Homegrown Business: Julie Kalinowski & Angela Pastor of The Fitzroy

Julie Kalinowski and Angela Pastor, co-founders of The Fitzroy, have revolutionized the fashion industry with their dress rental service. By offering a curated collection of designer dresses, gowns, jumpsuits, and two-piece suits, The Fitzroy allows customers to rent stylish attire for any special occasion. With rentals priced from $100 to $150 for a 4-day period, The Fitzroy provides a sustainable and affordable alternative to purchasing formal garments. Their commitment to sustainability and variety without waste has made them Canada’s leading dress rental service.

Homegrown Business: Julie Kalinowski & Angela Pastor of The Fitzroy

What is your business called, and what does it do?

The Fitzroy. Canada’s leading dress rental service. We offer a curated collection of designer dresses, gowns, jumpsuits, and two-piece suits that are available to rent for any special occasion. Rentals range from about $100 – $150 for a 4-day rental, dry cleaning included. We also offer evening bags and accessories for rent and sell solution wear, making it an easy one-stop shop for any fancy occasion. We have a Toronto showroom with hundreds of pieces available to rent (no appointment needed), and we ship across Canada with easy two-way shipping and virtual appointments.

What made you want to do this work?

For five years before we started our rental business, we had a retail business selling clothing, and it didn’t sit right with us to perpetuate the constant need to buy new or be a part of the wastefulness of the fashion industry. We realized that formal and dressier garments are truly one-time-wear pieces. You don’t need to own those types of garments and have them sitting wastefully in your closet collecting dust, never to be worn again. Women often want to wear something new or different to their next event and don’t wear something like a ballgown regularly, so there is no need to own it. We would hear feedback from customers that they would only want to wear certain pieces once, which gave us the idea to rent the garments instead of selling them. It was a win-win concept for us to be a more sustainable business, economical for the client, and a way to have more variety without guilt. We loved the idea of being able to help people feel and look their best for all the important occasions in their lives and relieve the stress of trying to find something perfect to wear.

What problem did you want to solve with the business?

Our business solves the problem of wanting to wear something different to all the special occasions in your life but not spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a formal garment you will only wear once. You can rent it instead for a fraction of the cost ($100 – $150 for a 4-day rental vs $600 – $2000 to buy). We offer hundreds of styles and cuts for all body types and sizes, from sizes 0-20 and offer something for every occasion, from casual to formal black-tie. We are a more sustainable option, as the garments go out time and time again. We also have an in-house repair team to keep the garments in excellent condition.

We offer variety without being wasteful about it and designer pieces without the designer price tags. Customers can also rent something they wouldn’t normally wear or spend money on. They can wear something completely different and designer for every occasion and not be wasteful to the environment or their wallet. We are like a secret weapon and tool for all the women in the know.

Who are your clientele/demographics?

People with an occasion where they need to get fancy! Our typical demographic is women from 20 to 50 years old, but we serve all the way from high school students to grandmothers. We also have some little girl dresses perfect for flower girls ages 1-6.

How does your business make money? How does it work?

We rent garments out again and again rather than just sell them one time. Customers can rent in-store, without an appointment needed, at our Toronto showroom or online anytime and anywhere in Canada. We ship across Canada with easy two-way shipping and have all the details about the garment and measurements on our site.

Where in the city can we find your profession?

Our new beautiful headquarters is at 213 Sterling Rd Unit 111, Toronto, ON M6R 2B2, including our showroom, twenty change rooms, offices and back-end operations.

What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services? Give the answer as well.

Why buy when you can rent? Why drag yourself around malls and stores to find difficulty finding what works best for your body type and occasion? Why spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a garment you’ll only wear once?

We take the stress out of finding a dress or formal outfit for a special occasion. We have something for everyone (every height and size from 0-20, and we are expanding our size range as we grow). We cost a fraction of the price of a new outfit and make it so easy. Just try on (or select online), book it for the date you need it (or take it with you if you come into the studio right before the event), and then either return it to the store (we have a 24-hour drop box customers can drop off at) or use our easy courier pick up or pre-paid return envelope and drop off at any Canada Post office. You just wear the dress and send it back worn, and we take care of the rest. We make it an easy and fun experience.

Homegrown Business: Julie Kalinowski & Angela Pastor of The Fitzroy

What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?

We love the feedback we get from customers! Hearing that we provide excellent service and a welcoming, inclusive, and positive environment is truly the best part of our job. We often get referred to as a dress dreamland where you can come in and play dress up with the help of experienced and friendly stylists who help you find something you look and feel your best in.

There isn’t too much of a “worst part” other than the complicated logistics of this business. Since our pieces are rentals, they go in and out of stock constantly, so we must manage the inventory meticulously. Pieces are shipped across the country, returned, cleaned, checked over and out to the next customer. It’s a complicated dance.

What is your favourite joke about your own profession?

Our tagline is “dress rental magic,” as we genuinely feel like magicians not just with helping customers find that perfect dress (and then getting all the compliments when they’re out wearing the garment) but also with managing the back-end logistics of getting the rentals in and out the door.

We also call ourselves “fairy godmothers” as we want everyone to have that magical Cinderella moment, just a “bibbidi-bobbidi-boo,” and you look amazing!

Where can we follow you?

Instagram | TikTok | Facebook | Website

PAY IT FORWARD: What is another local business that you love?

We love the company Armed. They’re a local jewelry company run by an amazing female founder who designs all the pieces. There’s not one item in her collection we don’t want, and it’s our jewelry go-to for both of us.


About Joel Levy 2585 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography