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Taste of Kingston | The Claire Closet



This is Claire Bouvier.


High school teacher by day, fashionista by night. She is inspiring and empowering young women within the city of Kingston. How fabulous is that? Only a few months shy of celebrating a year, The Claire Closet was officially started in January 2013 and has been quite the success online as well as offline with a great website featuring Claire in her thrifty element and weekly studio workshops catered to young girls in grade nine and ten.

I had the lovely chance to converse with Claire, a budding entrepreneur who is quirky and outgoing with a unique personal style that truly shows how confident she is with herself.

This is her story.

When did you first know you were interested in fashion? And how did the idea of The Claire Closet come to be? 

For as long as I can remember! However, I don’t think I defined it as “fashion” in the beginning but simply a love of dressing up and dressing others up. I would spend hours putting on outfits from our dress up box and making my sisters wear every new interesting outfit I could find. (However, it didn’t go over very well when my mom found out I cut all my brothers hair off and put him in tights and a dress…). Years went by and I found myself spending more and more time dressing people up, doing their hair and giving them tips on how to rock their personal style. It was something that became part of my every day life. On my twenty first birthday, all my girlfriends threw a party for me. Not just any old party, they gave me a photo shoot party! It was unreal. I showed up at the house and they had set up the entire backyard with props, dresses, motorbikes, and a group of incredible women willing to model for me…a dream come true. I love dressing up a women and making her feel beautiful. There is something so wonderful in that process. I knew that this was a direction that I wanted to continue with. At the time it wasn’t the Claire Closet but it was a very monumental day when I realized I could make a living doing what I love. The Claire Closet is simply a means of achieving this.


 Did you have a moment or an inkling when you knew you wanted to start the Claire Closet (CC)? Or what was your inspiration to start?

Someone said to me a while back “Claire, you LOVE projects eh?” I remember thinking to myself “hmmmm this IS true”. I absolutely love working on a creative projects. Over the years I have started many projects but never spent any more than a couple of weeks working on it (At one point I convinced my mom to bake for “Bouvs Bakery” ….200 pies later “we” had enough.) Anyways, I take a while to answer a question- sorry! Essentially, the Claire Closet came together after hundreds of start-up projects. It was simply a process of elimination that I finally realized that I simply LOVE creating and I LOVE working with young girls. I knew that if I brought my two passions together well…WAHOOO, I was living the best of both worlds!


Did you have experience in the fashion/clothing industry beforehand? If not, what was your career/education? and how did that help CC if it did at all?

I went to university with the intention of becoming a high school teacher. After high school, I moved to Nova Scotia and received a degree in English and later moved to Ottawa and received a degree in Education. However, I also knew I LOVED the arts but I wasn’t what exactly sure what in the arts I wanted to focus on. SO, I have spent the last eight years taking any course, workshop or volunteering in the art and fashion worlds. However, where I have gained the most experience are the opportunities I have had by working alongside with incredible international and local artists. The advice, teaching and feedback from photographers, stylists, painters, designers and actors have been invaluable to the Claire Closet development. All of these wonderful and talented people have provided me with a degree of ideas, creativity and a love for learning. As a result, I am so blessed to bring my classroom learning and life learning to the Claire Closet.


Was there a reason why you chose Kingston to set up 'shop'?

Despite the fact that I love to travel, Kingston is my home. I love it. I want to give everything I possibly can to the place that provided with so much growing up. It’s my turn to give back and celebrate in the awesomeness of Kingston. 

I hear you now have studio space where you run workshops yay! How was the process in obtaining it? Did you have a picture in mind of what you wanted your workshops to resemble?

I love that this is the next question! We do have a studio for the summer because of Awesome Kingston. In June, we won the pitch party and received $1000 to pay for the studio and summer fashion workshops. The workshops have started and each one has a specific topic based on the interest of the girls. For example, one workshops is teaching girls how to re-purpose old clothing to make it valuable and meet their personal style. The workshops are to help girls be confident leaders through the arts. Right now we are looking for a space for the school year (dot dot dot….). The goal is to put on a workshop every week for ALL grade nine and ten girls in the Kingston area.


 Did you have any hard times or negativity from other people? Or did people support your idea and willing to help you with the creation of CC?

I sure have! But it has been the hard times that have taught me some very valuable lessons about myself and leading others. And when people are negative, it is usually that they are misinformed which motivates me to work harder. 

 What's your favourite product/accessory at the moment? 

The girls and myself have been working on re-purposing denim. It’s incredible how many wonderful things you can make out of one pair of jeans! 


If you could own/do anything in the world, what would it be?

Hmmm. Both great things to think about. I’m going to answer both!

If I could own anything in the world I would LOVE to get back EVERY thing I have ever lost, “left behind” or broke. For example, when I was in grade five I received devil sticks (I was SO excited) but my gramma did not approve of the name and one day they disappeared…imagine if I could get them back?! 

If I could do anything, I would rent a room big enough to host EVERY women in the world and have a party celebrating our awesomeness.

Describe your personal style and how you achieve your fabulous looks?

Wow, thank you! My personal style has come a long way. I believe in university I was once described as a hitchhiker meets clown meets gramma. At the time I was experimenting and playing around with every possible shape, colour, size and time period. After so many years, I have discovered what works for me. The key is to KNOW your body shape and the colours that look good on you. Once you know those two you can have SO much fun dressing up. Thrifting has become so much fun for my personal style because I know what I am looking for. 

Thank you Claire for being an amazing role model and mentor!

Be sure to give her some social media love and view the CC girls personal styles!

Twitter: @theclairecloset 
Instagram: @theclairecloset
Pinterest: theclairecloset
Facebook: theclaireclosetpage   

Look out for more Taste of Kingston posts every Friday featuring entrepreneurs, people with a passion and places I simply fall in love with! 

Enjoy!

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Rosalyn Gambhir
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