‘Shop local‘ can be tricky when your neighbourhood’s main drag hasn’t quite peaked yet. But thankfully, Gerrard St. in Toronto’s Leslieville neighbourhood is slowly coming up. This little pink sign, labelled “Tiny House Mama” drew me in recently, and I was so pleasantly surprised by what I found inside!
Remember when I wrote this post awhile back about that cool salon with no name in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood? I was obsessed with the idea of a small, talented cohort cutting and colouring in a secret, speakeasy-like apartment. Well, Tiny House Mama is along those lines but a hybrid: that slow sort of salon in back combined with a humble, lifestyle shop out front.
Stacey Lipstein is the solo act behind Tiny House Mama, opened this past March. The mother of one is the former co-owner of Fuss Hair Studio in Toronto’s east end, and decided that after a decade, it was time for a change. Lipstein shares the “house” with Steven Rutlich of Heri Furniture, who had been using the space as his wood furniture workshop and showroom. (I’m super into his artsy-craftsy benches, which vaguely remind me of Fogo Island Furniture—swoon.)
Lipstein kept her clientele, cutting and colouring hair from her retro, turquoise salon chair and vintage leatherette hair-washing station. But she was inspired to source a curated assortment of lifestyle products when she realized the lack of such offerings in Toronto’s east end. Plus, her own side hustle, an Instagram account under the name Tiny House Mama, had recently taken off—to the tune of 50,000 followers.
It all started when Lipstein began documenting her own bungalow renovation, which garnered the attention of Apartment Therapy and House & Home Magazine. After that, she started blogging on her account’s comments section, about being a mom, a business owner and curating things. People started contacting her for design work for small houses. Now, she does design, interiors styling and decorating, in addition to maintaining her network’s coifs.
The Tiny House Mama Instagram account fills feeds with daily doses of spaces with a similar boho aesthetic—think English barn house antiques mixed with gallery white walls, sheepskin throws and rattan accessories—and its success served as the catalyst for the real-life shop. “I love colour and things that have a past,” Lipstein says, of her imported Moroccan rugs. You can also find whimsical letterpress products by Moglea and round velvet pillows by Kip & Co out of Australia. Oh, and stylish hair styling products by Kevin Murphy.
Always one to make the most out of a modest-sized space, Lipstein refreshes merchandise carefully, and frequently. “When I sell out, I’ll just bring in something new. I don’t want my regular clients to come in and say, ‘still trying to sell that pink vase, Stacey?'” she says with a laugh. This summer, she hopes to broaden Tiny House Mama’s selection beyond four walls, with an e-commerce store. Why should shopping locally have any bounds? [Update: Tiny House Mama’s e-shoppe is open now!]
Like this story about shopping Toronto? Check out this video where I went on a mission for vintage jeans.