This article was originally published in the 2020 Fall Issue of Invest In Style Magazine.
Sherry Kadwell’s quiet, thoughtful demeanor makes her the last person you’d imagine with a YouTube channel. The petite 61-year-old owner of Tigs is not the stuff of social media’s cheery excesses. But when the pandemic resulted in retail closures this spring, Sherry’s 20-something daughters, Harris and Davis, convinced mom to get in front of the camera. Tigs had added online shopping in 2018, so it seemed a logical step to post online videos when customers could no longer browse inside the large retail space.
Since uploading their first “Tigs Tuesday” YouTube video at the beginning of April, where a self-conscious Sherry holds up and describes various pieces from the Bylyse clothing line, the trio have upped their game. Later videos include mini fashion shows set in the store, narrated by a more relaxed Sherry. In a September episode, Sherry is describing pieces from the Gerry Weber line when there’s an obvious edit and she explains to viewers that a customer has just come in and literally bought the scarf from around her neck. With more than three decades in the business, Sherry notes wryly that this is a sure sign the scarf will be a popular item.
Born and raised in Thornbury, by the end of her twenties Sherry worked as a tax collector. One day in 1987, a friend invited her for lunch and suggested the two of them buy a local clothing store that was up for sale. “I was having a really bad morning in the office,” says Sherry, “and I was just so tired of people yelling at me all day!” She agreed to take the plunge and the two friends started Tigs “on the hill” for the first 13 years. In 2000, Sherry moved the store to its current location on King Street, in a building once used as an apple cold storage facility. With family connections, as it turns out. “My grandfather helped build this building and my father worked here packing apple barrels when he was young,” she explains. “After all, this is apple country.”
The family connections continue. As well as working with her daughters, Sherry’s 85-year-old mother, Eileen, works in the store on Sundays, and husband John helps oversee shipping-receiving, and administration. It’s a big store – 4,000 square feet in total, most of which is dedicated to retail floorspace. New clothing shipments arrive every day.
Tigs carries a variety of high-end, coordinated casual wear, including the soft and comfy Eileen Fisher line (known in the industry for her environmentally sustainable policies and organic fabrics), and the Normandy-based Saint James with their focus on quality and details like bias trim, petal sleeves, and red buttons on their iconic Breton-striped pieces. The Gerry Weber line this fall includes a gorgeous hazelnut colour in sweaters, jackets and trims. Brax, Michael Kors, Bylyse and Tommy Bahama are among the brand name designer labels at Tigs.
The collections are mix-and-matchable and perfect for those who want to keep it simple and elegant with a capsule wardrobe, made up of those few but perfect pieces. If you have a practiced eye and a knack for choosing fashionable and flattering clothes, Tigs offers the variety and accessories to put together stylish, casual outfits.
But if you find the whole notion of seasonal fashion and coordinated outfits slightly out of your pandemic pyjama reach, don’t worry – Sherry’s down-to-earth attitude and knowledgeable staff are there to help. “I’ve got the best staff in the world! They’re experts at helping our customers put together a wardrobe,” says Sherry. “At Tigs, we strive for firstclass customer service. We treat everyone as if they are our friends and do our best to create a warm, home-like experience.
We always say to everyone ‘make yourselves at home.’ We want customers to feel like they’re shopping with friends.”
On the day we talk by phone I confess to Sherry that I’m in the new at-home work attire – a presentable shirt and jeans. She admits she’s also wearing jeans. “And I don’t wear any make up. Ever.” By the end of our chat I tease Sherry that she’s not the most effusive PR person I’ve ever spoken with. She laughs and says it’s true, she doesn’t like to take all the credit. “Living in this area, we are so supported by this community. The people who’ve lived here for years and the people moving here now are so supportive. We’re very lucky. And we all work very hard.”
Keep your eye on the Tigs website for 33rd anniversary sales and tune in to Tigs Tuesdays, anytime, on YouTube. See for yourself how those clever daughters get their mom to relax and laugh in front of the camera. With style.