"Our mission is that we have no mission," claims Leonie "Lee" Lilla, one half of the wife and wife team behind Pipler Accessories.
After she gets talking, though, you realize that isn't entirely true. The problem is that they have many missions and only so many hours in the day.
The hat is back. Plus, it's the perfect antidote to a bad hair day. — Photo courtesy of Rick O'Brien / Pipler Accessories
The store hits the mark between being spare and crowded. You can see clearly what's on the shelves inside, which is ideal for those overwhelmed by the increasing choices in Toronto.
Pipler Accessories is right on point with the trend of becoming aware not only of what we eat, but also of what we buy. In an increasingly global economy, shoppers don't want to cause destruction and difficulty elsewhere in their quest to look good.
These ladies have a store as cool as they are — Photo courtesy of Rick O'brien / Pipler Accessories
"We have a lot of things that are local," Lilla asserts. "But if you are only looking in your own backyard, you're not helping. You have to reach beyond that, into a community."
All In Eyewear, a Montreal frame company — Photo courtesy of Rick O'brien / Pipler Accessories
Lilla and co-owner Alice Clarkson both are incredibly community driven. They intentionally chose the neighborhood of Cabbagetown.
"You want to cater to the people living in your neighborhood. First and foremost," says Lilla, a chef by trade. "I have brought in [that] mentality of being a chef and running a restaurant."
She then laughs.
"I'm not a salesperson. People ask my opinion, and I tell them."
Although not a salesperson, Lilla operates by a code of human decency that many stores could learn from. When the weather starts to become dark and murky, she calls out to a woman who is speculating going outside in the rain: "You might want to wait in here a little bit before it stops raining! If you want to have a seat, you're welcome to have a seat."
Lilla, Clarkson and their fur babies — Photo courtesy of Rick O'brien / Pipler Accessories
Her two dogs sit attentively on the carpeted area by the back of the store, hanging onto her every word.
But furry creatures aside, "It's the mix of humans that attracted me here," Lilla says. "You're not bigger than the neighborhood you are in."
Originally from Switzerland, Lilla has travelled and been an immigrant for much of her life. Her worldly experiences have opened up her perspective. The act of getting accessories that have a charity or community initiative, or are sustainable, is a huge passion for her and her wife.
"It creates an exchange and an environment where people understand each other better," Lilla says.
Pipler Accessories is clean, spacious and filled with sunlight – and accessories — Photo courtesy of Rick O'brien / Pipler Accessories
You can buy an umbrella made by the last Canadian producer to make umbrellas. You can buy biodegradable, naturally tanned vegan leather bags. You can buy a Freedom Factory shirt, which for every five shirts sold will pay for a year of school for a needy student (although Lilla confirms that clothing will not be the norm). You can buy jewelry from the Congo and bags from China.
Lilla understands that many people wouldn't put a Chinese-made item under the word sustainable, but she also says "There is a new China happening. Some factories are sustainable and eco-friendly. You can't point the finger at a whole entire nation."
Cause or no cause, walking into Lilla and Clarkson's store feels good for the soul (and also for the closet).
"It should come naturally," Lilla believes about buying with purpose.
Pipler Accessories has plans for multiple stores. We could think of worse things than having more businesses with kindness as much of the plan as profit.