If the paint brushes in our shop window confused you this summer, we’re sorry. To clarify, we sell swimsuits and other items for west coast living like Turkish towels and candles, not home renovation supplies.

Blame the people at Creative Life, a community arts initiative with Youth Unlimited and member of Nettle’s Tale 10% Club. These guys run weekly drop-ins and instructional workshops for young people in East Vancouver who are facing homelessness, poverty, addiction and exploitation.

Earlier this summer, one of these workshops decked out our digs in every shade of blue. The nautical colour palette is inspired by the places you go in your suit: turquoise shorelines, ocean indigo, sapphire lakes and cobalt skies.

“It was a very simple concept,” says Charlotte Browning, Creative Life Director. “We chose natural, raw wood paint brushes and painted them to reflect the natural elements that Nettle’s Tale is all about, whether it’s the great outdoors or the natural beauty of women.”

On a hot Tuesday afternoon, three youth gathered to mix paints and colour the 70 brushes different shades of blue. The team then passed the supplies over to Ryan, one of the youth who loves working with his hands, for the installation.

“Summer can be a really hard time to get transitional youth into the studio, so this was the perfect project,” says Laura Klassen, program coordinator at Creative Life.It was really rad to be a part of something that benefits every single person involved.

Our connection with Creative Life goes beyond the display. Ten percent of profits from the Kimberley top and our best-selling Magic Bottoms go to the initiative, as a member of our 10% Club.  

Kim Stevenson, owner of The Happening dance studio, was the fit model for these two pieces. She wanted her suit to support an organization that uses creativity to engage kids in discovering their confidence, capacity, and purpose.

“Youth need to find a place where they feel they connect and have a community,” says Kim. “They need to find someone who pushes them, challenges them, truly believes in them! They need an outlet where they can express hurt, pain, passion, love, anxiety, stress, insecurity. That is a game changer for a kid!”

Creative Life does just that. One youth, Erica, told program staff that having their work displayed in a storefront also gave a level of professionalism to their work.

The team has a sense of pride and ownership when they see their work displayed in the community,” says Charlotte. “It empowers them further in their confidence and skills as artists.”

Support Creative Life by checking out our Kimberly Top (psst - we just restocked it in the floral print!) and Magic Bottoms.

August 30, 2017 — Alys MacKenzie