Archive for February, 2016

Mia Boutique

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

Mia Boutique Steveston 1A Dress Shop With a View

Situated on Bayview Street with a gorgeous view of fishing boats and the Gulf Islands, you will find one of Steveston’s newest businesses, Mia Boutique.

Ella Lau and her husband Philip Ma own the bridal and formal dress shop where you will find Lau assisting customers. Ma primarily works behind the scenes managing the finances.

Although the business only recently opened in Steveston, Lau operated Mia Boutique for 10 years in downtown Richmond.

Who is the namesake behind Mia Boutique? Lau laughs when she explains the name came to her on an airplane when she was seated next to a fellow who showed her a photo of his baby Mia. She loved the name, but what she found poignant was the photo also featured a dog that shared her name, Ella. Later when she discovered the Italian word mia means “my” Lau thought it was a perfect fit for her shop.

Mia Boutique Steveston Ella Lau Palla MediaLau and her husband moved to Richmond in 1996 and her son was born the following year. After five years of being a stay at home mother she returned to work at a Richmond Centre clothing store. One day while walking along No. 3 Road she noticed a vacant storefront. With years of experience working in the fashion industry, she decided to quit her job and open her own boutique. Mia Boutique started out selling evening dresses and destination gowns and expanded to include wedding dresses.

When she discovered the No. 3 Road block was slated for demolition it was time to find a new location. It was difficult to find an appropriate storefront in downtown Richmond and nothing caught her eye. Then she heard about a new retail space in Steveston. She viewed the property last spring and immediately loved the sunlight streaming inside. She says, “It was love at sight when I saw this space.” In August 2015 Mia Boutique’s new home opened for business.

At Mia Boutique you will find everything from evening dresses to graduation, bridesmaid, mother of the bride dresses and of course, what the shop is best known for, wedding gowns.

Mia Boutique Steveston wedding dress Palla MediaShe enjoys being part of some of life’s happiest moments including graduations, anniversaries and weddings and she feels privileged to hear some very sweet stories.

One story that stands out was a telephone call from a gentleman in search of five bridesmaids and three flower girl dresses all in the same colour. The wedding was that day and he needed to purchase them immediately. The last minute nature was due to an emergency and the seamstress had been unable to deliver the dresses. Miraculously, there was something on the rack in the correct sizes for the wedding party members.

Lau is happy to offer advice when choosing a dress although customers often have a clear idea of their favourite styles and fabrics. On the first round brides will often bring their mother to begin the search. Tip: Don’t bring too many people with you when you are first looking, as there will be too many comments and opinions. Lau says, “It is about you. Don’t try to please everyone else. The dress choice should be from your heart.”

With summer weddings on the horizon the shop is busiest during the winter months. Plan ahead. It takes four to six months to order a wedding gown.

Mia Boutique Steveston Wedding Gowns Palla MediaCheck out the sale rack if you are looking for a wedding dress on short notice. Discontinued dresses are marked down and if you are lucky you may find your size.

What is on-trend for 2016? Expect dresses with a lot of attention to back details. Illusion necklines are very popular. These sheer fabric overlays with embellishments add an extra level of glamour to a gown. Sleeves are also in style; it’s not all about the strapless dress anymore. Elegant higher necklines are very fashionable; imagine the classic elegance of Grace Kelly’s wedding dress.

Although a range of colours are trending ivory remains the most popular. Lau says clients are attracted to ivory lace and vintage champagne blush.

Mia Boutique Steveston jewellery Palla MediaSome of the special lines Mia Boutique carries include Aire Barcelona by Rosa Clara, Stella York and White One Barcelona.

Veils balance the dress and come in classic cathedral length and shorter styles. Alternatively, consider hair accessories such as tiaras, floral and feather hair combs, or crystal pins for a modern look.

Mia Boutique’s bridesmaid dresses are extremely versatile. Sophisticated short dresses work well for cocktail parties or a friend’s wedding. Long dresses are perfect for a cruise, formal night, gala or graduation. When these dresses are ordered in white or ivory they work as a destination wedding dress at a price point under $300.

Mia Boutique Steveston Bayview Palla MediaLau appreciates every day that she comes to work in her beautiful Steveston shop; it is such a contrast to her former location on busy No. 3 Road. She appreciates the sunsets, the kind people she has met and the constant “dog show” with people out for strolls along the waterfront. She concludes, “I am very blessed in this business.”

Mia Boutique
120-3531 Bayview Street
Richmond BC V7E 5W3
Telephone 604-279-8936

With Our Own Two Hands Preschool

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

With Our Own Two Hands 5 Steveston Palla MediaLearning Through Discovery and Play

What is it like to run a preschool in the middle of a business district?

Director Nicole Javadi Braaten says her school, With Our Own Two Hands Preschool and Learning Centre, could not be in a more perfect location. Nestled amongst shops, in the heart of a thriving family community, within close proximity to parks and the waterfront makes this the perfect home for her busy nature based preschool, which opened on Moncton Street in July 2011.

