Archive for the ‘Business’ Category


Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Treasure Hidden Inside a Pod

Juvelisto Steveston Insider 1One of the questions people often ask business owner Sasha Shkolnik is where she came up with the name Juvelisto for her jewellery boutique. She explains the word stems from a universal language created in 1887 called Esperanto, and in this language the word for jeweller is juvelisto.

Sasha trained as an artist in her native Ukraine where she worked in the disciplines of oil paints and ceramics and she designed theatre props. During this time she also discovered jewellery making and began to create with clay and porcelain; this led to her dream of pursuing metal arts.

In 1995 she and her husband Leon Shkolnik and their young son decided to leave their homeland for a better life. Sasha mentions, “There was no economy for art during the recession in Ukraine and we saw no future for our family.”

Juvelisto Steveston Insider Sasha ShkolnikWhile they had no previous connection to Canada they felt fortunate to have the opportunity to immigrate here. They arrived in the country with nothing, and like many immigrants worked their way from the ground up. Sasha enrolled in the respected Jewellery Art and Design program at Vancouver Community College while Leon worked at assorted jobs to support them. When Sasha completed her diploma it was Leon’s turn to attend school to train in computer studies.

Upon graduating Sasha approached Karl Stittgen in South Granville with examples of her work and she was instantly hired. Her career as a goldsmith continued to blossom during the 12 years she spent at Costen Catbalue in Kitsilano and finally at Bill Chow Jewellers in Kerrisdale until she decided it was time to consider opening her own business.

“I needed to find my own path. There was a lot to lose but also a lot to gain by going out on my own.” Sasha Shkolnik

Sasha and her family (their daughter was born here) have lived in Richmond since moving to Canada. On a weekend walk in Steveston in 2011 they spotted a for lease sign on a vacant Moncton Street storefront. Sasha dialed the number immediately and promptly signed an agreement.

Her concept was to create a European style boutique where customers could observe the creative process and communicate with the jeweller. Sasha’s bench was literally centre stage, located in the middle of the floor plan until the shop was renovated last year.

What will you find at Juvelisto? In addition to Sasha’s exquisite work she represents artists from Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, Russia, Turkey and the United States.

Sasha’s creations are breathtaking. She draws inspiration from organic textures, shapes and nature. Her gorgeous nuts and pods collection is inspired by objects found in nature, such as pea pods and peanuts, which are cast in silver or bronze and set with different beads, pearls and gemstones. She describes this collection as “treasure hidden inside a pod.”

Juvelisto Steveston Insider 3The primary focus of her business is custom work. This gifted artist has the talent to recycle and redesign sentimental pieces of jewellery into masterpieces. She loves hearing the stories that frequently accompany custom orders. She says with a smile, “The stories I hear and the people I meet are so diverse.”

She presents clients with beautifully rendered sketches (which are also works of art) depicting numerous ways new life can be breathed into a treasured possession. Metals can be recycled or reclaimed and gemstones can be used in new designs. Sasha’s creative mind conceives so many original possibilities it must be hard for clients to narrow them down to the final choice. Many of the orders involve a significant life event such as a birthday, wedding or anniversary. Sometimes clients have an idea of what they would like and other times Sasha is given free rein.

“I love my job. I am in the best profession in the world because I make people happy.” Sasha Shkolnik

Juvelisto Steveston Insider 7Last year Leon left his career as an information technology manager to join the business. Sasha is appreciative of all his hard work and notes he is responsible for all of Juvelisto’s impressive professional photography. This is the first time they have worked together and they are enjoying the partnership.

Leon is also fully responsible for Juvelisto’s stunning renovation that took place in April 2015; he transformed the vacant retail space next door (formerly an ice cream shop) into Juvelisto’s School of Metal Arts. The two spaces are joined together with a spectacular sliding barn door constructed of steel and wrought iron created by local artist Miran Elbakian. Sasha mentions that much of the functional decor found at Juvelisto, including the door, is for sale.

Customers had always expressed an interest in jewellery making lessons; Sasha kept a list of names and over time saw there was a demand.

