About a decade ago, Erinn Trebaczkiewicz was at a dead end.
“I’m a creative soul and working a 9-to-5 job in the industrial sector was leaving me feeling uninspired,” she candidly admits. “I needed something to challenge me.”
Turning her efforts to the internet, the AMA member started a blog where she often posted about clothing and children’s toys that she’d sourced from overseas. It was a success, with many readers asking how she was able to find these items. Sensing an opportunity, she sent out feelers to the various European brands she ordered from, asking if she could represent them in Canada.
Thus, The Skinny was born.
“It was a phrase my grandad often used,” Trebaczkiewicz explains. “He called all of his granddaughters ‘sis,’ and he’d always ask, ‘What’s the skinny?’ which means, ‘What’s the scoop?’”
The Skinny started out as an online business in 2014, but Trebaczkiewicz quickly decided she wasn’t comfortable with clients coming to her house to pick up their purchases. So she opened a pop-up boutique at downtown Edmonton’s Vacancy Hall—before quickly moving to a permanent storefront at Southgate Centre. The location proved a good fit, and expansion to both West Edmonton Mall and the Premium Outlet Collection at EIA soon followed.
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“I was hesitant at first because the whole idea was of the store as a community space, not just a standard retail space,” she says. “That’s how the blog started, and when we moved into Southgate we wanted people to feel comfortable. We put in couches, a coffee bar and a play area for the kids. It isn’t just fast fashion where you get in and out. If you wanted to come in and hang out there was no pressure. Of course, if you loved the sweater you saw in the back and wanted to purchase it, that was fantastic too.”
Like other businesses, The Skinny has had to carefully navigate the uncertainties of the past year. Trebaczkiewicz initially had to lay off all 24 of her employees, but continuing online sales from her loyal customer base meant that she was able to re-hire a few staff almost immediately.
“They’re almost like family,” she says. “I was brought to tears many times over the support we got.”
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Despite the pandemic, Trebaczkiewicz is excited about the future. There’s been growing interest in the shop’s own Erinn cardigan, which has been sported by well-known influencers, including Jillian Harris (of Love It or List It Vancouver, among other things) and Sarah Nicole Landry of The Birds Papaya. Expansion is also in the cards: Trebaczkiewicz notes that she’s looking to open locations on both the east and west coasts of Canada.
In the meantime, she’s preparing for fashion trends in 2021.
“We’re seeing the ’90s come around again,” she says. “Little sweater sets for women, and a lot of earthy tones. Fall will be full of chocolate browns, light sky blues and yellows. Think of shows like Friends, those old sitcoms that you either love or hate, or the movie Clueless. Fashion tends to circle back, so that’s what we’ll be seeing—only in more modern cuts.”
HOW TO SAVE
AMA members earn 5% cash back on the purchase of a Shopping.ca Gift Card, which can be used at participating retailers (including The Skinny) at Southgate Centre, Premium Outlet Collection EIA and CrossIron Mills. Buy the card—as a gift, or for yourself—at any one of our 17 AMA centres across Alberta.