Meet Navi Gill, Co-Founder of Global Girl Power

It’s tough to make friends in adulthood. Without the confines of a classroom to force you together, forging new friendship relies on extending out beyond your comfort zone. Enter Vancouver Neatos interviews, where I introduce you to a new face in Vancouver every week (ish). Want to take part? Drop me a line.

Navi Gill Global Girl Power on Stylings and Stories

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Navi, I am 28 and just starting up my practice as a holistic wellness coach in Vancouver and India, and soon, globally. My training is in Ayurvedic healing, yoga, meditation, as well as being a certified life skills coach. I’m currently navigating my way through the scary, exciting world of creating my dream life where I get to help people, travel, be connected, and be financially free enough to do bigger, badass philanthropic projects through my organization Global Girl Power :)

What drew you to becoming an entrepreneur?

My family is full of entrepreneurs including my father, so growing up I saw it as a way to really be in control of my destiny and create a life of work that I was passionate about. My dad always had the motto that you should be your own boss and even though I hated how much he worked as I kid, it stuck with me in many ways. As I got older, I saw the value of the choices you have when you run your own business, and with the type of work I do and the hobbies I enjoy, I need a career where I have the freedom and flexibility to play with my schedule, my income, and where I work.

My many trips to India were also very inspiring for me to build up my own business because almost everyone there is an entrepreneur of sorts, from the street flower vendor, the tea stall boy, the saree shop uncle or aunty, and I loved seeing their hustle. The way they have a reverence for their work because it is not only their livelihood but something they created through dedication, hard work, and of course more often than not, survival.

I went through the pretty standard operating procedure of what we are taught in high school of getting an education at a post secondary institute in the so called glamorous marketing industry and thought I was going to be set for life. Little did I know how important it was for me to be in an industry that I was not only passionate about but one where I was heard, seen, able to connect to real people in authentic ways, and where I felt like I was making a difference in the world. I absolutely hated the shark tank we call the corporate world and dreaded the idea of working to make someone else successful by exchanging my time, energy, and ideas for dollars. As I build my wellness practice now, I see that I was born to be my own boss and create my own “normal.”

Is there anything that particularly influences or inspires your work?

People and their stories. We spend a lot of time defining ourselves by our stories and also using them to either separate or unite us with others, for me hearing and being a part of people’s stories connects me to this world and brings me closer to myself. I don’t feel like I am one particular way and belong in one place. Through connecting to the hearts of the people I work with and meet, I feel like the whole world belongs to me and I belong to it. When we connect at the heart we can drop our stories and barriers and come to the core of who we are, and in that there is profound strength and healing.

The varying degrees of suffering I see on a daily basis, like people having road rage, or getting irritated in the coffee shop line up, or not being able to sleep, or chronic pain, or emotional imbalance shows me that everyone is in need of some type of healing. With a few changes to someone’s lifestyle choices, they can dramatically change the quality of life they are living and being able to facilitate that is deeply rewarding. Having done my own internal work to get to this point, I really see the value of the work myself and other healers and teachers are doing, the world needs it.

What advice would you give emerging entrepreneurs?

Well, I am one of them so I am also learning as I go, I would say ask for help and reach out to people who are operating personally or professionally in the way you would like to be and ask them if they can meet face to face for a coffee and pick their brain. For me, it always helps to know that the super successful people didn’t get that way overnight and they also had struggles, fears, and doubts, but made it out alive.

People always say networking is the key, and to a certain degree it is but as a budding entrepreneur sometimes I would get so overwhelmed by trying to be everywhere at once that I had no energy to actually put into my business. So network but in the right places and build a solid tribe of supportive people in the community who you can learn from and also support your fellow entrepreneurs, if you align with someone, go to their events, buy their stuff, promote them, collaborate with them, because that is how you build long lasting relationships, by supporting each other’s growth.

Also, don’t be afraid to get messy and fall on your face. I am one of those people who loves having everything about my work composed, beautiful, and perfect. I realized that by preserving it on this pedestal is not allowing me to grow and learn important lessons that I would learn by just getting into the thick of things and making mistakes. Another important one is, don’t compare yourself to others, it will subconsciously kill you and drain of your energy that you could be spending learning new things that will elevate you to what you want to be, instead maybe reach out to that person and ask them how they did it!

Leave time for your own healing and health, as rewarding as starting your own business can be, it is also very stressful at times, so it’s important to know when to slow down, ask for help, take a break and regroup. Have time outside of your work with non work related friends to let loose, be vulnerable, and share the scary or exhilarating things happening in yourself. When you can recharge yourself, you will be that much better with your business, it’s like a little golden circle.

What do you like best about the entrepreneur community in Vancouver?

I really love that there are so many of us! It is amazing to see how many young entrepreneurs and female entrepreneurs are bringing so much talent and innovation into the world and really following their dreams. I love listening to the stories of entrepreneurs and how their work has shaped their lives. I think the older generation of entrepreneurs I grew up around was a lot more focused on just financial independence and there was not a lot room for dreams and right now, we have the luxury to dream and create our own realities. I also rarely saw any south Asian female entrepreneurs growing up, it was always a male dominated career path, and now I see women just taking charge and owning shit, I love it!

What are the biggest challenges for female entrepreneurs in Vancouver? in Canada? in general? How do you think we can overcome those challenges?

Some of the challenges I can think of are the lack of resources that are available in cities outside of Vancouver. A lot of events, workshops, and educational resources are available in Vancouver but as someone who doesn’t live in downtown Vancouver, I have to invest a lot of time and energy to get those things and be a part of the groups that align with my business. Vancouver also can feel really small sometimes and if someone is already known for a particular business or industry, I sometimes find it can be challenging to find support and break into that industry without stepping on peoples toes and still holding value for what I am offering. I have had the good fortune of meeting some very supportive female entrepreneurs like Glynnis Osher, Madeleine Shaw, and Suzanne Siemens in Vancouver very early on, and through them I was introduced to a whole world of resources and business acumen, so I wish more people would be open to just giving others a chance and share the space.

