Shopping second-hand often gets a negative reputation as being someone else’s discarded pieces. When in reality, it’s completely different. Haven’t you heard of the saying, “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure,” and in the case of La Osa Jewelry and Vintage you’ll find a closet full of treasures that you’ll want to keep forever. This eclectic seventies and eighties curated vintage fashion store located in the heart of Stratford, Ontario is a gem to the city and beyond.
Pamela Coneybeare has always been an avid supporter of vintage fashion going as far back as the age of 11. She began collecting pieces for herself and to sell at local markets. While in university she started her first official upcycled clothing line called Second Life. In 2014, she decided to put all her efforts into creating jewelry with vintage components. By February 2018 she was able to bring all her passions together under one roof with the opening of La Osa Jewelry and Vintage. The store is described as “stepping into a seventies cocktail party or gazing into your cool older sisters pastel cosmetic case”- sounds pretty fun!
Fast forward to the end of 2019, when Pamela realized her first store didn’t showcase, in full capacity, the demand for clothing. She took the risk to move to 34 Ontario Street, Stratford into a building from the 1900s. After months of renovation with the help of her partner Jeremy, she has created a space to fall in love with. The original arched wood ceiling still carries its 100-year glory from when it was a hotel lobby then a grocery store and most recently a Christian book shop. Unfortunately, the walls and floor needed to be replaced. Even then, Pamela was able to install linoleum flooring which adds to the retro vibe of the store.
Interested to know more about the renovations? Check out a blog post by Andrew of Halibut Woodworking who was influential in the renovation.
The store space is also shared with Halibut Woodworking as they display complementary furniture for sale. Keeping in line with her values on sustainability, she also retails Canadian made brands in her store like Bullboy Lingerie, Lunah Life and White Feather Designs which complement her aesthetic.
The best and most inviting aspect of La Osa is that the store is curated. For a modern society, second-hand clothing can be overwhelming. Think vintage fashion stores that are over stuffed with clothing and accessories. While Pamela loves hunting for items she understands her customers do not. So she presents them with fewer items that are displayed clearly in a contemporary setting.
Pamela carefully hand-selects each vintage piece, offering predominantly natural and sustainable fabrics. She loves sourcing outerwear pieces, especially coats and blazers because they add statement to an outfit. Her store is filled with colours and patterns reminiscent of the fashionable decades. Expect to see florals, ruffles and lace because although she likes the vivid style of the 80s she also loves the feminine aspects. Think secretary style blouses and skirts.
Her customers also have great things to say about her and La Osa
“Perfect place to find a gift for someone who lives an ethically sustainable lifestyle.” – Chantelle
“If you’re looking for a well-curated vintage experience coupled with handcrafted jewelry in Stratford then look no further!” – Allie
“This shop is such a treat to visit. The aesthetic is beautiful and Pamela’s creations always make me feel beautiful.” – Vanessa
She is also aiming to be more inclusive with sizing. While clothing from the 50s is generally on the petite side, by looking to the late 80s and 90s she is hoping to find pieces in larger sizes.
Pamela’s jewelry collection sourced from vintage pieces is still going strong since 2014. The collections are colourful and playful consisting of earrings, necklaces and bracelets. She creates each collection in a somewhat reverse process. After locating the materials – glass and plastic beads, brass chains, etc she works on building a collection that is cohesive. This compilation creates one-of-kind pieces that you would love and treasure.
Stratford itself is a great example of a community that supports its patrons with events and partnerships. Since opening her vintage fashion store she has found immense support from the community, especially in this difficult time. There is a growing awareness of sustainable and conscious shopping. Pamela also helped in organizing Stratford Trashion Week (unfortunately, canceled for 2020) which is an event providing education and runway shows on eco-fashion, holding design competitions and workshops.
As we eagerly wait for the opening of La Osa Jewelry and Vintage, here is a virtual tour of the store from Pamela herself.