Tag Archives: Makers

Social Enterprise: A Conversation With Elizabeth McKitrick, Second Nature Home

1 May

SecondNatureHomeLocal writer, Maryam Khezrzadeh, recently prepared a feature on the platform, Medium.  Her article was on a local business, Second Nature Home, which is also a social enterprise.  With Maryam’s permission, we have set out her article below. Social enterprises are noble undertakings, but they need to be profitable as well to survive and finding that balance is important and we want to see these businesses succeed.  Without further ado, Maryam’s feature:

People don’t buy from a business just because it is doing something good for the society. So how do social enterprises succeed? How do they compete with the increasingly socially aware big corporations?

Elizabeth McKitrick is the founder of Second Nature Home Boutique, a social enterprise in the Trout Lake/Cedar Cottage neighbourhood in East Vancouver.

One afternoon, a few years ago, I entered the shop for the first time, expecting boutique prices for the boutique quality. But I was surprised! The well-made, beautiful pottery, linens, jewelry, woodwork, self-care and edibles were all priced comparably lower than same or similar items in other stores. What was going on? What a gem, I thought!

I became a regular and the shop became a place not only to refill soap and shampoo bottles, but also to learn about the city, the people who made the products sold at the store and the goings-on around the neighbourhood.

For the second episode of “Ten Minute Conversations”, I invited Elizabeth McKitrick to tell us about the boutique, its social mission and how it survives and thrives in an expensive city such as Vancouver. To listen to an interview with Elizabeth McKitrick, visit Soundcloud.

What is a Social Enterprise?

Most people are confused about what a social enterprise really is. A 2013 survey in UK revealed that only one in five people can correctly identify a social enterprise. Half of the public either thinks that a social enterprise relies on grants and donations to provide support to people (charity), or that the main purpose of a social enterprise is to return profits to individual owners and shareholders (traditional business). None of these definitions capture the essential nature of a social enterprise.

At its core, a social enterprise, has a mission to address specific issues within a society. The enterprise assumes responsibility to change an unjust situation for the better and sometimes even transform whole societies, and it does so by participating in the economy. It is this direct economic activity and the central steering role of a core mission, that marks a social enterprise.

This is how Elizabeth defines it:

A social enterprise is one whose social mission is just as important as their financial mission. So it’s on equal footing; you have to make a profit in order to be in business, but the profits are re-invested back into the business for the benefit of “all involved”.

There are a number of things that fall into the social mission for Second Nature. Elizabeth and her team are aware of the consequences of social isolation, and so they’re committed to make a place that encourages and enhances connectedness; a place where people can come and be known to one another, meet their neighbours and have a conversation.

The enterprise is also committed to promote conversations around the environment and how our ways of living and climate change might be related. Furthermore, the shop has equipped the neighbourhood with a soap refilling system to target plastic waste.

 SNHSoapStation

It is direct economic activity and the central steering role of a social mission, that marks a social enterprise.

The financials do terribly matter though. As we mentioned, people don’t buy from a business just because it is a do-gooder. A small percentage of people give a very high priority to ethical considerations (early adopters), but a significantly larger population, considers the ethics of a business only after everything else (price, quality, availability) is more or less the same. So a social enterprise, like any other business, has to find a way to provide good value.

Good Value: Price, Quality & Intrigue

The shop, purposely tries to keep its pricing low, because it is located in a mixed income neighbourhood. The majority of families and individuals in the neighbourhood, Elizabeth tells us, live on strict budgets. The way Second Nature manages to offer beautiful, local, handmade products at affordable prices, is by partnering with makers who are also in the same situation.

This co-dependent and co-development of makers and buyers, facilitated by a (not-greedy) social enterprise might just offer a fair equilibrium. The makers get all their costs covered and also receive 60% of the profits. The shop receives 40% of the profits. But the margins are moderate, not high. And sometimes even, the shop and the makers strategically decide to cut back on their margins to be able to offer certain valuable products that have longevity to them:

For example we have some linen towels that we bring in that are all ethically sourced, and they are pricy! but we do try to keep the margins down …we are not making 50% or 60% markup on them which we know some other stores are doing! (laughs) … you could use [these towels] for twenty years and wouldn’t have to buy another towel.

Elizabeth McKitrick (center) and Elya Bergen (right) inside Second Nature boutique.

