While browsing shops during her travels in New York, Australia, and Europe, Alisa's lifelong dream to own a boutique only grew stronger. Her own wish was granted when she and her mom, Kathie, opened wish.list boutique. The mom-and-daughter team stocks the shop with finds such as Deborah Lippmann and Butter London nail polish, RMS Beauty, Ilia Beauty, Jouer, LippyGirl Makeup, Hanky Panky Bridal, and La Vie Parisienne Jewelry. Alisa especially loves the Voluspa candles?"The smells are unbelievable," she says, singling out Santiago Huckleberry as her favourite aroma.
It's Alisa and Kathie's passion for their products that makes wish.list boutique a treasure trove for shoppers. They have to "fall in love" with something in order to consider it worthy of the boutique's shelves. "Anything we would want to use or feel like we need in our lives, we want in the store," Alisa says. That includes a focus on paraben-free, organic, and less-toxic items, including RMS Beauty and Jouer Makeup.
The store brings a chic vibe to Kitsilano with white paint, a damask accent wall, and butterfly motif, all lit by chandelier. To keep faces equally fresh, the staff's professional makeup artist gives complimentary makeup applications and cosmetics advice on Fridays, Saturday and Sunday. The boutique also hosts events on occasion?they threw a lipstick and wine-pairing party and Real Housewives of Vancouver star Mary Zilba helped them celebrate posh polishes with a 50 Shades of Summer party.
In addition to feminine accessories and beauty products, the shop is a popular place to pick up gifts, such as Dogeared's "Pearls of Friendship." "A lot people come in looking for a gift and then they end up buying something for themselves," Alisa says.
Alisa knows she's doing her job right when she's out at a restaurant or around town and someone asks her where she got her bag. It's even more gratifying when she hears their response: "They say, 'Oh, I love that store!'" she says.
When does it officially become Christmastime? For Vancouverites, it's actually in late November, when the scents of mulled wine and gingerbread and the sounds of bells and trumpets fill the crisp air. It's a time when the eyes widen at the sight of little wooden huts decked out in twinkling white lights and pine branches, of a sparkling carousel pirouetting in the night. This is the Vancouver Christmas Market.
In founding this beloved wintertime utopia, Malte Kluetz brings a 700-year-old tradition from the streets of his native Hamelin, Germany, to the plaza of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. German Christmas markets are a staple of European holiday seasons, and over the past few years, the Vancouver market has become a similarly un-missable destination for locals.
Here, a forests' worth of light-spangled pine trees and wreaths crowd the plaza, joining 45 wooden huts in which craftspeople and chefs—many from Germany themselves—share their handiwork. Shoppers peruse hand-carved nutcrackers and ornaments, and at any given moment of the day or night, the music of carolers, a string trio, or a jazz band might warm chilly ears.
After a hug from the market's gingerbread mascots, children might go on a scavenger hunt, decorate candles, or head to the old-fashioned Christmas carousel, encrusted with hundreds of amber lights, to show parents just how good they would be at riding a pony if they had their own. When they're done, kids and their parents head off in search of herbed Bavarian bratwursts, pastries, bubbly German wheat beers, and inky, sweetly spiced gluhwein.
Like any good Christmas market, the Vancouver market's festivities are anchored by a massive tree. At its pinnacle sits a glowing star—a beacon signaling the arrival of the holiday season.
Staking a space inside the Doctor Vigari Gallery, framing ace Wendy Berry activates her longtime artist's eye while preserving clients’ mementos in technically sound and visually pleasing styles. When customers bring their special items and works to Wendy, she uses knowledge culled from her master's degree in fine arts and her background as an artist of more than 20 years to creatively build framing solutions for every project she takes on. A seemingly boundless assortment of framing options lines the walls of her framing area, inspiring visitors with styles that can help safeguard or beautifully hang anything from sports memorabilia and diplomas to family photos.
Beyond framing, Wendy's experience and education enable her to execute a number of other services, such as digital printing and creating 3-D shadowboxes. She also performs home consultations to help customers aesthetically sort out decor choices and help them choose the most unassuming portraits for concealing secret safes stocked with smaller secret safes inside.
Though Orb Clothing’s Vancouver-designed casual women’s wear now lines the shelves of more than 300 stores, the line, founded by Glenn Taylor and Leslie Lee, began with simple intentions—to inspire women and promote confidence in their outward appearances. With an emphasis on ethics, they employ a team of designers who craft seasonal clothing collections that fuse style and active lifestyles in a fun manner, much like the hurdles typically placed along fashion runways. The artists' lively prints and warm colours add originality to sweaters, dresses, and jackets, as well as organic cotton tanks, tops, and handbags.
When not creating styles or fighting autonomous sewing machines, Orb's crew partners with charities such as Free the Children. They also run the Orb Girl program, which awards fashion contracts to women doing exceptional deeds within their community.
Lavan's nature alchemists collect herbs and fruit, vegetable, and flower extracts sourced from the Israeli countryside to blend into their all-natural bath and body products, which have been lauded in SweetLife and Fashion Magazine's blog for producing “silky results in an instant.” Mixed according to ancient recipes, the balms and soaps are hand-packed into recyclable glass containers before staffers arrange them on the shelves of Lavan's luxe downtown store. In the center of the space, a large, round sink sprouting multiple faucets whispers for customers to sample soaps and salt scrubs. Knowledgeable staffers serenely explain the benefits of the exotic ingredients, or direct men and women to salves specifically designed for their skin needs. All of products are hypo-allergenic, paraben-free, and never tested on animals, making them gentle enough to use on babies who take strong ethical stances on the treatment of animals.
A native of sunny Australia, GumDrops’ founder Liz Jerrett learned to cope with Vancouver’s overcast days by acquiring a collection of fun, fashionable wet-weather gear. GumDrops Wet Weather Boutique, spotlighted in BCLiving, supplies waterproof rain wear for the whole family from brands such as Hunter, Bogs, and Kamik, a company that hand-plucks recyclable rain boots grown in the meadows of Quebec. Along with donating proceeds to environmental causes, GumDrops carries its own line of Canadian-made trench coats and a line of repairable umbrellas. A commitment to the environment affects every aspect of store operations, with staff plugging in energy efficient bulbs and stocking shelves made of salvaged construction waste. Jerrett’s flamboyant fashion sense extends to the store's interior, with its ever-changing theatrical window displays, hanging umbrellas, and wall of patterned rain boots.