Modern day Squamish is built on the passion and vision of local entrepreneurs and small business owners. Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting with some amazing local business owners to talk about what brought them to town and the biggest rewards and challenges of running their own business. Throughout this four part series we will introduce you to some of the amazing people behind your favourite local businesses.
One consistent theme that surfaced repeatedly in these interviews was the attraction to the lifestyle and outdoor nature that unites our town. We have already introduced you to The Freshies which are the owners who have been in business for up to two years. So without further ado,
Please Meet: The Take Offs
In the second part of our series, we chatted with business owners who have been in business for two to five years. We refer to these folks as “The Take Offs”. As a community we are lucky to have an incredible mix of intelligent, focused and generally awesome entrepreneurs. Show your love, share this article and help support these local businesses
Squishy’s Family Fun Zone | Rachael
“Playing has always been a part of my life.”
Chaos, laughter and community are what fuel this driven mompreneur. Growing up in a large family that spent a ton of time playing outdoors, Rachael wanted to raise her own children with a similar approach to play and discovery. But living on the West Coast meant more indoor play during all those rainy, wet months. When living in Vancouver, Rachael would take her kids to an indoor playground and she discovered that in the right environment, kids can have just as much fun playing indoors as they can outside.
When Rachael’s sister moved to Squamish it influenced her own decision to make the move as well. Once here, she saw that the town could use a fun, dry spot for parents to congregate and for kids to play on those wet and rainy days. So in opening Squishy’s Family Fun Zone, she created a boisterous atmosphere where kids can be kids and parents can hang out and connect.
Two years into her business and Rachael is proud of the happy and comfortable space she offers. She loves watching kids thrive at a play and parents chatting and forging new friendships. Stop by Squishy’s and have some authentic fun.
Wild & Heart | Sarah
“The wild will always wander and the heart will always win.”
When Sarah was looking for the ideal location to open a physical storefront for her already successful online boutique, she had one main goal: find a community with gorgeous mountains and outdoorsy people. Sarah was no stranger to Squamish, she had previously visited several times with her team to scout locations for their modelling shoots and look books. These visits piqued her interest in opening up shop in a small, but growing town.
Combining her passion for the outdoors with her vast experience in the fashion industry, opening up Wild and Heart was a natural next step for Sarah. She envisioned and created, a retail space where shoppers can feel at home. It’s intimate and offers an eclectic mix of brands that reflect the need for versatile – but fashionable – clothing in a mountain town.
Sarah is warm and inviting and Wild and Heart is evidence of her creative spirit. Be sure to stop by Cleveland Ave downtown to meet her and her awesome team. Be inspired by their new spring and summer fashions in house!
The Locavore & Cloudburst Cafe | Steve & Cory
“Challenges can drain your tank, but success will build you up and energize you for the next thing. You will get through the low times by not accepting defeat – Focus your energy on what you need to do to fix and improve” – Steve
In the summer months, The Locavore is the place to refuel after your outdoor fun! Meet up with other exhausted and famished exercise enthusiasts for some seriously amazing local food. Your tummy and tired muscles will thank you.
Owners Steve and Cory moved to Squamish within four years of each other in the mid to late ‘90’s after several years of temporary stints for seasonal jobs. Of the two owners, Steve was the first to make the move to Squamish in 1994, with Cory visiting seasonally and eventually making the permanent move in 1998. The two have enjoyed a lasting business partnership in everything from rafting to farming.
Now these two longtime locals enjoy a business partnership in food. Cloudburst Cafe is a successful coffee shop and The Locavore is a thriving food truck with a permanent location. Steve and Cory complement each other with their vastly different skill set and approach to business. While Steve is the optimistic, big picture guy, Cory is the grounded and practical one. They have such a long history that being in business together just works.
Stay tuned for more great things coming from this duo at the current location of Cloudburst Cafe and The Locavore – we hear rumors of a wine bar and beers on tap!
“Where New Orleans meets the Pacific Northwest.”
With an existing passion for the outdoors and adventure, Les made the move from Banff to Squamish so he could combine his love of ocean and mountains with a great place to raise his family. Seeing the boom that Canmore had experienced 20 years ago through tourism, Les knew that Squamish was on a similar path for economic growth. He saw our town as a community of opportunity that you need to create for yourself. Les put his career in travel cinematography on the back burner, with a new goal of opening a great place to eat and drink.
At The Copper Coil Still & Grill you can expect a casual, yet funky, atmosphere. Think New Orleans inspired BBQ, with a Pacific Northwest flair – with a sunny patio and craft beer on tap to boot! The place is buzzing and the menu is original, the ingredients are locally sourced and there is a healthy selection for vegans and vegetarians.
