LESLIEJANE has been bringing fashion to West Vancouver since 1978. Leslie Jane Tyrell, a fashion illustrator, opened in Ambleside to create a beautiful space for engaged, passionate women who desired something out of the ordinary, not fast clothing found in big-box stores. Her source, for the most part, was small design studios around San Francisco and Los Angeles with limited production and a respect for the environment.
Leslie’s son Paul Giesbrecht now leads the brand, maintaining a sophisticated boutique for women in the heart of Ambleside. The store goes to great lengths to find garments and accessories that cannot be found elsewhere. Our team is made up of an artist, a dancer, a writer, a photographer, a couturier, a jewellery designer, and a website expert. Some of them are related by blood; all are friends. LESLIEJANE loves the world and wants to nurture its beauty, creativity, and each other.
Question: How are you supporting other local businesses?
Answer: Although most of our apparel is imported from Europe and Japan, we don’t buy from large manufacturers. We work with small local businesses there, buying from smaller ateliers who care about style, quality and the environment. Many are long term, family run operations. Many of the designers we buy from are our friends – we’ve created a global community.
Our jewellery and scarves are local brands. Our jewellery and scarves are local brands. We stock jewellery from Giulietta Designs from Julie Kemble on Salt Spring Island. She has been our primary jeweller for the last 12 years. Our fine cashmere shawls come from BC artisan Bev Thompson based in Duncan, with manufacturing in Nepal. She produces our shawls for us, and the only other company they manufacture for is Hermes! We have a few other smaller local brands who might come and go depending on the season.
Almost all of our service providers are B.C. owned businesses. We use Hemlock for all our printing, our web designer is local and a friend (Michael Young), our Accountant is at Angelica Parsons from A. Parsons & Associates in North Van. All our retail supplies (tags, tissues) come from Eddies and our packaging comes from Polypak. Our lawyer is local, and our computer tech support company is the Comwell Systems Group. Even our Point of Sale is from a Maple Ridge company called Amber POS. We also support local papers when we advertise in the Vancouver Sun and with the North Shore News.
Question: What social and environmental practices are you proud of?
Answer: LESLIEJANE has made prioritizing people and the planet a core business value since day one. We focus on natural fibres, environmental processes, combined with style and a European aesthetic. We want to know from start to finish where our garments are coming from. They are good quality pieces and made to last. We choose suppliers with extremely high quality manufacturing, fabric sourcing and sewing. We source only natural fibres and have always done that. Many of our designers have impressive environmental programs. One of our biggest fabrics is linen, which has a net positive CO2 emissions because of how it’s grown. Our fabrics use natural dyes that don’t pollute water.
We employ six people, and are proud to provide well paid, long-term retail employment for our staff. We use real women as models – either our staff or clients. We’ve been involved with many charities over the years, most often doing fashion shows that benefit local organizations. Recently those include Lion’s Gate Hospital Palliative Care, the North Shore Women’s Centre, Dress for Success and the CH.I.L.D. Foundation for children with intestinal and liver disorders. In terms of events, most are in-store but we have always supported the Harmony Arts Festival and usually participate in their “Art Beat” program celebrating and featuring work of local artists in-store in the Ambleside Dundarave Business Improvement Area.