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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Where I work: OZ

Follow the cobblestone road to the Granville Square shoe store’s stomping grounds.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 29, 2017 at 11:38 AM

click to enlarge DYLAN CHEW
  • Dylan Chew

OZ
1887 Granville Street

WHO SHE IS

One step into OZ you might think you’ve walked through some kind of portal to a modern footwear exhibit at the Bata Shoe Museum. Michele Giffin opened slick shoe store three months ago on Granville Street, a literal stone’s throw from street fashion emporium RCHMND. Is this the beginning of the Granville fashion district?

WHAT SHE DOES
OZ is a wonderland of women’s footwear, with brands like fashion go-tos Stuart Weitzman and Senso, and in-the-know ones like the Brazilian label Schutz, that emphatically show Giffin’s buying prowess and curatorial eye. Her product offering also includes candles and personal fragrances by Maison Louis Marie, which has a cult-like following in fashion circles. “When I was debating the name I wanted one that encapsulated all my personal ideals including style, fashion and interior design,” she says. “But how do you even name a baby?”

WHERE SHE DOES IT
This baby wasn’t really planned. Giffin was enjoying a career in fashion at Foreign Affair on Spring Garden, where she spent three successful years. “I really enjoyed working at a smaller retailer because it’s more hands-on learning and you’re exposed to all aspects of the operation including, buying, event planning and client development,” she says. However, she wanted to appease her other creative side and study interior design. As soon as Giffin decided to leave Foreign Affair to further her education, the historic space on Granville became available. It was perfect. And, as British author Alan Bennett once said, “Sometimes there is no next time, no time-outs, no second chances. Sometimes it’s now or never.” So, thanks to some gumption, she took the leap.

WHY IT WORKS
Armed with a deep understanding of people and things that impact their decisions—Giffin has an undergraduate degree in psychology—a knack for retail and a father who is an entrepreneur, she created a space that is “inspired by the most iconic shoe of all time—Dorothy’s ruby slippers.”
“I wanted a magical place, one where you can get transported to,” say says, adding that she aims to “appeal to women who love travel and have disposable income.” This is just the beginning for Giffin, who opened OZ as a fairly nimble space. “The name is purposely gender neutral so that I can expand whether it’s to men’s shoes or apparel,” she says. “This is just the starting point for me, the brand will continue to grow and evolve.”


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Vol 25, No 29
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