Next up in our Opportunity Portraits we feature three successful Island boutiques run by long-standing women entrepreneurs. Many Salt Spring sectors are achieving great things, island entrepreneurs are creative, innovative and award-winning. Read our 3-Question Q&A Portraits below. Above image: the Twang team in-store.
POD Contemporary Gallery: Selling contemporary art and artful pieces
At Pod, owner Helen Mears offers an opportunity to take in contemporary art and boutique style shopping at the same time.
Q) How do you combine your passion for art and convert that into something you do for a living?
A) I remember being in my early twenties and I traveled to Seattle for nemerous weekends away and noticed how a lot of hotels and restaurants had original art displayed.It wasn't very prevalent in Vancouver and decided that I wanted to incorporate into my business endeavor. At the time, in East Vancouver, where my shop Mecca was located, there were many struggling artists with not many options to exhibit. I had a beautiful old storefront with 12 foot + ceilings. Art enhanced the space. I continued to incorporate it into my future businesses:Cafe Talia and Pod contemporary. I watch as people react, connect with and observe the work I exhibit. It's an exciting element of my work.
Q) As a woman entrepreneur how has that shaped your work environment and how you engage in your daily work activities?
A) As an entrepreneur you have to be both focused and open minded. Business has a life of it's own. Customers may not respond to the broad approach you started with and you have to be willing to listen, observe, pick up cue's as to the direction your business is moving in. Analyzing and reassessing is an ongoing process. Being open, and experimenting with new ideas is exciting and taking risks is part of the growth-for the business and it's owner. Experienced customer service is really valued and builds trust and long term engagement.
Q) What advice would you offer to yourself if you could speak to a younger version of you?
A) If I was to talk to my younger self I would say 'Way to go!'I didn't have experience or all the answers.
Know what inspires and interests you and the rest is an invaluable journey that will depend on instincts, trial and error. It's been the most exciting, enriching career. Throw yourself into it and give it a try.
Rhubarb Designs: Goods that inspire and preserve tradition and art forms
Lorraine Hamilton is known for her inspiring landscape ideas and imaginative plant combinations.
Q) How has your move from the world of natural landscapes into the world of home décor been?
A) Well, I see everything as an extension of the outdoors so the move for me has been an easy one. I am still heavily involved in the landscape world and it is a constant frame of reference. For me the outdoors captures so many things that are intrinsic to the way we experience the world. The shop is full of goods that connect us to that and to the world beyond our doorsteps. The running criteria for the goods I carry are they must be made of natural materials, mostly made by hand, have a story, be goods that support other communities, preserve tradition, have a small footprint, be useful, celebrate good design, be original, and add inspiration to your every day experience.
Q) What is your favourite way to improve a space, especially a Salt Spring home that needs a new or fresh look?
A) Oy, that is a hard question. I believe the goods we surround ourselves need to matter and add to your life. I think most of us could live without most of the stuff we surround ourselves with, so choose carefully what your core items are and make sure they will stand the test of time. That means classic, clean lines, best quality materials. From there start layering gently. I really don't change my decor much but boy do I add greenery, paint colours, flowers, textiles and food to change up a mood.
Q) With your years of experience what kind of advice would you offer a young entrepreneur who wants to work in this sector?
A) Do the 10,000 hours! Know your stuff. Learn the rules so you can break them. Trust your instincts. Be a good listener. Keep learning and questioning. Be open. Be a team player. Don't be afraid. Lead with integrity. Take as much time as you need. Communicate. Look at the whole picture and really think through from start to finish. Be willing to compromise. Ask questions. Trust the process. Show up and do your best. Be inspired and be inspiring.
Twang & Pearl: Inspired by the people & stories behind the goods curated
Jana Thomas combines her love of travel with a sincere appreciation for beauty.
Q) You’ve been a traveller and a buyer, how has your eye for curated goods expanded or changed over the years?
A) I didn’t really set out to be either. I discovered a love for travelling as most people do - by travelling. I tend to appreciate and find beauty in experiences as much as I do in ‘things’ and travelling has opened me up to both in spades - one feeding the other. In other words, whether travelling near or far, it’s the people or community of people behind the products that really makes the beauty shine thru. So I guess as I travel more, my community expands and my eye for curation expands with it.
Q) Being a long-time Salt Spring Island-er you’ve seen many changes in the business landscape, what keeps you inspired?
A) I can’t lie, running a business on Salt Spring comes with its own unique set of challenges. But Twang & Pearl’s success has resided in finding the balance between focussing inward (on my own business and amazing team) and collaborating outward (with like-minded businesses on Salt Spring and in the larger community I’ve found travelling). I find inspiration equally from both. It really does take a village (inside your business and outside) to make magic happen.
Q) How has your love for travel focussed your curator instincts and what has this experience taught you as a business owner?
A) I’d sum this up with an experience I had on the first leg of my first trip to India and Thailand many years ago with Salt Spring Air. I was having a chat about my new adventure with then co-owner Saint and as I was disembarking the sea plane for a bigger plane, Saint said to me, “Have fun, and share the wealth.” That just stuck with me and sums up my personal and business ethos. We are all more successful if we are all successful. As kindness begets and attracts kindness, success begets and attracts success.