Since its inception in 2001, My Sister’s Closet (BWSS) has become a local landmark for thrifters and savvy shoppers alike. As the boutique celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, its cause and storied history continue to propel its legacy forward as it makes a meaningful impact empowering the community.
The boutique has become a fashion destination for discerning shoppers. It regularly appears in listicles for its sharply curated collection of gently-used clothing and accessories for all bodies (including a selection of menswear dubbed My Brother’s Corner) in styles that are on-trend and classic. There are two brick-and-mortar locations—the second being on Commercial Drive—and an online shop, the latter to keep serving the needs of the community during the pandemic.
My Sister’s Closet is a social enterprise of Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS), a local organization providing education, advocacy, and support towards eliminating gender-based (including sexualized violence) and domestic violence. BWSS responded to 32,000 requests for service in 2020—up from 18,000 the year before. With 100% of its revenues going towards funding BWSS’s life-saving programs and services, My Sister’s Closet has been instrumental in supporting thousands of victims and survivors every year.
The downtown storefront on the corner of Seymour and Helmcken sits intentionally on a city block that sex workers worked in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The store’s location was also chosen to be near the site where Elaine Allenbach, a sex worker, went missing in 1986.
Since 1979, the BWSS organization has provided counselling and healing spaces for those who have experienced abuse. In order to help women build strength and resiliency, they work on institutional and systemic advocacy, legal advocacy and law reform, youth engagement through the two social enterprises: My Sister’s Closet and Strategic Interventions. In addition to supporting women directly, they also work with men, helping them to own their role in ending violence against girls and women.
Two decades since it first opened, My Sister’s Closet endures as a landmark of local history and a physical manifestation of BWSS’s mission to promote equality and safety for all women.
Locations: 1830 Commercial Drive & downtown at 1092 Seymour Street.