Young Janes: An Interview with Mika Lemm

Young Janes
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Young Janes

223 Dalhousie Street Ottawa, Ontario K1N 7C9 Map Tel: 613.794.6452[/note] Every wardrobe should have some unique vintage statement pieces that can bring out an authentic look that is completely your own. Young Janes makes it easy for you to peruse delicately picked fashionable items in a special almost dollhouse-like setting. The shop has grown from a petite boutique next to a quaint female tattoo parlour to taking over the beautiful white historical loft-style building up the street. It’s been quite the exciting change. Recently I’ve had the opportunity to interview the owner of Young Janes, Mika Lemm. It isn’t the first time I’ve had a chat with Mika. Over the years she and I have cooed over many purchases. She is one of those store owners who will remember what you bought last time you were in her store and will make sure to ask how you are enjoying your finds. I was so happy to have the opportunity to sit down with Mika and really get into what Young Janes is all about and how her little vintage boutique has turned into quite the Ottawa hotspot.

Young Janes


Young Janes has grown from a petite boutique next to a quaint female tattoo parlour to taking over the beautiful white historical loft-style building up the street. It’s been quite the exciting change. I’ve been watching and waiting for this space to open up for so long, finally this year I got the opportunity to get in on the lease. We really fit the place well, especially because we have so much stock to work with.

How did you work with your new space?

Well, my mother is an interior designer and she helped me out a lot. The tin roof is part of the building’s history which really suited the space and really we just had to work with the lower ceiling in some areas. I am really happy with how it all turned out.

I’d like to know how did Young Janes start? Where did the idea first occur for you to put this all together?

I used to own a shop in Manchester called “Chloe’s Closet”. I named it after my cat that liked to sleep in my closet. I was able to rent a space at Afflecks Palace for cheap to sell my clothing and manage a decent turnover. I’ve always had the dream of opening up a shop. I’ve mostly worked in retail and when I was very little my mother taught me how to shop at Value Village so it all just came very naturally.

Afflecks Palace is known as a great place for independent artists and small boutiques to get their start. I just had to ask, what is the fashion like in the UK?

My husband’s family is from there so I get to travel back often. The fashion is incredible, it is always about a year ahead in the UK. It is intimidating how stylish everyone is everywhere you go people’s outfits are perfect. I love bringing new pieces from the UK back to Young Janes. There are vintage shops everywhere in the UK, especially in London, but here in Ottawa we still have more of a niche market for vintage. Young Janes

There is something very friendly and welcoming about Young Janes, there is also this underlying perfection of the way the clothing is displayed, it is like a perfectly assembled jewellery box. What do you look for when finding the perfect piece?

I really like to find things that are in current style and in good shape. You won’t find me going for dated vintage pieces; I am more into finding something vintage that is unique but is in current style, and most of all is of good quality. You can go to stores at the mall that mass produce their stock on a quarterly basis and it’s not even well made. I am always shopping and finding unique pieces wherever I go.

When do you start looking for clothing for the next season?

I usually buy for the current season, but sometimes you can find something off season that you just have to get, the best finds are usually the one’s you get off season.

What are the new things coming up for Young Janes?

I’m pretty much in the space that I’ve always wanted for myself. I’m not sure if I would ever open another store because I like to keep my business more personal. I’d like to slowly expand into selling vintage furniture though. I feel like that will take a little time to catch on with my customers though, so right now I am working on an Etsy store.

Where did you get your name from?

A “Jane” in Australia is a term used for “woman” or “lady” so I thought it suited the store very well. I met my husband in Australia. (Mika highly recommends Australia as the place to find true love.)

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What is your style inspiration?

Whatever I am feeling at the moment, one thing I love about vintage is that you’re never really sure what you’ll find. Sometimes you can have an idea in your head of what you are looking for and when you find it and it fits you perfectly it is like it was meant to be.

When it comes to your style, what are staple elements that you rely on?

My style is always changing, but right now I’m really into long skirts and little booties. I feel like a shoe just isn’t enough, you get to have it all in a boot. I used to feel like jeans were my staple item because they were easier to work with, but lately I’ve been finding great outfits out of my collection of skirts, of course my closet is always overflowing with vintage. I can only imagine what Mika’s personal closet looks like. If you ever check out her store you will also see that she has great taste in music, there’s always some good tunes on while you shop. With her newly expanded space she has recently begun hosting small events for local art and music. Be sure to check her blog at It was such a pleasure speaking with her and finding out how Young Janes came to be. Just like searching for a perfect vintage piece, her business has grown into Ottawa at the right place and at the right time. Mika’s dream of owning a vintage shop has truly unfolded into something special and we are excited to see what comes out next.


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Nana Sechere is the Co-Publisher & Managing Editor of the Antidote Magazine. Armed with knowledge of pop culture events that happened long before he was born, Nana may just possess the most random assortment of knowledge you could ever imagine. With interests in all things relating to entertainment, media theory, sports, bartending, social psychology, and traveling to as many countries as he possibly can in his lifetime, it's his hope that his articles will provide a unique and fresh perspective. Nana hopes you enjoy all things Antidote and is working hard to facilitate the release of many more of our projects. Twitter/Instagram/Facebook/Soundcloud: @NanaCoppertone