Picot Collective is hands down one of my favourite shops – it is filled with the most beautiful, thoughtfully curated treasures. They have an online shop as well as a brick & mortar in Victoria and carry only products that are either handmade or from small businesses. I love that I can get gemstone rings, handmade ceramic mugs, candles, skin care, Turkish towels, blankets, & Wild Unknown tarot cards all in one place. Plus, the owner’s name is Britt! She’s been open about facing anxiety, how hard it was to start her own business, and the struggles she faced to do so. So for today’s Mental Monday, we are sharing an interview with her. I truly admire and respect what she’s created, and am grateful for the chance to share her story with you today.
Also, to say thanks for taking the time to follow along, we’ve got a special discount for you… use code FLOPSY10 at checkout to get 10% off your entire purchase at Picot Collective!
A few years ago you left your day job to teach yoga. How did you shift from that to running your own store?
It all started in Sayulita, Mexico. In 2014 I was teaching a yoga retreat. On the first day of the retreat, we asked everyone what they would do if money was no object, if they weren’t doing what they are doing now. Pretty much everyone answered with something creative; dance, singing, painting, never would have quit the band, etc. and it just got me thinking about how much we invest or place value onto our creativity. That really stuck with me. While I was down there I visited this particular shop that had handcrafted artisan goods that reflected the traditional culture with a modern aesthetic, and I was in love with the lifestyle and culture. I thought about how I could do something like that In Victoria.
A couple months later I took a SAORI weaving workshop and I just fell in love with the process, and the outcome! It was one of those “flow activities”, where time stops and you are so submerged in what your hands are doing. The philosophy behind this particular style of weaving was to embrace the imperfections, to learn from each other, and that everything has its own unique significance and contribution to the whole.
Then about a year later I took the Artist’s Way course and what came out of writing everyday was that I really wanted to see if I could create a store like I envisioned. I saw a niche market at that time, I kept looking for retail spaces to open, I found one in my neighbourhood that I could afford, and now the rest continues to unfold. I’m actually still shocked that I made it all happen to be honest. Teaching is my first love, and I will always continue to do that. It feeds a part of my soul that nothing compares to, and now that things at the shop are steady and I have a couple great women working with me to grow the business, I am finally getting back into teaching a few times a week after a year of taking a break.
What is the philosophy behind Picot Collective?
Build community, encourage each other, celebrate your uniqueness, collaborate together. Have fun, devote time to what you love, share something meaningful. Be kind. Try not to take life too seriously.
What inspires you?
New beginnings and resilience. I’m really fascinated by my own experiences and other people who overcome such immense difficulties in life, and end up coming out stronger for it in some way. I’ve had a number of traumatic experiences shape my perspective on life, and how everything that has really challenged me has opened me up to connecting me deeper to meaning in my life.
Picot has such a beautifully curated selection of treasures. How do you select what products you will carry?
Thank you… The selection changes all the time, and I am always hunting for people and brands that are aligned to what I am building. We try to keep it mostly products made in BC, while bringing in a few special items from outside the province or country. The struggle is to carry products that we love and believe in, but aren’t over saturated in our city. This town is small, so it’s important to make sure that what I bring in isn’t already at 3+ stores around town. And to be honest, from that consideration, it’s allowed us to rotate our stock and keep things fresh as much as we can. But pottery. I will always have a large selection of pottery.
Why did you decide to focus on carrying handmade goods? What do you think is driving the shift from mass-produced products to handmade goods?
Our goal is to focus on the products that are made with heart and soul, and we look for brands that are consistent and cohesive with our style and what our customers are looking for. Handmade means that product costs are higher and the batches are smaller, but the quality and value are what we are looking for. . With that said, we carry a range of products varying in prices because we want art to be accessible to anyone. At the beginning I kept thinking I was opening a shop for tangible art- I wanted people to have art in their lives and for it to be accessible, functional and meaningful to them.
The shift to supporting a handmade, local economy is growing so fast, and some cities are becoming known for that culture- Brooklyn, for example. This #makersmovement is catching on! Ultimately, I think it comes down to people being real with themselves and understanding that life is short, do what makes you happy. And now that there are so many online resources for helping people set up their creative career, its relatively simple if you have the courage to leap for it and work hard to build it.
You also run a blog interviewing and sharing the stories of the makers of the products you carry. Why do you believe it is important to share those stories?
It’s important because the people behind the brand are what make it exciting, its what makes it unique, it gives meaning and a story behind something that becomes very special to you, or what is given as a gift. Its the difference between made with hands, and made by a machine. It’s a symbol of not only the creative vision behind the product, but the struggle and triumph behind it. The products are already beautiful and valuable- that you can see. The story gives it worth.
