FOLLOWING in her family’s footsteps
Mandy Gosewich is the fourth generation to own a store in the By Ward Market
Retail is in Mandy Gosewich’s blood. The feisty owner of Stunning! Fashion Accessories & Then Some on York Street is the fourth generation to work in the ByWard Market. There are numerous family mementos scattered throughout the tiny jewelry boutique, which opened a month ago. There’s a Siddur, a Jewish prayer book, that belonged to her great-grandfather resting on a shelf. He emigrated from Poland and sold religious items and Yiddish newspapers on York Street in the early 1920s.
Her grandfather was a milliner who owned Ottawa Imperial Cap Companies, operating a store for 50 years on York Street. One of his sewing machines sits on a table.
A painting of Ritchie’s Sports store is a tribute to her dad Herb, an immensely popular man who ran the shop on Sparks Street for 45 years.
“My family pretty well had the downtown covered,” laughs Gosewich, 49. “I’m humbled that I get to do this. We are merchants. It runs in our blood.”
Gosewich learned retail while working for her mother, Dena, who owned Next to Nothing, a lingerie store with two outlets at 240 Sparks and one at Minto Place.
A longtime volunteer for various Jewish organizations, Dena was known for her quick wit and salty tongue.
Mandy became so adept in the world of hosiery and lingerie that she eventually went off to work in Toronto at corporate headquarters for Holt Renfrew where she became the hosiery specialist. Gosewich returned to Ottawa to live closer to her family after her parents were in a car accident in 2006.
“Herb is now in a wheelchair, but is still ‘Herb’ for those who know him. He is living in a nursing home, and Dena is as funny ever. Sadly this is not what they had planned for their golden years, but they had many, many amazing years of extensive travel, which is a retailer’s dream, after they closed the doors. They have been married for over 50 years and are a true love story of commitment, dedication, love and laughter.”
It takes all of 30 seconds in Gosewich’s company to determine that she’s one of the most gregarious people you’ll ever meet. Her store is an extension of her personality and bursts with colourful touches and appealing accessories that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. The space boasts a beautiful tin ceiling, magenta (not purple!) walls and a lime-green desk that used to be her grandmother’s makeup table. Various thrift store finds have been converted into funky display cabinets for sparkling necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Her cockapoo Pearl is part of the package and follows Gosewich from her apartment around the corner on Sussex Drive to work each day.
“This is not a sterile space. I want people to feel like they are walking into a boudoir of accessories. Everything you see is my own personal style with little touches of home. I used to be a sale rep for high-end accessories in Toronto and have cultivated many lasting relationships with designers and vendors. Every piece in here was selected by me.”
Sophisticated, chic jewelry by the likes of Two A, Rita D, Chantelle Wilson, Charlotte Hosten and Karen McClintock line the walls. There is also an assortment of colourful scarves and belts. Gosewich has held a variety of jobs including working for beauty mogul Randi Shinder’s Fusion Beauty in New York and most recently as manager of the Michael Kors store in the Rideau Centre. She prides herself on knowing how to pull together an outfit and how to dress it up with a unique piece of jewelry.
“I have street smarts, learn from my mistakes and work through them. I have a wonderful relationship with people who work in the Market. This is where I come from.”