Tag Archives: Second Nature Home

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

Shop Local With These East Van Shops

19 Dec

WhiteChristmasFinished your Christmas shopping? If not, the countdown is on. We recommend skipping the craziness that is the malls. Why not stop into one of these great local businesses that will a) not only appreciate the business, but b) offer some truly great service.  We’ve set out a few of our favourite spots we think are great for gift giving. Note, many of the stores have extended hours this week to help you with your Christmas shopping.

Les amis du fromage – 843 East Hastings Street

For the cheese lover, this is a great spot, but that’s not all they have.  They have a host of kitchen accessories and gourmet condiments perfect for giving gift.  Add to that, they are hosting a Sweet Pop Up Shop with delish items from Lisa Lou’s Chocolate Bar until December 24th.  If you know a true cheese lover, take note of their upcoming Wine & Cheese Tasting classes in the New Year.

Gourmet Warehouse, 1340 East Hastings Street

Who does not love to receive great food at Christmas?  There is such an array of delectable food items in store at Gourmet Warehouse whether for entertaining over the holidays or gift giving.  You can find just about everything here whether it’s small appliances, knives, condiments, baking items or maybe a gift certificate for an upcoming cooking class. There are lots of great gift ideas in store.  This week, they are making it easy for you. Gourmet Warehouse is open 10:00 am to 8:00 pm until December 22nd. Saturday, December 23rd 9:00 am to 6:00 pm and December 24th 8:30 to 4:30 pm.

Bird On A Wire Creations, 2535 Main Street

Bird On A Wire Creations is located near Kingsway on Main Street and features a host of new as well as established Canadian artists. They have an amazing selection of one-of-a-kind items.    If you missed artisan markets and craft fairs, you will find many of local makers in this store.  They are are open 10:00 am to 7:00 pm this week.

Giving Gifts Co., 4570 Main Street

Giving Gifts is a unique concept store made up of 5 rooms with items from over 70 local artists and small businesses in one lovely boutique shop.  The items are also eco-friendly and fair trade made. This store also has a great selection of gifts for kids and toddlers.

Little Mountain Pop Up Shop, 4386 Main Street

The Little Mountain Pop Up Shop is currently hosting ‘Holid-eh!’ featuring over 20 Canadian makers.  A few participants include Fox & Fancy, Bar Skin Bar, True North Trading Post and more.  They are open for holiday shopping until December 24th from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and for those last minute shoppers, December 24th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Olive & Wild, 4391 Main Street

If you are looking for some beautiful unique home décor items for gift giving this year, we recommend checking out Olive & Wild. Lots of beautiful items in store sourced locally and globally.

Second Nature Home, 3565 Commercial Street

Second Nature Home is great little shop just steps away from the Commercial Street Café in a great little stretch of road nestled next to the Toso Wood Gallery.  It boasts an array of eco-friendly items from Canadian artisans many of them local.  There is a wide selection of products and we might add great knowledgeable service. This week, they are open Monday to Saturday from 10:30 am to 9:00 pm and Sunday, December 24th from 1:00 to 3:00 pm.

Doctor Vigari Gallery, 1816 Commercial Drive

Doctor Vigari on The Drive boasts quite a collection of art from BC and Canadian artists whether you are looking for large or small pieces, there’s lots of choose from including tiles, prints, jewellery, sculptures, furniture, ceramics and much more.  Also framing is available in store to finish off that perfect piece of art whether purchased in store or elsewhere.

Lala’s On The Drive, 1748 Commercial Drive

A newer addition to The Drive, Lala’s has an array of gift giving items, some silly, some sassy, many just plain fun.  Lots of unique items for gift giving.

Wherever you shop, we hope you will continue to support our local businesses.

 

Say Hi To A Stranger – 3rd Edition August 21 – 23

14 Aug

SayHiToStranger2015PINKThe “Say Hi To A Stranger” Campaign returns August 21st – 23rd. We are pleased to see this event continue which was created by A Cue Creative Consulting. A large study conducted in 2012 by the Vancouver Foundation shows that socializing is challenging for many city residents. About one-third of respondents agree that it is difficult to make new friends in Vancouver, and that proportion jumps to half of respondents who have lived in Canada for fewer than five years.

