THE STORY OF TSOQ:
On a magical leap year day in 2012, just months after Fashion Buyer, Vava Valentina, and Fashion Designer, Angela Phung, had met through Vava’s cousin who lived in Angela’s condo building. Aside from their first names, the two did not know anything about each other. These two strangers decided to meet up for their first lunch date.
Angela woke up with an empowering feeling and tweeted “…feeling magical today!”. During lunch, the girls briefly got to know one another and both talked about not feeling at home in Toronto, since there wasn't anything in the city exciting enough to ground them. Both being in the fashion industry, they talked about how fun it would be to do something together.
Before the two met, Vava had owned a store and sold it, traveled, then moved to Toronto in Feb 2011. She had spent almost a year actively searching for the storefront on Queen Street to call her own, but had not been successful. The space was either is too large or the rent was too high.
Angela had recently moved to Toronto in October of 2011 to take a year off after dedicating several years launching her restaurant businesses in cities West of Ontario. She planned to enjoy her time off while familiarizing herself with the area to be able to launch another business venture after her year off...2 months after her move, she was already bored and needed something to do.
After lunch, Angela offered Vava a ride home and on their way down Queen Street, Vava saw a 3 x 5-inch hand-written sign on a store window that read: “For Rent”. She abruptly said, “Oh my god! Stop the car!” They immediately made a U-turn and pulled over in front of the store. Vava looked at Angela and said "it's probably for the apartments upstairs". Angela said call anyways. Valentina called the number spoke to the landlord and it turned out to be a commercial lease. After she got off the phone, for some unexplainable reason, she shared all the information with Angela...and before she could finish, Angela said, "Let's do it!"....
Not even knowing each other's last names, these girls signed their lives away 7 days later...and like that they found the perfect match, just like a marriage.
ABOUT WIFEE (VAVA VALENTINA): MAMA THE BUYER
Vava is the perfect Wifee in the relationship, hopeless romantic, caring, Buyer for the TSOQ (aka Best Shopper in the World), guides the children (trains) packs lunches for Hubby keeps the store beautifully Merchandised and clean, and smelling pretty.
Valentina was always the fashion girl growing up, but never thought she would make her passion into a career because it wasn’t something she wanted to do and she never imagined owning her own store.
Being an avid shopper at Le Chateau, they tried to recruit her every day until she turned 16 and was legally able to work. She started as a sales associate and quickly moved up in the company. After becoming the store manager, the buying department offered her a paid buying internship at head office in Montreal. It took them a few months to convince her, but she accepted it and went to Montreal. Three months later, they offered her a position to stay, but she declined, and moved back to B.C. Thereafter, she was offered a Supervisor position in B.C., but turned that down. Her BFF at the time, wanted to open a shop and asked Valentina is she would be interested in partnering up. Valentina declined, but she needed Vava's buying and styling ability, so she begged Vava for months before convincing her. She then resigned her position of nearly 9 years with the company, but everyone was not surprised she was opening a store of her own. Nearly 2 months later she opened the doors to her first shop without her BFF.
After a few years, Valentina wanted to travel and decided to sell the business and take off. A year later, she ends up in Toronto where she launched her online shop and bartend part time at a local restaurant.
ABOUT HUBBY (ANGELA PHUNG): PAPA OF MARKETING
Angela is totally the Hubby, with an androgynous style, masculine thought process, the super Techie, the Handyman around the store, takes out the garbage every week and looks after the Marketing and Branding of TSOQ.
Angela (Hubby) was born in Guelph, where she was known as the chubby girl with the crazy sense of style. Everyday after school, you would find Angela in the basement of her parents home sewing and working on her outfit for the next day. Growing up in a conservative Asian household (where anything creative was not an acceptable choice), her parents wanted her to join the family restaurant business. Angela had chosen all business academics in high school to gear up for her study in Business at the University in Waterloo. Until one day a local retail store owner admired her outfit that she had designed and offered to sell her designs in his store. After she got a taste of the design life, she changed all her prerequisites to get into a Fashion Design program in post-secondary without her parents knowledge and permission.
She moved to London in 2002 for her studies. During the 3 year program, Angela launched her own brand, developed a local clientele, showcased in many fashion shows and competed in competitions, one of which she placed nationals and represented Canada on international runways of Paris. Her story was published in the Guelph Mercury. In the article, she was asked where she saw herself in 10-15 years, she responded, “Owning a retail store on Queen Street West”. Upon graduating, she came across a marketing opportunity for a restaurant chain and decided she wanted a new challenge. She submerged herself in the business for 5 years where she eventually became the company’s creative director in charge of all banding and marketing. She expanded the brand across Ontario and launched 9 restaurant locations. That was the beginning of the strong interest in developing different brands and turn key businesses. By 2010, Angela successfully developed and launched 3 different restaurant brands and 1 kids indoor playground brand.
Being young and single, she needed a change and ventured to Toronto (where the real story began). All at the same time, Angela opened TSOQ and landed a role in the reality series “Keasha’s Perfect Dress” on Slice. Working along side with Keasha from TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress”.