Over the last few years I have found it very interesting that many of the events I have attended, I am usually one of the only South Asian females in attendance and I am not sure why that is but I would like to see more diversity and inclusion and room for collaboration ( also, especially amongst other female south Asian female entrepreneurs).

Where’s your favourite spot in Vancouver to set up a laptop and get shit done?

I would say a nice coffee shop but honestly I get too wrapped up in my coffee, pastries, and people watching so I would say my home office is the best place when I am not sharing it with my Dad!

Can you share any resources you’ve found most helpful in your career?

I would say that SVI women is a great event to attend, I was a part of it a couple years ago before I started my practice but the connections I made with some incredible women will really be useful to learn from and gain support from while I grow as an entrepreneur.

Karma Teachers where I did my yoga training is an invaluable resource for me because of my dear friend Emerson and the work he has put into creating a community where anyone from any walk of life has access to yoga, resources, teachers, and high quality training. It really brought together and opened up a community that can often be intimidating and exclusive for newcomers.

Girl Gang Vancouver is my favourite resource right now, it’s a Facebook group that has over 4000 female entrepreneurs from all industries in Vancouver and you can post questions, ask for feedback, throw out ideas, share what you are doing, and there is a whole community with a wealth of knowledge that responds. Through Girl Gang I found Stylings + Stories!

What’s in the works for you right now?

I have some more trainings I am doing this year in Ayurveda, yoga, and body work to add to my repertoire, I would like to actively be a part of some community business activities and groups this year. I would also love to create a physical shared studio space for healers to work out of in the South Surrey area so more people can benefit and more people like me have a place they can offer their services out of. Other than that, just putting myself out there, getting messy, offering what I know and hopefully whoever is looking for it, comes!

Did you connect with Navi? Check out my interview with Natalia Chouklina or drop me a line and join the party. Here’s how you can get involved.

Meet Lucy Gregory, Co-Owner of Salt Design Co

It’s tough to make friends in adulthood. Without the confines of a classroom to force you together, forging new friendship relies on extending out beyond your comfort zone. Enter Vancouver Neatos interviews, where I introduce you to a new face in Vancouver every week (ish). Want to take part? Drop me a line.

That's Lucy on the right.

That’s Lucy on the right.

Tell us about yourself.

I am a young entrepreneur with roots around the world. I was born and raised in England but visited British Columbia a lot as a child and teen, as I have dual nationality and family here. I moved here to attend UBC in 2009 and have since completed various art and design qualifications, lived in New Zealand, traveled Europe and South East Asia extensively, and then found myself (in more ways than one) back here in Vancouver. I’m now working as a self employed Graphic Designer–I work freelance for Flipside Creative, an ad and marketing agency here in the city, plus I co-own Salt Design Co., a graphic design services studio.

What drew you to becoming a graphic designer?

As someone who has always been creatively driven, I’ve dabbled in and learnt a lot of art forms. I’ve studied textiles, surface pattern design, photography, and graphic design. Whilst working as a lead barista and event planner in England I found I needed a way to combine all of my skills, plus I needed to broaden that skill set even more and improve on my design knowledge rather than my art knowledge. Graphic design was the perfect medium for all of this, as essentially it’s visual communication, combining all of my skills into one slightly more flexible role.

Is there anything that particularly influences or inspires your work?

My main inspirations for art work and designs come from being out and about in the world. Nature, plants, other people–it all acts as inspiration for me. I also draw inspiration from the work of others, which is nothing new or exciting to state. Learning art and design history, the reasons behind art movements and the people involved in them is so interesting to me. There was so much behind art and design in the past, much more than there is today–art was influenced by society, politics, everything! To see that and learn about it, and find ways in which to apply it to your own work adds depth and purpose for me.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start doing graphic design?

Find your niche, your passion. It’s been said before and it will be said countless times again, because it’s so true. The only way you will be successful as a designer, or entrepreneur, if you are doing what you are best at. Hone your skills to find what it is that you are great at, and then keep doing that. This is tough though–it’s something I’m still working on for sure!

What are the biggest challenges for graphic designers? How do you think we can overcome those challenges?

For graphic designers, the biggest challenge I’ve found is in having actual work. Studios and agencies are very select about who they hire, and working freelance tends to be the majority option for designers. There’s a lot of work to be involved with but you really have to go out there and get it. Having the initiative and drive to pitch to clients and take on those business roles can be tough, and isn’t part of every designer’s skill set. It also often means working other part time jobs to pay the bills and allow you some time to create these pitches. A lot of the work we do is un-billable; it’s prep for future paid work, and I don’t think many new or aspiring designers expect that.

Where’s your favourite spot in Vancouver to set up a laptop and get shit done?

As a freelance designer I’m constantly coffee shop hopping, jumping from one team and one location to the next. What I’ve found works best for me is having a few select spaces that have big windows for lots of light and people watching, decent music selection and the ability to be cheeky and eat my own food! In Vancouver, the best places for that (for me) are Prado in Gastown, Lost and Found, and the Blenz on Granville and Davie. The beauty of a lot of spaces in Vancouver is that they are now recognizing the freelance life, and have communal work tables. Plus a few are starting to host their own freelance work days–The Juice Truck opens their community space for co-working Wednesdays and other spaces across the city open up for Freelance Friday events. This is great for networking, but not always suitable for getting actual work done.

Can you share any resources you’ve found most helpful in your career?

There are almost too many list, but the main thing I would say is that most of my resources have come and been found through other businesses or people sharing them. It’s said countless times these days, but social media is your best tool for this. I’ve been following countless blogs, websites, and professionals in my industry for almost a decade now online and they’ve taught me everything I know–almost more than I’ve ever learnt in school! So make the most of the that!

What’s in the works for you right now?