One year ago the school opened. This is a very unique concept, incorporating a school with a jewellery shop. The workspace is visible from the front windows. Sasha laughs when she mentions, “We have to clean the nose marks from curious passers by daily.”

Eight students can be accommodated in the attractively renovated space, seated around a striking custom-made bench constructed from reclaimed wood. Each workspace is equipped with its own tools. Classes and workshops are offered year round and benches are also rented to artists when classes are not in session. Leanne Guthrie is one of the instructors along with invited guest teachers including Andrea Roberts from Circle Craft and enamel artist Peggy Logan.

Depending on the project, participants can leave with their own creation the same day. Other classes take place weekly over a five to eight week period. All classes are project based and are designed to stimulate the imagination. It is entirely possible to create a piece from scratch without previous experience. Ideas for new classes are constantly germinating and Sasha is currently excited about the idea of offering a class for couples to design their own wedding bands.

Juvelisto Steveston Insider 3500 MonctonJuvelisto has earned a devoted following of repeat customers. They are attracted to Sasha’s magnificent work and her genuine warmth and loving attention to each design she is entrusted with.

Sasha concludes with a smile, “I love Steveston. There is a real sense of community with people supporting and helping each other. From day one people supported me and entrusted me by leaving their precious pieces with me.”

120-3500 Moncton Street
Richmond BC V7E 3A2
Telephone: 604-241-7376


Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

The Arrival of a New Clothing Store Has Steveston Buzzing

Hunni's Steveston Insider interiorEarlier this summer social media was abuzz when Hunni’s made the announcement a new location was set to open in Steveston village. Fans of the trendy women’s clothing boutique, and there are many of them, with an impressive 41,000 on Facebook alone, were chatting about when this exciting development was going to take place.

Judging by the reaction, the second Hunni’s is destined to become as popular as the original Langley shop, founded in 2004 by entrepreneur twin sisters Christi Hunniford and Danielle (Hunniford) Stratuliak. Steveston residents and husband and wife duo, Chris and Jenelle Marshall, are the owners of the first Hunni’s franchise.

Hunni's Steveston Insider Jenelle MarshallOriginally from Kelowna, the Marshalls relocated to Vancouver in 2009 when Chris’ place of employment, Crown Packaging, shut down. The company offered him an attractive transfer to join their Richmond manufacturing plant. Jenelle was a social worker and Vancouver offered her many job opportunities. At the time the couple had no children and jumped at the opportunity.

“Life takes you where you’re supposed to go.” Chris Marshall

Chris says, “We spent four years living in a downtown Vancouver condo and enjoyed music, wine and good food. In 2012 we had our daughter Presley, and in 2013 we found our home in Steveston.” Jenelle chimes in, “We fell in love with Steveston right away. When we were in Kelowna people told us to check out the village. We got an immediate sense of community.”

How did the opportunity to own and operate Steveston’s Hunni’s come about? Chris worked with Curtis Stratuliak (husband of Danielle (Hunniford) Stratuliak) at Richmond’s Crown Packaging. They had discussed the possibility of future business opportunities; Curtis approached the Marshalls in March 2015, hoping they would be interested in opening a Hunni’s. Jenelle was pregnant at the time with their son Rex (who is now one-year-old) and they delayed the invitation for a year.

Chris explains, “Our intent was never to franchise per se, but to open a shop we could call our own, and working with Hunni’s allowed us to do so with some heavy duty support on the back-end. It’s a unique opportunity and we are very excited.”

“We wanted to live, work and play in the village.” Jenelle Marshall

Hunni's Steveston Insider interior3They were aware there was a fashion shortfall for their particular demographic in south Richmond. Combining Chris’ talent for marketing and accounting with Jenelle’s passion for clothing (she confesses that her sister, her mother and herself have always been professional shoppers) and her ability to work in a busy, public environment was a natural fit.

Later this summer Jenelle will work in the shop full-time alongside Hunni’s staff who all happen to be Stevestonites. Each have their areas of expertise and Jenelle and Chris have been very impressed by their assorted talents. Chris is continuing his career with Crown Packaging, in addition to providing behind the scenes support for their new business.

