ME­GAN SZANIK

Where Calgary - - SHOPPING - —Michaela Ritchie

Af­ter dart­ing around the globe buy­ing, sell­ing and re­search­ing on be­half of some of the fash­ion world’s most talked­about brands, Me­gan Szanik set­tled in Cal­gary to open her fash­ion bou­tique Espy Ex­pe­ri­ence (page 43). The in­spi­ra­tion for Espy had orig­i­nally been about sav­ings—us­ing her in­dus­try connections to bring af­ford­able fash­ion to Cal­gar­i­ans. Then a mid­night shop­ping spree gave her a re­tail rev­e­la­tion.

“I had a cus­tomer bring her friend into the store at night. She said to me, ‘Me­gan, she won’t come in dur­ing the day. She hates her­self, she’s gained all this weight. She doesn’t know how to dress her new body.’ So we brought her in at nine o’clock at night and I dressed her for two hours.” When that cus­tomer’s hus­band called Szanik the next morn­ing to thank her for her “life chang­ing” guid­ance, Szanik knew she had to find a way to make fash­ion ac­ces­si­ble for all.

“I re­al­ized that I could make that ex­pe­ri­ence part of my ev­ery day, and that’s what we do here [at Espy],” she says. “Not every­body is go­ing to look good in ev­ery­thing. Fash­ion is not just one style, one size, one brand fits all.”

Espy Ex­pe­ri­ence of­fers ac­cess to pro­fes­sional styling, in­di­vid­u­ally catered to aid a di­verse range of style pro­files and body types in their quest to be­come the best—and best-dressed—ver­sions of them­selves. The store is known for its vast se­lec­tion of denim cuts, ex­cep­tional ser­vice and in­trepid char­ity cam­paigns.

How would you de­scribe Cal­gary’s style?

If you were to sit on Stephen Av­enue and watch peo­ple, and ask them ‘Where did you get this?’ they might say ‘Oh, Toronto. New York. When I was in Phoenix at the out­lets.’ I love that we have a real trav­eller pop­u­la­tion, and that we bring a lot of our in­flu­ences back here.

How has Cal­gary's fash­ion scene changed?

When I first moved here ten years ago I found it way more ca­sual than it is now, but it’s still also a bit of a wild­card. We like a fancy western dress.

What is sur­pris­ing about Cal­gary?

Peo­ple don’t re­al­ize how big Cal­gary is, be­cause it feels like a small town. I’ve lived in Toronto, I’ve lived in Mon­treal, I’ve lived in Van­cou­ver—noth­ing feels like this place.

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