It is not easy work to curate quality goods and maintain good prices. Second Nature invests a lot of time and effort researching and testing the products. It is the shop’s direct alliance with an army of local makers that makes it possible to not only test and filter goods more effectively, but also to offer a very diverse array of products. “And that’s part of the intrigue”, Elizabeth believes, “people come in and go, oh! I’ve never seen anything like this before!”

For Second Nature, though, makers are not just strategic partners:

We also encourage people to go outside … It doesn’t have to go through us. We encourage the expansion of the makers’ influence. We are about promoting artisans and helping them to be solidly supported, so they can continue making beautiful things.

But why is it so important to support local makers?

The Importance of Circular Economy

When you support a local artisan, you’re giving the money into their pocket, so that they can buy other local products. And it’s strengthening the local community in a way that would not ever happen. It’s very organic.

Locally owned businesses in Canada re-circulate 2.6 times more revenue back into the local economy than multi-national chains. It’s not only that local business are more likely to buy local services and products, it’s also that they employ people in the community and support local events, sports teams and charities. So money gets recirculated many times and in many ways within the community invigorating the local economy and making it grow.

Why Local? Infographic from BC Buy Local.

Elizabeth believes that the community’s understanding of this ripple effect has definitely increased in the past few years. “There is a desire to buy local”, she tells us. People are more aware of true costs of producing, consuming and disposal of a product and so are adapting new attitudes towards their purchasing. More people see paying a little more for local products as “investing in the life of another person or another family” and investing in a product that they love and are going to wear, keep and use for a long time. A departure from rapid consumerism.

Reprinted With Permission: Maryam Khezrzadeh

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Make It! Vancouver At The PNE Forum April 20 – 22, 2018

18 Apr

MakeIt!This weekend one of the biggest shows featuring handmade goods happens at the PNE Forum.  Make It! Vancouver will be featuring 180 makers including a number of new makers.  The show will feature a host of items including accessories, home décor, delectable items to eat and drink, art, jewellery, leather goods, baby clothes and toys, accessories for your dogs. Whether you are looking for something for yourself, your kids, the house or your 4 legged friend, there is an amazing selection of items. Purchasing items at Make It! means you are supporting entrepreneurs who are building their own micro economy. All this goes a long way to supporting our local economy.   If that isn’t enough, there will be a beer garden along with food trucks.  Make It! Vancouver kicks off Friday, April 20th at 11:00 and goes till 9:00 pm that day and continues Saturday (10-6) and Sunday (11-5). Admission is $6 at the door, or you can buy your tickets for $3.00 in advance online. To purchase your tickets, visit Make It! Vancouver.

Blitzen Pop Up On Now Till December 23, 2017

11 Dec

IBlitzen Shopn the space next to Heartbreaker Salon, was Whiskey Cake Home, who we’ve learnt has left this space to focus on their store on Main Street. Which means a great little retail space in the midst of a host of restaurants such as Les Faux Bourgeois, Osteria Savio Volpe, Matchstick Coffee, Los Cuervos at the corner of Kingsway and Fraser.  Most of these spots have waits and line ups, so while you wait for your table, why not pop in to the Blitzen Pop Up and get a bit of Christmas shopping done.  Blitzen Pop Up features a range of products from local makers including:

Anita Sikma Jewelry
Handwoven rugs/pillows/garlic baskets by Becky Brisco
Candles by EastWix
Leather Goods by Hannah Joan
Sriracha Revolver Hot Sauce
Patch Planters
Batch salts/scrubs/room sprays By Kis•met Essentials
Andrew Pommier’s Limited Edition Artist Prints
Locally designed textiles and baby swaddlers by Anara
The Vancouver Shop – local neighbourhood patches, prints & giftware
Pacific Northwest Prints
Silk Scarves By Mona Sultan
Handmade Soaps & Balms by Violet Alchemy
Kids clothing and colouring cards by Jamie Anderson
Local Pickles and Pickled Onions by Deandra Vaughn

Blitzen Pop Up is local at 623 Kingsway, corner of Fraser & Kingsway and is open Wednesday to Saturday from Noon to 8:00 pm. Stop by and see what’s in store or check them out on Instagram @blitzenpop.