Right now building my company, Salt Design Co., into a sustainable business is my main priority, but I also freelance with Flipside Creative, a wonderful team of ladies with whom I design and work with on some wonderful clients. Maintaining my freelance design life and building my career is my current focus, and I’m really excited to see where it leads! I’m also in the works of designing a product range with my business partner, under the Salt name, which should be launched later this year! Woo!

Did you connect with Lucy? Check out my interview with KAITCREATIVE or drop me a line and join the party. Here’s how you can get involved.

Meet Zoe Welch, Vancouver Artist

It’s tough to make friends in adulthood. Without the confines of a classroom to force you together, forging new friendship relies on extending out beyond your comfort zone. Enter Vancouver Neatos interviews, where I introduce you to a new face in Vancouver every week (ish). Want to take part? Drop me a line.

Zoe Welch Vancouver Artist on Stylings and Stories

Tell us about yourself.

Well, I was born and raised in Vancouver. I grew up in Kitsilano, moving around a fair bit, but always close to the beach. It was the 1960s and 1970s, and Kits was the Haight-Ashbury of Canada. The women’s movement was rising strong, the peace movement, great music on AM radio, counter culture was spilling out onto the streets up and down 4th Ave., the NDP was in power for a while, and it was a gentler time overall. I was hugely influenced by all this.

I moved to Quebec in 1981 because I wanted to learn French, and I lived there for 17 years, with a one-year break when I lived in Holland to go to art school. I lived in the British Columbia interior for a while, and then returned to Vancouver, for what was supposed to be brief stay—that was 16 years ago. I have a very uneasy relationship with this city, and would very much like to leave.

I’ve always been a maker, picking up enough to be able to play and write music, design and make clothes, home décor objects, handmade books, jewelry, knitting, the list goes on. My professional life includes working in media arts as an administrator and an advocate, and as an artist making film and darkroom photography (often combined), with some writing on the side. I’ve also worked leading community-based projects with the disenfranchised, and social and cultural development programming in public schools. After running my own clothing design company, and my own store, I’ve returned to photography in the digital world; and have returned to a not-for-profit work part-time, so that I can continue to focus on my photo practice.

What drew you to being a photo artist?

I honestly can’t remember. I bought my first SLR camera in 1979. The camera was stolen a few weeks later when I was camping at Long Beach, so I worked until I’d saved enough money again and bought the very same camera. I then began shooting more or less non-stop until 2000 when I moved to back Vancouver and could no long afford the square footage to have a darkroom in my home.

When I returned to photography in 2013, it was a gradual thing. I’d had a clothing design company for three years, and had been operating a store for almost a year, and I was using a little point-and-shoot digital camera to photograph my designs for promotion. I enjoyed doing the photowork, and had finally become comfortable with the migration from analogue to digital. In the fall of 2013, when I was beginning to shut down the company and the store, I started shooting images with a different intent, and noticed that my visual language was transforming somewhat with the new technology. One day I spilt tea on my camera, so I bought another one, getting something slightly better for more serious work. But I kept it light.

Clothing design and production is materially heavy—it involves a pretty big work area, with a fair bit of equipment, tools, and supplies. While I’d loved the work and the experience, I had a sense of the weight of it all. Now with that business behind me, I embraced everything that was light about digital photography—literally and figuratively. So, while I have a camera that shoots in RAW and has a lot of manual options—all important for pretty good print quality and shooting options—it’s still a point-and-shoot so it’s lightweight and quite small. I love the portability and freedom that comes with it. As they say, the best camera is the one you have with you.

Is there anything that particularly influences or inspires your work?

I’m very taken with forms of biography and personal narrative, particularly what I might characterize as the exploration of origins and exile. What tends to spark a new piece or a new series—lately anyways—often comes from my memories about growing up here, and from my deep desire to leave. (Origins and exile.)

I’m also really interested in the workings of experience—what composes our reality, what composes our feelings about what we experience, how perception is constructed, what feelings look like. I’m a big believer in the subjectivity of experience, and that’s what I explore and try to communicate through my work.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start photo art?

Follow your own sense of aesthetic and instinct. Learn about the technology, for sure, but concern yourself with your ideas more. Stay true to what you want to communicate, not to what’s pleasing to others, to what’s in style (and sure to pass). It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or intimidated or inadequate in the face of what’s fashionable, and before those who might seem more fortunate. But I believe it’s worth it to commit to hard work, integrity, and sincerity in one’s practice and process, and to stay on your own track. There’s more than enough coolness, compromise, and copycats out there. Let’s warm things up with earnestness and wholeheartedness. I believe the world needs this.

Keep learning, about all kinds of things, because exposure to new ideas, to new ways of seeing things and thinking about them, is hugely stimulating.

Find your tribe. We all know about the haters and the posers, but why put one’s self in that line of fire? Being connected in a community of like-minded and positive folks is not just fun, it’s healthy and good for production.

What are the biggest challenges for artists? How do you think we can overcome those challenges?

I think most artists are racked with doubt. Making art demands a lot exposure of one’s self. Whether your subject matter is personal or not, it still requires that you expose your way of seeing things and exposing to the public your technical prowess with your medium. Most other types of work don’t make such demands, and so most people operate in a more protected environment. Most artists, though, are also driven—they can’t not do what they do, and this is a great counter flow to the doubt. We just keep going. Getting with a good community of artists helps, and indeed getting with a good group of friends in general. Nothing permeates like love.

Earning a steady income is also a big issue as few us make a living at what we do. So there’s the need to strike a balance between the time it takes to do paid work, and making sure we have enough time and energy left over to work on our art practice. There’s no one pat answer that offers one solution. Artists are a creative bunch, and there are so many different ways that people make it work.

Where’s your favourite spot in Vancouver to set up a laptop and get shit done?

My home studio. I know myself well to know that I get too distracted in a café or other public space to really get much done. I also love my studio, and I love being at home, so it’s a fortuitous combination of circumstance and personality. And while I have a lot of my work on my computer in terms of files and software, I have fair bit of material in notebooks and archives that I may want to reference or to scan, so it makes sense to be in the studio where everything is at my fingertips.

