Rather Be Broke than Basic: The Girls Behind Shop Barely Legal

Fashion comes in shapes and forms that some people can't even begin to imagine. It appears in catwalks, formal parties, balls, stores, Milan, Paris, online, the mall, and even on you. Everyone has a sense of fashion — it just depends on how you use it.
Sarah Aitia and Tori Solomon, the founders of online clothing store Shop Barely Legal know exactly how you should use it — and they're bringing it to you for only a small sum for some of the most radical clothes you can hope to find on the big, wide world that is the interweb.
   They started out as two best friends who bonded over their similar fashion tastes (who doesn't love 90s culture?), but eventually gifted us with their internet presence over at their store, which is beginning to gain recognition as trustworthy, inexpensive, trendy, and any other complimentary word. Oh yeah, I'd also call it hella. WRITTEN CITIZEN had the distinct honor and pleasure of being their first interview of all time — but also probably their first of many. With an ever-growing population of devoted shoppers that keep up with their style on their Instagram, and attacked the store for their ah-mazing Black Friday sales less than a week ago, it's obvious to see that the only place that Sarah, Tori, and Shop Barely Legal is going is up (but we hope their great prices won't!)

(From left to right): Tori and Sarah
WRITTEN CITIZEN: Hello, Sarah and Tori! What’s been up with you girls lately?

SHOP BARELY LEGAL: Things have been pretty hectic for both of us lately. One of us is in school and the other will be going to school in January. We're both working really hard trying to balance the shop, our studies and finding a new apartment. We have so many plans for the next few years, and we're working really hard to make them happen. We are just two young girls on the search for happiness and success, and Shop Barely Legal is definitely helping us find it.

WC: You run a (perfect) internet apparel website called Shop Barely Legal. Will you tell us a little bit about it?

SBL: The idea for Shop Barely Legal is to merge the explosive tapestry of internet fashion with a nostalgic twist. We keep up with the trends like basics keep up with the Kardasians. We're always on the prowl for finding new, up-and-coming designers and rising underground trends. Our main goal is to provide our Canadian clientele with brands that would otherwise be unavailable to them. Shop Barely Legal is an outlet for our clients to purchase these worldwide brands without having to pay any outstanding costs in shipping and duty. We collect a vast selection of pieces from across the globe—stuff that we mostly find online, and try to display them in a way that appeals to our buyers.

WC: The mantra for the site is "rather be broke than basic." Besides the obvious point that the clothing sold on your site is out of this world, what does that saying mean to you two?

SBL: Growing up in a neighborhood where everyone had similar style and shopped at the same stores influenced us to be different and have our own style.We would go to the local mall and see racks of what you might as well of called our school uniform — oversized sweatpants, leggings, graphic tees with popular brands stamped in bold, and Uggs. Ugh, so many Uggs.
   After weeks of browsing online, we discovered a world of fashion that was pretty much unheard of in our town, and the local malls have become virtually irrelevant to us since. We figured, "Why shop at a store when we can do it from our beds and look way cooler?" We've never been anything ordinary, so pretty much the opposite of basic... but definitely broke because of it.

WC: When and how did you form SBL?

SBL: The idea occurred to us while taking selfies in our backyard (laughs). We were photographing a necklace we scored from another online store when we thought, "Why can’t we do this?"
   Two weeks later, we had placed orders from wholesalers worldwide, and started receiving our inventory. We built the entire webpage ourselves, and shot and styled all the looks. We're basically a quadruple handed robot — we got everything up and running just short of two months later.

WC: Is it just you two running the store, or anyone else?

Just us two. Soul sistas!

WC: As the saying goes, those who run a teenage-dream website together, stay together. (I just made that up.) Tell us a little about your relationship!

Well, we're both a bit crazy in our own special ways, and our friendship goes way back. We met in grade nine, and it was love at first sight — and by first sight, I (Tori) mean Sarah was wearing the cutest pair of shoes. I totally fell in love.
   It was in drama class. We were two little mischiefs always cracking jokes, but bonded over our serious fashion interests. We’re 90s babies at heart, considering all we used to do was sit in that drama class playing Spice Girls on repeat. Now, almost eight years later, we still share so much in common, but mostly our passion for all things fashion.

WC: What are your fashion essentials?

TORI: My black, classic Doc Martin boots. They literally can make any outfit look badass.
My faux fur shaggy Penny Lane coat. It takes my outfit into a different generation — more suitable to my personality.

WC: How do you go through the process of picking what will and what will not be featured and sold on SBL?

It does get difficult sometimes because we come across so many incredible designs and designers, but we like to stick with items that are harder to find. We make lists of the pieces we are interested in, and then narrow it down to what we like best. We look on pages like Instagram and Tumblr to see what styles interest other people, and make final decisions from there.

WC: If you could pick one word to describe another, what would it be?

TORI: Wolf... she's just that strong.
SARAH: Irreplaceable.

WC: Are customers able to voice an opinion on what they would like to see in the shop? Have you ever made changes due to their reactions?

We haven’t received much feedback, other than on Instagram, but we would love to hear what our followers and customers think and where we could improve! The comments people write under our photos are really sweet though, and we love interacting with our followers.

WC: Do you ever see a Shop Barely Legal location in the future?

SBL: Most definitely! That's one of our long term goals.

WC: What’s next for Shop Barely Legal and you two ladies?

We really hope we can soon bring our favourite brands over to Canada and have more variety in the shop. We love UNIF, Lip Service, Cobra Shop, O-Mighty and many more! We hope to have more photo shoots and get models from all over the city of all shapes, colors, selves and sizes! We would love to share our style with all our followers and have our followers share their style with us!

WC: Anything else you’d like to share with WRITTEN CITIZEN?

We just want to thank WRITTEN CITIZEN for our first interview! We can’t wait to build a larger clientele and carry more brands within the shop. We are so excited for the journey that awaits us and are determined to make Shop Barely Legal the future for online fashion.

Shop for the sickest shit out there on Shop Barely Legal.
All images via SBL.


  1. You girls are f-ing bada$$, I've been following for 2 weeks now and I'm hooked. Keep it up! #rbbtb

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