Danielle Green gestures broadly at the vibrant showroom of clothing, local gifts and jars balloons around her. “I have no style. I used to think clothes were just something you put on before you went outside. I was the last person anyone expected to be doing this,” Green said.
Green is the owner and kinetic force behind Artisanal Design Co. (ADC) an independent vintage clothing and local merch shop.
She may not have style (which is debatable), but she does know how to set an entertaining scene. Growing up, Green had hoped for a career in theatre. “Sadly Black ladies don’t have a lot of options in theatre. Like, I’ll never be able to play Elsa from the Sound of Music,” Green said.
Prejudice aside, Green is still active in the Ontario theatre scene, but mostly on the side. ADC takes up most of this self- proclaimed “theatre nerd’s,” time. Besides she has a new role — curating cool in a community that desperately needs it.
“Unlike a lot of cities we don’t have that one street where all of the artistic stuff is,” she said. “We’re kind of spread all over the place. That’s okay though, that can have its advantages as well.”
Officially ADC is located at Kingsway and 4th Ave, but perhaps a better descriptor is, one of the shops you see perched above the sheer concrete walls when getting on/off Hwy 7. Or for foodies, it’s between Woodfire Bagels and Cocabella Cake Studio.
In 2018, Green was running her own successful wedding and events planning company, Danielle G. Events & Design, when a recent breakup left her with a bit of money and the freedom to ditch a corporate job in real estate she disliked.
“The rent here isn’t super expensive,” Green said, who was introduced to the space by Cocabella Cake Studio. At first, she used it to showcase materials from her events company. “Then my mom suggested I get some clothes in the window to get walk-in clients.”
One window facing-rack of dresses turned to a few more, then a few more. Today there is barely a square foot of the shop that doesn’t have something interesting for sale. Most items are vintage and second-hand tops and bottoms. ADC also offers new items from local artisans like candles from The Copper Bell. At the counter are handmade scrunchies from donated clothing, too roughed up for sale.
“I didn’t grow up with a lot of money. I never felt comfortable buying new clothes, so second-hand clothing is normal for me,” Green said. “I remember when I was a kid my cousin would ride his BMX bike and do amazing tricks wearing this Bob Marley t-shirt. When he gave it to me I was so proud to wear it, even if it was old.”
Green gets much of her merch through donations, “Instagram creeping,” and an informal workforce of family members scouring the internet for the best vintage second-hand clothing.
Moving back and forth between Brampton and Cambridge her whole life, Green has picked up a few informal family members along the way. ADC’s growing base of Instagram followers have gotten to know Green’s associate and sidekick Liz Rego-Fried. No trip to ADC is complete without a healthy dose of Green and Rego-Fried trading hilarious banter like a well-practiced comedy duo.
Thanks to her warm and charming personality, Green’s ambition has earned her fans/friends/family across the Region. Glodeane Brown, better known as @culturefancier on Twitter and Instagram, has been a booster since day one.
As Green wraps up her second year in business she’s dealing with the same kinds of uncertainty and existential dread most of us are. When COVID-19 came around and messed up everyone’s lives, Green was worried having a brick and mortar shop would be a liability.
“I’ll be honest, I cried,” she says laughing. “But my business has actually done better in the pandemic. People want a place to go and shop that feels personal. Plus so many people are cleaning out their closets because they are bored or they’ve lost their jobs and they are looking for that extra money … shopping here is a great way to save money and have great style.”
Born and raised in KW, Sam is writing and fighting for the planet and most of its people. Sam has freelance written for magazines and newspapers and other outlets, including The Globe and Mail, National Post, Maclean's to name a few. Catch more of his opinions on Twitter @MidtownKW.