Jenelle says, “We are confident that Hunni’s will be a positive influence on the neighbourhood where we plan to raise our children. We see this as an opportunity to further immerse ourselves in our community.”

Big advocates of shopping locally, they hope to attract customers not only to Hunni’s but also to explore other businesses in the village.

Hunni's Steveston Insider interior2The store opened on June 15 and has received glowing feedback. People are very happy Hunni’s has arrived. They are enjoying more clothing options in the village and appreciate the shop’s aesthetics. The Marshalls had expected primarily 20 to 45 year old clients but have been pleasantly surprised to discover a diverse age range of customers happily shopping at the store.

Hunni’s is known for carrying a large number of unique and affordable labels not found at the mall. Up to seventy per cent of the lines are created by boutique designers from Langley, Squamish, Vancouver and Los Angeles. Other popular brands such as Billabong, Element and Hurley are also carried. Jenelle points out, “West Coast inspired fashion reflects what’s going on here. It is very seasonal and functional wear.”

This summer flirty festival fashion has been all the rage. What can you expect to find at Hunni’s for fall? Think cozy and retro, as 1970s inspired flare jeans will be making a comeback paired with warm layers of knit sweaters, plaid flannel shirts and topped with a vest or leather jacket. Hunni’s also sells a selection of footwear. Jenelle points out, “Ankle booties are likely here to stay and have already proven to be a hit in the village.”

Chris says, “We’re both excited about the 70s throwback that seems to be popular now. That tends to be the generation we identify with in the arts and music.”

September is synonymous with back to school and students need head no further than Hunni’s to find backpacks. Vancouver based company Herschel Supply Co. makes backpacks with a heritage vibe that have proven to be a hit with the high school crowd. Herschel backpacks come in many styles and fabrics; some are reminiscent of vintage Boy Scout bags made of canvas with leather straps. Ipad cases will also be available.

Hunni's Steveston Insider 3900 MonctonIn their free time the couple can be found out with their children and their pug named Jude (as in “Hey Jude”). They point out their daughter is a social butterfly and knows many of the merchants at their favourite Steveston shops. They enjoy the local music scene and take advantage of all that is offered.

Smitten with Steveston, they share one car and feel there is very little need to leave the area. Jenelle says, “We can often be found close to home at the playground or library.” For the young couple it all comes down to community involvement and they feel very fortunate to be living, working and playing in a village they love very much.

105-3900 Moncton St
Richmond BC V7E 3A6
Telephone 604-272-0214

Pizza Factory

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Warm Smiles and Great Tasting Pizza

Pizza_Factory_Richmond_2_Steveston_Palla_MediaIf you haven’t stopped by Pizza Factory recently it may be time to stroll in and meet the new owners who purchased the business three months ago. Kulvir Aujla and her husband Sukhi are quickly earning a reputation not only for their great tasting pizza but also for their warm and friendly service.

The business is truly a family affair. Kulvir is the primary owner and Sukhi assists her in the kitchen along with marketing the business and making deliveries. Their niece Alyssa McGahey is also actively involved on the front end. In addition, Sukhi’s father and the couple’s son and daughter come in to assist and volunteer their time.

Pizza_Factory_Richmond_sukhi_Steveston_Palla_MediaAnother behind the scenes promoter is Sukhi’s mother. Kulvir says, “She is an ambassador and promotes Pizza Factory to seniors. Our kids have also been actively promoting the business to their friends and sports teams.”

Sometimes when an opportunity crosses your path you have to jump at it. Kulvir was working in management at Walmart when she heard through the grapevine that Pizza Factory in Steveston was for sale. With an extensive background in the restaurant industry she felt the time was ripe to make the leap and run her own business.

They gave the restaurant a fresh makeover with olive green paint, new seating, a new countertop and wall signage to showcase the full menu.

