Elsie Hung and Joanie Yip, co-owners of La Di Da Boutique, began working together as young entrepreneurs in grade school. “We attempted many garage sales,” says Elsie, “but we didn’t realize garage sales were not in the garage.” They had set up their shop behind the house, hidden from street view. “Nobody came.”
Despite their rocky start, the two friends put the wheels in motion to eventually run a successful store together. Elsie and Joanie both pursued degrees at George Brown College and graduated with degrees in fashion management and human resources, respectively. Then, they went to work. Elsie managed a clothing store on Queen Street West “where the owner was an inspiration for how to run a business,” she says. Joanie honed her retail skills working at her older sisters’ jewellery kiosks.
In 2006, they were ready to venture out on their own. They opened La Di Da on the Danforth, steps from the Broadview subway station. At first, they focused on bath and beauty products, but “before too long, we started to add things we love, like stationery,” says Elsie.
“It’s a collection of things we love for ourselves, and gifts we want to give our friends,” says Joanie.