 

 

 

Artisan Markets This Fall In East Van

3 Oct

FallLeavesColourAre you a fan of shopping local? Do you support small business enterprises in your community?  When you shop local, you support those around you that help create the fabric that is your community.  This fall there are few local events featuring local artisans and makers you may wish to check out. We’ve set out a few below hat we’ve come across. If you know of more, drop us a line and we’ll add them to our list.

EASTSIDE FLEA – Harvest Market
Friday, October 20, 2017 at 6:00 pm
October 21 & 22, 2017 11:00 am to 5:00 pm
Ellis Building, 1024 Main Street

You are invited to check out a great line up of vendors with everything from new to vintage. Friday night is a bit different set up in their full market on the weekend. It features a select group of artisans as well as craft beer & drink specials, pinball and DJs to round out the evening.  Saturday and Sunday is the full market experience with 50 vendors and food trucks on hand. To learn more visit them at Eastside Flea.

2nd ANNUAL FALL HARVEST MARKET
October 28, 2017
Croatian Cultural Centre
10:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm

Whether you are shopping for yourself, or that birthday gift or some early Christmas shopping, the 2nd Annual Fall Harvest Market is a great opportunity to support local makers.  Elemental Trends is hosting this event featuring over 30 vendors.  To keep an eye on which vendors will be on hand visit them on Facebook at Elemental Trends.

THE ARTISAN’S EVENT
October 29, 2017
Heritage Hall, 3102 Main Street
11:00 am to 4:00 pm

Another back to back opportunity to shop local.  The Artisan’s Event happens Sunday, October 29th featuring over 35+ local makers and artisans. Admission is by donation. To learn more about the vendors, visit them at The Artisan’s Event.

Kyubu Market Launches September 9, 2017 In Strathcona

28 Aug

You are invited to check out a new project that has been many months in the making Kyubu Market.  Pronounced kyoo boo, this new market is one of the tiniest shops in East Vancouver located in the MakerLabs at 780 East Cordova Street. Outside of their retail space, Kyubu Market is an online marketplace with one-of-a-kind and custom pieces from a variety of makers & artisans. Kyubu Market is the brainchild of Jen Yamasaki and Gloria Kang. Their varied backgrounds including law, business, science, graphic design, marketing and communications puts them in a unique position to assist and feature independent artists and makers from across Canada.  Gloria and Jen already have a long list of artisans that are being featured on their site including Konisa Studio, Cord & StoneJoanne Sawatsky, DIG Leather, Bare Skin Bar, Steidle Woodworking Co., SAD Magazine, Piton Pottery and many more. To see the full list of artisans featured visit the online marketplace at Kyubu Market, or check out the Grand Opening on Saturday, September 9th which kicks off at 6:00 pm and runs till 9:30 pm. The event is being billed as a Garden Party. We understand some of the artisans and makers will be on hand for the opening event which also features local eats and local brewers.  Stop by and see what’s in store. Kyubu-Market-full-store

 

What’s On East Van: June 9, 2017

9 Jun

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALots happening in East Van this next week. We’ve set out below What’s On, but first we’d like to give a shout out to East Van artist June Hunter for creating this image for our new weekly series.  As you may know, the crow didn’t make it into the running for official bird for the City of Vancouver’s. We felt the crow needed a little love and recognition, so it’s officially our graphic for What’s On East Van. June Hunter is well versed in all things crow and she captures some amazing photos of them. We invite you to check out her art work and photos. For now let’s see What’s On East Van for the coming week. Beyond the week, we invite you to check out our Event Listing which is updated daily and features events for the month and beyond.

Driven – June 10, 2017

If you love cars, Driven is happening this Saturday at Pacific Coliseum. This is an aftermarket show featuring some 300 vehicles. Event runs from 1:00 pm – 7:00 pm. Admission is $20. For more info, see DrivenShow.ca.

Main Street Bike Expo – June 10, 2017

If travelling by 2 wheels is more your style, you will want to check out the inaugural Main Street Bike Expo happening this Saturday at The Ellis Building, 1024 Main Street also home to the Eastside Flea. This event happens from 11:00 am – 6:00 pm and features photography, exhibitors, workshops, free bike tune ups, show & shine bike beauty pageant and to top it off a brewery bike tour at 6:00 pm sharp.  Admission is $3.00.  For more info, see MainStreetBikeExpo.com.

