Local Small Business Feature Series — Vancouver Waxlings

Vancouver Waxling's Bae & Babe Candles

I recently collaborated with Vancouver Waxlings founder, Margot J. Leviton and five other female-owned local small businesses for a Valentine’s Giveaway on Instagram. Margot’s prizes were the Bae and Babe candles featured in the photo above.

I originally met her through social media–She was offering a sample of her Key Lime Pie Candle. And coincidentally we also have a mutual friend. It is a small world and the pandemic has shown us just how connected we are as one.

M: When did you open your business?

VW: Waxlings was created in April 2020 when I dislocated my shoulder and could no longer see my Vancouver Healer clientele.

M: Did you always want to own your own business?

 VW: I didn’t really think about it. It was hobby that turned into a business.  I’ve had my own massage/healing practice since 2006.

M: Where are you from? If you moved to Vancouver, why did you move here?

VW: I grew up in North Vancouver.

M: What was your inspiration for your business?  

VW: During the COVID-19 shutdown I saw my clients getting very depressed. I thought if I could create scents that would connect them to happy memories–I could help them.

Vancouver Waxlings Founder Margot
Vancouver Waxlings Founder Margot J. Leviton

M: Did you go to university and if you did what did you study/major in?  Which university did you attend?  Would you advise others to pursue a degree before opening their own business?

VW: I went to WCCMT (West Coast College of Massage Therapy). 

No, not these days. You really don’t need one if you have entrepreneurial savvy and can navigate social media.

M: What would your advice to future owners with dreams of owning their own business be?

VW: Go for it. If you have the drive and a great business concept–Just do it!

M: Do you have a philosophy in life or famous quote you would like to share with everyone?

VW: Just. Be. Kind. It. Costs. Nothing.

MILESTONES

Are there any milestones for your business that you would like me to mention in the Feature?

When I landed my first stores Dip Co. Delights and Larry’s Market.

If you would like to learn more about Margot’s yummy Vancouver Waxlings candles, please visit their website, and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

Local Small Business Feature Series — Oenomel Chocolates’ First Year Anniversary

Oenomel Chocolates Small Business Feature

Welcome to Fashion INVESTIGATOR INC.’s new Small Business Feature Series. Vancouver based, Oenomel Chocolates, is the first business to be featured and just in time to celebrate their first year anniversary.

Oenomel is a Greek word that means sweetness and strength. It’s what Melody hopes her chocolates bring to people.

I met Melody Hu, founder of Oenomel Chocolates on Instagram. I was intrigued by this lovely, ambitious organic chocolatier and started following her profile. She has graciously invited me to her local events but unfortunately, my schedule has not allowed me to attend thus far. My fingers are crossed that I will be able to join her next one!

Melody Hu Founder of Oenomel Chocolates
Melody Hu, Founder of Oenomel Chocolates

M: When did you open your business?

MH: I launched my business on February 24th, 2021. So, in a way, my business is my Valentine. I have so much passion and love for it!

M: Did you always want to own your own business?

MH: I have always dreamt of building a brand that incorporates values, such as craftsmanship, sustainability, and wellness. And using that brand as a tool to create wealth for my loved ones.

M: Where are you from? If you moved to Vancouver, why did you move here?

MH: I was born in China and spent my childhood both in Shenzhen, the Silicon Valley of China, and Auckland, where sheep outnumber humans. I finished high school and got my Bachelor of Science Degree at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where I studied Neuroscience and started my first venture, a macaroon startup business. And gradually, I fell in love with this city and decided that I wanted to build my business and home here.

M: What was your inspiration for your business? 

MH: I wanted to create a product that incorporates health, wellness, and craftsmanship. I chose chocolates because there are too many sweets that are unhealthy. They tend to be filled with saturated fats and harmful amounts of sugar. I only use natural ingredients and organic, fair-trade chocolates that are sweet and delicious.

Blood Orange & Almond Oenomel Chocolate
Blood Orange & Almond Blood Oenomel Chocolate

M: What did you do before opening your business?

MH: After graduating from UBC, I worked as an intern in a stem cell research company in Vancouver and then in business development for an international law firm in Shenzhen, China. I gained invaluable experience from both jobs.

M: If you were in a different industry, did you enjoy your former career?

Looking back, I did enjoy my former careers. When I worked in the law firm, I had guidance, and learned to work with others in a team. These are lessons that I have brought to start and develop my own company as an entrepreneur.

