A Vancouver organization that directly helps female abuse survivors has reached a milestone.
My Sister’s Closet is celebrating 20 years in operation. Over the last two decades, the downtown eco-fashion boutique has become a sort of local landmark.
The store is a social enterprise of Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS), a group that provides education, advocacy, and support toward gender-based domestic violence.
BWSS responded to 32,000 service requests last year, up from 18,000 the previous year.
My Sister’s Closet is completely volunteer-run and 100 per cent of the retailer’s revenue funds BWSS programs and services.
“We're deeply rooted in the communities we operate in. We've had tremendous success in having incredible teams of self-identified women and girls who have rallied behind the cause to end gender-based violence,” explains volunteer Kristina Moser.
The storefront’s home at Seymour and Helmcken streets is also an important aspect of its history. The surrounding city block was frequented by sex workers in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The store’s location was chosen to be near the site where sex worker Elaine Allenbach went missing in 1986.
In addition to various high-end fashions, My Sister’s Closet sells a range of accessories and locally-crafted artisanal items. There’s even a selection of menswear available, dubbed My Brother’s Corner.
A second store on Commercial Dr. and an online shop, which ensures accessible support, also help BWSS promote equality and safety for all women.
“Every day we get to witness the impact we make on women's lives, families' lives, children's lives. We see every day how we not only change, but we save lives,” adds Moser.