Shop Goss is the Georgia Straight’s weekly feature, where we give you the lowdown on Metro Vancouver’s coolest independent boutiques—and the spirited minds behind them—that deserve a spot on your shopping radar.
This week, we meet Kate Nagel, owner of Mount Pleasant's Bird on a Wire Creations (2535 Main Street).
Describe your business in three sentences or less.
Bird on a Wire Creations is an award-winning, exclusively local gift shop in our eighth year. We curate Vancouver’s best art and artisan objects! We’ve got eco-conscious goods for your home, your honey, and your tummy.
How did you come to own and/or operate your own shop?
I was a stay-at-home mama of three amazing children, Lucas, Lauren, and EsaBella. Creativity has been a lifelong, insatiable passion and I’ve picked up many skills along the way. I was taught to knit, embroider, and cross-stitch at young age by my Oma, and as a teen, I would sew my own clothes or do what we now call upcycling: reinventing old clothes.
In 1996, I opened my first business: a paint-your-own ceramic studio in Squamish where I taught classes and hosted Emily Carr University of Art + Design sessions. I was also president of the Squamish Arts Council.
In 2009, while witnessing the erosion of support for the arts in British Columbia, I made a decision: to create a place that not only support the arts, but creates community through the arts. This was and is my vision, and what I am meant to do.
My favourite brands we carry at the moment are…
My favourite brands right now are Gogobags, Mersea Studios, and Just Potters.
GogoBags creates ecofriendly, natural-cotton, and food-safe bags for the environmentally conscious. (I recently featured it in my blog series "Where Artists Create".) The artist behind gogoBags, Anahita, is so amazing. She’s a great example of what I love: a maker seeing a need and filling it in an environmentally conscious way.
Just Potters is a social enterprise that runs a successful pottery studio in Vancouver while employing people who face barriers to employment. It offers beautiful pottery and a chance to give back!
You’re being sent to a desert island with limited Wi-Fi access for an indefinite amount of time. What three products in the shop right now would you take with you?
1) Be Clean Naturally soap, which is handmade in Squamish. I need to be scrubbed!
2) Dom’s Deodorant: just because I’m on a desert island doesn’t mean I have to smell. It’s totally natural and it works.
3) Cocoa West Chocolatier: their inventive chocolate bars from Bowen Island are to die for. But it would be hard for me to pick between their two new flavours: snap (ginger and nibs) and perfect (brittle, pecans, and sea salt).
Name a new arrival you can’t wait to show off.
Our brand new GogoBags teabags, which just launched in March. They’re a reusable, travel-friendly option for loose-leaf tea made from unbleached cotton by Anahita and her mom. And when you really feel like the bag is worn out, you can compost it. How awesome is that?
What’s the weirdest, wackiest, or most out-there item on your shelves or racks at the moment?
The bots and birds made by Greg Kawczynski and Lynne Fahnestalk are my favourite little weirdos.
Lynne makes amazing one-of-a-kind robot sculptures. I’m always asking, "How could we, as a community, shift our focus on waste?" Lynne doesn’t buy anything new; the sculptures are all upcycled using vintage metal bits and bobs, and are put together with screws and nuts.
Greg creates wonderful raku birds in all shapes, sizes, and colours. They crack me up. I love watching people connect to a specific bird; it’s kind of like picking out a pet. Their personality speaks to the person who buys (or adopts) them!
My last purchase—from the store or otherwise—was…
I grabbed some of Be Clean Naturally’s Canada soap this afternoon. I’m on my way to Marina del Rey, California, to visit my son and daughter-in-law (these two!), and wanted to bring them a special Canadian something.
When I’m not at the shop, you can find me…
I’ll be hanging out with my 12-year-old, EsaBella, on set. She’s been acting for four years, and just won her first Joey Award. I’m so proud of her. She’s currently the lead in a Vancouver Film School production, so I’m around knitting or working on my cross stitch.
What’s another local business you love?
We love grabbing a bite from our neighbour, the Wallflower (2420 Main Street) at lunch, or getting an after-work drink at the Cascade Room (2612 Main Street). Kafka’s Coffee and Tea (2525 Main Street) runs through the veins of all Bird on a Wire employees.
I also love Genesis Nutrition (various locations): they’ve got amazing customer service, are always knowledgeable and helpful, and their prices are awesome. Main Street keeps us fed, watered, stimulated, and relaxed! Off Main, I love Float House (70 West Cordova Street and 1926 West 4th Avenue): it’s the best clean self-care I can think of.