A fun new seaside logo features a friendly orca named “Pep” (short for pepperoni). In the future Pep will become a costumed mascot. They are grateful to Yeti Works in Steveston village for designing their fun logo and website. Sukhi and Kulvir point out that they are eager to support local businesses.

What are the couple finding most rewarding in the early days of running the business?

They say working together for the first time is a pleasure. They are also feeling empowered being self-employed which allows them the freedom to make decisions for their business. They thoroughly enjoy getting to know their customers as they drop in and become regulars. Sukhi says, “Our intention is it run it like the TV show Cheers.”

“We’re having a good time. That’s what we want to do.” Sukhi Aujla

Pizza_Factory_Richmond_samosa_Steveston_Palla_MediaThe Aujlas live in Richmond’s Hamilton neighbourhood, but have always had an affinity for Steveston. They believe the two areas share a similar spirit. They are excited to be a part of Steveston’s business community and are demonstrating their philanthropic nature by supporting local events.

Recently they donated 15 pizzas to a group of McMath Secondary School students who participated in Convenant House’s Sleep Out to Support Homeless Youth. Pizza Factory has also become the official pizza supplier for the Islanders 04 softball team. Kulvir says, “We are actively looking to support local sports teams in Richmond.”

Over the Easter weekend Pizza Factory staged a three day customer appreciation blitz. A team of 30 volunteers (aka friends and family) helped to conduct this marketing campaign by wearing matching “Ask me how to get a free slice” t-shirts as they handed out coupons throughout Steveston. People lined up around the block to take advantage of this tempting offer and over the course of three days 1,300 slices were served. In the process they discovered ninety per cent of the people who dropped by the business didn’t know they existed.

To introduce more clients to their business they suggest swinging by on July 1 to see what fun things they will be doing to celebrate Canada Day.

Pizza_Factory_Richmond_1_Steveston_Palla_MediaNew to Pizza Factory are loyalty cards and pizza by the slice. High school students in particular appreciate being able to drop by at lunchtime with the new earlier business hours (open at 11 a.m.). For Kulvir and Sukhi it is all about forging a symbiotic relationship with their customers. Their intention is to always keep the question “what can we do for you?” in the foreground of conducting business. The direct result of a customer’s request, Pizza Factory now offers 15% off take out pizzas.

“Our customers appreciate us as much as we appreciate them.”  Kulvir Aujla

While Pizza Factory is a franchise each location is given freedom to customize their business to best fit the community. They are not restricted to abide by a set menu and can introduce special items such as chicken and veggie samosas, Punjabi-style pizza and butter chicken may soon be introduced. Some of the top sellers include Hawaiian, house special, taco, bacon burger, barbecue chicken, spinach and of course, kid pleasing favourites, cheese and pepperoni pizzas. Gluten-free is available for medium size pizzas and whole-wheat crust is available upon request. All of the dough is made fresh each morning.

“If we’re blessed by the pizza gods we make dough more than once a day.” Sukhi Aujla

Every business has good stories and one unfolded during our interview. A Power Rangers film production member came in with a request for 42 pizzas for the crew, which were needed the following day. He had heard the buzz that Pizza Factory was the place to go for exceptionally friendly service.

It couldn’t happen to nicer people.

Pizza Factory
120-12020 First Avenue
Richmond BC V7E 3L9
Telephone: 604-233-7777

Steveston: Small Business Community Thinks Big

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Steveston Village SceneYou may have heard people talking about the SMA and BIA, but what are they and what is the difference between them?

The Steveston Merchants Association (SMA) was formed in 2010 by a group of business owners whose goal was to promote local businesses and drive more customers to their services, shops and restaurants through seasonal events, small scale advertising, a website and social media. With an elective paid membership the SMA does not encompass the entire business district, resulting in a smaller funding pool although events and promotions benefit the entire village.

An elected volunteer board is responsible for organizing popular events such as Christmas in Steveston Village, Girls’ Night Out, the Scarecrow Crawl and Trick or Treat in Steveston Village and has been a voice for many important area concerns.

While the work the SMA accomplishes is outstanding, the merchants’ association model is antiquated.

