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|Photo by Fred Fraser - www.fredfraser.com|
What do local designers Dace, Mandula, Allison Wonderland and Paperbird have in common? One of the first stores to sell their creations was Dream in Gastown. Today there are many boutiques that feature local designs, but when owner Wendy de Kruyff opened 17 years ago there were very few. Instead of having to provide a full collection, designers were allowed to put in just a few pieces at a time. She provided a chance to earn those first sales, answered their questions and gave valuable customer feedback. The tradition continues to this day.
De Kruyff was born in Amsterdam, but has lived in many parts of the United States and Canada. She landed in Kelowna at the age of 13. Punk Rock, Alternative, New Wave, fashion and everything 80's were passions. She often visited friends in Vancouver and by 15 was selling her creations in local boutiques. "I met people at the cute stores in the neighbourhood and they would offer to sell them. I made earrings and jewellery as well as a lot of little sailor hats - kind of like berets with a tie down the back. I also used to make mini-skirts and other things I would want myself but couldn't find." A week after her 18th birthday she packed her bags and moved to Vancouver. Her first job was at a vintage clothing store called Deluxe Junk.
Owning a boutique had always been de Kruyff's long-term goal. Fortunately her grandfather had set
aside some funds for each of the grandchildren. This provided just enough seed money to open
Dream in 1993. Only 26 at the time, she remembers, "For me, necessity is the mother of invention. Essentially I needed a job. I was creating things and I had the opportunity to open a store. It basically started out being my designs. Next a few of my creative friends began selling their stuff in my store. Then it grew from people I knew selling in the store to complete strangers. It just happened organically." The focus on local also evolved because the store is run on a consignment basis which limits stock to artists in the area.
Over the last 17 years, the Gastown area has gone through several incarnations and Dream continues to weather the changes. For de Kruyff, Monday afternoons are still set aside as a time to meet new designers and see what they have to offer. Most find her the old school way - by word of mouth - and organic continues to be the philosophy that guides her days.
For more information, please visit the website at www.dreamvancouver.com.