Shop Goss: Smoking Lily a longstanding source for ecofriendly, B.C.–crafted fashions

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      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 Trish Tacoma, owner of Mount Pleasant's Smoking Lily (2541 Main Street).

      Describe your business in three sentences or less.

      Smoking Lily is a womenswear shop with clothing and accessories created by our brilliant team of craftspeople who design, print, and sew in our downtown Victoria studio.

      Our style is based on comfortable, classic, and clean lines that complement a wide variety of body types. The garments are fashionable yet not super trend-driven, and as a result, our customers know that they will be loving and wearing their Smoking Lily items for years.

      How did you come to own and/or operate your own shop?

      Smoking Lily started as a home-based business in 1996 when we couldn’t afford to pay the rent. Instead of moving or getting another roommate, we created Smoking Lily. I had been tinkering with screen-printing for a while, and eventually, I made something I was proud of.

      In the evening, I would hand-print silk scarves, and the next day, sell them at artisan markets. After a few months, the markets closed for the season and we opened our first brick-and-mortar shop in Victoria. A few years later, we opened our Main Street shop in Vancouver.

      My favourite brands we carry at the moment are…

      We've expanded our offerings to carry a few complementary brands that have a similar ethos to our own, but it's so hard just to pick one!

      Dancing Leaf Design is a collection of jewellery made by Noriko Kobune here in Vancouver. We’ve been carrying her line for years; I love the detail and care that goes into each piece.

      Also, we just started carrying a brand of candles from Chicago called Tatine: their Garden and Forest lines are about the best out there. I have the Garden Mint candle on my desk, and it smells of freshly rubbed wild-forged leaves. Whenever I need to destress, the scent sends me to my happy place.


      Lucy Lau


      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) A MacAusland's Woolen Mills blanket: they've been made on Prince Edward Island for over a hundred years. They're great for a beach picnic and keeping warm on those desert-island nights.

      2) Our Smoking Lily Carmichael scarf: it’s a huge, soft cotton wrap that we screen-print by hand. You can wear it as a head-cover, use it to shade your shoulders from the sun, or even wear it as a skirt. So many uses!

      3) A handcrafted, hand-painted spiral-ring notebook from Mōglea to chronicle my thoughts as the days pass by and I wait to be rescued...

      Name new arrival you can’t wait to show off.

      I’m in love with our new Alisha dress: it’s the first time we’ve done a long dress, and I must say, it is pretty great. It's made from linen, has a shirttail hem, and we added extra big pockets. Just add sneakers and a Baggu tote and you have the perfect casual-day outfit; change your shoes to a pair of sandals, add a great pair of Dancing Leaf earrings, and you are ready for date night.

      What’s the weirdest, wackiest, or most out-there item on your shelves or racks at the moment?

      We made matching scrunchies for every new piece we introduced this season. We have a zero-waste policy, meaning we do not toss a single scrap of fabric out in our production. This season, we thought it would be fun to make hair scrunchies with some of our leftover bits.


      Lucy Lau


      My last purchase—from the store or otherwise—was…

      I just bought a ticket to see Frazey Ford. I was about to buy one for her show in VIctoria when I noticed she is playing up in Courtney too, so now I’m going with a group of friends that have recently relocated to the Comox Valley. I'm so excited to see Frazey and my friends!

      When I’m not at the shop, you can find me…

      I’m rarely in the shop because I head up our design and production teams. On weekends, you can usually find me hiking somewhere in or around Victoria, trying to discover a new walking trail. There are so many hidden parks in this city!

      What’s another local business you love?

      In Vancouver, I love Urban Source (3126 Main Street), which is just down the street from us. I’m always amazed by what they have in stock; they are our zero-waste buddies! In Victoria, our neighbour, Brasserie L'Ecole (1715 Government Street), has the best food in the city.

      Places to go nearby

      Approx. 15 minutes away