That said, I also know that I need to pull myself out of the work so that I can get some perspective. I’ll often go to the park next door to exercise and to swing (there’s a children’s play park with a swing set) while I listen to music. There, at some remove, I always enter that abstract, problem-solving space in my mind where I get great insight and resolution around what I’m working on. Then I return to the laptop.

Can you share any resources you’ve found most helpful in your career?

I took a great Continuing Ed course at the Vancouver School Board when I hit my learning wall with Photoshop. It was more affordable there than elsewhere, and I learned a ton. (I took VSB classes in couture sewing when I had my clothing line and was happy with them too).

I really love Creative Live, the on air page offers free viewing for any course that’s airing when you happen to visit (it’s my browser homepage). The courses are otherwise fee-based, but very worth it too. I’ve bought four of them for Photoshop.

Lynda is also very good, and access is free through the Vancouver Public Library website if you have a library card and ID number.

And, of course, YouTube—the plethora of good instruction is amazing. Once waded through the search results, I subscribe to the channels where I find the instruction good and easy to understand; that way I don’t have to reinvent the wheel the next time I’m looking around for quick tutorials.

I spend a lot of time hunting around on social media for organizations and artists that jive with my interests within my photo practice. I find a ton of calls for submissions this way, occasionally information on funding, as well as tips and tricks of the trade. I also engage with like-minded artists in my effort to expand my network and connections on the ground.

What’s in the works for you right now?

I have two photobook projects on the go, both combining writing and images. One’s taking the lead over the other right now, and I really need to commit to just one of the two so I can actually complete each of them with the focus and thought they deserve. I have another couple of text-based books on the back burners, which is where they’re going to stay for a while because they aren’t as important to me to finish right now—I don’t consider them as central to my practice.

And, as ever, I have a suite of images at various stages of completion, either stand-alone pieces or series, most of which involve writing as well as the photographs themselves.

Lastly, I need to tend to my website. It’s built with Weebly, which is a great platform for a quick and easy start, but I need something more robust that I feel better supports, presents, and serves the content. This is a priority “to-do” that I keep putting off, and the procrastination has to stop.

Did you connect with Zoe? Check out my interview with Here’s how you can get involved.

Meet Audrey Wong, Founder of Living Lotus

It’s tough to make friends in adulthood. Without the confines of a classroom to force you together, forging new friendship relies on extending out beyond your comfort zone. Enter Vancouver Neatos interviews, where I introduce you to a new face in Vancouver every week (ish). Want to take part? Drop me a line.

Living Lotus on Stylings and Stories

Tell us about yourself.

I grew up in North Van, so I am one of the very few people that are from Vancouver. My mom moved here from Hong Kong when she was 21 without knowing the language. My Dad was born on a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

When I was out of high school, I very badly wanted to work in the film industry so I decided to volunteer and learn that way. I would work two waitressing jobs back to back so I could do deferral (free) jobs in film. After 15 years into that career, I decided to quit my full time career and go back to school to study raw food culinary and nutrition.

The film industry is still very much a part of me and it’s still something that I love. I just love healthy desserts more :) I also love that I am helping people get healthy if they desire to do so!

Living Lotus Food & Nutrition Inc started in 2013 and last summer we built our own gluten free vegan kitchen. We make plant based, gluten free, vegan desserts free of refined sugar without compromising taste.

What drew you to the art of sweet whole food?

In 2007, I was put on an alkaline diet. there is a lot more information out there now, but back then I REALLY didn’t know what I was doing. I had already eliminated sugar and meat from my diet so getting a new list of foods to avoid was daunting. Someone had given me a raw food cookbook as a gift two years prior and I had never really looked at it until then. That was when my way of eating changed. It was also a way to satiate my sweet tooth without damaging my health.

Is there anything that particularly influences or inspires your work?

All Food! That is a very broad answer, so I’ll explain. I like to take conventional food and find a way to make it raw gourmet. You’d be surprised at the amount of things that are possible by using blending, dehydrating, and sprouting methods.

Travel also helps inspiration. I’m also a big fan of Pure Wine & Food in New York and Plant Food in LA. And, cookbooks of all varieties–I would just sit and read them all day if I could. They get my creative juice flowing for sure :)

What advice would you give someone with a sweet tooth who wants to incorporate more whole food?

Switch to raw desserts. That way you’re not eating all the empty calories and wreaking havoc on your digestive system. I always say it’s not about raw. It’s more about what you can add to your nutrition . If you switch out one raw dessert a week/month/day you are adding so much more nutrients into what you are eating and by default cutting out a whole bunch of other additives that your body doesn’t need.

Do you have a favourite sweet recipe go to?

I have been making these chocolate cookie dough balls at home. They are amazing.

What are the biggest challenges for female entrepreneurs? How do you think we can overcome those challenges?

I can think of many challenges of being a entrepreneur. Mostly the rollercoaster is challenging, but I find since I’ve started Living Lotus, community is a big piece of being able to navigate the ups and downs. Also, shifting my perspective has been valuable–everything is a lesson, that’s the fun part!

Where’s your favourite spot in Vancouver to set up a laptop and get shit done?

Kafka’s on Main Street they have Hojicha there–which I love.

Can you share any resources you’ve found most helpful in your career?

The best resource I’ve found most helpful is the community around me. Meaning the other food businesses that I have met and will meet along the way. Our kitchen is inside Makerlabs (where we have been part of the community there for a long time) and there is a good group of makers there as well.

What’s in the works for you right now?

Since building the kitchen and moving in last summer we are wholesaling to a growing number of stores. I’m starting to grow the catering side of Living Lotus.

Did you connect with Audrey Wong? Check out my interview with the fellas of Bestie or drop me a line and join the party. Here’s how you can get involved.

