I met Roberta by chance one sunny afternoon last summer when she entered the New Westminster location and asked permission to do some photos of the front window displays. Her blog post about arOka was an amazing interpretation from an artist's point of view, one that made me feel extra lucky to have met her.
Over the last year, Roberta and I have worked on several creative projects together, all the while forming a meaningful, fun and creative friendship that means the world to me. For arOka, Roberta has become the go-to girl for branding, marketing and product development, some of which will be gracing our new location in the coming months.
Roberta's 10 year portfolio of creativity includes working as a product developer, designer and brand strategist in Vancouver for clients such as Lululemon, Bootlegger, the Vancouver Canucks, Urban Barn and multiple Canadian and American Universities. She is additionally the co-owner of Blue Bear Aware, Canada's premiere allergy aware product line and online retail store. In the most recent years, Roberta has helped to pioneer ethical choices in the Canadian fashion industry. Most notably by developing locally made apparel for Plum Clothing that supports several non-profit organizations, and designing for "Me To We", a sustainable and socially responsible product line in partnership with Free the Children.
Guided by a desire to support ethically-conscious creativity, Roberta's addition to the arOka team will allow her to explore her creativity using vintage and upcycled materials in her work as as both a designer and fine artist.
I was graced by the presence of Renee and her fiance Luke (now Husband) during a rental consultation last spring. I must say I have had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful couples but these two stole my heart! Renee and I clicked right away and the roster of creativity taking shape for her wedding was magical! We'll share some of her amazing wedding photos another day but for now I will say this... Renee's natural ability to style, produce and create the perfect day is a gift all her own! Don't be surprised if Renee pursues her passion and adds yet another element to the services of arOka! With like minds, it was only fitting that I ask Renee to work along side me in the boutique as well as at upcoming events.
Renee's told me her creative journey started as a little girl writing stories. Over the years she has spent time as a musician, visual artist, writer and cook. She brings a background in visual merchandising to arOka along with strong customer service skills and a cheerful smile that comes straight from the heart.
With a love of old and new, Renee has recently begun a new project that combines her passion for the past: Crooked Peg Design Co. allows well loved furniture to become fresh again. Her hand-finished, one-of-a-kind pieces have classic lines boasting a variety of finishes and fabrics, and are always vintage inspired. Watch for select pieces from Crooked Peg at arOka!
Oh Hello Me!
As both Roberta and Renee can contest, it isn't easy writing a personal bio! As strange as it is to write about myself, I felt it time you learn a bit more about me and the creative journey that brought me to arOka.
From age 10 I was drawing architectural floor plans and 3D renderings of houses and buildings. I had a passion for art, culture and finding beauty in things that weren't always necessarily pleasing to the eye. Since my teenage years, I have been collecting 'found' objects and antiques, reworking and giving new life to furniture, and upcycling all manner of magical finds!
On a professional level, I have worked in many retail environments gaining bounds of customer service, sales, merchandising and management experience. My favorite employer to date: Harley Davidson. It's a long story about my biker days but I will say this: Harley Davidson has a world renowned customer service and management development program that is simply unmatched.
Most recent to arOka, I was the owner of River City ReDesign in Edmonton Alberta, where I lived from 2000 to 2010. RCR allowed my passion for decor, renovation and reworking found objects to become a strong business within the community. RCR had partnerships with major Real Estate companies, developers and was featured in several local magazine articles. When my fiance, daughter and I decided to move back home to the Vancouver area, I closed RCR and went merrily on my way. We are VERY happy to be home!
Fast forward to today– I am proud owner of arOka vinTage. With a sentimental attachment to well-made, locally-made and all the glamour of the past, I am truly living out my dream! It isn't an easy business; every piece in the store is hand picked by yours truly which can quickly equate to hundreds of kilometers on the road, sore feet and a few new pairs of shoes! But I love what I do in every way and am so very blessed my friends and family support me each step of the way. With the addition of my darling friends Roberta and Renee, the amazing and unique talents they contribute to arOka, we promise you a year like no other filled with enchanting events, superior products and of course one-of-a-kind flair!
Monday is just around the corner and I still have a million details to complete! We'll be officially open at 11am, 2231 Clarke Street Port Moody BC. We're all very excited to finally introduce you the the house of arOka. Hope to see you soon!!