For those unfamiliar with this campaign, the first Say Hi To A Stranger Weekend occurred on November 8 – 10, 2013 shortly after local writer Chelsea Pescitelli identified Vancouver as “anti-social” in her VancityBuzz article “Single in Vancouver: The Asocial Single Society.”  A Cue Creative Consulting responded with a video and blog post that spread online. They dared Vancouverites to say “Hi!” to strangers and tweet about their experience with the hashtag #sayhitoastranger. The A Cue Creative team discovered that Vancouver could be a social and open city, but needed a push to open up and start communicating. Along with the team being featured in mainstream media, approximately 200 people gathered at the checkpoints over the weekend, and more than 5,000 people engaged with the blog and on social media online. #sayhitoastranger trended on Twitter on Thursday, November 7, 2013.

We at IliveInEastVan.com were one of the many that participated in this initial campaign as we love the premise of encouraging social interaction on the streets of Vancouver. We fully support this great initiative and applaude Kaare Long and her team for keeping this discussion going. It’s easy to be complacent and just accept that ‘it is what it is’ or you can take steps to make a difference however small to make the City a better place. On August 21st, they kick off their 3rd edition of #SayHiToAStranger with an Opening Party at Grandview Park from 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm. You are invited to come down and say hi and learn more about the campaign. You will also receive information about their community partners who will be providing free food, drinks, gifts and other promotions to people who engage with street teams and receive a button and use the code phrase “Say Hi To A Stranger”. Their community partners in East Van include:

Bird on a Wire Creations, 2535 Main Street
Home on the Range Organics, 235 East Broadway
Magpie Vancouver , 3633 Main Street
Second Nature Home Boutique, 1827 Victoria Diversion
The Uncommon Café, 477 Powell Street

We ask you, will you say hi to a stranger?

Dr.SuessSometimes

New In Town: Second Nature Home Eco-Friendly & Organic Products For Home

21 Feb

second_nature_logo_webWe would like to introduce to a great new store in East Vancouver called Second Nature Home brought to you by social entrepreneur, Elizabeth McKitrick. Second Nature Home is a retail store entirely focused on eco-friendly and organic products for the home. If you get a chance to talk with Elizabeth, you will quickly realize she is passionate about the environment and living a sustainable life.

Second Nature Home has an amazing array of items for the home including locally sourced products for the home, curated decorative arts as well as a great vintage section. What we loved was the refilling station for laundry soaps, shampoo, dish detergent, body wash and hand soap with products from local companies, Sapadilla Soap Co., Pacific Coast Soapworks and Gingko & Maple. Their products are made from natural and organic ingredients with essential oils. Elizabeth has bottled product lines available for sale, or you can bring your own containers to the shop and fill them there. The beauty of this, of course, is no plastics to recycle. The added bonus is the wonderful aromatherapy of the soap products themselves, including lavender-lime, grapefruit-bergamot, rosemary-peppermint (some unscented options available too).

Second Nature offers custom gift baskets for any occasion that can be put together with local organic products, and coming soon is an online gift registry. Oh and did we mention bicycle delivery to the local neighbourhood–a trial service will be rolled out this summer, beginning in the Trout Lake/Cedar Cottage area. When it comes to being a socially responsible company, Elizabeth not only talks the talk, she walks the walk. Second Nature Home provides valuable skills development opportunities and mentoring for immigrant women and supports community ecological activity.

Second Nature Home is located at 1827 Victoria Diversion which is the one block stretch that connects Victoria Drive and Commercial Drive located next to the Croatian Cultural Centre. Second Nature Home is open Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, but open Fridays until 8:00 pm and Sunday 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm and closed Mondays.

SecondNatureBookCase

SecondNatureCeramics SecondNatureChair SecondNatureHomeJewellery SecondNatureHoney SecondNatureHoneySingle SecondnatureWood

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