There’s something wildly ambitious, and admirable, about launching and operating an independent lifestyle boutique in the age of Amazon. Against the odds, Souvenir Shop has flourished in Toronto since co-founders Danielle Suppa and Trisha Lepper opened their first pop-up in 2013, garnering a devoted following—both on and offline—along the way.
The small, sunlit shop’s outsized success is due largely to owner and creative director Suppa’s refined aesthetic and distinctive sensibility. “I like to think of myself as equal parts designer and design enthusiast,” says Suppa. “My education and background is in fashion and product design.”
“Essentially Souvenir is a lifestyle shop, which for me is an industry term for pieces I love living together in the same room,” says Suppa.
Suppa, who also freelances as a designer and creative consultant, is a graduate of Ryerson University’s fashion program who has interned for Jeremy Laing and worked at Caban, Hudson’s Bay, and Joe Fresh. The store’s chic selection of fashion, perfume, and home décor from niche, Canadian brands such as Fortnight Swim and Libertine Fragrance clearly reflects her aesthetic and her creative relationships. “Essentially Souvenir is a lifestyle shop, which for me is an industry term for pieces I love living together in the same room,” says Suppa. “I envision the space as a pseudo apartment, [offering] a little bit of everything.”
Before settling into its permanent College Street location in 2015, Souvenir operated as a series of shopping pop-ups highlighting the work of independent local designers. “Starting out as pop-ups… allowed us to test out concepts and products, as well as get our name out into the public sphere and build up our client base. It also gave me the confidence to open up full time,” says Suppa. But even from the start, Suppa wanted Souvenir to stand out from other the temporary markets in the city. “I had a lot of ideas on what we could do differently—integrating everyone’s items together and ensuring that all the product worked together from a quality, design, and even conceptual point of view,” she says.
The cohesiveness of Suppa’s minimalist-chic vision is clear when you’re at Souvenir, whether you’re perusing speckled dinnerware from YYY Ceramics or inktests from the Toronto Ink Company. Many of the store’s ceramics and textiles are exclusives or custom-made for the shop, and Suppa is constantly on the lookout for interesting brands and collaborations to feature. “Each piece in the space is chosen as a treasured token, to be enjoyed for years to come,” she explains.
Souvenir, 1232 College Street, Toronto.
Photography by Lauren Kolyn.
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