Pug in a Blanket, 100 Brilliant Books, Why Dating Can Suck Big Time, and Other Links

Photo by Matthew Wiebe

Photo courtesy Unsplash by Matthew Wiehe

I don’t know about you, but a pug in a blanket makes everything okay! And I rrrrreally needed that! The first months of my 2016 have been busier, crazier, more hectic than any other year. I’ve worked 50 hour weeks, applied to writing residencies, gone on some cute and some awkward dates, done a nude photoshoot, revamped my Neatos interview series, started a new interview series on my burlesque blog, started a words as art project, considered moving to London, joined artScene Vancouver, and more! This week I’ve decided to share a few links that help keep me sane when everything else seems to be insane.

* This collection of photographs is free to use, and, PS, they’re hiring

* Have you heard of the Bullet Journal? It’s revolutionized how I organize my life! It’s great to keep my journal-type entries + my day planner in one place

* I’ve read a few, but would like to read all these 100 Canadian books that make our country look GOOD

* Do you cringe as much as I do at these suspenseful still lives? If you have time peruse the full site, it’s delightful

* Ever wanted to meet the artist up close? Small Stage (the dance organization I’m a Board Member with) is hosting a salon series where you can hang out with the artists before the show

* This article struck a cord with me. It describes to the men we love how we feel about the men who scare (and why sometimes a simple interaction to you is terrifying to us)

* I’m single (!!) but sometimes I really hate dating

* I’ve been thinking of doing the Whole 30 diet and this recipe looks damn good

* There’s a podcast for Vancouver writers

Now, you tell me, what’s inspiring you this week? Leave a comment below and let me know.

Meet Melissa Ferreira, Owner of Adhesif Clothing

It’s tough to make friends in adulthood. Without the confines of a classroom to force you together, forging new friendship relies on extending out beyond your comfort zone. Enter Vancouver Neatos interviews, where I introduce you to a new face in Vancouver every week (ish). Want to take part? Drop me a line.

Photo by Rebecca Blisset

Photo by Rebecca Blisset

Tell us about yourself. What drew you to becoming an entrepreneur?

My mother worked in garment production factories in Montreal throughout my childhood. I grew up with her sewing at the kitchen table after work, doing alterations for extra income.

Naturally, I learned how to sew from her. I taught myself how to design from taking apart vintage garments and seeing how they were put together, after spending many years as a vintage clothing buyer right out of high school. I love everything vintage and it remains to this day my main source of inspiration. Vintage clothing, music, historic + modern architecture, vintage cars, vintage appliances…they have all withstood the test of time because things were built to last. And, because they’ve lasted, the pieces leave behind a legacy with abundant stories to tell.

I have always been an extremely independent, resourceful, and creative individual. Since childhood, I’ve always been dreaming, inventing, creating, drawing, imagining, making. With never ending ideas brewing, it was a natural direction in my life to pursue a career as an entrepreneur. It was only after I completed a self employment program at Douglas College many years ago that I was able to start a business as an independent artist/designer.

I started Adhesif Clothing in 2003, opened my own boutique in 2010, and never looked back. Upward and onward…

Adhesif Clothing is a Vancouver, British Columbia clothing company that produces handmade, memorable, one-of-a-kind garments. Each up-cycled piece is made with up to 95% vintage + reclaimed materials + 100% heart, a truly well thought out process made by designer Melissa Ferreira. Every article of clothing has its very own distinctive personality with a visual array of eclectic prints + color compositions. The result brings a striking presentation of polished yet playful pieces that are also eco friendly.

Is there anything that particularly influences or inspires your work?

My inspiration comes from a love of quality over quantity and the culture that goes along with this mentality. It’s called “slow culture” and in my case “slow fashion” specifically. I’m inspired by anything created from the heart that has a story to tell.

I get inspired by vintage designs + original street styles. Effortless, natural style of people just doing their thing. I love watching people in their own element. The ideas are endless…catching up with them all is the challenge.

What advice would you give emerging designers and shop owners?

For designers :: Find your demographic. No matter how great your design, it has to fit well, never stop working at being better. Do something that makes you stand out, but remain authentic to your concept.

For shop owners :: Make a business plan, you’re going to need one! Always stick to regular business hours, have great customer service, go the extra mile for your loyal clients. Hire individuals who have a positive attitude, a good work ethic, and share your vision. Change is good; always have something new to offer, at least on a seasonal basis. Keep things fresh.

What do you like best about the fashion community in Vancouver?

Some of the most talented and inspiring creatives I’ve ever met and worked with in my career with Adhesif Clothing have been coming out of the West Coast. Overall, I find the general vibe with the West Coast aesthetic to be at times rugged, but mostly relaxed and whimsical. There’s a lot of diversity with the locals in the design scene and that’s not just specific to fashion. There’s a lot of great decor, mixed media, ceramics, metal work, sculpture, leatherwork, food, craft beer etc.


What are the biggest challenges for female entrepreneurs in Vancouver? In Canada? In general? How do you think we can overcome those challenges?

Regardless of being male or female, going into business for yourself is a roller coaster ride of bumps, jumps, heights, and lows. Knowing how to overcome challenges and never give up when presented with a hurdle is the key regardless of where you live or what you do. Determination and perseverance IS the key to success. Never stop challenging yourself and never stop learning. They say the most successful people in business are the ones who NEVER GIVE UP! I don’t think there’s any such thing as the grass being greener on the other side. Every place has its challenges.

With that said I think Canada’s biggest challenge currently is bringing manufacturing back to this country. The majority of what is available in the commercial market (aside from the exploitation of natural resources) is imported and there’s no reason why a country this size with a population of over 36 million shouldn’t be able to be self sustaining.

Where’s your favourite spot in Vancouver to set up a laptop and get shit done?

My studio…it’s where the magic happens + it’s the mad scientist to the pretty face (my boutique) it’s my happy place + the best spot to brainstorm.

Can you share any resources you’ve found most helpful in your career?

No matter how talented you are as an artist, if you’re thinking of being an independent, self sustaining designer than I highly recommend taking some business courses or hiring out that part of the business to someone who likes accounting, bookkeeping, PR + marketing etc. Or else you’re going to be the one who’s wearing all the hats!

