Interview by Jenkin Au and Alan Ng
Words by Amie Nguyen and Alan Ng
Photography by Jenkin Au
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I’m Rose Raflores, Queens. Entrepreneur, and lifestyle enthusiast.
What is Queens? Tell us what it’s all about.
I basically wanted a store equivalent to a men’s’ store or I would say a barbershop. I wanted a store that catered to women, having the same kind of lifestyle as me, encompassing the same lifestyle that I lived. Something like a barbershop with everything I like, and for girls to get their nails done.
Your mission is to crown the queens. Tell us about this mission.
Basically, the mission is to empower young women out there, whoever that is doing something in the city, catered to successful women in the city doing their thing. That’s ‘Crowning The Queens’, acknowledging them, making sure they know who they are. I’ve started this Queens movement where I have this group of young women who are trying to promote and acknowledge ladies for their style, and not being afraid to be doing their own thing.
Queens is both a store and a brand, would you consider this as a project more than anything else?
I guess it’s more like a project. As I said, I am trying to build a lifestyle around it. There is the clothing aspect where it’s the brand; I started off doing that so people will recognize Queens and look further into it, and find out that we do nail designs, and accessories. It may seem like little things but these girls that are doing these nail designs, they are amazing. They are trying to build a business for themselves within queens, and it’s not just me.
Who are some of these people that are involved?
Michelle, she does Candy Paint. Michelle and I have Stephanie and she’s a nail technician.
You have been very involved in the industry within Vancouver, whether it’s street wear or nightlife. What got you transitioning from being the manager of Alife to opening up your own store?
It’s something that I have always wanted to do and I’ve talked about it many times with a lot of people. It’s just all been in the talks. I don’t think it’s something I have purposely planned but it’s something that I have always wanted to and it had just felt right at the time. I came to think of it and I just did it.
Why did you decide to call it Queens?
It means so many things! There’s one definition where it’s my love for New York. Then there’s Nas, and he’s from Queens, Queens Bridge and then Queens, meaning like a lady. You don’t want it to sound ghetto but it sounds classy at the same time. Using the play on words, recently, the Royal Wedding. The timing is just perfect.
The store definitely stands out because there isn’t really any other store like yours, which is really cool and girls get to come here and get their nails done.
Not even just that, girls come in and just hang out. The last few days, girls just come in and hang out. You can just sit here and stare at the wall, and it’ll keep you in here. Or there’s the T.V, which keeps you hanging out here. It’s more lifestyle.
Is this store inspired by any stores that you have been to through traveling?
Honestly, no. I’ve been to many stores out there and they are all simple, and they are trying to be more of an empty space with things here and there. They are more like art gallery-style. I wanted it to be comfy; some people have said that this place looks like my bedroom. Yea, I want people to hang out here.
With your store being on the edge of Gastown, why did you choose this location?
The vibe is totally different here. There are little things that I noticed during these few days. The majority of people that came through were all guys.
I had nothing to offer them but they stayed to look at girls. I want ladies to feel like ladies. Guys appreciating women. Even guys that walk by, their heads turn and they talk to the girls that are here. It’s cool.
What do the rules you put up outside the window mean?
The first one is “Queens Get Money”. I already have Rule #2 and Rule #3. They are all a secret for now. Yeah, there’s an inspiration between all the rules. A lot of the rules have a bit of influence through songs, little things that just come up.
On the website, you said you wanted women to feel comfortable when wearing a man’s tee. Why does it have to be a woman in a man’s tee? Why not a man’s tee designed for women?
If you look at street wear and taking from my own experience, there are a lot of men’s tees out there that I always wanted to wear but they never make it for women. I would have to wear a men’s tee in a small and it’s still too big. So I thought about how to make something like this catered to girls. I know that working at Alife, I come across a lot of girls saying shirts they like are too big and that don’t fit them. Now it’s the time, and now I am doing that. Some of the shirts I have are reconstructed men’s t-shirts into women’s fit, and special editions of certain brands for women.
With the design of the store, it’s very important especially with such a small space. Can you actually walk our readers through what they can expect when they come in?
I am not good at describing words. The last thing for me to figure out was actually what the store was going to look like. With my print material, the photos that I have put out, prior to the design of the store, I felt they were all on point. I wanted for people to see, my card for example, that it’s crazy. If you can say that about a card, I want people to come into the store and be surprised. So I guess I had to top what the impression of the card gave. To the best of my ability, this is what I came up with. I said I wanted people to come in and feel like they can stay here and are welcome.
Can you tell us a little more of all the branding and who did all the visual designs?
Rob Geary designed my stuff and honestly, he’s pretty amazing. I had a lot of graphic designers hit me up telling me that the designs are dope.
What is HYPE?
HYPE is Queens. It’s different, there’s nothing out there that’s like it and what I am trying to promote is an alternative style. The first impression that people get is that Queens is a hip-hop store but it’s not. It is culture based around it, but I don’t sell anything that is completely hip-hop. Queens is totally different. I am sharing with the public things I like, and let them know that this is my style. “Do you like it?”