Joyce Chan-Varvodic and Claudia Tommasone are the co-owners of LANGsura, an absolutely beautiful clothing boutique in Toronto. This impressive duo has taken a dream of establishing themselves in the fashion world and built it up from a basement pop-up to a full-fledged business – complete with a permanent location, mobile boutique, and online store.
Focused on the intersection of quality, on-trend pieces and effortless fashion, LANGsura has quickly become a destination for shoppers, not just in the GTA, but all around Canada – though Joyce, the founder, has put in years of work to get LANGsura to where it is now.
The pair met in 2009 while working for a real estate company. After the birth of her daughter in 2012, Joyce finally decided to go all-in on what had been her side business until that point.
“For a few years I had the other job as a backup – I’d do the 9-5, then in the evening and on weekends I’d work on this on the side. And one day my husband said you just have to go for it. Forget having the safety – if you have a safety, you’ll never be able to fully commit.” – Joyce
Those first few years, LANGsura consisted of inventory stored in Joyce’s basement and pop-ups around the city. Joyce would bring her pieces to the homes of friends and family – and when that network started to grow, she enlisted Claudia’s help on-site.
“In my mind it was supposed to grow a lot faster – it was just supposed to take off right away!” – Joyce
In 2015 the LANGsura e-commerce site was launched – and shortly after Claudia joined her full-time as a partner.
The mobile boutique soon followed – a 31 ft 1974 vintage Airstream (which Claudia can drive like a boss). They gutted the trailer and turned it into a fully fledged boutique – complete with change rooms! The host of the event receive 20% of the sales in store credit, with a 20 attendee minimum.
“We’d pull up at the end of people’s driveways and have these pop-and-shops: we’d bring the champagne, and people just shop!” – Claudia
But neither of them ever thought they would open a brick-and-mortar store:
“Joyce always said, even before I started working with her, that she’d never open a store – and when we started working as partners, we both said we’d never open a store…then it was just like…maybe we should open a store?” – Claudia
“We were hustling! We were going to pop-ups and markets, we’d bring all the clothes in our car, unpack, set-up, make the sales…we didn’t think the traditional route would bring much benefit.” – Joyce
After their longest-running pop-up came to an unforeseen early end, the duo realized the strength of their following, and started considering the benefits of having a more permanent location.
“People were coming back – people were coming from everywhere and our sales were better than ever. So we slowly started looking for a more permanent place – then Joyce called me and said she found something, we went to see it – and before we knew it we were signing papers for a 3 year lease.” – Claudia
They got the keys on December 2nd, and officially opened December 4th – the support and help of family and friends (and two very long 18 hour days) made the quick turnaround possible.
Now about nine months into their long-term home, things just keep getting better and better.
“People love our stuff – and the support we’ve had is incredible.” – Joyce
“We’re both so different – and that benefits both our customers (with more variety) and our business.” – Claudia
LANGsura is home to labels from New York, LA, Korea, Australia, and Montreal. Joyce and Claudia prefer pretty, easy to style pieces:
“We both love dresses – it’s just an easy outfit. You still look cute, but it’s effortless.” – Claudia
Their pieces are almost always under $150, but they do carry very selectively – each piece only comes in two of each size, and there’s new styles every week. So, if you see something, there’s no time to sleep on it!
For the future, the two want to eventually open a second location, likely west of the city. But, they first want to fine-tune their buying practices and get the ‘running a business’ strategy down.
“The business side is interesting. We’re both so passionate about what we do, and we both like to look good and feel good, so picking the clothes and travelling and going to trade shows is amazing. But there’s a big learning curve for the business and administrative side.” – Claudia
While the learning curve was no doubt steep, Joyce and Claudia have created a solid business and a beautiful place to shop for beautiful pieces. Joyce’s advice?
“Be scared. Take that risk. If it works – great. If it doesn’t, you won’t kick yourself for the rest of your life.” – Joyce
You can shop LANGsura online here, or visit the boutique at 531 Adelaide St W in Toronto.
You can also keep an eye out for their new fall arrivals on Instagram at @shoplangsura.
Thanks Joyce and Claudia!