M: Would you advise others to pursue a degree before opening their own business?

MH: I was glad that I got a degree before opening my own business. University was an experience beyond what I chose for my major. I learned to learn, I gained mentorship from professors who have expertise in their field, and I joined clubs where I made lifelong friends.

University life has a lot to offer if you embrace it. There are many famous successful entrepreneurs who don’t have a post-secondary degree, so it is possible to succeed in business without a degree.

But you should know yourself and know what environment and path are best suited for your career development. And no matter which path you choose, you have to believe in yourself, have confidence, and never give up.

Oenomel Valentine's gourmet truffles and bonbons
Oenomel Valentine’s gourmet truffles and bonbons

M: What would your advice to future owners with dreams of owning their own business be?

MH: See the value in yourself and your business and bring these values to people you wish to serve.

Work hard, understand and love yourself–Do these things well, and extend it to your employees.

Don’t stop learning, don’t be afraid to try new things and fail.

Never give up. There’s always a way to succeed.

M: Do you have a philosophy in life or a famous quote you would like to share with everyone?

MH: “Dream big, start small, begin now.” — Robin Sharma, The 5 AM Club

MILESTONES

Oenomel Chocolates is celebrating its first year anniversary on February 24 and although it is a a startup business, it gives back to the Metro Vancouver community.

In December 2021. Oenomel Chocolate organized a fundraising event and raised 200 CAD for a non-profit organization to distribute food to insecure communities.

Over 20 local musicians, artists, and businesses participated, and over 100 guests joined us for a beautiful Warm Company and Wine Evening. It was an event worth remembering.

In 2022, Oenomel Chocolate continues to support charities with good causes. We will be organizing fundraising events and making donations to charity through the sales of some of our products.

If you would like to learn more about Oenomel products please visit their website and support them by following their on IG and FB.

Fashion INVESTIGATOR INC.’s Services

MAYUMI IZUMI | Content Creator

Building Community

Now more than ever, it is important to stay connected with our neighbours, local small business owners and strengthen our community. The pandemic has caused many businesses to suffer and some to close.

Services

Fashion INVESTIGATOR INC.’s mission is to empower small businesses to shine by offering digitally marketing, social media management, search engine optimization and public relations services.

We have increased local small businesses’ search engine optimization and raised them within the top 5 of Google searches, written over 30 business and restaurant features to highlight their talent, specialty and expertise.

Raisu Restaurant BLUEFIN TUNA DELUXE SEAFOOD BOWL
The Bluefin Tuna Deluxe Sewafood Bowl — Raisu Japanese Restaurant Feature, August 2021
  • Blvd Bistro & Swich Café (Double Feature — same owner)
  • Cahill CPA
  • Coache Collision
  • Creative Inspo
  • Eclipse Awards
  • Fawn Gill Fitness
  • Daisy’s Sandwiches & Such
  • Fit Life Coaching
  • Goodlad Clothing
  • Green Coast Rubbish
  • Henna by Arneet
  • Little Pink Door Boutique
  • QRZones
  • Queen of the Closet
  • Raisu Authentic Japanese Cuisine
  • Tequila Cocina Restaurant

Connecting with Business Owners

The best part of our work is the connections we make with the people behind the businesses and restaurants we feature all across Metro Vancouver.  We carefully select businesses that we truly enjoy whether it is because of the food, product and people or all the above.

We feel privileged to know the inspiring, creative and entrepreneurial individuals that took a chance to follow their dreams, worked hard and succeeded in starting their own businesses.

Kristin Ames of Fit Life Coaching
Kristin Ames of Fit Life Coaching — Interview & Feature, August 2020

There is a spark, a light within these men and women. We are uplifted when we interview them and dig into their stories:

  • Did they always want to own their own business?
  • What was their inspiration?
  • What is their advice to others who want to start their own business?

If you would like to read our upcoming local small business features make sure to subscribe to Fashion INVESTIGATOR INC. and also follow our Lifestyle Ezine on our Instagram and Twitter. To inquire about our services, please email: mayumi@mayumiizumi.com.

Local Business Feature — Eclipse Awards International is Celebrating 23 Years in Business

The Star Peak Award by Eclipse Awardsc

I first met Toby Barazzuol, Owner and Founder of Eclipse Awards at Tillicum Elementary school in East Vancouver. He was in grade 2 and I was in grade 1. We had a few mutual friends and played on the jungle gyms in our neighbourhood. He moved away and then I didn’t see him again until we were in high school in North Vancouver — We were reacquainted by mutual friends that attended Windsor Secondary with him.

