Comuna is a carefully curated boutique for accessories and apparel that offers a multi-purpose creative space for young & up-and-coming creators
Diana, owner of Comuna, is passionate about creating a space for young artists to thrive downstairs while offering unique & stylish accessories upstairs.
Comuna is an accessory and apparel store located at 2845 Dufferin Street. Prior to opening her boutique, owner Diana J ran an online store for 3-4 years.
Growing up in the neighbourhood, she was previously doing pop-up events which were successful and she enjoyed doing.
As a mother of two, Diana said she needed her own gateway and decided to stay in the neighbourhood and open a business while she continued to operate her online store.
Comuna opened in August 2019, the boutique offers both jewellery, accessories and apparel for mainly women but Diana has begun adding more men’s pieces to her store.
She said she caters to everyone, from men who come to the store to shop for their girlfriends to high school students to women in their forties and over.
“There’s not a real age group,” said Diana. “It’s a mix and it’s people who want to shop boutique style.”
When it comes to sourcing inventory and products for Comuna, Diana gets items from everywhere. She tries to get Canadian products but she also sources items from China, Korea, New York and Colombia, which is where she is from.
Comuna offers a collection of jewellery called ‘Medallo’ which is hand-selected and exclusively from Medellín, Colombia. Diana said there is a large Latin community in the neighbourhood and a particular group of Latinx will come in to buy those sets of jewelry.
Diana said she has challenges not being able to post her new inventory consistently as she has specific shoppers who will buy from her right away. She notifies them of new items that have recently come in from places like Colombia, New York or LA and they will purchase the item before she can post it.
Diana said she spends a lot of time researching what items are out on the market, determining ‘what’s hot and what’s not’ and buying items that are on trend or coming into trend.
She focuses on having a small, specific and curated inventory, she said she never wants to have ‘an abundance of stuff at the store.’ She encourages people to buy an item when they see it because once it’s gone, it’s gone.
“You won’t ever see six of one thing here, unless people really like it and [then] I can get it again and to be honest, if I want to get it again. I want to see what is next,” said Diana.
Along with the boutique store, Comuna offers a creative, multi-purpose space in the basement of the shop for young artists to thrive and create.
“We have a podcast system set up here [and] they rent out the space so I get a lot of people that are in their teens or early 20s who are starting up and just need a creative space,” said Diana. “Sometimes people come here to write and they just sit downstairs because they need that [space].”
The creative space is very important to Diana, she likes to help out students and young artists who don’t have a setting where they can create and manifest their work.
She said working in this industry can be very difficult because people don’t see what you are doing and many don’t realize that the fashion district is right down the street. People often stick to themselves and don’t connect with others.
“I want to bridge that gap,” said Diana. “Sometimes the people that are working in that fashion space over here [on Wingold Ave], they come downstairs to sit and talk and I want them to meet other creatives that are in the industry like youth. [There] are 18-years-old that have nowhere to go…they want to work on photography, they want to work in fashion but they don’t have a space to practically be that creative and I want them to be able to use that here.”
Diana said there is a fee to use the creative space depending on what you are doing. She usually offers $20 an hour for students but with professionals who want to use the space, there are higher prices.
“When it comes to students, we talk and we kind of do a subsidy. That’s really important, I want to make sure this area has a hub of where creatives can go,” expressed Diana.
When asked how the COVID-19 pandemic was impacting her business, Diana said you just have go with the flow. She said her online business sales went up but she has a harder time operating the store in person.
She isn’t comfortable with people coming in and out of the store because she has two young children at home so she has shifted to offering private shopper services. People can contact her through email or social media to set up an appointment and she will take out all the new items that customers may be interested in.
Looking to the future for Comuna, Diana thinks she may want to get back into doing pop-ups again and focus more on her online presence. She wants to do more shoots and use her creative time now that she doesn’t have to be at the store all the time.
“I just want to focus on the online cause I don’t know what’s going to happen in a month from now. I can’t really worry about the store so much where my money is really coming in from the online stuff, so I really need to focus on branding that better so the look of it, curating that a bit more,” said Diana.