Vancouver Mini Maker Faire – June 10 – 11, 2017

If you are curious how things are made, or just want to see some of the amazing talented makers we have in this City, you will want to check out the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire. This event happens at the PNE Forum. It is an all ages event where you will find everything from tech geeks, painters, potters, knitters, roboticists, artists, bakers and 3D printing enthusiasts and much more.  There will be over 150 makers on hand for this 2 day event happening at The PNE Forum June 10th and 11th from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. For more info, see MakerFaire.com.

Italian Day – June 11, 2017

Honestly, Italian Day is one of our favourite community events. Commercial Drive from Grandview to Venables is blocked off from traffic. The space is turned into a large piazza with food, music, dancing, vendors, displays, people watching, activities for kids, patios for sipping & nibbling.  This year’s theme is Amore, which of course is Italian for love.  Event kicks off at Noon and runs till 8:00 pm. Free to attend.

Workshop Canning & Freezing Your Summer Bounty – June 11, 2017

If you wish to learn the basics of canning, the folks at The Uncommon Café in Strathcona are hosting a workshop on Sunday, June 11th from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm.  For more information or to register, visit TartineMapleCuisine.com.

Tasting Plates Riley Park – June 14, 2017

Vancouver Foodster (aka Richard Wolak) is hosting Tasting Plates at self-guided foodie tour in the Riley Park area on Wednesday,  June 14th.  The event kicks off at The Honey Shoppe on Main Street and continues to a number of delish spots in the area. For information on tickets see Vancouver Foodster.

Free Italian Opera – June 15, 2017

June is Italian Heritage Month and with that comes some cool events in Vancouver for the month. One of them is free outdoor opera at the Italian Cultural Centre Thursday, June 15th. Two of City Opera Vancouver’s young singers will fill the air with Neapolitan songs. Food and wine will be available for sale starting at 6:30 pm, the concert is free and starts at 7:00 pm. The event runs till 9:30 pm.

Retro Design & Antiques Fair – June 11, 2017

If you are on the hunt for antiques, vintage or collectable items, you may wish to check out the Retro Design & Antiques Fair being held at the Croatian Cultural Centre on Sunday, June 11th from 11:00 to 3:00 pm. Admission is $5.

Entertainment: Arts, Theatre, Comedy & Live Music

This weekend, An AcroYoga Show happens at The Cultch on Saturday with 2 shows at 3:00 and 7:00 pm.  Can you spot a liar? Check out Story Story Lie at Café Deux Soleils at 8:00 pm for its last show of the season.  Looking to listen to some live jazz, the Sara Kennedy Trio will be playing at Tangent Café on Commercial Drive from 6:00 – 9:00 pm.  Looking for comedy,  Trae Crowder billed as a Liberal redneck is performing at the Rio Theatre Saturday night. Instant Theatre hosts sketch comedy at the theatre at Havana Restaurant Friday and Saturday nights at 10:30 pm. East Van Comedy picks things up on Sunday in the same spot.

Image Credit: June Hunter

Got Craft? Happens At Maritime Labour Centre May 6-7, 2017

28 Apr

GotCraft2017If you are not familiar with Got Craft?, it is one of Vancouver’s largest indie craft fairs. It started in 2007 with 20 vendors and 500 attendees and has now grown to 75 vendors and some 5,000 attendees coming to check out the local talent.  The aim of organizers is to create a boutique event that showcases their favourite handmade artists and also provides  the opportunity to shop and meet those makers in person. This year the event is again happening at the Maritime Labour Centre, 1880 Triumph Street, on May 6 and 7 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.  We see they will be showcasing a number of our favourite makers which include East Van Jam, SeaLuxe,  East Van Light, Sarah Mulder Jewellery, Laughing Sparrow and Tessa Manu Photography to name a few.  To see the full line up of vendors, we invite you to check out Got Craft?  Tickets are available to purchase in advance online for $3 or you can purchase tickets at the door for $5.  While in the area, be sure to check out some of the great spots close by including, Scandillious to fill up before or after shopping, or The Pie Shoppe for a sweet stop, or if you get thirsty Doan’s Craft Brewing is a short walk away as is Odd Society Spirits. While wandering around the neighbourhood, we are quite sure you’ll stumble across a few other great spots.   

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