And now he’s running a successful company that is celebrating its 23rd year in business!

M: When did you open Eclipse Awards?

T: We opened the doors for the very first time at Eclipse Awards on April 1, 1998.

M: Did you always want to own your own business?

T: Since I was a kid, I always dreamed of starting some kind of business that would help people. My parents were both teachers with no real interest in business, so I think they sometimes wondered where I came from.

M: Where are you from? If you moved to Vancouver, why did you move here?

T: I was born and raised in Vancouver! In fact, we used to live upstairs of the Stanley Park Teahouse when my parents first started their family (my grandparents ran the restaurant there for many years). At age 5, we moved to the rainforests of North Vancouver, which is where I grew up and currently live. I love it here!

Toby Barrazuol & his children
Toby Barazzuol & his children in North Vancouver, BC

M: What was your inspiration for Eclipse? 

T: I used to work at a small company and my boss had a side business making crystal awards and trophies. So I learned how to design awards, and sandblast them to bring them to life, and found that I really enjoyed using my hands to make things.

But after attending dozens of award ceremonies to watch our awards being presented, I began to notice that most award recipients were overcome with happiness, often crying tears of joy upon being recognized and appreciated. It was always such a positive, powerful and uplifting experience that I decided I wanted to help bring more of that into the world.

Customized Awards by Eclipse Awards Internationals
Eclipse Awards International create beautiful customized awards

M: What did you do prior to opening your business?

T: The small company I used to work for would build log homes and ship them to Japan.  They were almost like puzzles, with each log numbered and reassembled on site overseas.

M: If you were in a different industry, did you enjoy your former career?

T: I enjoyed that earlier role because it taught me the skills to run my own business, but I wasn’t passionate about exporting log homes.

M: What did you study in university?  Which university did you attend?  Would you advise others to pursue a degree before opening their own business?

T: I went to Sauder Business School at UBC and majored in marketing and sociology. If you’re interested in starting your own business, a college or university degree is certainly helpful, though I wouldn’t say it’s required.

In terms of running a business, I don’t think school prepares you with practical knowledge or skills. However, it does teach you how to solve problems, communicate, and work with others, which are all important skills for running a business. You might be successful in starting a business without a degree, but I think your chances improve a lot with some education.

You Are Awesome Award by Eclipse Awards International
You Are Awesome Award by Eclipse Awards

M; What would your advice to future owners with dreams of starting their own business be?

T: Start a business if it’s something you love and believe in, not because you think it will make you rich. You will need to draw on your passion to get you through the challenging times of the first 3-5 years. If you are passionate about your work, do the things you promise to do, and treat people well, then the money will start to flow.

But spoiler alert.. if you think that owning your own business is the path to more free time, it’s actually the opposite.

M: Do you have a philosophy in life or famous quote, you would like to share with everyone?

T: “Energy flows where your attention goes.”

“Recognize. Empower. Repeat.”

We Rise By Lifting Others Quote by Robert Ingersoll
“We Rise By Lifting Others” a quote by Robert Ingersoll that’s very fitting for Eclipse Awards, a business that “Recognizes. Empowers. [and] Repeats”.

MILESTONES

2012: Eclipse Awards is the 8th company in BC to become a Living Wage Employer.

2012/13: Eclipse Awards is recognized as BC’s Best Employer by Small Business BC

2014: Eclipse Awards is recognized as BC’s Best Green Business by Small Business BC

To learn more about Eclipse follow their Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, you can also visit their website, Eclipse Awards – Maker of Fine Awards, Plaques, and Trophies.

Local Business Feature — 3rd Time North Shore News Readers Choice Winner: Cahill CPA

Cahill CPA - Fashion INVESTIGATOR INC

Cahill CPA is a family owned and operated business with over 35 years public practice experience. They offer personal and corporate accounting services, bookkeeping and estate planning.

I first met Crystal Cahill in my Digital Content Marketing Strategy course at Capilano University in 2018. She is in charge of the Social Media for the well respected, North Vancouver accounting firm and married to Jordan Cahill, the eldest brother and partner at Cahill.

I recently had the pleasure to interview both Crystal and Jordan.

M: When was Cahill CPA opened?

