Seven Ways Second Nature Boutique Says Thank You to East Vancouver

In the spirit of gratitude, during the week of Thanksgiving, we want to celebrate a Square seller who uses her social enterprise to help boost her local community.

Elizabeth McKitrick opened Second Nature Boutique in November 2014 and has been giving back ever since. Elizabeth sells eco-friendly products and local art, while supporting local schools and providing a showcase for artwork by immigrant women.

Building a circular economy

Elizabeth works with local producers to create eco-friendly products such as soaps, kitchen ware, gifts and accessories. She hopes to benefit small-scale artisans in her community whilst minimizing waste with foraged, vintage and upcycled products.

“One of the goals of Second Nature is to build the ‘circular economy’ of local makers producing local products, which in turn strengthens the local economy,” says Elizabeth. “Currently we have over 40 amazing local makers and artisans featured in the shop.”

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Showcasing immigrant art

Welcoming newcomers and giving them a chance to be part of the local art scene is another way that Elizabeth says thank you to East Vancouver. Second Nature works with the Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House, a local community service agency, to support new immigrants.

“Second Nature is able to assist immigrant women who are artists or makers by offering them space to sell their artwork, promote their craft and informally build connections with other local makers,” says Elizabeth. “At any given time, we have between four and eight immigrant women represented in the shop.”

Artisans helping artisans

Elizabeth hosts regular meetups and an evening “maker soiree” to connect the artisans she works with. As a result, several have forged strong collaborations, shared supplies and cross-promoted one another’s work. In one example, a woodworker began making frames for a local artist. “Their efforts are maximized and enriched through these community connections,” says Elizabeth.

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Supporting non-profits

Second Nature Boutique also works with external organisations that focus on providing employment for community members in East Vancouver. For instance, the shop works with Just Potters (tagline: “pottery with a purpose”), part of the Just Work Initiative, which offers meaningful work opportunities for people facing multiple barriers to employment. “Second Nature is an outlet for their pottery, and we also used their service, Just Renos, to renovate our space before we opened.”

Spreading the love in East Van

Residents of East Vancouver love to celebrate the neighbourhood’s unique diversity and quirky community and Elizabeth often promotes the store as a community hub.

“We also participate in the semi-annual campaigns with SayHiToAStranger (encouraging a friendlier urban experience), Bike to Shop Day, neighbourhood block parties and several community gardens in our neighbourhood,” says Elizabeth. “It may seem like a lot of activities, but it’s all complementary and works together well.”

Clean for a cause

Recently, Elizabeth has partnered with the Burnaby-based Sapadilla Soap Co. to create the Clean for a Cause campaign, which provides bulk sales of eco-friendly cleaning products for school fundraisers and an educational program that highlights the environmental concerns associated with using plastics.

Squaring the love

Since community events are important to Elizabeth, she needs a point-of-sale system that’s fully mobile and Square turned out to be an ideal option. She also likes using the analytics to keep track of sales.

“Even though we have a bricks-and-mortar shop, we wanted to have the freedom to participate in special events outside the shop. We also like the fact that it was so easy to get up and running with no costly equipment or monthly fees. We love the [sales data] reporting system too.”

Visit Elizabeth and Second Nature Boutique online or at 1827 Victoria Diversion in Vancouver.

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