As 2009 has proven to be a tough economic time, we’ve seen businesses shrinking, slowing down and even shutting down. Nicole Dennis Durnin decided to be quite the opposite. She wanted to pursue her dream of opening her own boutique just as the year was ending.After months of renovating, rebranding, and buying, LYNNsteven boutique in Gastown has finally completed its facelift and opened it’s doors for an exclusive grand opening event on January 28th. Following a quick stint as a popup shop, owner, Nicole Dennis Durnin, has skillfully filled her light and airy space with high end fashions ranging from LA and NYC designers – such as Paige Denim and David Lerner – to locals including Toodlebunny and Jason Matlo.
With cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in hand, friends, family, and fashionistas quickly filled up the cozy space. I had the opportunity to speak to Durnin, who started from scratch and created a fresh, contemporary look in what Vancouverites used to call Hunt and Gather while preserving a vintage atmosphere with the mountainous book stack that doubles as a fitting room. Durnin not only revealed a new look for the store but also a new, clean and simple logo that she created in conjunction with MGB. The chic shop (complete with sleek, white shelves; a swanky, custom-made hanging system; and bright, elegant lights), creates an inviting atmosphere that makes women “feel welcome and at ease [and] that it’s not a stuck up place to shop.”
Amid the creative process with the logo and the pending permit authorization, Durnin spent some time in LA showrooms purchasing items from various designers during LA Market Week. One might wonder where Durnin started on her journey before successfully hosting her debut event. “I did a lot of research through magazines and picked pieces that I liked personally” The boutique is “a complete reflection of my personal style; you’ll find a lot of basics, feminine pieces mixed with edgy pieces,” she explains. “The feedback has been good so far!”
With the transformation intact, LYNNsteven adds a modern touch to the vintage look of Gastown. But it will have to try operate as new fuel for Gastown to run on as it still struggles to be a significant part of Vancouver’s fashion scene. Though Gastown may have a few retail stores scattered along the cobble-stoned blocks, business is not always strong like stores on the elite streets of Granville or Robson.
But Durnin has a vision for the future of LYNNsteven. Her journey and dream of opening her own boutique is not fully complete as the shop is far from being limited to simply women’s clothing. Down the road, she anticipates many additions to her boutique. “We’re going to do men’s [clothing], and I’m thinking big. I’m thinking LYNNsteven Home down the road.”