What’s in the works for you right now?

I’ve been spending a lot of time and energy tapping into the European market. I am Canadian but with European citizenship, so Germany has become my second home now. I’ve had the opportunity to have photo shoots with a creative team I work with there for Adhesif Clothing’s past three years/fall-winter collections, including our upcoming FW 2016 Collection.

Also, the 9th Annual Nifty for Fifty Sale is coming soon ::

30 local designers and artists will gather under one roof for the 9th annual Nifty for Fifty shopping sale happening Sunday April 10th 2016 from 11am-8pm at Heritage Hall (3102 Main Street). Find everything from accessories to clothing and trinkets, all for $50 or
less. Just in time to revamp that spring wardrobe!

Did you connect with Melissa Ferreira and Adhesif Clothing? Check out my interview with GOONHOUSE or drop me a line and join the party. Here’s how you can get involved.

Meet Larissa, Vancouver Glass Artist

It’s tough to make friends in adulthood. Without the confines of a classroom to force you together, forging new friendship relies on extending out beyond your comfort zone. Enter Vancouver Neatos interviews, where I introduce you to a new face in Vancouver every week (ish). Want to take part? Drop me a line.


Meet Larissa Blokhuis. She’s a glass artist in Vancouver and I had the pleasure of meeting her recently. Have a read through her interview!

How did glass become your medium?

I became a glassblower by chance. I have the good luck of being from Calgary, where I attended the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD). At the time when I went to school, this was the only post-secondary school in Canada with a glassblowing bachelor’s degree program.

As a child I had decided to go to ACAD after high school, but I didn’t know what I would major in. When I was 14, my parents said I could take a summer course at ACAD, and glassblowing was one of the options. I think this was the first time they were offering the course to people under the age of 18. It was usually restricted, I think because of safety concerns and the cost of insurance. Glassblowing was unlike anything else I’d had the opportunity to try, so that was what I picked. I decided to major in glassblowing, and in 2008 I completed my bachelor’s degree with a major in glass. If I hadn’t had the chance to try glass, I would still be an artist, but I’m not sure what kind.

Is there anything that particularly influences or inspires your work?

I’m inspired by life cycles. Both short-term as it applies to individual beings, and long term as it applies to evolution. Many of my artworks have to do with seed pods, or a specific time in an organism’s life. The life forms I depict are generally plants, fungus, or colonies you might find in a coral reef. These kinds of life forms can be quite strange, and when you start looking at historical forms, they become even more strange. There can be a great deal of visual crossover between sea creatures and plants in fossil records. One example that always comes to mind is a sea creature fossil found in the Canadian Rockies, (Siphusauctum gregarium), which looks like a tulip.

The historical crossovers of form and function become an avenue for exploration of strange mutations and evolutionary paths. With my current work, I project strange evolution into the future, to create sculptures based on potential future evolution. Our environment is shifting rapidly due to human-caused climate change, and we don’t know what the future will look like. In creating my sculptures and installation pieces, I am placing humans in the future. We can choose to be part of the future by being good stewards of the environment. If we don’t choose to do that, we may miss out.

What are the biggest challenges for artists? How do you think we can overcome those challenges?

In Vancouver

The biggest challenge for artists in Vancouver is the biggest challenge most people living in Vancouver face: prices for land, housing, and rents are not linked to the local economy, and have become too expensive. Finding affordable space to create work is difficult, on top of the cost of living. Many people are house-poor, and living in small spaces. It can be hard to sell sculptural work to people living in small spaces with overpriced mortgages.

One solution is for our government to restrict foreign ownership. As the child of immigrants I welcome people who want to live here and contribute to the life of the city. But our land prices should be tied to the local economy, to ensure a vibrant and functional future for our city.

In Canada

In Canada, our art scene is a bit conservative. published an article in April 2015 about the average demographics of artists awarded exhibitions in Canada, 2013-4: 56% white men, 33% white women, 8% men of colour, 3% women of colour. About 25% of Canadians are people of colour, and of course half of Canadians are women. There are many Canadians who are not getting a fair chance to exhibit their artwork, or to see art exhibits produced by someone from their demographic.

Galleries could easily fix this by adding some explicit language about inclusiveness and accurate representation to their curatorial mandate. Galleries are continually looking to increase engagement, but some want to do it without risk. Art must push boundaries, and that includes giving power to under/mis-represented groups to control their own narratives. Conflicting narratives may arise, but that means more people will feel like they have a place in the conversation.

In general

In general, there are many stereotypes about artists, the most annoying of which is that we’re flaky. The volume of paperwork, planning, and liaising I do as an artist is significant. Nobody will tell me to meet an application deadline, so I have to be self-motivated and organised to pursue opportunities. My CV would be quite sparse if I was flaky.

The most dangerous stereotype is that artists are mentally ill, or depressed. Mental illness detracts from an artist’s productivity, and it decreases artistic creativity. While there do seem to be some corollary relationships between mental illness and artistic creativity, mental illness should not be encouraged or go untreated with a goal of creating art, and many artists have no experience with serious mental illness.

The idea that artists are flaky and/or “mad” devalues the work artists do. (It also doesn’t do much for people dealing with mental illness.) It perpetuates further stereotypes that we don’t live in the real world, that non-artists can never understand us, and that what we do is non-essential. Dealing with stereotypes is difficult, because there is evidence that people are more likely to buy from an artist who fits the “mad artist” stereotype. Artists don’t have to do much research to figure this out and decide to develop a persona.

I prefer de-mystification. Ideas do not come to me in dreams; they come after much thought and research about ideas that are important to me. I live in the real world, where I have to worry about the cost of living, where I have to negotiate professional relationships, and where I need to meet deadlines. I would love for people to recognise that what artists do is very much necessary for a functional society. Art of all kinds keeps society from stagnating. It gives people the opportunity to discuss difficult topics, to feel that they are not alone, and to become more connected to their communities. Engagement with the arts increases critical thinking, increases brain connectivity and plasticity, and increases empathy.


