Nestled in the heart of the Junction, one of Toronto’s up-and-coming neighbourhoods, you’ll find Just Two Girls, a boutique owned by twin sisters Maya and Yasmeen who are making a name for themselves as two of the friendliest fashionistas in the city.
I stumbled upon Just Two Girls while running errands in the Junction, the bright, pink signage caught the corner of my eye and the store’s name was instantly inviting. I was welcomed by Maya, and within minutes we were chatting like old friends. No sales pitch, no run down of what’s new for the season and no making me feel like I wasn’t welcomed because I looked like I had just woken up and decided to run a marathon. After a few minutes in the store, observing Maya interact with other clients, I realized I could barely decipher who was a regular customer and who was visiting the store for the first time. I was impressed with Maya’s genuine affability and her disarming demeanour – coupled with the fact that the clothes were just begging to be worn and accessorized – I knew right away this place was special. What I had intended to be a quick peek into a new store, ended up being an hour visit, me trying on all I could carry to the change room and leaving with a few of the most gorgeous pieces now hanging in my closet – but best of all, a few weeks later I got the chance to sit down and hear the compelling story of how Just Two Girls got their start.
Just over a year ago, Yasmeen Jalali and Maya Delulis suffered the sudden and tragic loss of their father, who was diagnosed with cancer and taken from them in a matter of seven short weeks. It was during this time that the sisters experienced a whole new appreciation for life and decided to follow a dream that they had not only talked about for years but something they knew would make their father proud. Both growing up with a love for fashion and aware of the power it can give a woman to really feel like her best self, the sisters decided to launch a boutique. One that would not only sell beautiful and unique pieces, but create an environment where they could help women feel comfortable, confident and beautiful inside out.
With limited resources but lots of gumption, the sisters who were coming from two very different career paths, Maya from the medical field and Yasmeen a make-up artist, the sisters were intent on making their vision come to life and within three months launched their store as an online platform. With their best, and most stylist foot forward, Just Two Girls launched a boutique whose brand voice displayed a down-to-earth authenticity that’s not usually paired with clothes that look like they belong on glossy pages. This resonated with women across the city and in a few months Just Two Girls began to pick up momentum. Still working with a shoe- string budget and looking for ways they could connect with women and help them feel beautiful, the women launched Girls Night In events, which hit the sweet spot that would take them to the next level. Similar to the popular jewellery parties, where a hostess would host her girlfriends at her home and a designer would provide a private shopping experience for the group of women, Just Two Girls would bring clothing from their online store for groups of ladies in their homes over the next year.
“It was a night where you could be with all your girlfriends staying in, trying on clothes and encouraging each other. You could feel as the night went on the energy level would be higher and the women would just be feeling good about themselves. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging other women, sometimes we don’t do that enough; so when you have a room full of women who are doing it for each other, it’s amazing to see,” says Maya.
After the success of their Girls Night In events, and essentially building a dedicated following in just a year, a feat that’s fairly unprecedented in such a highly saturated and competitive market, the women were eager to fulfill their initial goal and launch a brick and mortar store. There they would be able to have a physical location for the women, who many of them had now become friends, could come shop, chat and have a Girls Night In experience whenever they felt like it.
And so they took the plunge, Maya left a job she enjoyed and had been doing for 18 years, and within four weeks of finding a location the wonder twins opened their doors.
“It was scary, it was omg am I doing this? But you have to sometimes take a chance in life, you have to take a chance in something that you believe in,” says Maya.
It’s only been three months since they took that chance and are already on a first name basis with many of the fellow small business owners and clients in the neighbourhood – no surprise there.
“We are just here to encourage each other, no one’s trying to take away from each other. I think it’s a great neighbourhood, hopefully we’ve added to it,” says Maya.
If the success that these ladies have had in just over a year of starting their company is any indication of what’s in store for the future, then Toronto should be hearing a lot more from Just Two Girls.