In late 2021, Jamy Lee Poole of Ormstown started an online clothing shop called Amy & Lola, whose mission statement includes an out-of-the-box take on modern fashion.
Poole describes her shop as a “non-traditional boutique” and says she aims to create an environment that “avoids heterosexual gender norms, promotes body positivity and inclusivity.” There are a few reasons why she went with this approach. For one, shopping can be alienating for people of gender identities outside of the binary. Regular shops are extremely divided between men and women, and plus-size sections force people to further segregate and label themselves.
Poole is a psychology student at Concordia University. She started this project as an homage to her late mother, Amy Husereault, who passed away from cancer in 2017. She describes her mother as “a very inclusive person” who was “very extraverted, loved everyone, loved to chit-chat.” Poole says that even after seven years of battling cancer, her mother was “resilient and was still able to have that light and be this beautiful human, and I want to be able to carry that legacy on even if she’s not here.” She wanted to commemorate her mother’s memory in a way that reflected who her mother was; the name of this inclusive boutique employs both her mother’s name and nickname.
Poole says that psychologically “Shopping and spending money is usually rewarding,” but the obstacles that many clothing stores have, though not obvious to all, add “this huge barrier of having to make choices and feel segregated and judged.” Poole wants her shop to be one where everyone can be their authentic self. This is something she learned from her mom – “Whoever you were, whatever you looked like, to her it was your personality that mattered.”
A large part of Poole’s inventory includes clothing for babies. Though she is not ready for kids of her own anytime soon, some of her friends have children and she understands the hunt for baby clothes as gifts. To Poole, there is a lot of pressure to dress kids a certain way and in certain colours or patterns. “I think it’s a whole marketing ploy, and I just want a kid to be a kid.” Her line of baby clothes is gender-inclusive, with a focus on just being comfortable and celebrating being a child.
The launch of this boutique has been exciting and a learning experience for Poole, who jumped in headfirst, seeking out clothing that helps all people look and feel good. She has been working with wholesale retailers in Canada and the U.S. to hand-pick her supplies. Soon, she hopes to be more directly involved in the creation process. “I’d love to – come springtime – have my roots set, to be able to do customized pieces, my choices, my fabrics, work with a manufacturer in Montreal or locally, as much as I can.”
As of now, Amy & Lola operates through an Instagram page and a Shopify website. Poole will be expanding to a Facebook page as well. People can make purchases by using the website or by sending a message to the Instagram page.
Poole wants to be an ally to communities that are under-represented, particularly the LGBTQIA+ circle. She hopes that Amy & Lola will not just be a boutique, but a resource that can also help people. Her website offers links to access helplines and information, and she’s brainstorming the next steps for the project to make it an even safer space that is inclusive to all people.