BIA stands for Business Improvement Areas and what this model offers is far reaching for both merchants and the entire community. Examples of what can be achieved for Steveston include a year round focus for promotional programs and activities, collective advertising and special events designed to drive more visitors to the area. Issues such as pedestrian scale lighting and parking improvements are also a focus of many BIAs.

Steveston’s business community is losing ground as business districts in virtually every surrounding region of Metro Vancouver and throughout B.C. have embraced BIAs. In comparison, Steveston is at a disadvantage without a BIA.

Business districts can dream big with input from a full membership’s participation at the board and committee level.

A simple way to explain a BIA is to imagine a shopping mall management system. All malls have systems in place to drive customers to the mall to benefit business tenants. Steveston without a BIA is like an outdoor mall with no big picture promotional direction. It just isn’t competitive nor does it come close to realized improved potential.

BIAs are able to plan further into the future to successfully promote areas. A BIA is approved by a vote and all businesses within a BIA’s boundaries automatically become members, creating a larger collective voice working for the betterment of businesses and the community.

A BIA is uniquely created for an area, no two are identical, and therefore Steveston could capitalize on its distinct locale where farmland meets the ocean and a historic fishing village.

Jim_vandertas_BlueCanoe_Steveston Village Palla MediaJim van der Tas, owner of the Blue Canoe Waterfront Restaurant (and president of the SMA) believes the sky’s the limit. He envisions everything from an Oktoberfest celebration spread over a number of days to celebrating a new Steveston heritage festival and transforming the entire village into a Christmas wonderland for the month of December to draw people to town.

Getting a BIA off the ground takes a lot of work and commitment from volunteers who believe that focusing on a bigger picture can produce some very effective results.

A new committee called the Steveston Business Development Association (SBDA) has formed under the SMA’s umbrella to partner cooperatively with other local non-profits that see the value a BIA brings to an entire community.

A municipality can’t force a BIA into a business community and generally shouldn’t stop a BIA start up group from asking them to initiate the voting procedure if the group has done positive outreach. After well over a decade of discussion Steveston merchants, land owners and key stakeholders have not gone before City council to ask for the BIA voting procedure but expect to this calendar year.

Peter Tong Pharmasave Steveston Village Palla MediaPeter Tong, owner of Steveston Pharmasave, comments,“ I think a BIA is very important for Steveston.”

“Looking at this unique location and the sensitivity businesses have in trying to protect the history, integrity and feel of the community; there are a lot of political and business challenges that are hard for each business to face alone,” Tong says.

He adds, “Promoting the village, rather than one single business, attracts more people and creates an atmosphere within the village that can only benefit Steveston. I think there are certainly frustrations amongst some business owners who have seen what other BIAs have done and strongly believe one is needed to start promoting the village. The sooner we get this done the better.

Carol_LittleMexico_Steveston Village Palla MediaCarol Janeczko, owner of Little Mexico Cantina, believes, “The opportunity to revitalize Steveston through the formation of a BIA is an exciting prospect. Looking at other similar business districts such as Fort Langley and Cloverdale and seeing what they have accomplished for their communities through elaborate events, marketing and beautification projects is inspiring. It would be amazing to see Steveston advance to that level.”

Jens Hertha DOriginal_Sausage_Steveston Village Palla MediaJens Hertha, owner of D’Original Sausage Haus, agrees. “I am excited about the possibility of having a BIA in Steveston. It would make Steveston stronger. For a business like mine the cost would be less than $200 per year. I strongly believe that a BIA is an investment and everybody benefits from a strong, vibrant business district.”Hertha believes, “This BIA initiative is a significant opportunity and every business and commercial property should plan to learn about it firsthand. This is too important an opportunity to be making a decision about a BIA based on nonfactual information or hearsay from third parties. Make an appointment with the organizers to talk about it.”