What drives you to host events in the store? How do you choose what to host?
I’ve always loved hosting events, and from the beginning we wanted to host parties for the current artist’s work we were displaying on the wall. We work with a gal from Vancouver to do Custom Ring events, and we hosted the creative book club The Artists Way, and this summer we are going to put on a couple Night Markets, weaving and macrame workshops. Its just a fun way to connect with each other, which is really the most important thing to me. To create a space when people can feel good, have fun, learn something and connect with each other.
You’ve spoken before about dealing with anxiety. I know for myself it can be so triggering that there is days it is debilitating, especially when it comes to being an entrepreneur. How do you manage that while running your own business?
The anxiety I experience now is really different than the anxiety I knew before. I had post traumatic stress for about 4 years, so that was really different…. Yoga and meditation really helped me with that. Now the anxiety I have is mostly around the stress of taking on this huge commitment and (honestly) wondering if its still what I want to carry on. This year has been incredible, and incredibly challenging, and from that I’m grateful to have a new perspective on how I want to spend my time. Now, almost a year into being open, I’ve learnt to rest more, go to yoga, be active, do something for myself in the mornings, eat well. I am just trying to bring a balance back to my life, not letting work be the only thing I place value on or identify with.
How did you get past it when it came to actually taking the leap into opening it?
Well….Just before I opened, I discovered that my retina had detached and I was completely blind in my right eye. I had 4 operations in a couple months to try to fix it (and it’s still healing), all while putting off my opening date until I was healthy. But there was a significant chunk of time that I had accepted that I couldn’t open because I needed to prioritize my health and I was scared the 4th surgery wouldn’t work. Putting money just into rent on an empty space will keep you up at night, for sure. I was stressing myself out with the idea that I needed to open up in a certain time because I said I would, but the timing just wasn’t right. When I got the clear from my surgeon that I didn’t need another surgery, something shifted. I took things a little slower, I realized how important it is to just take your time and make sure to do something right, rather than just push something out. When opening day came, I was really calm, and I was flooded with support all day long. It was a really good party in the shop that night. I’m learning to integrate that lesson more and more.
What does a balanced life look like to you? How do you find and maintain that?
I’m the kind of person ( and maybe we all are…) who needs things to drastically fall apart before you really see what’s happening and where you need to make some changes. I started out full of beans: all lighter fluid and kindle working 10 hours a day. I was high on the fumes and it was all fine and exciting, but then I started to burn out (shocking right?) and even though I eventually hired someone to help out 12 hours a week, I still struggled with doing it all on my own. Balance was a far away land at this point of the journey. I was too exhausted at the end of the day to go to yoga, and so my asana practice really suffered. Now, just about a year into being open, I am realizing how detrimental that un-balance is for me, my health really suffers (actually it plummets) when I lose that. I recently found out that I have adrenal fatigue that triggered an auto-immune disorder, so I have no choice now but to place more emphasis on my health and not be so hard on myself… it put things into perspective again. Health and happiness over busy-ness. So I don’t work at all after 5 pm. I cook a lot. I ride my bike, go to yoga, get any kind of exercise that i need, Sometimes it’s just a walk.
How do you define success?
When I think of whether or not my business is, or has the potential to be, financially successful, I ask myself this question instead “Am I proud of myself, and am I happy?” Its a simple answer to check in to.
What has been the most rewarding part of running your own shop? The most challenging?
The most rewarding: Knowing that I am capable of building something that was just a dream. The most challenging: my health suffering and the emotional roller-coaster that has come with taking such a financial risk and lifestyle change.
What is your ultimate dream, both for the store and personally?
For the store: Continue to collaborate with other creative businesses to build unique products for our shop, and continue to grow online with our shop and blog. We have so many ideas and opportunities, it’s just a matter of money, time, planning and patience.
Personally: Listen to my gut, never compromise my health again. Learn from everything.
What advice do you have for those of us starting our own endeavours?
If you can’t stop thinking about it, absolutely try it, just be sure of WHY you are doing it. Do your research. Build a great but simple business plan and go back and check it every few months or so, see how you are doing compared to your projections. Include an exit strategy in your plan so that you are prepared for anything. Be kind and patient with yourself, take rest when you need it, and stick to a personal daily routine if you can. Nurture your close relationships, and it doesn’t hurt to reach out to someone in your field that you admire for advice now and then.
What do you think is the most important thing in life?