Guest blog post by Mei Dunlop
When I moved from the mainland to Nanaimo 4 years ago, I had no idea how creative and inspiring the people around me were. My husband and I had no relatives, no close friends or anyone else we could connect with in Nanaimo. Lucky for us, we are pioneers of our own lives and we needed our own space to experience and get away from the busy and growing economy on the mainland.

Within a few short months, I discovered a social culture that nurtures creativity, sustainability and island living. People here care for the environment, protect our resources and support healthy sustainable living. I began to join a number of Facebook groups and clubs including Creative Connection Nanaimo where I got to meet many makers on the island, a garden club called Nanaimo Horticultural Society Est 1946 and still growing (no pun intended) and volunteered with Etsy Nanaimo two years in a row to promote a hugely successful 100% local handmade market at Nanaimo North Town Centre.

I think anyone coming to visit will make the connection that Nanaimoites emulate nature. We grow together in an organic way that’s free from time or costly resources. Things just work out naturally. When folks on the mainland ask me how I’m adjusting to island life, I tell them I feel right at home.

Vancouver Island Market

Fast forward to present day and my passion for growing a creative economy, I joined forces with a good friend of mine, Janice Roberts who’s also passionate about bringing our community’s talents together. Our Spring Kickoff called Vancouver Island Market will be on Friday March 30th from 10-9pm and Saturday, March 31st from 10-6pm at Nanaimo North Town Centre.

I asked a few vendors at our market what they love about Nanaimo:

The Beaches

Laura is a certified diver and she loves going to Finn Beach to lounge on a bench or picnic table with a good book. There she can listen to waves and come up with the next names and product line for her thriving handmade soap business.

The Indie Shops

For Jackie, any of the indie niche shops in Nanaimo like Islandish are favourite places for her to hang out. It’s just super cool for her to see new products and the creativity behind each artisan’s work. Jackie started her business with recycling and upcycling clear in mind. In 2017, she kept 2190 kg of burlap, 780 coffee foil bags, 521 retired harnesses for zip lines, 140 malt bags, 120 pairs of second hand jeans and 70 retired street banners out of the landfill!!!

Nature in our backyard

You can definitely see in Brenda’s pottery work and how much she enjoys nature and living here on the island. She remembers coming here from the prairies and marvelling at the views. Just driving down the highway through forests and beside the ocean is a continual thrill for Brenda.
Plan your stay with us and experience two full days of shopping, eating, and mingling with local growers, bakers, and makers.