What advice would you give emerging artists?

1. If you just graduated from art school, it’s normal to feel unmotivated. Suddenly you’re out in the real world where people may or may not care about art, where your student loans and bills are hanging over your head, and where you don’t necessarily have easy access to equipment. It can take years to find your adult voice as an artist, and there is no set timeline. Give yourself a break when you need it, and otherwise keep working.

2. Family and friends will give you all kinds of unsolicited advice, because they love you and want you to succeed. That doesn’t mean it’s good advice. If the person offering advice loves you but doesn’t work in your industry, don’t argue, just disengage. Arguing takes forever and makes the other person feel rejected. Take all advice with a grain of salt, because creative careers are different.

3. Rejection is an opportunity to learn. Always ask for feedback regarding where you could improve.

4. Surround yourself with productive people. A good community will support you, allow you to learn, and help you become/stay motivated (for this to work, you must return the favour). If you want to collaborate, don’t just pick people who are fun to hang out with, pick people with a good work ethic who match your level of seriousness.

5. If you’re unsure about pricing, use a pricing formula. Don’t compete with the pricing of mass-produced items, and don’t underprice your work to sell it quickly. Underpricing devalues your brand and your industry. A gallery will take 50% (any more than that is an unfair deal), and if you sell without a gallery there are other fees and expenses related to making sales. You are the only person who will make sure you are paid fairly.

hourly rate x hours worked + materials = base
base x 15-20% (overhead) = wholesale
wholesale x 2 = retail

6. Artistic creativity is a skill. It takes time and effort to develop. If you don’t dedicate a certain amount of time regularly to your art career, you won’t have one. Whatever you spend 40 hours per week thinking about will become a dominant factor in your life, and will likely invade your thoughts during off-hours.

7. Don’t compare yourself to others. If you’re worrying about what someone else is doing, you’re not focused on what you should be doing. Every art career is different, and what works for someone else is not necessarily right for you.

What do you like best about the art community in Vancouver?

We’re all in it together. I love the community I’m in because we support each other, and we really take joy in each other’s successes. I like that the city has diversity, unique events, and enough creative people that I can find artists who are compatible with my work ethic. I think artists can find a good community in any city, but with varying levels of effort. In Vancouver, my neighbourhood has a high percentage of artists and creative people, so I’m often walking or cycling distance to them, and to my fabrication studios.

Can you share any resources you’ve found most helpful in your career?

My best resource is my community. You can google artist calls and other opportunities, but you can’t google meaningful words of encouragement. Other artists can tell you what opportunities worked for them, they can help you think through an idea or tackle technical concerns, and they can keep you going.

What’s in the works for you right now?

I’m just finishing up my first public art commission, which is in the Vancity on 4th Ave in Kits. The project was a great learning experience, and I’m happy with the resulting artwork.

I find that every year is shorter than the previous year, so while there are many things I’d like to accomplish, I don’t know how much I’ll actually get done! I’m looking to pursue other public art opportunities, complete an artist residency, and have an international exhibition.

In terms of upcoming events, I’m in a group show in February at Cityscape in North Vancouver. I also have a solo exhibition in Red Deer beginning in February, and a solo exhibition in Crafthouse (Granville Island) in the summer. You can join my mailing list through my website to receive updates and reminders.

See more of Larissa on Instagram, tumblr, and Pinterest.

Did you connect with what Larissa had to say? Check out my interview with Chris Bentzen, owner of Hot Art Wet City, or drop me a line and join the party. Here’s how you can get involved.

Meet Laurel Brown, Founder of Cinema Spectacular

It’s tough to make friends in adulthood. Without the confines of a classroom to force you together, forging new friendship relies on extending out beyond your comfort zone. Enter Vancouver Neatos interviews, where I introduce you to a new face in Vancouver every week (ish). Want to take part? Drop me a line.


Tell us about yourself.

My name is Laurel Brown and I came to Vancouver for school, and stayed for the community! I’m the director of the Cinema Spectacular festival, which I started in 2014. On a film set you can usually find me in the camera department!

What is Cinema Spectacular?

Cinema Spectacular is an all-Canadian motion picture variety show. We’re a screening and networking event started by filmmakers with a passion for working with and supporting more Canadian artists. We wanted to bridge the gap between student/amateur festivals and huge festivals for established professionals. We head down to the Vancity Theater with our short film program, have a great time with filmmaker Q+As, sponsor-supported raffle prizes, and it’s a really great atmosphere!

What are the biggest challenges for filmmakers? How do you think we can overcome those challenges?

I think a lot of the challenges that face filmmakers in this city and in Canada are money and distribution related – two huge factors in making movies. It’s difficult as an emerging filmmaker to get people to support you financially in the first place, let alone with the funds synonymous with fantastic production value. It’s crazy because you see the talent here – on both sides of the camera, and a lot of the time I wonder why we aren’t producing more high quality content that starts and finishes on Canadian soil?

What advice would you give emerging filmmakers?

The most useful things I can say to emerging filmmakers is to be persistent, work hard, and ask lots of questions!

What do you like best about the art community in Vancouver?

I like how multi-faceted the arts community is in Vancouver. Every time I think I’ve discovered all of the film festivals and collectives in town, I’m always surprised to find more fantastic niche-filling communities!

What are you looking for when you accept submissions to Cinema Spectacular?

We are looking for original, passionate content! Other than that, Cinema Spectacular has a short list of basic rules – we accept short films, animations, feature film trailers, and music videos. They must be shot in Canada and produced by Canadians. A maximum run time of 15 minutes and a maximum budget of $15 000. Other than that, our rules are pretty wide open. Documentary, experimental stuff, dramas, comedies – we really want to see what sort of stories are coming out of Canada. It’s only $5 to submit. We like keeping our submission costs low – we know, as filmmakers, submitting your film to festivals is a huge financial hurdle!

Where’s your favourite spot in Vancouver to set up a laptop and get shit done?

