For several weeks, Avery Quinn and her partner Suzanne Reesor have been collecting donated clothes to sell at their first popup market, catering to those who don’t feel comfortable shopping at traditional stores.
On Saturday, the duo who run a small business called Closet Space, packed a downtown coffee shop with colourful, fashionable and gender-affirming clothes.
Closet Space aims to help two-spirit, transgender and non-binary people access affordable clothing in a safe way.
Quinn said it’s something she wished she had access to when she began transitioning.
“I went out and I found it was overwhelming because of the number of new clothes for me as I was going into a feminine wardrobe, and just finding there were gendered change rooms, and people would give you looks,” she said.
“Especially early in your transition, it’s a very challenging time to be out and really putting yourself out there.”
Reesor and Quinn do home-based consultations, either out of their own homes or they bring curated outfits to clients.
“I was looking for someone that could help me and give me some tips. We wanted to be able to share that with more people in the community,” she said.
In addition to the upcycled clothing collected by the couple, two vendors took part in the market selling gender neutral underwear and gender gear.
Ro Walker, co-owner of Get Your Joey, a Winnipeg company that sells a fabric packing pouch for folks that choose to use a packer. He said it’s important for trans people like him to have a safe place to shop.
“For people in the trans community to have a catered place for them to shop or look at clothes without being judged about what gender of clothing they’re looking at is a simple thing we’re happy to be a part of,” he said.
His business partner Kalyn Falk said they predominantly run things online and typically deal with clients via email. She said they’re happy to meet trans and non-binary people in their own community.
“This is a chance for us to actually meet people face-to-face. The reason we started it is to show people that we see them, we love them, we want to provide a resource for them,” she said. “We get to see the faces and the humans, not just emails.”
The market had everything from outerwear to underwear, including Laura’s UnderThere, which specializes in gender neutral underwear.
“I really believe that clothes have no gender and we’ve given that weight to them that isn’t necessarily true,” said Laura Everett.
“Especially with something that’s right up in there and touching you in such an intimate part of your body, I think it’s really powerful to just break that down.”
Quinn said moving forward, Closet Space will begin to market more custom Pride swag, host small groups to talk about gender-affirming fashion, and hold monthly popup markets.
The next one is coming up in November.