C & J: January 1st, 2013.

M: Where is the Cahill family from?  How many members are there in the/your family?

C & J: Originally, Wayne Cahill’s family is from Ireland. Our family consists of four brothers! Jordan, Taylor, Braden and Quinn.

Cahill Family Coat of Arms
Cahill Family Coat of Arms, In Domino Confido — In God We Trust

M: What was the inspiration for their/your business?  How did they/you ALL become accountants … lol.

C & J: Wayne Cahill became a CGA (Certified General Accountant) in 1992, and worked in public practice for many years. Our oldest brother, Jordan Cahill, got his CPA (Chartered Public Accountant) designation in 2012. Wayne, Jordan and Taylor created Cahill CPA in 2013.

Our youngest brother Quinn recently completed university, and also works here at our family firm. They all have an interest in finance and business, and realized their skills in accounting, pursuing their post secondary education.

M: Did Mr. Cahill Sr. always want to open his own firm?

C & J: Wayne feels very proud to have started a family run accounting firm that now has six partners and 15 staff members. We strive to uphold the family values that we feel are important- with our staff and our clients.

Wayne Cahill - Partner Cahill CPA
Wayne Cahill – Partner Cahill CPA (Isaac Wray Photography)

M: Where did the Cahills study accounting?  Did they all attend the same university?

C & J: Wayne, Jordan and Quinn all attended Simon Fraser University. Wayne completed his CGA designation through the CGA association, and Jordan completed his CA (Chartered Accountant) designation through the CA Western School of Business. 

M: What would the Cahills’ advice to future accountants with dreams of owning their own firm be? 

C: Working in public practice, especially with a bigger firm, really gives you the experience of what it takes. Gaining the knowledge and experience in a variety of areas is important.

General business, financial expertise and understanding of tax is a huge asset to one day owning your own firm or practice.

Gaining experience in a wide variety of sectors is beneficial. Essentially, knowledge- combined with experience, practical application, and management skills- will all go a long way in being successful in your own practice. 

M: Do the Cahills have a philosophy in life or favourite quote(s) that they would like to share with everyone?

I think in business, it’s important to strive for balance. We love what we do, and we love serving our clients here on the North Shore.

We also love being part of this North Shore community and experiencing all that it has to offer.  Our partners and staff love spending time with family, mountain biking, skiing, hiking, exploring our local beaches, etc etc!

Having balance in our business and personal lives is so important in an industry that can be so busy and so high pressure.

So- our advice for those starting out in any business, is look for ways to seek balance in your life. 

Lonsdale Ave Launch Party
Jordan, Taylor & Crystal at Lonsdale Ave Launch Party (photo taken by Mayumi)

MILESTONES

North Shore News Readers Choice- Favourite Accountant- for three years in a row.

We are proud to have grown to the team we are today. From 3 family members in the beginning- to now a firm of 21.

We now have a partnership of 6. Janice Tai became a partner in 2015, and we also recently added two new partners to our firm- Matthew (who has worked with us since the beginning, in 2013) and Tony (who has been with us since 2018).

North Shore News Readers Choice Winner
North Shore News Readers Choice Winner 2021 – 3rd Year in a Row!

If you would like to learn more about the Cahill CPA family practice or need to contact them for your tax returns, estate planning, or bookkeeping, please visit their website and follow them on their Instagram.

Double Business Feature — S’Wich Cafe & BLVD Bistro: Both Celebrate North Shore News Readers Choice Awards!

Reader's Choice Winners

I discovered BLVD Bistro one morning last summer when my BFF and Big Sis, Mona had spent the night and we were craving brunch. I did a Google search and they were one of the first to pop up for North Vancouver.

They provided great customer service and yummy noms. And I found out the Chef and Owner of BLVD also is the man behind the business next door, S’wich Cafe.

I went to work straight away taking photos of our brunch, the decor and featured them on my Instagram page along with local hot sauce, Jumpin’ Johnny’s. And more recently I was able to visit S’Wich Cafe with my Foodie Cohort, Mama Izumi and ordered an El Cubano, Up Your Alley and their Vegan Chilli.

Winner of North Shore News Reader's Choice Awards - BLVD Bistro Brunch
Winner of North Shore News Readers Choice Awards – BLVD Bistro Favourite Weekend Brunch & Favourite Breakfast Restaurant

I had the privilege of interviewing Chef Erik Juarez and thoroughly enjoyed our Q & A session:

M: When did you open S’wich Cafe and Blvd Bistro?