I’m a big homebody when it comes to work – I’ll go have a coffee or an ice cream at one of my favourite Mount Pleasant shops then walk home and get down to business. For business meetings, I love Matchstick Cafe on Kingsway.

Can you share any resources you’ve found most helpful in your career?

A big resource for me, and for any filmmaker – is people. Learning how to collaborate and keep in touch are two huge skills that I’m definitely still working on. There are tons of places in town to connect with – tons of film events – whether it’s VIFF or the Queer Film Fest, Cineworks or Iris Film Collective, everyone working at these places loves film, they put on great events, and their community support in the city is great.

What’s in the works for you right now?

I have a stop-motion animated short and a live-action short in the very infantile stages of writing and preproduction. Other than that, it’s hunkering down to prepare for Cinema Spectacular 3 this May!

Cinema Spectacular can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! And we have a barebones website up while we build our full site.

Did you connect with Laurel’s story? Check out my interview with Sara Bynoe, creator of Teen Angst Night, or drop me a line and join the party. Here’s how you can get involved.

Meet Kate Reid, CEO of GOONHOUSE Vintage

It’s tough to make friends in adulthood. Without the confines of a classroom to force you together, forging new friendship relies on extending out beyond your comfort zone. Enter Vancouver Neatos interviews, where I introduce you to a new face in Vancouver every week (ish). Want to take part? Drop me a line.

Stylings and Stories GOONHOUSE

Tell us about yourself.

I’m Kate Reid, the owner of GOONHOUSE—an online shop that sells streetwear and vintage clothing. Growing up I really gravitated toward the DIY ethic, but the local punk rock scene scared the hell out of me. All these cool extroverted people doing shit their own way! I was totally intimidated. It wasn’t until I discovered feminism and identity politics that I really started coming into my own. I remember a co-worker lending me issues of Bust magazine. Reading about all those badass women doing their own thing was a big game changer for me. I started experimenting with style, and exploring the artifice of my outward self. Since then I’ve had a lot of fun playing with fashion. Once you start messing with your appearance, you realize how fluid your identity can be—it’s pretty liberating.


GOONHOUSE is an online streetwear and vintage clothing shop for badass goons. In high school I was the weird kid who ate her lunch in the art room; I guess GOONHOUSE is an extension of that—a fun way to meet some fellow freaks.

What are the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs? How do you think we can overcome them?

I’m not gonna lie, the cost of living in Vancouver is a big hurdle. Putting up a bunch of cash to start a business is daunting when your rent is so high. But that’s all part of the love/hate I have for Van. Most days I dig the scrappy small biz lifestyle, but other days I just want to run naked in streets like, THE STRUGGLE IS REAL!

In general, I’m lucky that my family has always been on my side, but I know a lot of people struggle to find that emotional support. It’s hard to believe in yourself and your business when your loved ones tell you it’s a waste of time. That’s why when you find friends who believe in you and support you through your fumbles, you gotta keep them close.

What advice would you give new online shop owners?

Ha! Well since I’m still a new online shop owner myself, all I can say is keep it chill. Highs and lows are part of the game, so just try to roll with it. Also, good photography: get it.

What do you like best about living in Vancouver?

The rain. I imagine it’s a lot like Midwesterners feel about their winters: there’s a smug pride in weathering the storm for eight months of the year. In my head I’m this hardy homesteader woman braving the harsh elements, but the second I drain the hot cup of coffee in my hand, that fantasy dissolves pretty quick.

Where’s your favourite spot in Vancouver to set up a laptop and get shit done?

Honestly I rarely work in the city, but when I need a break I head to Old Crow in New West. It’s a hip little coffee shop run by the mega business babe, Stephanie Vu. Chill atmosphere, rad tunes, and Bows + Arrows coffee. It’s the best.

Can you share any resources you’ve found most helpful in your career?

Other lady entrepreneurs are awesome because they empathize in a way no one else can. My friend Sonia was been a big inspiration. She only started Woodlot last year and she’s already killin’ it! Girl Gang is a fantastic resource too. It’s like a direct line to other Vancouver women doing their thing. Their feedback and connections are invaluable.

What’s in the works for you right now?

I dig vintage because it’s an alternative to mass-produced fashion, so now that I’m looking for local manufacturers to make branded apparel for GOONHOUSE, it’s been tough to find sustainable shops. The challenge is finding a manufacturer in the Lower Mainland that’s down with using locally sourced fabrics and keeping its footprint small—and that doesn’t cost a billion dollars! If any of your readers know of a local, affordable green manufacturer, I’d really appreciate the connect. Otherwise I’ve been spending my time hunting for cool locations to shoot a GOONHOUSE lookbook—and re-reading #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso, the founder of Nasty Gal. Her story is super inspiring.

See more of GOONHOUSE on instagram!

Did you connect with GOONHOUSE? Check out my interview with Citizen Grace or drop me a line and join the party. Here’s how you can get involved.

Oh! You Pretty Things… Talk to Me

I maintain that hosting an interview series on your blog is one of the best things I did not only for my business and my social life.

Oh! You Pretty Things…Talk to Me

Oh you pretty things talk to me interviews

When I first moved to Vancouver, I barely knew anybody. I’d heard Vancouver had an unfriendly reputation, but I’ve never been one to be swayed by rumor. The west coast called to me, so I packed up and made my way to the wettest best city in Canada.

Thankfully, I had the excuse of my neatos interview series that I hosted on my blog. It was an easy way to make connections where I otherwise had none.

Now, I’ve been here about two years and I’d like to meet even more people and connect them to each other too! Therefore, I’m reinstating my neatos interview series and putting the call out for cool folks (preferably in the Vancouver area).

Here are the rules ::

  1. Answer a series of questions via email
  2. Provide a good quality, horizontal image
  3. Meet me in person for coffee, beer, other excursion, or Skype (only for those of you location challenged)
  4. Be genuinely keen on making a new connection/friendship with moi

Want to take part? Leave a comment below, tell me a bit about yourself, and I will get in touch with you!

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