It’s been a while since I sent my first shipment to Haven Living in Port Alberni, BC and I’m so happy to finally share this little interview with you. Desja, owner of the shop, is also the maker behind her own line of natural aroma-therapeutic body care products. It’s such a pleasure to be apart of shops like here, that not only support small makers like myself, but also are makers themselves.
I hope you enjoy this interview and if you find yourself in Port Alberni, definitely stop in!!
1. I wish I could drop by but you’re so far away. Please tell me about your location.
Port Alberni is a small, close knit community in the Alberni valley. The people I have met so far, have been amazing. It has a really great small town vibe, yet has an eclectic blend of folks looking for something fresh and new.
2. You’re an aesthetician by trade, what do you wish other people knew about skin care?
I wish people knew how many toxins were in daily over the counter products. Many “high end” expensive brands use acetone and formaldehyde as ingredients.
3. You just opened yours doors in Port Alberni. What lead you to turn your delicious line of natural skincare products into a brick and mortar shop?
I had been living on the Lower Mainland of BC for almost 15 years, with a home based salon and participating in the local vintage market circuit, painting furniture etc. I had been searching for a way to step out of the salon and still be able to be creative and work with people. I have been drawn to the island for many years as my best friend lives here. I woke up one day and decided that with many changes happening in my life, the only way I was ever going to truly feel fulfilled, whether I failed or succeeded, was to make the leap and follow my dream of having a store of my own. I wanted to settle in a community that I could raise my children, have close relationships with people and be able to afford the cost of living while I raised my three children. Having a store on the mainland just wasn’t an option as a single mother. I had been working with Spruce Collective in Abbotsford and teaching Ce Ce Caldwell Paint classes for the last couple of years part time. One of the contacts that I had made here in Parksville through Ce Ce Caldwell Paints, was closing down her store, and the opportunity to become a retailer, here on Vancouver Island was offered to me. I needed a location to manufacture and supply to the retailers that carry my Skin Care Collections and also needed a brick and mortar location to carry the paint. I felt as though this was finally my chance to blend my love of vintage markets, my creativity, and my years and experience in the beauty industry into reality.
4. How do you source the merchandise your carry? Do you follow a particular philosophy when looking for items for your shop?
We live in an age of social media, allowing me to source most of my products right from my couch. The first decision was to contact as many people as possible that I had done the vintage market circuit with, and already had relationships with. Canadian and BC, hand made products are the most important to me and really the foundation for the shop. I want to support these amazing artisans and put to rest the “craft market” concept. I think that there are so many incredible businesses being created right here in our own back yard and many of us don’t even know they exist. My philosophy is honestly to support, empower and champion fellow entrepreneurs. Creating something with your own two hands is over looked these days, and I want people to see the value in our own economy. I think Canadian entrepreneurs are underestimated.
5. Do you have any major plans for your first year? Any big events we can look forward to?
My focus right now is to streamline the Skin Care Collections and turn them into a complete line. The addition of Facial Balms and Whipped Moisturizers for both the Body and Sprout Collection are currently in the design phase and will be released in the new year.
I would love to host a really fun event at the shop in the new year year to celebrate. I LOVE to host a good party, and I think there just aren’t enough good reasons in life to dress up pretty!
6. Do you have any shops that you really admire or that influenced you in opening your own shop?
Yes, absolutely! I was so inspired by Spruce Collective. One of my dearest friends was the brains behind collaborating with the girls to come up with the concept. They have been instrumental in supporting me and giving me the chance to prove myself. I genuinely think they are inspiring and wonderful women. I’m really inspired by the style of Fiona of Cartolina in Nelson BC. I love the local flavor that Brick and Mortar Living has created, and I am in awe of the beauty in Lofty Living, both in New Westminister.
I find inspirations everywhere really. I have always had a love affair with vintage and rusty junk since I was a child. There is something about making beautiful things from junk that fills my soul. I have had a vision from the beginning, but as it has come to fruition, I really see myself coming through the space. From salvaged pallets to the chandelier that hangs above the Body Bar. Style is whatever fills your soul and beams into the world.
7. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much for taking the time to ask about the shop and the core of my philosophy. I am beyond grateful for this journey and am so genuinely thankful for all the love and support I have received. I hope that I can send that love back into the universe and empower the women who live with daily self doubt and fear. It’s so easy to choose fear on this journey.
“I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”