C: S’wich Cafe was opened August 1, 2011 (OMG) and BLVD BISTRO opened April 20, 2016.

M: Did you plan from the beginning to open two businesses side by side?

C: I didn’t plan on it at all! I thought I was going to live simply. Sling coffees, a few sandwiches and not do anything more in the hospitality business ever again.

BLVD Bistro's Standard Issue Benedict
BLVD Bistro’s Standard Issue Benedict

M: Where are you from? If you moved to Vancouver, why did you move here?

C: I was born and raised in North Vancouver. It is my home and always will be. I’ve moved around a bunch in my youth, Mexico, Spain, Kelowna, and the Salmon Arm.

M: What was your inspiration for your businesses?

C: Truthfully, I never meant to open a business. I was a dedicated Chef that fell into the same trap as so many others before me.

Find a decent job and work your ass off for some owners that would probably replace you tomorrow if you dropped dead. That’s what happened. I was working 16 hour days with no days off in sight for people I feel, couldn’t care less about me.

I was stressed, sick, fat and unhappy. At that time my grandmother passed away and I inherited 33 thousand dollars from a life insurance policy. The shop you know as S’wich Cafe was originally a neighbourhood coffee shop that wasn’t doing so hot.

One day the owner asked me jokingly if I wanted to buy a cafe. I said, “Yes, I DO!” So with that inheritance and some help from my Mom I bought that business (paid too much) but now I have something that is mine. A little tiny piece of a hospitality business and a chance to do it differently.

M: Did you always know that you wanted to be a chef?

C: I did not know but I was about 16 when I found out. I worked at EARLS like a lot of North Vancouver men and women have. I worked my way through the ranks, learned to communicate, learned to flirt.

Most importantly, I learned that I had a deep love for cooking, the push, the lifestyle and the art. However, somewhere in my limited experience I knew there was more art and skill to uncover.

Chef Erik Juarez
Chef Erik Juarez & his dry cured Spanish Chorizo

M: Did you always know that you wanted to be a restaurant owner?

C: I think every aspiring Chef dreams of opening his or her own place. But Ownership was never really a specific goal I had in mind.

My career has just organically led me to these places. Basically, life presents doors and pathways and I hope that by now — I have the life experience and instinct to walk through the right doors and tread down the correct paths. Trust me when I say, I haven’t always.

M: Where did you study the art of culinary?

C: I had been working for a few years in fine dining kitchens by my early 20’s. I had some amazing mentors and some horrible ones.

I remember the day I told one of my chefs that I was going to go to culinary school. He said, “Erik, you can go to school, spend 10 thousand dollars on a fancy diploma and you can hang it on the bathroom wall. The only thing it will be good for is to wipe your ass when you run out of toilet paper.”

I will never forget that. He was kinda right. I staged and worked in every kitchen I could. Every place in town with the word “Le” before the name I worked there.

I read culinary text books like novels and tried the recipes that interested me. I found my resources and my style and have evolved it over 20 years of learning. I still use my online subscription to “ Cook’s Illustrated” daily and have been collecting those magazines for 20 years.

M: What would your advice to future chefs with dreams of owning their own restaurant be?

C: RUN! RUN away fast!!! Hahaha. Joking…

I have a ton of advice. Firstly, be equal to your concept and your staff. Put in the work and do what it takes to make it mesh. There a lot of very long difficult days ahead but I promise once you’re on the other side of it… It’s worth it.

Be there for your staff, know them and care about them.

S'Wich Cafe
S’Wich Cafe’s lovely Tina helped me order from the many yummy sandwich options

Back up your weaknesses, If cooking dope food is your thing but numbers aren’t, make sure you budget and be able to afford someone that has your bottom line in mind at all times.

DM me or Follow me for more advice. Hahahahaha…

Chef Erik Juarez’s IG

M: Do you have a philosophy in life or favourite quote(s) that you would like to share with everyone?

C: I also have a bunch of them.

‘How you do one thing is how you do everything’

‘Perfection is the little things done well. Everyone else sees the big things’

My new FAVOURITE:

BE THE BEST. WORK HARD- WORK FAST-WORK CLEANLY. EVERY INGREDIENT WE USE HAS TO BE THE BEST WE CAN AFFORD.

