Made in Strathcona highlights neighbourhood's hip creative side

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      When a Vancouverite hears the word Strathcona, the image that comes to mind is not one of bustling young enterprises. However, the neighbourhood’s Business Improvement Association is hoping to change that.

      The BIA’s campaign Made in Strathcona hopes to bring awareness to some of the creativity and innovation that is taking place within the small businesses in the neighbourhood.

      As part of the campaign, the business improvement association is offering tours of the myriad businesses that line the Strathcona streets. May 31, participants were able to tour the studios and offices of the hidden gem and manufacturing businesses, including the Yew Woodshop, ECO Apparel, Special Screencraft, Shop Wrong, Vinegar Factory, and Wiens Studio.

      For Danielle Jasinski, project manager at Yew Woodshop, the area was a perfect fit for the business. 

      “This neighbourhood kind of ticked all the boxes when we were looking for a place to put production,” she tells the Georgia Straight at the Yew Woodshop in Strathcona. “It had enough space, it’s close to the city and it was affordable, so it was kind of within our price range.”

      The Yew Woodshop houses four different woodworking shops, and all four work together in the studio. Jasinski believes that it is an environment that is conducive to creativity, and it came together fairly easily. 

      “It really all came together because everybody wanted a place to work and this was a big enough place to do it,” she says.

      Jasinski also feels that the bad reputation that Strathcona gets is largely unfounded. “I’ve lived in Vancouver all my life. I don’t find that there’s anybody really dangerous, most people are not out to hurt you, so i don’t mind being in this neighbourhood.”

      She hopes that no matter what road the neighbourhood takes, that it will continue to give off its own unique vibe. “I hope they’re going to keep a lot of heritage feel of this neighbourhood,” she says.  “It’s kind of a weird quasi-neighbourhood/industrial area, which I think is super cool. I would just like to see it kept as local shops with industry, things being produced in the area.”

      Later on, on June 7 at 1 p.m., the tour will continue with the neighbourhood’s creative and food businesses. On this day, participants will get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the goings on at Propellor Design, Eclipse Awards, and Christine Lingerie, as well as Butler Did It Catering, A.G.R.O. Roasters, and Pacific Restaurant Supply. 

      Toby Barratt, one of three partners at Propellor Design, largely echoes Jasinski’s sentiments about the neighbourhood’s potential. 

      “I find it’s incredibly diverse, the people that live here, the businesses here, increasingly it’s becoming a bit of a mecca for design firms of different types,” he told the Georgia Straight, relaxing in his studio. “I think it’s like a combination of being perfectly situated in the city, a great mix of residential and business and a really good vibe, you know?”

      Propellor Design is a design company that largely does lighting and furniture design for clients worldwide. Barratt feels fortunate that he is able to communicate with a wide audience from his own studio in Strathcona.

      He is excited for the tour, however, because he feels like the neighbourhood isn’t getting the credit that it deserves for everything it has. “Maybe the neighbourhood has this reputation of being seedy, but i just don’t see that anymore, you know?” he says. 

      “It’s like beautiful old character houses with beautiful wild gardens, and it’s kids playing in playgrounds, and it’s small businesses doing interesting things. That’s the way I see my neighbourhood, and people just need to come and walk around down here, and they’ll see that too.”

      For each tour day, event goers will be able to choose two of these six interesting venues to tour for 45 minutes each for only $10. The tours will take place between 1 and 3 p.m. with a 15 minute break after the first one.

      Tickets are available on the Made in Strathcona website.