words / KEEGAN HUGHES pictures / MEGAN SIBLEY
It’s a lot colder in Ottawa than it was when Stomping Ground opened back in August, but it looks like the store is ready to bring heat all through the winter.
We caught up with co-owners and style visionaries Naj Peterson and Josh Chambers to ask them what goes into running the shop.
The sleek black façade of the boutique stands out against the other shops at 728 Bank St. A framing company has occupied the space before they moved in, and left the store in pretty rough shape.
Thankfully Peterson and Chambers have some design and contracting chops, and were able to design their own store to custom-fit the interior.
“We started with wanting to outsource the design, but after realizing how expensive that is, and both of us having worked retail for long enough we decided to take a stab at it ourselves… We kinda made it come to life,” says Chambers.
No details were spared in the creation of their boutique, and it shows. The interior is equal parts welcoming and modern, with lots of open space to move around in. The clothes are all on display along the one side of the room, and opposite to the hangers are accessories, grooming products, books, and the main counter.
After chatting about the design and what running the store was like, we asked what made them most proud about their business. This made Chambers pause for a moment.
After giving it some thought, he cracked a smile and said, “What are we most proud of? That this exists, that this can exist, that we have an amazing clientele here in the Glebe. The people are just so supportive of independent business.”
More than anything, the Stomping Ground team wants Ottawa’s independent fashion community to grow. Survival is key, and they want to make sure it happens. Cross-promotions and marketing with other stores, as well as fundraising are on the table to ensure that local business stays booming.
“Without the success of other stores, we’re never going to progress as a city, we’re never going to progress in fashion,” says Chambers.
Even with their focus on collaboration in the community, Stomping Ground knows that they have to be honest to their own vision. Instead of following trends and cashing in on hype, they say that they stock items based on a larger vision for their store.
“For both of us there’s an overwhelming need to be authentic to ourselves, and a responsibility to the culture,” says Peterson. “We’re very privileged to be in the position that we are, to curate a part of a culture that we really love and we’re really passionate about.”
Part of this vision involves a love for Scandinavian design. Peterson and Chambers are big fans of the clean aesthetic, which leaves out branding and logos. They’re excited to bring the brand Norse Projects, whom they’ve worked with before, to the store for spring 2017.
They’re also big fans of heritage brands, companies with strong stories. Levis, Filson, and Woolrich all make the list thanks to their storied pasts and commitment to quality.
Concentrating on quality also means rejecting fast fashion.
“We’re sort of conditioned to think that clothing should be disposable,” says Peterson. “It’s kind of rebelling against that to some degree.”
A goal they had when opening their boutique was to help other people find and cultivate their personal style. If you asked Peterson why he chose fashion, he can sum it up with a grin.
“It’s such a unique art form where you get to basically express yourself on a daily basis, and wear your canvas out into the world,” he says.
An affinity for this art form was cultivated at an early age for both owners. Chambers remembers that as a kid he would nag his parents to cart him to Foot Locker, while Peterson remembers being more excited about new basketball shoes than he was about actually playing basketball.
Early infatuation along with a genuine passion for local the local fashion industry seems like the perfect reason to open a boutique. Add in the fact that Chambers and Peterson have worked together for a collective 15 years and it becomes a no brainer.
“This was the next logical step for our journey in life,” says Chambers. “This is the dream.”