BWSS My Sister’s Closet: Marking 20-Years of Empowering Survivors of Gender-Based Violence

BWSS My Sister’s Closet: Marking 20-Years of Empowering Survivors of Gender-Based Violence
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Since its inception in 2001, My Sister’s Closet (BWSS) has become a local landmark for thrifters and savvy shoppers alike who value zero-waste eco-fashion. As the boutique celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, its cause and storied history continue to propel its legacy forward as it makes a meaningful impact empowering the community.

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The Boutique and Beyond

The boutique has become a fashion destination for discerning shoppers. It regularly appears in listicles for its sharply curated collection of gently-used clothing and accessories for all bodies (including a selection of menswear dubbed My Brother’s Corner) in styles that are both on-trend and classic in design. There are two brick-and-mortar locations—the second being on Commercial Drive—and an online shop, the latter to keep serving the needs of the community during the pandemic.

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Benefiting the BWSS

My Sister’s Closet is a social enterprise of Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS), a local organization providing education, advocacy, and support towards eliminating gender-based (including sexualized violence) and domestic violence. BWSS responded to 32,000 requests for service in 2020—up from 18,000 the year before. With 100% of its revenues going towards funding BWSS’s life-saving programs and services, My Sister’s Closet has been instrumental in supporting thousands of victims and survivors every year.

The Story Behind The Name

The downtown storefront on the corner of Seymour and Helmcken sits intentionally on a city block that sex workers worked in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The store’s location was also chosen to be near the site where Elaine Allenbach, a sex worker, went missing in 1986.

BWSS: Space and Accessibility for All Women

Since 1979, the BWSS organization has provided counselling and healing spaces for those who have experienced abuse. In order to help women build strength and resiliency, they work on institutional and systemic advocacy, legal advocacy and law reform, youth engagement through the two social enterprises: My Sister’s Closet and Strategic Interventions. In addition to supporting women directly, they also work with men, helping them to own their role in ending violence against girls and women.

Two decades since it first opened, My Sister’s Closet endures as a landmark of local history and a physical manifestation of BWSS’s mission to promote equality and safety for all women.

Locations: 1830 Commercial Drive & downtown at 1092 Seymour Street.

Author Profile

Helen Siwak - EcoFriendly Lifestyle Consultant
Helen Siwak - EcoFriendly Lifestyle Consultant
Helen Siwak is passionate about content creation, marketing, shopping secondhand, promoting a vegan lifestyle, and supporting organizations and activists fighting against the status quo. She is the founder and president of EcoLuxLuv Communications (Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, EcoLuxLifestyle.co), and V.E.G. Networking Group  | helen@ecoluxluv.com.
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