In August 2009, the lives of countless uptown young female professionals got easier as Poor Little Rich Girl, now a staple in the north-of-Bloor shopping scene, opened up shop. Dress shopping, whether for a last-minute night out or a wedding planned months in advance – became less daunting and even enjoyable thanks to PLRG’s selection of coveted dresses at varying price points (don’t let the name throw you off) and an unmatched experience designed to feel as though you are shopping in your best friend’s closet.
With a wide roster of young professionals’ favourite brands—including Nicole Miller, Sherri Hill, La Femme, BCBG Max Azria and House of Harlow—this midtown boutique has Toronto’s fashionistas covered for everything from a celebratory girl’s night out to a work event or charity gala. Beyond dresses, PLRG also features an assortment of separates and outerwear, with brands like Mackage, Soia & Kyo and Joe’s jeans. Poor Little Rich Girl combines uptown sensibility with a dash of Queen St. edge to create the ultimate fashion fusion in a welcoming and interactive environment.
The décor is playful, with colourful jars of candy and bubblegum throughout, a fully stocked Coca-Cola fridge and an inviting zebra couch to browse PLRG’s collection of magazines.
The service offered from the Poor Little Rich Girls themselves is what has turned customers into friends and first-time shoppers into weekly visitors. Committed to finding the best look for their customers, they are not afraid to speak up if something does not look quite right, offering the advice of a trusted friend.
Poor Little Rich Girl is the brainchild of YP duo Lynn Conway and Sara Puppi. Born and raised Toronto girls, Lynn and Sara worked the boutique circuit since high school. As budding fashionistas, their love of all things pretty turned into a full-on passion and soon it was time combine forces and open up shop. Inspired by the original Poor Little Rich Girls and Hollywood starlets like Audrey Hepburn and Edie Sedgwick, Poor Little Rich Girl was born.
We got to sit down with Lynn and Sara and find out a little more about their successful YP endeavor.
How long have you two known each other?
Lynn: Sara and I met in Grade 12 while attending Northern Secondary School. Sara had recently transferred and we quickly formed a friendship that continued well after graduating. We discovered a mutual interest in fashion, and several years later, we became coworkers at a Forest Hill boutique.
Did you always know you’d be involved in fashion in some capacity as a career?
Sara: Fashion was always a hobby for me, but it wasn’t until I took a college course in Fashion Business at Humber College that I realized it was something I was interested in pursuing as a career. I then did a BA at York University while continuing to work in sales and visual merchandising at a successful Toronto boutique.
Lynn: I discovered an interest in Fashion in high school and did a co-op position at Holt Renfrew with the hope of pursuing a career as a buyer. After graduating from Northern Secondary School, however, I changed paths and did a BA at the University of Toronto. After graduating from UofT without a specific career in mind, I began working with Sara and we quickly forged a fantastic working relationship.
How did PLRG come to be?
Lynn: Sara and I worked together at a boutique together for a couple of years and learned that we worked well together and shared similar interests and aspirations. When the business changed hands, we started talking seriously about opening our own boutique. After playing with the idea for several months, we decided to take the plunge.
What was the biggest challenge as a young entrepreneur launching a boutique?
Sara: The biggest challenge as a young entrepreneur is the learning curve, always encountering new obstacles and challenges. We also quickly learned that opening a boutique means being involved in many areas that are foreign to us. While it’s important to surround yourself with a team of experts, it’s crucial to have a general understanding of all aspects of the business – even those that are completely new and outside of your areas of expertise.
Lynn: You have to be willing to trust your instincts and those of your partner, and be willing to take risks. The entire thing is a learning process. The other big challenge we faced was opening during the 2008-2009 financial crisis/recession. We were frightened to take such a big risk in an unstable economic climate but we were determined to succeed.
How did you pick the name and location?
Lynn: We spent a long time agonizing over the name. Finding the perfect name seemed like such a daunting task because it would literally shape our boutique. We decided on Poor Little Rich Girl when Sara stumbled across it one day. Something about it just clicked. Selecting the area was much easier than choosing the name. We always wanted to open our first location in North Toronto. Sara and I both went to high school down the street and love the friendly and welcoming neighbourhood. We also wanted to be somewhat of a destination shop so we were drawn to the area south of Eglinton where we wouldn’t be surrounded by other shops.
What makes PLRG unique?
Sara: We try to set ourselves apart by offering a wide range of price points and a diverse selection of merchandise, an ever-growing roster of designers and, perhaps most importantly, we strive to offer top quality customer service. Our goal is to make our customers as relaxed and comfortable as possible like they are shopping in their best friend’s closet.
Can you comment on being friends/business partners?
Lynn: Being business partners strengthens our friendship but it also tests it at times. We have more intense experiences together than we would simply being friends which deepens our bond but keeps us on our toes.
Sara: The advantages of being friends first and foremost are numerous. We have a level of trust in each other in a way that takes most business partners years to establish. Going to work is so much more fun when you’re going with your friend!
Thanks Lynn and Sara! We are excited to rock our Nicole Miller dress we got yesterday from PLRG to motionball tonight!
Poor Little Rich Girl brands include:
BCBG Max Azria
Soia & Kyo
House of Harlow
Basix Black Label
Ark & Co
Poor Little Rich Girl is located at 2094 Yonge St., between Davisville Ave. and Eglinton Ave., and is open: