From the streets of Europe to The Eglinton Way – Maria Botonis, the co-founder of Stimoda, has succeeded in bringing international style into her Toronto store. As a world traveler with a passion for fashion, Maria is a creative and warm person who can style you for any occasion. Maria recently invited Sheliza Esmail from The Eglinton Way into Stimoda for a tour and conversation about their spring style.
The Eglinton Way: Maria, what led you to join the fashion industry?
Maria: When I was growing up I spent a lot of time traveling to Greece to visit family. I remember being there in the early 2000’s up to a couple years ago and noticing completely different trends than what was in style here in Toronto. Everything there was so unique and different up until the crisis happened. I would come home with half a suitcase full of new pieces and get tonnes of compliments. That’s really when I noticed a void in the market here for something a little more unique and different.
I also used to shop a lot from Australian designers online. I absolutely love their style and they tend not to get the recognition they should as fashion trendsetters.
Stimoda started out as an online shop only. We did pop up shops around the city and noticed the high interest for a brick and mortar in Toronto, so we listened to our clients and made it happen.
Opening the store was a natural step for me because I wanted to introduce the designers I came across during my travels to Toronto, and share them with women looking for styles that can’t be found at a regular mall.
The Eglinton Way: You certainly have some beautiful clothes in here. What are your thoughts on 2017 spring trends? Can you give me a tour?
Maria: I have a love hate relationship with trends. The statement sleeve is still going strong for spring, which I LOVE. We’re seeing the bell, trumpet, off the shoulder, and ruffle sleeve a lot. I love a dramatic sleeve. I have always loved florals and every spring they are presented to us in a new way. This year there is a lot of wallpaper floral happening, as well as stripes, corsets, asymmetrical hemlines, beautiful shades of pinks and one-shoulder everything.
Maria walks me around the store and shares the unique pieces on display in her spring windows – coral and salmon tops and elegant asymmetrical dresses fill the racks.
The Eglinton Way: Who’s the designer of this asymmetrical dress? Who are
some of your favourite under the radar designers?
Maria: I LOVE Australian fashion and I am a little bit biased because I carry a lot of Australian labels in our store. Keepsake The Label has my heart. Carmen Dugan, the designer, does such a beautiful job on femininity. She does a lot of really beautiful silhouettes, shapes, patterns and textures. She kills it every delivery, every season. It just gets better and better.
I also LOVE Canadian designers I don’t think they get as much credit as they
should when it comes to global recognition. Aleks Susak is one of my favourites. She does beautiful silk gowns, dresses, and trousers, and hand paints all of her pieces, which is really interesting. I also love the Beaufille sisters. I love their designs and the way they fuse masculine and feminine energies together.
The Eglinton Way: What’s on your playlist right now?
Maria: Bachata! Especially Romeo Santos. It’s really good pick-me-up music as we go into spring.
The Eglinton Way: We could definitely use some pick-me-up music in this Toronto weather. Lastly, what is the most interesting part of your line of work?
Maria: Building relationships with clients. I’m a social person and enjoying talking to people and hearing their stories. Style is so important to people in this city and I have met so many interesting people since moving to The Eglinton Way BIA.