This Junction outpost is the ideal retail experience for tween girls. We talk to owner Kate Elia about the inspiration for The Beau & Bauble, which she insists came to her in a dream.
Kate Elia’s inspiration for The Beau & Bauble came, quite literally, in her sleep.
“I actually had a dream about this, but in the dream it was a lot better—it was all upside down,” recounts Elia of her vision of a store appealing to tween girls where the furniture was on the ceiling. “I was living in London, England for the past six years,” she says. “I wanted to have a store in Toronto because I wanted to move back.” She also notes that opening in London would have been “totally impossible to do, it would be too expensive.”
Armed with her delivered-in-a-dream master plan, but wisely deciding to keep the furniture on the floor, Elia eventually made her way back home to Toronto and planted her store’s roots in the Junction this past November. “I love it here—I like the fact that it just feels like it’s coming up,” she says of the neighbourhood. All that love comes with one caveat, however: although the destination shoppers are keeping her busy, there’s a a severe lack of foot traffic. Mind you, that’s possibly just a function of the weather. “Right now it’s really bad,” she says, “but that said, whenever it’s a nice day I get loads of people in here with coffees wandering around.”
The Beau & Bauble’s key market is rather specific: girls from eight to 12. Being an adult, Elia draws from her own childhood to inform her buying practices for this notoriously fickle group. “Basically, I wanted it to be what would have been my ideal store when I was 12. I wanted it to be a total fantasy land for tween girls,” she says, “I like the tween girl market because I had such a good time in my childhood and I really understand that girl. It was such halcyon days. I want girls to have the best time when they’re in that age because it’s the ideal living before real life sets in.”
The end result is a space chock full of unexpected finds (much of which would be equally appropriate for an adult), from Mexican Día de Muertos skull beads to porcelain jackalope jewelry holders to Penguin special editions of Dracula and Wuthering Heights, along with all the wrapping paper and cards necessary to assemble a complete gift in record time.
This sort of unique sensibility appeals to certain kind of girl, perhaps one slightly to the left of centre. “A lot of them don’t get it, but the ones who do love it,” says Elia, “I’ve had a lot of squeals and a lot of kids say, ‘I want everything in here!’”
This aesthetic reflects Elia’s desire to neither talk down nor pander to its younger customers. “They feel adult in their own minds, so they demand a certain amount of sophistication,” she says. She even sees some of this burgeoning independence take place with her youngest shoppers as they and their moms negotiate the payment process together. “It teaches them about money,” she says. “Often I get parents in with their kid and the kid has their little change purse full of coinage and they’re like, ‘I want this pencil’ and the mom is like: ‘Okay, you have to count out a dollar,’ and they stand there counting out nickels. It’s quite cute.”
3092 Dundas Street West. #JCT 416-904-6136.