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So Canadian Eh? : Lily & Rachel from Birch & Bird

June 1, 2012

*My Blogpodium highlights will continue on Monday*

I have a double delight this week. 

Excited to have two fabulous friends, bloggers and vintage market organizers, Rachel and Lily from


Rachel and Lily | Photo: Jayme Lang


They are....

Rachel and Lily are local gals whom I met last year at one of our blog functions. OK, only Lily is local now, Rachel up and moved away from the rain to warm and sunny Florida {lucky gal}. 

Not only do the two write a beautifully curated blog, Birch and Bird, but run an online Etsy shop, where they sell all things vintage {that is where I feed my vintage gas station letter obsession} AND somehow manage to organize incredible vintage markets. Recently they had an incredibly successful one, Scout Vintage Market, but I had to miss it because I was galavanting in Toronto!
They have tried to fill the void we have here on the west coast, a lack of vintage markets and places to showcase and embrace the handmade. The two of them always manage to squeeze one in, despite leading busy lives. 

Recently Lily has become a guest contributor at Poppytalk too! I am not surprised! 



 Photo: Jayme Lang





Tell us a bit about your background? Your education? Has design always been in your blood?

Rachel: For as long as I can remember, interior design and architecture have been a great passion and interest of mine. My mom, of course, gave me the most influence. We spent hours browsing through antiques and I kept a watchful eye on how she kept and decorated our home. She spent a lot of time sewing, painting, putting up wallpaper and cleaning up old furniture. She eventually let me have some say in how my bedroom would be decorated and we both spent time putting my room together. I kept practicing my skills by rearranging my childhood bedroom and dollhouse countless times, and drawing up “blueprints” of homes we had just visited or homes I dreamt up. I went on to decorate two small apartments before renovating our first family home. I spend hours and hours poring over shelter magazines, design books, blogs and websites. I should have taken the plunge into Interior Design years ago but it always seemed risky and frivolous. My life changed a couple of years ago when I was forced to choose between a career that was no longer fulfilling or the unknown. With a young family, it seemed scary yet logical to choose the unknown rather than give more of myself to something that wasn’t giving back. There had to be another way. Partnering up with Lily all sort of just happened like it should. We've just purchased a new home in Florida and are excited to slap on a fresh coat of paint and to make it our own, documenting the little steps along the way.

Lily: Since I was very young, I've made "blueprints" of how to reorganize my bedroom and always experimented with colour and design in my personal spaces. My mom was an avid thrifter and was always on the look-out for garage sale and curb-side finds! My parents home is still full of great pieces that she painstakingly refinished herself and, although I thought it was supremely uncool in several stages of my life, I now see the quality of craftsmanship not to mention the unique flavour that vintage finds bring to a space. Design is a passion of mine…through the years I've taken classes in Art History, Graphic, Web and Interior Design and most recently I worked as a kitchen designer for a local cabinet company. In fact, that's how Rachel and I first became friends, after connecting through a mutual friend and working on the design of her own kitchen renovation. And, somehow, it's all come together for this next chapter of life…it's funny how life just falls into place sometimes!

How would you each describe your design style?


We find it hard to put specific labels on what we like but we're definitely drawn to interiors that include elements of industrial, Mid-Century, rustic, modern, vintage, natural…how's that for an eclectic mix?! We cringe at show-suite looking and overly styled spaces and would much prefer to see real homes that reflect the personalities of the people who live there. Sometimes its hard to know exactly why we're drawn to space but it's always the unexpected details that draw us in.

How did the two of you meet?


Lily: We met through mutual friends years ago and then later worked together on Rachel's kitchen renovation, when I worked at a local cabinet shop. It was obvious then that we had very similar interests and design styles and a close friendship soon evolved. It helps that our husbands and children all are great friends too!

What came first, your shop Birch and Bird or the blog?


Our Etsy shop came first and was the result of two serious addictions to thrift and a passion to do something creative outside of our domestic lives.

What made you decide to start your shop, Birch and Bird?


We made the life choice not to give in to our impending doom as hoarders but to join forces and start a vintage shop on our beloved Etsy. Over playdates, coffee and the occasional glass of wine, (not to mention the temper tantrums, potty training and "we want a snack" interruptions in between), we opened our shop, Birch + Bird in June of 2010 and were pleasantly surprised by the positive response to our shop.

You two seem to work so fabulously together, tell us your secret to a smooth working relationship/friendship! And how are you two managing since Rachel has moved to the US?


We don't think we have a "secret", so to speak. Our friendship is just easy…there's never any drama, we share a lot of the same tastes especially when it comes to design, and we respect each other. Living on either side of the continent has been hard but thankfully we have the internet and new technology like Skype to make us feel much closer!

Where do you hope to see Birch and Bird going in the future?


Rachel: We've had a very full plate over the past year and want to refocus our attention on our blog and we'll see where we go from there! We really love blogging and the sense of community that we've found through it. Our poor little Etsy shop has been very neglected so we'd like to put some more energy into that too. We're not entirely sure where things are headed but are excited about the possibilities ahead of us!

