At first, Armed Boutique on Dundas West could be mistaken for a vintage trinket shop, aka your grandmother’s closet. Grandma-style is essentially what drove owner and designer Desiree Girlato to open up shop in her family neighbourhood, so the influence holds true. Nestled in a bright yellow brick and mortar shop, directly across from Trinity Bellwoods, lies every girl’s dream walk-in; ring trays atop marble slabs and piled chokers amongst precious stones and crystals.

While there’s barely an inch of white space in the entire shop, Desiree’s design approach is taking that boho, maximalist vibe and elevating it to be a little more versatile with the characteristics of today’s minimal approach (a la, simple bar necklaces & sleek and polished stackable rings). By inviting myself and my friend (& frequent EOS photographer) into her storefront, she essentially gave Kayla and I a view of her identity and psyche, illuminating the kind of bona fide charisma that established her business in the first place.

“I love a space to be filled with memories rather than just things I have mindlessly accumulated.”

The meeting could not have been more perfectly timed, given that Kayla had just recently launched her blog, South of Bloor St, where she photographs shop owners and designers in the immediate downtown area. Women in entrepreneurship is a subject we’re both extremely passionate about, so highlighting Desiree’s unique eye for design came with great satisfaction for us both. Ultimately, this was the dream girl boss partnership. Read my Q&A with the inventor herself, where we discuss her sourcing of materials (including some unbelievable shark teeth acquired from the Atlantic) and advice for budding business owners.

Read more for a giveaway at the end!


1. Do you have a first memory of jewelry influential to it becoming of such importance to your life? 

My grandma let me dig through her jewelry boxes and try on all sorts of treasures that she had collected over the years. I remember digging out some odds and ends that she was willing to part with and ended up making this amazing necklace from old clip on earrings, vintage chains and random baubles.

2. What significance does the name ‘ARMED’ have? 

ARMED is all about owning who you are through style and making the most of everyday through the importance of dress. Why not wear a headpiece to brunch or an amazing hand piece to the park. Everyday is a new opportunity and you never know what could come of it if you’re open to possibility. 

3. How long have you been in business for and what were you doing prior to opening? 

I have been doing this for four years. Prior to this, I was a student; I actually opened the store in my second year of my Bachelor of Commerce program.

4. You source your own materials: can you give me a rundown on where you get specific metals, stones, etc?

I go to Manhattan for all my solid brass chain and I go to Arizona for all my stones. 

5. What lifestyle and/or attitude do you hope someone shopping at ARMED would live?

Live everyday to its fullest. You only own the present so live life with conviction and always stay fly!

6. What is the inspiration/design process like for you? 

It varies. Sometimes I’m full of great ideas and other times I feel the need to travel to find new headspace, see new things and surround myself with different people. 

7. Your boutique is set up similarly to one’s accessory closet (you know, if we were all so fortunate)—how was this curation style decided upon? 

I love a space to be filled with memories rather than just things I have mindlessly accumulated. Everything needs to have purpose or represent a specific moment in time. I think that’s what brings good vibes to a space because it’s not forced, it’s a capsule of who you are and where you are at this very moment in life. Never force anything or try to be anything you are not; same goes for spaces. 

8. How do you hope ARMED evolves in the future?

I want to broaden my spectrum of design; I want to get into different product lines; I want to go back to teach and pass on all of the lessons I have learned to other people with the same passion and drive.

9. The ARMED motto is: 

Today is yours. Always be ARMED.

10. Best part about being a girl boss? 

I have the blessing of basking in every success and learning from every mistake. I own this, so I own the good, the bad, and the in between and I love it. 

11. Any advice for those wanting to run their own business someday? 

Commit and stay focused.  Nothing great has ever happened overnight!


Images: Kayla Chobotiuk

– Shop ARMED here


//The WINNER will receive the ‘Aquila Drop Stone’ necklace in solid brass with white turquoise (as pictured), as well as an invite and plus one to the 4 year anniversary party of ARMED. The contest is nation-wide only and will end on September 7th. Don’t miss out! Special thanks to Gary + Desiree of ARMED for making this unique collab happen. x

This is an excerpt from the article ARMED BOUTIQUE x SOUTH OF BLOOR ST: COLLAB which originally appeared on