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Laëtitia Damonsing always said she created Dodo Bazaar on a whim—but that’s not exactly true. “Looking back now, I don't think I did,” she says. Until the launch of her upcycled vintage store in 2020, her experience lay squarely within social justice and international relations—first as a public speaker for the Canadian government, then as a sustainability contractor in collaboration with the United Nations.
“As a child, I was always drawing,” says Damonsing, a first-generation French Canadian born to parents who immigrated from Mauritius, a small island just east of Madagascar. She was always inspired by her mom’s eclectic fashion sense. “My mom had this charisma, this confidence, this art of mastering whatever her definition of femininity was,” she says, lamenting that she dismissed her “weirdness” in exchange for a safer career path. “I always wanted to become a fashion designer or an artist or an architect. I don't know at what point in my life I decided to put my creativity aside, but I think I put myself in a box because I'm the daughter of immigrants. Somewhere along the way, I forgot that part of myself.”
Luckily, her imaginative side reemerged in full force during the pandemic, where the loss of her public speaking job entwined with her love of thrifting. She’d been accumulating homewares, clothes, and accessories—geometric candle holders, a ‘70s-inspired floral kimono, a first-edition tome of Irwin S. Chanin’s work—from church bazaars, flea markets, and antique shops when she says something clicked. After her first few listings sold immediately, Damonsing says it gave her the confidence to pursue it full-time. “I grew so quickly because the store is a reflection of my values, who I am as a human being, my quirkiness, my weirdness.”
Named after the famously extinct bird that’s also native to Mauritius, the Dodo bird has become a symbol of overconsumption—something Damonsing works tirelessly to combat with Dodo Bazaar. She’s currently evolving the brand into a full-service sustainability concept studio. “When I discovered how much waste and landfills exist on this planet, I realized this is my way of living my life with intention, as well as participating in the betterment of a planet of people through vintage wares—but in a cute, funky way that feels like me,” she says. “Dodo Bazaar is a reflection of my roots, my ancestry, my heritage.”
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