To learn more email:

Business Updates for Steveston Insider

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Cannery Cafe building was sold and the cafe has recently reopened under new ownership. Catch Kitchen & Bar is now open. It is a new upscale casual restaurant located where Charthouse used to be above Blue Canoe Waterfront Restaurant. The sports bar faces Bayview Street and the restaurant overlooks the water. Cimona Cafe has recently been sold to local owners who are excited to carry on the tradition of offering all day breakfasts.

menchiesMenchie’s is now open on No. 1 Rd near Starbucks. They have self-serve frozen yogurt and a wide selection of flavours and toppings. Pizza Factory on First Avenue has new owners and promises exciting new food additions and longer hours. Watch for the grand opening party.

Tapenade Bistro is under new ownership but is the same great restaurant including happy hour and weekend barbecues. Urban Jamaica Restaurant is scheduled to open mid-April in the former space of Living Café. The owner also has Xyclo Vietnamese Cuisine on Moncton Street.

Xu Performance Motoring opened at 12320 Trites Road and is an automotive repair and maintenance facility special-izing in high performance and luxury applications.

Angel’s Secret Permanent Makeup opened on Chatham Street (formerly Eidsvik & Associates location). Browcasso recently opened on First Ave (formerly Nurse Next Door location) and specializes in semi-permanent eyebrow micropigmentation and eyelash extensions. Raintree Wellness Spa welcomes Lisa McFadden who purchased the spa from its original owner, Barbara Bell at the end of December.
Bayview Dental moved a few doors up to the corner (where McDonald’s previously resided). Dr. Jamieson joined the office of Steveston Smiles on the third floor with Dr. Michele Nielsen, Dr. Doug Nielsen and Dr. Selena Chow.

wayland 1FITNESS
Cartwheels has now officially changed their name to Wayland Sports. Russel Sean Fitness is undergoing a major expansion and will be adding many exciting classes in the months to come. True Conditioning has moved to London Landing. They have a grand opening party planned for April 9. Apparently a kitchen shop is moving into their former space on First Avenue.

RF Studios moved in above Bell’s Bake Shop and offers wedding photography and videography. Sooters Photography is located upstairs in the Hepworth Building.

Mardon Insurance moved to 12011 Third Ave (the old courthouse where Penta Builders was) while Minato Village is being redeveloped. Caesars Bar & Grill is looking for a new location. After redevelopment, only one restaurant is permitted and it will be Dairy Queen. Dairy Queen is closing due to redevelopment but will reopen in the same location in 2017.

Diplomat Bakery will be moving across the street in June. World of Music & Arts already moved in to their beautiful new space at The Pier.

Steveston Farmers & Artisans Market is moving from the Gulf of Georgia Cannery to the Steveston Community Centre parking lot. The first market is May 8.

Note: The information contained in this story have been sourced but cannot be guaranteed for accuracy. If you have an update relating to a business in Steveston, please send us an email:

Robel Income Tax Service

Monday, April 11th, 2016

A Worry-Free Approach to a Taxing Task

Robel Income Tax Steveston InsiderElly Fenton is the warm and amiable owner of Robel Income Tax Service. We sat down to talk on the first day the Robel office resumed regular hours of operation to begin processing 2015 personal tax forms. While many people would appear under pressure with volumes of work looming, she was relaxed and ready to face the work with gusto.

She began her career as a nurse in Australia and specialized in infant care. When she moved to Vancouver in 1974 she shifted to working at daycare centres and also focussed her attention on raising her two daughters.

Her soft Australian accent has been diluted by her years spent in Canada but Fenton’s Aussie humour shines through.

When her husband passed away she took an H&R Block taxation preparation course. Subsequently, she worked with Richmond Savings Credit Union (known today as Coast Capital Savings).

Fenton became a tax practitioner in 1993 and started Robel Income Tax Service. In February 2013 she moved her home-based business to its present Chatham Street storefront. She says this was a very wise decision as her business has benefited greatly from being in the heart of Steveston village.

From mid-February through to early May the small office is kept hopping. Fenton and her four staff members (two preparers, one checker and receptionist) can be found working long days as they process an impressive number of returns that require filing by the April 30 deadline. Last year Robel completed 1,752 income tax returns with similar numbers expected this year.

