Trends for business: Four fashion boutiques started and managed by women (Part 1)

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Steel city? More like style city.

Hamilton has a real fashion scene brewing.

As you walk through the core of Hamilton, you’ll gradually discover the hidden gems of the city and realize that it has something special to offer.

Five young professional women behind the garments are the ones to thank for this: Jennifer Murtagh, Katherine Laird, Sarah Moyal, Lauren Erickson, and Whitney McMeekin. They have graced Hamilton with their talents, passion and wisdom about fashion.

They thrive in fashion and business and have many talents and experiences that have led them to where they are in their careers.

Illuminessence spoke with them about their aspirations, experiences and eye for fashion. Read the first installment of this two-part Trendspotting series.

Jennifer Murtagh and Katherine Laird, co-owners of Love in the Afternoon:

Jennifer & Kate LITA photo from LITA

Jennifer Murtagh and Katherine Laird, co-owners of Love in the Afternoon (Photo supplied by Jennifer Murtagh and Katherine Laird)

Classy duo Jennifer Murtagh and Katherine Laird are no strangers to the arts and fashion industry. In fact, Love in the Afternoon stemmed from their clothing
label in 2010.

“Since founding our clothing label WallacePlayford, we have had the honour of showcasing our designs annually at FAT (Fashion, Art, Toronto) Arts & Fashion Week, and have also shown collections at Emerging Trends Boston Fashion Week,” said Murtagh.

“The label has been featured in magazine publications such as Worn Fashion Journal, Product Magazine, and most recently we have contributed to Missy/Ink Magazine with style articles.”


Vintage in the heart of James North (Photo by Brittney Medeiros)

The two have had success with the label that focuses on femininity, while introducing “retro-futurism” – a trend that showcases a futuristic vibe in an earlier era. They both attended Sheridan College; Murtagh graduated with Honors in Interior Design and Laird in Fine Arts and Graphic Design. Laird also attended George Brown College, York University and Charles Sturt University.

Growing up, both were encouraged to use their imaginations and pursue their dreams. Born and raised in Mississauga, Murtagh said that she always had to try and think outside of the box as a child. Laird was born in British Columbia and raised in Ontario. Laird said her parents encouraged her to be inspired by the arts.

“As creative individuals we both felt stifled working under the reign of others and felt the desire to create an environment where we are able to express ourselves limitlessly and without boundaries established by others,” said Laird, explaining the motivation behind Love in the Afternoon.

With a fresh outlook on contemporary nostalgia, one will find carefully curated vintage pieces, nestled amongst old and new finds. Vintage frocks, lingerie and fashion accessories are cleverly displayed on and amongst a wide mix of old-world to modern furnishings and collectibles.

Love in the Afternoon
320 James St. N.,
Hamilton, L8L 1H3
(905) 460-4200

Storeowner Sarah Moyal of Hawk & Sparrow:

Sarah Moyal owner of H & S (Photo by Brittney Medeiros)

Sarah Moyal owner of H & S (Photo by Brittney Medeiros)

You can sense Sarah Moyal’s drive, talent and a kindhearted nature the moment you step into Hawk & Sparrow, a tiny vintage shop on James North that opened in 2011.

The bilingual Moyal was born in Toronto and raised in Hamilton. She went to McGill University for Italian and German. Moyal interned for brothers Dean and Dan Caten in Europe. The Caten’s are founders and owners of international fashion house DSQUARED2.

“A friend of mine worked as their quality checker and told me they [the Catens] were hiring so I applied and flew to Milan and interviewed for the job and got it!” explained Moyal.

lH & S

Tiny but mighty, Hawk & Sparrow is another boutique to watch for (Photo by Brittney Medeiros)

“It was a great insight into how to run a fashion business. I also got to live out my dream of working two Milan fashion shows during fashion week. That was probably the highlight of my time there. The energy of a fashion show is like nothing else,” she added.

Moyal’s goals for H & S are to expand her online store on Etsy and to possibly open a store in the U.S.

Moyal doesn’t follow trends and makes her store stand out from others by picking her own pieces. Beautifully crafted necklaces, scarfs and classic garments
are what you’ll see throughout the nifty boutique. When it comes to clothes or furniture and beautiful natural materials like furs and leathers, Moyal loves working with her hands whether it’s making a bag or baking cookies.

Hawk & Sparrow
126 James St. N.,
Hamilton, L8R 2K7
(905) 921-6743

Brittney is in her final year of Print & Broadcast Journalism at Mohawk College, along with being a Lifestyle writer for Illuminessence. Brittney was born in Hamilton but moved around throughout her young life so she understands the value of adapting to new surroundings and people. She now resides in Ancaster.