When people used to ask Janelle Bakker if she planned to open a bricks-and-mortar location of her online baby products store, her answer was always a resounding “No way.”
Having her own boutique was a nice thought, sure, but the expense and time commitment that comes with starting a retail establishment was too great for the North Vancouver mother of two young boys.
Thanks to a co-operative business model, though, Bakker has been able to get her Yaya Baby gear onto local shelves. She recently partnered with West Vancouver mom Jean Stenhouse, who runs LittleMoSo children’s clothing, and in early August the pair opened In Good Company at 67 Lonsdale Ave.
Bakker and Stenhouse lease the space and rent out sections to other local entrepreneurs who deal in fashion, giftware, kids’ stuff and more.
“We’re not big businesses, so having a retail store like this, we’re in the most amazing location, I mean, it never would have been a reality for each of us just on our own,” Bakker says.
Each vendor is expected to work eight hours per week at the shop. Whoever is tending the cash desk uses a handy iPad application that tracks customer purchases and vendors are paid out twice a month for their sales.
The co-operative model was inspired by Giving Gifts & Company on Main Street in Vancouver, where both Bakker and Stenhouse rent space to showcase their goods.
“We thought, ‘This is awesome,’” Bakker says. “There’s nothing like this on the North Shore.”
So, they gathered a group of predominantly North Shore-based artisans and entrepreneurs to set up a similar co-op shop closer to home.
“This way our time commitment is smaller, our financial investment is smaller. Most of us are just small businesses starting out. A lot of the vendors make their own products,” says Bakker. “When we all work together it ends up that we all can do better and we can do more.”
In Good Company currently has 13 participating vendors:
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- Janelle Bakker’s Yaya Baby company sells essentials for babies and moms, focusing on items parents will really use.
- LittleMoSo owner and designer Jean Stenhouse creates children’s clothing and accessories out of bamboo and organic cotton.
- North Vancouver designer Amelia Shaughnessy works with recycled leather to create one-of-a-kind purses and accessories under her Love Me 2 Times label.
- Alyson Neufeld, owner of DesignerCookies, makes handcrafted sugar cookies from her studio in Port Coquitlam.
- PiKaSSO KiDS is an e-studio that creates art prints from children’s drawings.
- Doris Jetz is the creative brainchild behind Hop Frog Pond eco-friendly gift wrap, Miss Cellany hair accessories and Ink & Dolly graphic art and typographical prints.
- LomoLicious clothing company offers versatile garments made from locally sourced fabrics.
- Kim Things sells makeup bags, shopping totes, aprons and accessories made from custom-designed fabrics.
- Jenny Chavarri, owner and designer at Boské Kids, creates clothing for babies and children made from natural fibres from Peru.
- Anahita Shahrvini sells GoGo Bags, a line of cotton reusables manufactured in North Vancouver.
- Hairstylist Jabeen Pardhan of Hair By Jabeen will offer children’s haircuts in store several times per month.
- Green with Envy designs bouquets, vase arrangements, houseplants and planters, succulents and terrariums or air plants in fun containers.
- Giveable Greetings offers unique greeting cards, gift tags and other paper-based goods.