As in the rest of Canada, daily life for Canadians living in BC has been vastly impacted by the global pandemic.
In spite of province-wide restrictions that have recently been extended indefinitely, BC’s entrepreneurs are working hard to fulfill life-long dreams. In some cases, those dreams include a storefront.
Jessica Bertrand is one such entrepreneur who, working alongside Aubre Miles, opened The Nook Refillery in Squamish, BC almost a year into country-wide lockdowns and restrictions.
Opening a new brick-and-mortar location under normal circumstances is bound to be a process filled with unexpected obstacles – and Jessica and Aubre learned quickly that resilience would be a key component to seeing their dream come to life. And while COVID safety measures like plexiglass and occupancy limits were not part of the duo’s original business plan, they have taken these new measures in stride and have managed to bring to life a gorgeous, eco-minded space. We spoke with them to learn more about their environmentally-conscious, community-oriented journey from idea to opening day.
In your own words, tell us what The Nook is all about.
The Nook is a refillery concept store located in Squamish, B.C. We wanted to give the community an alternative to consuming their everyday essentials that we felt was lacking. We are so lucky to be surrounded by other like-minded people that care about their impact on our environment and opening up The Nook felt like a great way to make change happen.
What sparked your inspiration for opening the Nook?
I have always been quite mindful of how much waste I create in my own home and wanted to create a space that helped people to get on board with thinking about consuming differently. Opening a store like this had been a dream of mine for a long time – a place that would inspire you to change your habits, while still being modern and visually appealing.
Why a store front instead of focusing on an e-commerce strategy?
Originally, our plan was to run The Nook from a mobile trailer, but I really wanted to open a shop that was welcoming and aligned with the amazing community feeling that Squamish already knows so well. I’m a bit of an old fashioned type and always appreciate the full experience of being in a store- everything from the lighting to the greeting to the music playing while you’re visiting. I guess it comes from my hospitality background a bit as well, creating a real connection is always very rewarding for me.
What was one of the most important first steps you took at the outset of opening the store?
The first thing that comes to mind is the relentless researching of brands and suppliers with a similar service and goal in mind. I knew of many companies that I had already used in my home personally, but learning about other, local brands was very exciting and inspiring. That, and talking to other people in the community that also felt there was a need for a store like The Nook.
You opened it in the middle of an ongoing pandemic, what would you tell yourself a year ago that you know now after going through the process?
Just. Keep. Swimming. A huge takeaway was knowing that hearing NO doesn’t mean it is an impossibility, but rather an opportunity to do something differently. Remembering the bigger picture even on days that felt particularly challenging helped a lot.
What was the most fun part about opening the store?
The ability to work alongside other like minded inspirational women was an amazing part of opening The Nook. Putting your strengths together to work towards a common goal was exciting and so rewarding. It was all very humbling and having that shared success was a really special feeling.
What advice would you have for other entrepreneurs who want to open a storefront?
Firstly, making sure your space is somewhere that you love; somewhere you can see yourself staying for a while, evolving there and connecting to it. Plan, plan, plan, talk to your district, ask for help- don’t be afraid to feel vulnerable because you absolutely will.
What has been the best surprise in how people have shown up for you or your business during this time?
I have been overwhelmed with the amount of support and positive feedback people have given to us. Kindness goes so far and the community here has no shortage of that. Shout outs, likes, follows on social media, spreading the word about our opening, bringing congratulatory flowers- people are really amazing here.
What is the easiest thing people can do to support your business right now?
During covid times, our social media has been a HUGE way to support us. Getting the word out to our community, connecting with other amazing local companies, working with different people to achieve our goals… Likes, Follows, Saves, Tags, and REVIEWS are huge for us. Of course, an in-person visit is amazing, but support from afar is also SO appreciated.
Anything exciting coming up?
As a female-run business, we are working on ways to highlight some badass women for International Women’s Day this year. Stay tuned 😉