Name: Julia Church
Title: Owner and Entrepreneur
Organization/Business: Nettle’s Tale
What do you do and how did you get here?
We design and manufacture women’s swimwear entirely made in Vancouver. We fit the garments to women around us – our sisters, moms, roommates and friends. Our shop here on West Cordova, which opened in March of last year, is our flagship brick & mortar location where we also sell lots of other products for the adventurous west coast woman.
I have always been passionate about cultivating my own personal style, which has a lot to do with body type. Growing up, I spent a lot of summers on the lake and I love swimsuits. One summer I had a swimsuit that was dying on me and I thought: I’m going to try and remake this so it fits and looks better. My roommate at the time tried on the new bottoms. She looked great and loved how they fit and then a light bulb went off! I asked myself: why are customers made to feel like they have to fit into the swim wear that brands create? Why not reverse it and ask: “What do you want? How can I accommodate you and fit your needs as the customer”?
The concept behind Nettle’s Tale is that I meet with women and ask them what they want in a swimsuit, the style they like and other features. We launched in 2014 with a crowd funding campaign and women everywhere really resonated with the idea. We raised 700% of our intended goal of $10,000 and I thought: Ok! I guess I’m quitting my job because there is a definite market for this. The journey into Gastown was birthed through popups. From there we created our new Nettle’s Tale concept shop that is this heritage, Canadiana, unapologetically West Coast adventure shop where you can get a great swimsuit anytime of the year.
What inspired the name?
I like names like lululemon or Coca Cola because when I hear them, I don’t think of anything else beyond the sound of the words. It’s like that with Nettle’s Tale. When we explored various ideas and imagery for our branding, the theme of story came out strong. We are telling stories about these women and their body types on our website. The nettle plant stings and when women grow into adolescence and adulthood they develop these prickly defense mechanisms as a response to how the world makes them feel about they way they look. So the women are the nettles and they each have a tale to tell.
If you had 15 minutes only, in Gastown, how would you spend it?
I would go get my favourite coffee at Revolver and sit there, staring out the window thinking how good the coffee is. I might go hunt at Community Thrift and see if I could discover a good vintage find. I love West Cordova. You could do a lot here in 15 minutes – try on glasses at Durant Sessions, some jeans at Dutil, grab a coffee at Revolver, a shirt at The Block or a plant at Old Faithful – boom! It’s all here and it’s such a good street.
What do you love about the neighbourhood?
Gastown is one of the only areas in the city where everybody seems to come. It’s one of the oldest and most beautiful parts of Vancouver and it’s raw and authentic. The ocean is right beside us. It’s the perfect neighbourhood that is like this Neapolitan of everything that Vancouver has to offer.
What’s your most memorable happy moment or experience in Gastown?
Shop Hop last year was really memorable. We had only been here a month and we stocked up the shop with everything we had. It was crazy in here with women riffling through bins and buying lots of swimwear. We couldn’t believe it. We were like: How can this many people fit in the store right now? We felt really welcomed into the community of Gastown.
What’s your philosophy for a good life?
Stay humble and surround yourself with the right people and do your best everyday. That’s my simple advice.