Braaten has always loved working with kids. She holds a psychology degree and worked for several years with the Vancouver School Board as a student support worker. In addition, she has been a part-time yoga instructor for the past eight years.

With Our Own Two Hands follows the Reggio Emilia approach to early education based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery. Compassion and empathy are the pillars of the program in combination with a holistic approach to education through the practice of daily yoga, which helps to provide a calm environment and helps set children on a lifelong path of peace.

Parents have the option of enroling their preschooler in either a morning or afternoon class. The flexible program allows for part-time or full-time attendance.

Each day of the week offers exciting opportunities ranging from instruction in yoga, science, math, music and movement, art, dance, languages (French, Japanese and Mandarin are all taught). Children learn the alphabet, how to write and other important academic skills in preparation for kindergarten.
Learning to socialize is another important skill that is nurtured. Time is spent each day interacting with one another at table groups and at circle and snack time.

With Our Own Two Hands 7 Steveston Palla MediaBeing situated in such a walkable community allows for plenty of fun field trips to local businesses. Classes have visited the vet, naturopath and fishermen at Fisherman’s Wharf. Students learn about nature first hand by observing eagles, swans, birds and fish. Local parks offer opportunities to play, fly a kite and dig in the sand.

Some of the best moments have included spontaneous walks up to the river to watch an early winter sunset. During the warmer months students spend much of their time outdoors.

In addition, relationships have formed with neighbouring merchants such as The Candy Dish that provides leftover boxes for crafts.

“It is our hope that children will learn from a young age to become aware of their impact on the environment and develop a closeness to and respect for nature and life.” Nicole Braaten

What does Braaten find most rewarding about her profession? She remarks, “Clouds, flowers… you can forget how wonderful and amazing these things are that can be taken for granted. I take pleasure in the awe that children show. They are at an age when everything is so exciting and it is amazing to be part of that experience.”

With Our Own Two Hands observes the same calendar year as the school system. During July and August an outdoor-based summer program is offered. Registration is separate from the preschool program and is open to all preschool age children.

With Our Own Two Hands 4 Steveston Palla MediaDuring these sun-filled months each day presents a new adventure. Activities range from pirate treasure hunts to yoga at the beach, day “camping” with tents at Garry Point Park and bicycle safety days.

Occasionally Braaten brings her 18-month-old son Atlas to work. The preschoolers adore him and his visits help reinforce the program’s focus on empathy.

At home Braaten has a real green thumb and grows everything from quinoa to blueberries. She is an advocate of organic food and feels the school is fortunate to have its own garden where children learn to grow their own flowers, fruits, herbs, and vegetables.

Digging in soil, getting dirty, planting seeds and finding unexpected surprises such as worms is a recipe for childhood bliss.

What feedback does Braaten and her team of teachers most enjoy hearing? To hear children say they have had such a great day and they don’t want to go home ranks high on the list. Sweet and endearing comments are also a perk. A huge payoff is hearing parents say their child has come out of his/her shell, has connected with nature, and how the preschool has changed their lives.

With Our Own Two Hands Nicole Steveston Palla MediaBraaten’s passion for teaching is as contagious as the energy of the preschoolers. She concludes, with excitement in her voice, “We will be getting chicks at the school this spring!” Her enthusiasm makes you wish you were a child again, or had a preschool age child to enrol in With Our Own Two Hands Preschool.

With Our Own Two Hands
3-3871 Moncton Street
Richmond BC V7E 3A7
Telephone 778-882-3165

Yoga For All

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

Two Businesses Cross-Pollinate For a Healthier Steveston
Perfect Hearts Yoga

Perfect Hearts Yoga 2 Steveston Palla MediaThe stories behind how people decide to open a business are often fascinating and in the case of Belinda Tkach, owner of Perfect Hearts Yoga, also inspiring.

In 2007 Tkach was hit by a car, which sent her flying across two lanes into oncoming traffic. She landed on her face resulting in lost teeth and a shattered ankle. She spent the better part of two months on the couch followed by a few extra months wobbling about. Prior to the accident she had been a chef’s apprentice but when she tried returning to work she found it was too much for her ankle to handle. With time on her hands, she took up yoga.

She explains, “Yoga helped me with my posttraumatic stress disorder which I suffered from as a result of the accident. It also helped me regain my strength. I fell in love with yoga.”

Perfect Hearts Yoga Belinda Steveston Palla MediaShe was a graphic designer for 15 years and got tired of the nine to five lifestyle and sitting in front of a computer every day. Looking for a change, she took her yoga training in January 2009 while continuing at her job.

Tkach possesses an adventurous spirit. When her parents decided to build a house in Belize she went along to assist them and ended up staying for a year. It was during this time she opened her first yoga studio.

