but love RnB.

14. What causes do you find most important?

Both: Female Empowerment, Mental Health & Wellness, Anti-Racism & Equality.

15. What makes you happy?

Both: Great moments, memories, and people.

16. What is your message to youth?

Sam: The ultimate end goal to life is HAPPINESS. So, find out what makes you happy and work backwards from there.

Steph: Nothing is impossible. No goal is too big so work for what you want. Also, be you – there is strength is your uniqueness, never change!

17. Who is your hero?

Sam: My Mother. Without her Shop 20 nor I would exist.
Steph: God and my sisters. Their resilience is unmatched. They inspire me to be a better person every day.

18. What is your favourite quality in a person?

Sam: Honesty
Steph: Humility.

19. What do you hope for 2021?

Both: We hope for international recovery from Covid-19, as it’s had such a monumental and tragic impact on the world.

In terms of Shop 20, as a young blossoming business we hope we can learn and use these times to advance our position in the retail industry. Which in turn will help us get closer to our end goal/vision.

20. If you were a cartoon character, who would you be?

Sam: Definitely a Power Puff Girl.
Steph: Loved Kim Possible growing up. I would be Monique, she was a great friend, smart and always stylish!

Anthony Gebrehiwot

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Anthony Gebrehiwot for his outstanding contribution to Arts & Culture. The sensitivity in his work is powerful and important and we’re privileged to share his impactful creativity on our website.

Queen Royalty by Anthony Gebrehiwot

Queen Royalty

Anthony Gebrehiwot is a passionate visual artist, photographer and community leader whose creative lens re-visions photography as an ongoing dialogue of social change between subject and society.

A self-taught artist and photographer, Gebrehiwot founded XvXy-photo in 2014 focusing on studio portraiture. To date, he has worked with several notable brands such as Nike, Royal Bank of Canada, Vice Canada, Absolute, Hudson Bay, The City of Toronto and Linkedin to name a few. His work has been featured in over thirty local and international publications such as the Star, the Globe and Mail, PAPER Magazine, Elle UK and Yahoo Lifestyle.

Instagram: @tonyxtones
Website: www.xvxyphoto.com

Models Posing

The skin we're in (Left) & From Boys to Men: Guidance and Protection (Right)

From Boys to Men: A visit from the past
Models: Isiah Baptiste & Kaylyn Rose

Queen Royalty
Model: Esie Mesnah

The skin we’re in
Model: Jordon Campbell

From Boys to Men: Guidance and Protection
Models: Jordon Campbell & Zubaida Zang

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