Meet Emilia, owner of Lilac Lingerie, a boutique lingerie store in Westboro. Aside from being a business owner, though, Emilia is also a mom, a clubber, a Bulgarian ex-pat, and self-described “devoted redhead.”
My name is Emilia, and I moved to Canada about 10 years ago. I’m from Eastern Europe, but Ottawa is my home now. Originally we were thinking about just being here for a few years and then travelling the world, but my husband found a very good job and I went to school at the University of Ottawa. When I finished school I felt established here, we bought a house, had a daughter, and now we have a business. So we’re pretty much staying. We’ve gotten used to Ottawa, and we don’t want to move. I grew up in Sofia, Bulgaria, which is a much bigger city than Ottawa. But I like that it’s not as busy here. Sofia is very intense, and very condensed. There are a lot of people in a very small space.
I went to university for communications, worked a little bit in that field in the private sector, in non-profits, and later for the government. In January 2010 I started my own business, Lilac Lingerie. The boutique opened doors in August that year. It’s going well – it’s getting busier every month. It’s kind of a unique thing that we offer. We do bra fittings, but we also carry lingerie from all over the world.
What made you decide to open a lingerie shop?
Well, I always wanted to have a business. I was searching for an idea that was very personable and face-to-face, something I could build a little community around. I thought about a coffee shop, but I’m not really much of a food person. For a long time I brainstormed ideas, but nothing seemed quite right. Finally over Christmas it all kind of solidified, and opening a lingerie boutique started to make a lot of sense. My husband was very keen, so we thought about it, did some research, and then just decided to do it.
I’ve always had a passion for lingerie. When I first let it out that I was opening a store, my friends all said, “I didn’t know you were interested in that!” But a passion for lingerie is not something you talk about, really! Now I get to talk about it all the time. When new shipments come into the store it’s like Christmas, we all get so excited. In general Lilac is a very positive environment, a very positive place to be. People only go lingerie shopping when they’re in the mood for it, so my customers are always really smiley.
Do you see yourself staying in Ottawa long-term?
Yes, I think so. I like Ottawa. Originally I was a little skeptical – it seemed small. But I’ve really seen it grow since I moved here, and I’ve realized that the party is where you make it. Fun can be anywhere, it just depends on you.
I’m starting to see Ottawa as a fun city. It depends on the energy of the people around you. I didn’t really discover that while I was in school, but once I was in the work force I got to know it better. I like partying – I’m not going to hide that! Sometimes my husband and I will take off for the weekend and go to Montreal for the clubs. I wish we could do it more often.
Recently I’ve been working on developing a new “musical religion,” which has helped me connect with my husband and the city in a new way. You know how sometimes people will do something for their partner that they might not do otherwise, like, for example, adopt a new religion? Well, about a year ago I decided I was going to change my musical religion. My husband is all about electronic music, and I’ve never really been into any kind of music. I decided I’d work on developing some knowledge and preference for that specific type of music so we could go to parties together. I think he appreciates it. It’s been very interesting – a different culture and style of partying. Anyway, it’s a whole new part of my life! I’m starting to learn that there is so much involved in musical cultures, and it’s helped me see Ottawa in a new way.