You two are infamous for putting on fabulously attended and raved about vintage markets here in the Fraser Valley, your most recent, Scout Vintage Market, any plans on continuing along that path?


Our whole business "strategy" has been go with the flow and that's how we found ourselves organizing four markets within a year's timeframe. We're still not entirely sure how we managed it all but are extremely happy with each event and all of the exposure that it has brought to our amazing vendors…it's been truly inspiring to watch them grow! As for future markets, we likely won't be hosting anymore this year and are unsure about the future but its obvious that our community is hungry for more! We hope that others will keep the ball rolling to support local handmade + vintage entrepreneurs with similar events.

You both have a real knack for unearthing amazing vintage finds? What are some tips you can share to other treasure seekers?


Be patient! You probably won't find a specific item right away unless you're shopping online but then be prepared to pay for the convenience of someone else finding it for you. We regularly scour our local thrift shops…sometimes we find nothing and sometimes we fill the truck….and have made several weekend "hunting" trips into the States, as far as Oregon. It's the thrill of the hunt and we've often found our favourite finds when we're least expecting to!

If you could meet anyone or do anything who or what would it be?


We'd both love to do an international antiquing tour…with unlimited funds to purchase and ship things home, of course! We'd also love to attend Altitude Design Summit in January. The amount of influential bloggers and talent under one roof is astounding and we're sure we could absorb so much from the workshops and networking opportunities.

What do you like to do in your free time?


What free time? Haha! Well, family comes first so spending time with our children and husbands is most important.We are both drawn to all things pretty and appreciate good design. Finding ourselves lost in shelter magazines, design books and stunning blogs is a common occurrence. Our homes are a reflection of ourselves and often we de-stress by rearranging a vignette. Photographing treasures for our shop also brings out our creative side and we both love fiddling around, and making sure things look “just so”. We’d both love more time (and money) to explore this passion a little further.

How do the two of you manage to balance life, blogging, your online shop and planning markets, or is that something you have yet to master?


Well, balancing it all is definitely something we have yet to master but we make it work as best we can! We're both night owls so have clocked countless late nights, and we are very lucky to have helpful husbands and families to help with child care. We have also squeezed in many a work day with play dates and its always a gamble how much we actually accomplish between making snacks and refereeing! With two of us blogging, its much easier for us to keep up with daily posts then if we were doing it on our own and we alternate posts every other day.

What are your views on the role of Canadian design? Do you feel that Canadians have a unique sense of style, the way we design and decorate our homes? If so, what do you think sets us apart?


It's so great seeing Canadian designers making regular appearances in the International design scene. As for identifying what makes Canadian style unique, we're blessed with a huge country and we feel that Canadian style can't be pinned under one label. Canada is a melting pot of design ideas based on diverse regions, cultures and coastlines.


Thanks again Barbara!
Lily + Rachel

Thanks Rachel and Lily,
I know this was a busy week for you but I am so thrilled to finally have you here on the blog! You two are simply amazing, I don't know how you two manage to fit everything in!

Hugs.
Barbara

10 comments:

  1. So love this series and adored finding about more about this talented pair- I'm a fellow 'thrill of the hunt, hunter' so feel like these two are my peeps;)

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  2. Lily and Rachel are fabulous aren't they?! How sad that they may not host any more markets :-( Great interview and another wonderful contribution to the "So Canadian Eh?" series, Barbara!!
    Victoria

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  3. Lovely article on two wonderful ladies...I've really enjoyed being a part of the markets and I'm still hoping more will come!

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  4. I really loved getting to know more about this dynamic duo. I have not had the pleasure of attending one of their markets but feel very sad that there may not be more. I also didn't know they had a vintage shop on Etsy so that's something I'll have to stalk!

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  5. I just love those two! Every time I visit their blog, I have to clean off the drool on my keyboard. As for the markets, I hope to be in the next one they have. No matter when the next one will be, I do hope to have enough corbels to please all. Fabulous interview B! Rachel & Lily ~ I am so happy to have met you and look forward to all of your endeavors.

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  6. You ladies are an inspiration... I look forward to seeing what the future holds for you both! Lots of exciting times ahead, I'm sure. :) Great to learn more about you both!

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  7. Rachel & Lily are Professional to a science... Talented to the stars ...and two of the Kindest
    Sweetest most Generous girls I have had the pleasure to work with!
    The most wonderful future is theirs however they use it!
    Thanks again Barbara for highlighting another Canadian talent!

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  8. I love all the vintage pieces Rachel & Lily feature for the rest of us to see! Or better yet, buy from their Etsy shop. Like Carol, I too have not had the chance to take in any of the markets, and am crossing all my fingers and toes that they will be back with more! I really enjoyed this interview. Thank you so much!

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  9. Thanks for all of your kind words! It was fun to share a bit of our "story" with you all and we're excited to see what the future holds for Birch + Bird :)

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  10. These ladies are the best! Both are very sweet, and super talented. I've had the pleasure of shooting Lily's home-fab experience!

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