Lindsay Johnston, owner of Grey Clothing (a gorgeous boutique in Burlington) always knew she wanted to get into fashion – she just wasn’t sure how. Her incredible eye for both staples and unique pieces would see her clientele grow faster than she’d dared hope – but like many paths, hers would be a winding one.
Lindsay had spent her early years watching her parents run the family business – Heritage Lifestyle Home Furnishings – but when she floated the idea of getting into fashion, they encouraged her to go to University first: get an education, a foundation in something a bit more traditional than fashion school. Lindsay spent the next four years at Ottawa University studying business.
After graduation, she set her sights on preparing for the GMAT and LSAT and started applying to law schools. One afternoon, on a whim, she decided to reach out to one of her favourite brands:
“I was working for my parents at the time, and I asked if One Teaspoon would sit down with me – and to my surprise they said okay.”
She quickly came up with a name (Grey is her mother’s maiden name), got her sh*t together, and went to that first meeting.
“Afterwards I realized, yeah, this can’t just be on the back-burner.”
Grey Clothing was launched online in April 2016 – Lindsay was 24.
Just three months later, Grey Clothing opened its doors at 3123 Walkers Line in Burlington – and immediately exploded. Her initial, online-only presence hadn’t allowed people to get a feel for Grey: people didn’t understand what she was doing until they were able to come in and see it.
Grey is the perfect mix of basics and fun pieces – all of high quality, from brands all over the world – and is an extension of Lindsay’s own closet: casual, everyday style with an edge that can be dressed up or down.
“There’s more to [these pieces] than what you can find in a mall. And a lot of the labels I carry will not sell their lines in malls.”
“If I wouldn’t wear it, I don’t want it in here.”
Social Media Marketing
With over 10,000 Instagram followers, and nearly 2,000 on Facebook, Lindsay seems to have mastered the social media marketing scene.
“My personal Instagram is pathetic. It’s just my dogs and random pictures of my family. I’m surprised with the following the stores has, because I don’t do what I’m ‘supposed to’ – I just don’t have the time. I just put out what I like, and it works.”
Instead of trying to convince people to visit Grey, she just shows them what they want to see.
A living, breathing, real person.
“People want to see an ‘average’ person, not a professional model, putting on the clothes – and they come in and see me in person, and then they have an easier time visualizing what they see online on themselves.”
As we spoke, there seemed to be a commonality in everything when it came to running her business: Lindsay, intuitively, understands what needs to get done. Something that came from her years in the family business: not from business school.
“University was great – I had an amazing time, It made me grow up, and it teaches you accountability. But in terms of what they teach you – and Ottawa U is a great school – I learned so much more about running a business from watching my parents do what they do.”
Her advice? Take the first step and just do it:
“You’re not going to learn how to successfully run a business in school – you’re just not going to find what you need in a textbook.”
More Than Just Clothes
Lindsay runs her business with authenticity and honesty: she wants what’s best for her customers. And even with the challenges that come from having her own business, Lindsay was adamant that she wouldn’t want to do anything else.
But the best part of what she does has nothing to do with staying up to date on trends, social media marketing, or running a business: it’s making a real difference in someone’s life:
“A few weeks ago a woman came in, and she was very sick, and has two young kids – and she came in and said she hadn’t been well enough or had the time to really take care of herself, and was feeling down on herself – and she was terminally ill. And as she’s letting me pick things out and dress her, she was open to everything. And she stood in front of the mirror and looked at herself and said I haven’t felt this good about myself in forever, and she almost started crying – and that’s when it’s more than just the clothes – it’s amazing.”
Find Grey Clothing at 3123 Walkers Line in Burlington, or online HERE.
For the latest styles, keep up on Instagram: @greyyclothing