For Sarah Dunsdon, purchasing Lyfe Design Studio in Sunny Tsawwassen in December was the culmination of a lifelong dream that began as an eight-year-old in the living room of her grandmother back in England.
Her gran taught her to sew and the passion took hold. By the age of 17 she had designed her first wedding dress and within the next three years she had designed and sold 20 more, making custom-fitting dresses for women on their special days.
Although Sarah enjoyed her work immensely, she doubted whether it was something she could continue to do into adulthood.
"I guess like many kids I wasn't encouraged to do it as a career," says the 36-year-old. "I went into finance and worked at a bank for a long time. But sewing was always in the background and it's just something I kept going back to."
It wasn't until Sarah moved to Tsawwassen four years ago that she began getting serious again about sewing and finding new fabrics. As the owner of a unique body type—which is no different than everybody else's unique body type—Sarah soon found one of the most challenging parts of finding new clothes was in fitting them.
She decided to make it her mission to have the clothes fit the person, not the other way around.
"Although I'm in the clothing and fashion industry I don't like the way that it puts people into boxes and the expectation that it puts on women. That they have to be a certain way and look a certain way and be a certain size."
Some women may find something that fits their hips but not their legs or waist, and vice versa. The "constant disappointment" women have with being unable to fit the clothes they buy is why she purchased Lyfe Design Studio from long-time owner Eva Bassford. Lyfe is an acronym of sorts, standing for "Love Yourself Forever."
The goal of the shop is to free women from their body image insecurities and clothing restrictions. She has a "seven figure" fashion line based on seven different body shapes of women which are not accommodated by the retail clothing industry.
"The amount of women I get coming in who apologize for their body shape is kind of sad. Even super slim women who you'd think would be happy with their shape. Their legs are too long or they can't find jeans that fit."
The mother of two boys (five and seven) says she's loved being a new business owner in Sunny Tsaswwassen and that so far the feedback has been wonderful.
"I love the community, I love the support. I love that I get stopped in the supermarket and people say I really need help with this, can I come and see you? It's such an accepting place. You may not be best friends with everybody but everybody is supportive."