SEASONS HAVE TO RULE THE KITCHEN. ONLY ALLOW MINIMAL MANIPULATION OF INGREDIENTS WHEN NECESSARY. ELEVATE FLAVOURS THRU UNDERSTANDING.

COOK AS IF YOU ARE EATING. WASTE IS POOR WORKMANSHIP. EXTRACTION OF FLAVOUR IS OUR ROLE IN LIFE AS COOKS.

BALANCE OF MENU IS OUR OBLIGATION TO OUR GUESTS. HEALTH IS CRUCIAL IN MENU PLANNING.

SEASONING IS A TRUE SKILL. SO TASTE, TASTE AND TASTE AGAIN. OUR GOAL IS TO BE THE BEST. SO WE MUST ACT THE BEST.

Winner of North Shore News Reader's Choice Awards - S'Wich Cafe Favourite Caterer
Winner of North Shore News Reader’s Choice Awards – S’Wich Cafe Favourite Caterer

MILESTONES

The meaning of milestones has changed for me. I used to think it was winning awards and competitions. But I couldn’t be more wrong.

Milestones for me are when employees leave you to pursue their own life goals, when great things happen to the team, and when people tell you they love a component or multiple components of your business.

One of my greatest achievements is finding a way to pay a living wage to my staff and provide meaningful benefits to my whole team. Not having to hire and retrain constantly because people feel appreciated and included. It’s built into our company’s culture of genuineness and inclusivity.

Accolades are nice, Reader’s Choice Awards, Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, recognition from our peers. It all feels amazing but I’d have to say, surviving a pandemic, coming out stronger and better has been our greatest achievement to date. I will never forget the strength it took our team to weather the storm.

I am grateful to my staff that stayed with me and came back. We have never been better and that is my greatest achievement to date.

To learn more about BLVD Bistro please visit their website and follow their Instagram as well as S’Wich Cafe’s (right next door) website and IG Page.

Local Business Feature: Interview with Adam Swanson of QRZones

Adam Sanderson of QR Zones

I met Adam Swanson, Founder of QRZones via Instagram as it has now become the norm — networking business contacts and meeting new friends online. After exchanging several messages with Adam, I interviewed him on Zoom and was delighted with how much we had in common.

He was born and raised in North Vancouver, BC. Adam recently graduated from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops with a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science.

Last summer during the chaos of the pandemic and one of the BLM (Black Lives Matter) marches that he participated in, he was inspired to spread POSITIVITY, to uplift people and build a platform to give back to the community. This is when QRZones was born …

QR Zones Unique Advertising
QRZones Unique Advertising Opportunities

Adam is not motivated by money. He enjoys teaching others and sharing his knowledge of computers. He loved leading a workshop for kindergarten to grade 7 children and developing a curriculum of computer science and coding.

He wants to propel people to open their minds and drive home his message that technology doesn’t have to be hard to learn. Adam uses easy to understand language to make people more comfortable with computers and how they can help us — to show us, laymen that it is a matter of ‘learnability’.

Adam is full of exciting new ideas and opportunities for Small Businesses to grow by saving money and the environment with QR Codes. I have met a kindred spirit who demonstrates my Love of Local! During our meeting we discussed working together to promote and market Local Businesses. Our shared love of building community, spreading positivity, and bringing people up can ONLY grow stronger.

6 Ways QR Codes Can Help Grow Any Business
6 Ways QR Codes Can Help Grow Any Business

This is the core of Adam’s mission, “lifting others up because when we do, we lift ourselves with them.”

To learn more how Adam Swanson and his team at QRZones can expand your business, visit their website and follow their Instagram.

Fit Life Coaching: Where Do I Start? — Resident Nutrition Expert Kristin Ames

Kristin Ames - Nutrition Expert

Ahh, January, the month where we all decide to adopt a healthier lifestyle.  Maybe lose some weight?  Start a new fitness regime? Get better sleep? Meditate?

It can be overwhelming trying to decide where to focus our efforts.  We know we want to feel better, but there are so many different options out there it can quickly lead to analysis paralysis and we end up doing nothing because we don’t know where to start.

On the other hand, it is possible to take on too much at once.  Starting a fitness program, cooking all your meals at home and trying to get 2 more hours of sleep every night, when you previously weren’t doing any of these things consistently, probably isn’t the recipe for success that you’re hoping for.