Come take a seat on the downtown patio, sip a cold beer and take in the incredible mountain views while enjoying some laughs with your friends this summer. Our recommendation: Try one of the local craft beers on the rotating tap.
Xoco | Kevin
“Eat Cake For Breakfast”
Kevin was born in Squamish with a chocolate spoon literally and figuratively in his mouth. Kevin’s mom, Annette, ran a pastry shop in the same location downtown on Cleveland Ave. After a brief time away from Squamish, they moved back , driven by the opportunity to open Xoco in the original location.
At the age of seven, Kevin and his family moved to Vancouver only to return to Squamish thirteen years later. Kevin loved all thing chocolate as a kid and would spend hours inventing his own masterpieces. Annette recognized there was something special about her son and his vivid imagination for all things chocolate. She encouraged him from a young age to consider opening up his own shop when the time was right.
Kevin is a chocolate alchemist – he engineers intricate and complex layers in each bonbon. He is known for working late into the evening with the tunes cranked and the creative juices flowing. His style of chocolatiering is difficult to put into words, but it truly is a magical experience. It’s best described as a delicate balance of flavour that will have you hooked after one bite.
The next time you visit the shop, be sure to ask Kevin about his latest creation. His passion and creativity in the art of chocolate is both infectious and delicious.
Zephyr Cafe, Gelato & Ground Up | Adrian
Adrian was a typical Vancouverite passing through Squamish on his way to the snowy mountains of Whistler. Like many speeding through town making a quick stop for coffee, he didn’t give Squamish another thought. Then one day, while hiking Garibaldi Lake with his family, they stopped at the Tantalus lookout. Peering over the beautiful town, Adrian saw Squamish through a new lens. This town is paradise, he thought.
It was this pivotal moment that inspired his to move to town. With a fresh degree in Commerce and previous experience managing restaurants, Adrian jumped at the opportunity to purchase a busy downtown cafe. Zephyr Cafe is a bustling place and rightfully so. The food is delicious and the coffee is exceptional. In fact, the spot is so popular it’s moving into a bigger space just two doors down on Cleveland Ave. It is set to include a gelato shop, as well.
Adrian has established himself in the Squamish business community as an ambitious young entrepreneur. Two years ago, he achieved great heights when he partnered with Lauren and opened the first indoor climbing gym in Squamish called Ground Up (read more below). Adrian is off with with bang and just getting started – expect more great things from this young and driven Entrepreneur
Ground Up | Lauren
“Just Amped On Life.”
Lauren is full of kindness, energy and a smile that makes you feel at home whenever you see her around town. In addition to being a talented artist, writer, climbing guide and photographer, Lauren is the co-owner and the mastermind behind Ground Up – Squamish’s first indoor climbing center.
Lauren moved to Squamish as a rock climbing guide back in 2012. She quickly noticed the lack of an indoor climbing & training center and set her sights on bringing one to town. After putting in years of work toward this vision, she opened the doors to Ground Up two years ago.
By finding the right partners and never giving up on her vision and goal, Lauren was able to achieve great success in this town. Ground up is more than just an indoor climbing center, it also functions as a place of both community and connection. Grab a coffee and watch the pro’s or take a lesson and learn for yourself.
Opening a climbing gym was no small feat, but dedication, persistence and passion came together and Squamish is benefiting from the space Lauren and her team has created. Be sure to stop by and check it out, Ground Up offers camps, lessons, training and great coffee.
Squamish Adventure | Paula
Psst: I am the author of this article and owner of this website so I thought I would share my personal story.
So for this section it will be switching into first person, and if it seems strange to you – tough luck, this is my article 😉
I moved to Squamish 12 years ago at the young age of 20. A love of travelling and culture took me to many amazing places around the world, but each time I came home I felt there was something special about Squamish. The fresh air, crisp greens, endless adventure, and small town vibe create a feeling like I’m living in the world’s best kept secret.
After completing a degree in economic development, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. Empowered by incredible supporters (you know who you are!) and ignoring the naysayers, I set myself a big goal – to create the leading digital community hub that connects and showcases the best of Squamish.
Squamish Adventure has been an evolving and growing project full of incredible lessons along the way. The more I learn, the more I see opportunities for expansion and growth. I am working on building out a media company and intend to replicate the Squamish Adventure model in other communities to encourage connection and economic growth in the digital world.
Squamish is a land of opportunity, a place where you create your own adventure, whether in nature, work or life. Be sure to reach out to me – collaboration is the heart of Squamish Adventure.
For more insider advice and awesome stories from local business owners, click below to read the next part of our series: The Rooted. Businesses who have been established in Squamish for five to ten years.