Fenton gives accolades to her hard working staff. She says, “It’s a team effort to get through it all from beginning to end.”

The secret to a successful business is a loyal and established client base. She is proud to report that Robel serves over 1,500 clients and 148 of those individuals have been with her since she began the business. While many of her clients are locals, she also serves a number of long standing customers from Surrey, Harrison, Courtenay and Comox via email, fax and mail.

While the whirlwind of Robel’s tax preparation activity is seasonal, Fenton works year round as some people file their taxes late and there are reassessments to be managed. The office is open by appointment during these months.

If you are having your taxes prepared by the pros at Robel there are a few things to be aware of. The fee structure for basic returns is based on the number of slips and benefits that require filing. Electronic filing is included in the price and promises you a faster refund. Robel is also able to set up direct deposit for clients, now mandatory with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Even if you have little or no income, you should file your income tax and benefit return, as you may be eligible for credits and benefits. Filing a return is the key to getting your BC and GST tax credits and the Canada child tax benefit, among others.

Tip: Wait until you have received all of your slips (T3, T4, investments etc.) before dropping documents off at Robel’s office.

When the CRA introduced online filing Fenton thought she would lose business but that did not transpire. She points out some people get frustrated or simply prefer not to do the job and leave it to a tax practitioner. In addition, if you are going it alone you need to purchase your own tax software and some clients prefer to save themselves this expense.

Robel Income Tax Steveston Insider extFenton finds taxation time very exciting, as she is always happy to see familiar faces and catch up with people. She is extremely fond of Steveston and enjoys shopping locally and getting to know other business owners.

In addition to her work, she volunteers once a week at SOS Children’s Village thrift shop on Moncton Street. Assisting this charity is close to her heart as Fenton was a foster parent for eight years. She also makes patchwork quilts for the society to sell.

She is an avid traveller and enjoys setting off for new destinations. This year she is looking forward to exploring China.

Fenton has realized her dream and celebrates her extremely satisfying career. At the end of the day she says, “It’s all about doing a good job for our clients.”

Robel Income Tax Service
105-3631 Chatham St
Richmond BC V7E 3A5
Telephone 604-241-7595

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

New Year’s Resolution

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

by Russel Sean Fitness.

RSF calendarThe No. 1 Strategy to Help Keep Your New Year’s Resolution…

Don’t make one! What is so magical about January 1 that you must wait until this day to start your journey?

As humans, we make a lot of unwise and questionable choices when the holiday season comes around. We drink too much, eat too much, make a fool of ourselves at our office parties by dancing on table tops to the latest Justin Bieber song… But that is fine and justifiable, because you have made a New Year’s resolution. As the clock strikes midnight on December 31 (okay… let’s be honest… Maybe after nursing that hangover, let’s call it afternoon of Jan 1) you have made a resolution to get fit, drink less, eat better, and get more sleep. Sound familiar?

Let’s face it, we have all done it, and probably all forgot about them faster than we forgot who came second in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. In one study, 78% of people did not stick to their New Year’s resolutions and a staggering 25% of people actually fell off the wagon by the second week of January!

Here are some things you can try to increase your chances of achieving your goals:

  • Start now! The moment you decide that there needs to be a change in your life, make that change! Don’t wait until the magical day of January 1 to start.
  • Make measurable and achievable goals. Be sure that you can gauge when you are on the right track and when you may need to head in a different direction.
  • Plan for set-backs. Keep in mind that we all occasionally lapse in our resolutions. If we respond to these set-backs with negative emotions, we may be more inclined to give up.
  • Talk about it. Don’t keep your goals a secret. Tell your friends and family; people who will be there to support you. The best-case scenario is to find a pal who shares the same goals.
  • Sacrifice… But not too much. Keep in mind that while you have goals to smash, you also have a life to live. Build your goals accordingly so that you are still able to join your friends for poutine at Blue Canoe, or meet the boys for a pint at O’Hare’s, without feeling like your entire world has come to an end.

Happy Holidays ~ Russel Sean Fitness