Extreme or time-consuming changes to your daily routine may be overwhelming when piled on top of all your regular responsibilities and commitments, to the point that you’ll likely end up abandoning your new healthy habits before you have time to reap the benefits.

Kristin Ames of Fit Life Coaching
Kristin Ames of Fit Life Coaching surfing

So what are we to do? I recommend choosing one new habit or behavior that feels manageable right out of the gate.  On a scale of 1-10 where 1 is ‘never gonna happen’ and 10 is ‘I can do this all day long’ it should be at least an 8, otherwise you need to scale back. 

When we are successful at improving our habits and behaviors, we get motivated to make more changes.  I know if feels like radical change will be the most effective, but it rarely is.  Small, manageable changes will lead to lasting results. 

You’re also more likely to keep doing something you enjoy, rather than grinding through something you hate; even the most disciplined person in the world will crack eventually if they don’t enjoy what they’re doing. 

Let’s say you decide you’d like to get in better shape; going to the gym 5 days a week for an hour will surely get you results – right? Well maybe, but it will also probably get you injured and discouraged if you don’t really like going to the gym. 

What if instead you signed up for a fun weekly exercise class, or tennis lesson, or set up a standing date to meet a friend for a walk?  Seems like it wouldn’t be nearly as effective to get you to your goal as the gym option, but guess what? If you stop going to the gym after 2 weeks, you’re never going to reach your goal. 

But maybe, after doing the exercise class for a month, you find another one to add to your week, and then you meet some like-minded people in the class and decide to get together on the weekend to go for a hike…you see where I’m going with this.

Kristin Ames - Nutrition Coach
Kristin Ames selecting fresh fruit in Keremeos, BC

The same principle goes for your nutrition – if your eating habits need an overhaul, think about what small changes you could make easily.  Do you eat out too much?  Set a limit as to how many meals a week you’re going to eat out. 

Don’t eat enough vegetables?  Set a goal of trying 1 new vegetable a week or eating a certain number servings a day.  Don’t buy 10 new vegetables at the grocery store with the expectation that you’re suddenly going to be eating them all day every day, chances are at weeks end you’ll be staring at a fridge full of rotten produce.

If you’re still tempted to bite off more than you can chew, try to narrow down your priorities – what single behavior change or new habit would have the biggest overall impact on your health and lifestyle? 

If you’re struggling with injury or pain, working on your mobility would be a great place to start – if you’re not in pain, you’ll sleep better, feel more like exercising, and probably not be cranky all the time.  

Kristin Ames of Fit Life Coaching
Kristin Ames of Fit Life Coaching lifting weights

If you’re always low energy and tired, then improving your sleep would be beneficial – you’ll be less tired (obviously), keep your hunger in check, and have more energy to exercise more.  Lots of benefits from one doable change.  

So pick something you can start working on tomorrow, and make sure you’ll nail it. Define what you’re going to do, how often you’re going to do it, and how you’ll measure your success.

Once you reach this goal, then, and only then, will it be time to add another.  Maybe it’s something you can master in 2 weeks, or maybe 2 months, it doesn’t matter.  I’ve said it before, but it really bears repeating: small, incremental changes are so much more effective and sustainable over the long term than big radical ones.

They may not be as exciting (for sure no one else wants to hear about your goal to eat 6 servings of vegetables a day for the next 4 weeks) but who cares? What is exciting is that you’ve set yourself up to reach your goals and still enjoy life while getting there.

Kristin Ames is a certified Nutrition Coach, Personal Trainer and Health Coach living in North Vancouver.  Her company, Fit Life Coaching, helps people achieve their best body and health with personalized nutrition and fitness programs. If you would like to learn more about the programs she offers, contact her on her website or Instagram.

Local Business Feature: North Vancouver’s Luxury Automotive Body Shop Coache Collision — In Business for Over 45 Years

Coache Collision Luxury Automotive Repair Shop

I came to know the wonderful family behind Coache Collision in 2011 when I was the Assistant Branch Manager at Hertz Car Rental.  Because Hertz was ICBC’s (Insurance Corporation of British Columbia) preferred rental company, most of our business was with the body shops in North Vancouver.  Out of the many shops that made reservations for their customers, they were one of my favourites.

The luxury automotive body shop specializes in Volkswagen and Audi vehicles with special certifications from both German brands. They have loyal customers that are three generations long just as the Tietze family business.

