We are so proud of our fantastic tenants—we want to showcase them! Meet Willow, owner of Folk Apparel (at 803 Fort Street) providing “the basics you need to simplify and streamline your wardrobe.”
Name: Willow Elkink
Type of service: Modern and minimalist left-coast women's clothing
Proudly operating since: October 2015
Number of staff: 5
I opened my business because … I saw a need for a local shop to provide simple, quality, affordable basics in Victoria. In the past, when you were labelled as a "boutique" store there was a sense that you had to carry novelty, special items that were unique; I looked at that model of doing business and tossed it. Folk Apparel is innovative. We take modern, minimalist, forward-thinking materials and ideas and apply it to a small business model. We provide elevated services to our customers; you can find sales associates at Folk who outfit and become your personal wardrobe consultant. We carry very affordable local and international lines (most styles under $100). We don't have to charge over inflated rates because we are not a big name brand, and alternatively we don't have to undersell to jumpstart consumerism because our classic quality styles will last beyond fads. I live here in Victoria with my family (five kids and a hubby), and I care very much about who shops at Folk. I'm on the floor working daily with my staff and customers alike to ensure a high quality of experience for everyone.
Since opening I … have received so much positive feedback from people! I knew there was a need for quality basics from a local retailer and having many women giving positive feedback on our inventory tells me I'm on the right track. We carry very wearable neutrals that appeals to everyone's wardrobe. The cuts and fabrics of our clothing really make the person who wears them feel and look good. That's what women want when they dress, especially in our lifestyle here the coast: quality comfort and elegance for a good price. We deliver that.
I love living and working in Victoria because … attaining what you need in Victoria is so much easier than a bigger/or even smaller city. Whatever you need—tickets to a concert, a beach walk, great food, good people—it’s so easy in this beautiful environment. Cycling is getting easier as people acknowledge the need for forward-thinking transportation around our city. Nature and being outdoors is a priority here so I've noticed a quality of life that cannot compare to anywhere else I've found.
My current favourite seasonal activity is … storm watching on the beach in the winter. I love the mercurial nature of Victoria’s weather. I am a true west coast girl when it comes to beach walks, the rain, the wind and forest hikes.
What features do you love most in your retail space? I am inspired a lot by the skies, they are so beautiful and ever-changing, much like our daily lives. We have a skylight that really lends a sense of airy-ness and light to the store. The space is also very intimate which helps create a feeling of closeness and care.
What “Words of Wisdom” would you give to yourself five years ago?
To keep it simple.
All photos by Kelly Brown.