When she returned to Canada she knew she wanted to open another business. She heard through the grapevine that a Steveston yoga studio was for sale and seized the opportunity to purchase it. Perfect Hearts Yoga’s first location opened in January 2012. It is housed in a converted garage tucked behind Alegria Café on First Avenue in Steveston Village.

Her teaching style is light-hearted and eclectic. She invites students to challenge themselves with humour and compassion, and to find their own practice through awareness of body, breath and mind.

Some people think to practice yoga you need to be able to bend yourself into the shape of a pretzel. Tkach says, “This is so far from the truth. Yoga is for everybody and every body.”

She explains, “There are many different styles of yoga, some which are better suited for a particular season in our lives. There are many benefits to a regular yoga practice. It promotes a healthier lifestyle with both the physical side of things and the emotional. Also, most people in a regular practice start to make healthier diet choices.”

Perfect Hearts Yoga 4 Steveston Palla MediaThe studio offers almost every style including Flow, Gentle Hatha, Hatha, Kundalini, Restorative and Yin yoga.

Students can practice the lengthy poses of Yin yoga to soothe the body’s connective tissues, participate in energizing flow classes, or opt for a calming candlelit Hatha class. Instructors cater to all experience levels and will guide students through modifications to give them the opportunity to ease up on a pose or allow them to go deeper.

What does Tkach most love about her profession? She says, “I love yoga, of course, and I love the social aspect as well. But I think the biggest thing I love is seeing changes in clients as they grow in their yoga practice. I have seen clients beat depression, posttraumatic stress disorder and insomnia. I have a client who needed back surgery for years and after a year of doing yoga she didn’t need it any more. I have clients who have lost weight and gained self-esteem. It’s wonderful to see how yoga positively changes people’s lives.”

Perfect Hearts Yoga 3 Steveston Palla MediaWith success comes growth. The busy Perfect Hearts Yoga studio can comfortably accommodate a class of 12 to 14 people. With a slate of 13 teachers on staff the business was ripe for expansion. A second location opened at London Landing on No. 2 Road in August 2015.

Tkach says, “It was time to move forward. Our village location was full with a waiting list for most classes. The London Landing Studio also has a small retail store to which we are slowly adding merchandise. Clients are able to attend classes at both studios with their passes. As we get busier and the London Landing location grows we will add more classes. We currently offer approximately 40 classes a week.”

With Our Own Little Hearts Yoga 4 Steveston Palla MediaWith Our Own Little Hearts Yoga

Enter Nicole Javadi Braaten, the owner of With Our Own Two Hands Preschool. In addition to running her own business she is also a certified yoga instructor. Trained in prenatal, postnatal and kids yoga, she teaches part-time at Perfect Hearts Yoga.

Tkach says, “I had always wanted to create “Little Hearts Yoga” and although we had a few kids’ classes I just never found the time to get it together. Nicole was a teacher in one of my adult classes and knew this was one of my goals.”

Braaten approached Tkach to see if she would be interested in joining forces. Tkach explains, “It seemed like a perfect fit as she owns the preschool and I own the yoga studio. As co-owners we have a little less pressure and can still keep a good focus on our other businesses.”

With Our Own Little Hearts Yoga opened in September 2015. Prior to this Steveston did not have a yoga studio that catered to pregnant women, moms and babies, moms and tots, preschool age children and teenagers. There is even a family yoga class offered. Family members are invited to come and enjoy partner poses and sun salutations.

The prenatal class teaches gentle postures, breath work, and meditation to cultivate flexibility, calm and confidence in preparation for labour and childbirth. Yoga during pregnancy helps to create optimum conditions of health and awareness.

The Little Seedlings class (ages 3 to 6) participates in games, songs, fun poses, animal adventures, dancing, and imaginative play. The mom and baby class is designed to give new moms a beautiful bonding experience with their baby while increasing activity and vitality.

Braaten says, ”With Our Own Little Hearts Yoga is a place to connect and build community, socialize and make friends.”

With Our Own Little Hearts Yoga 5 Steveston Palla MediaWith Our Own Little Hearts classes are held at the Perfect Hearts Steveston village studio. In addition, some of the existing Perfect Hearts Yoga adult classes continue to be taught at this space.

With the combined creative forces of Tkach and Braaten, Steveston now has yoga for all. Perhaps 2016 will be the year you discover the benefits of yoga – from prenatal to seniors, Perfect Hearts Yoga and With Our Own Little Hearts Yoga have you covered.

Perfect Hearts Yoga
12151 First Avenue (behind Alegria Cafe)
Second Location: 160-13020 No. 2 Road
Richmond BC V7E 2G1
Telephone 604-285-9642

With Our Own Little Hearts Yoga
12151 First Ave (behind Alegria Cafe)
Richmond BC V7E 3L9
Telephone 604-285-9642