Coache Collsion was opened in 1975 by Norbert Sr. and Greti Tietze, a hard-working couple, that emigrated from Germany with a suitcase, $50, and a dream to better provide for their family by pursuing the opportunities that Canada offered.

Their longevity can be attributed to Opa and Omi Tietze’s work ethics. They didn’t cut any corners. They repaired their customer’s vehicles right from the beginning, provided German quality craftsmanship and excellent customer service. Omi worked in the office running the administrative, and front end of the shop. Opa had a Type-A personality, was a perfectionist and brought the vehicles back beautifully to pre-damaged condition. Before they opened Coache, he fixed anything with different parts that he could get his hands on.

2018 A5 BEFORE Coache Collision's repair
2018 A5 BEFORE Coache Collision’s repair

Growing up, Opa’s son, Norbert Tietze Jr, spent a lot of time at Coache and took over the shop around 2012 – 2013 with his wife, Chantal. They originally met in Williams Lake, BC when she worked as a waitress in a Chinese Restaurant and Norbert came in for lunch. Opa had a cabin there and he spent a lot of summers in his youth fishing and hunting.

Norbert continued Opa’s tradion of German quality and perfection during his 30 to 35 years in the industry and passed these along to one of his three sons, Taylor. The grandson of Opa Tietze is an estimator. He tells me with pride that, “We’ve had many family members working [here]: my grandparents, my mom and dad, my uncle… one of my brothers has been with us, and now I’m the last of the third generation left.”

2018 A5 AFTER Coache Collision's repair
2018 A5 AFTER Coache Collision’s repair

Just like his Papa before him, Taylor grew up in the body shop. One of the technicians held him as a baby shortly after he was born. He started working in 2006 as a detailer during the summers and in January 2013, he began his full-time career as an estimator. Most of what Taylor learned about estimating was on the job but he also attended courses at the Automotive Training Centre in Surrey, BC.

Sadly, on October 1st, 2019 there was a change of ownership. Norbert and Chantal Tietze sold their family business to the Raydar Collision Group, another family owned business. Opa’s grandson explains that, “My parents wouldn’t have handed over the shop to just anyone, they wanted to make sure all of Coache’s employees were taken care of after they were gone.” All of the staff remains the same as well as the name of the business, only the owners have changed.

Taylor elaborates that, Bill Davidson from the Raydar Group has shown an unmatched passion for the industry, as well … he values his employees. I’ve personally been to one of his other shops, and it’s clear that he takes every step to ensure that not only the business is successful, but the employees are successful within it. I can only see us becoming a more tight-knit team under his leadership.”

To learn more about the luxury automotive repair shop, Coache or book an appointment, visit their website and follow their Instagram. They are located at: 1172 W 3 St, North Vancouver, BC.

Mayumi & Mama Izumi’s Foodie Adventures — White Spot Restaurants

Mama Izumi

If you have lived in our beautiful city for any amount of time, you will come to learn about Vancouver’s local favourite and long-time provider of our dine-out food staples, White Spot restaurants. I was born and raised in Vancouver, BC and ever since I was a little girl, I have loved and nommed on their yummy. comfort food.

I started with their Pirate Paks, progressed to the Legendary Burger, OMG … Triple-O heaven … and as their menu evolved so did my foodie palette. I have recently revisited my longtime beloved dish, Chicken, Broccoli & Cheese, a hint of curry served with Basmati rice.

My foodie cohort and I decided for our third installment of Mayumi & Mama Izumi’s Foodie Adventures that we would go to our preferred location at Pemberton Plaza in North Vancouver. We love it here because it’s comfy, cozy, and especially because of the wonderful team of servers they have on board: Morgan, Shauna, Grace, Katiee, and Gemma to name a few.

White Spot Restaurants
Mayumi & Mama Izumi’s Foodie Adventures at White Spot Restaurants – Fish & Chips and BC Salmon Burger

Smiling faces, warm, sincere attention to their customers & their needs, and they exhibit a real joy while they work to serve us. These are some of the reasons Mama and I love the girls at this particular White Spot.

We also love to support and promote local businesses. And we hold the restaurant that was founded by Nat Bailey dear to our hearts. He started the first drive-in restaurant and the accompanying car-hop tray.on 70th and Granville in 1928 — the first of its kind in Canada.

To learn more about White Spot visit their website and follow them on their Instagram. Pemberton Plaza, Mama & my favourite location is at #107 – 1226 Marine Dr, in North Vancouver.