Meet Dave Vukets, the man behind Prima Food for Sport.
An Ontario native who came west to attend university and train year round, Dave is hugely passionate about food and sport. Using his practical experience following a successful cycling career and his degree in Food and Nutrition from UBC, he founded Prima Food for Sport.
In his early teens Dave joined a cycling club in his hometown of Waterloo. He went on to race at a high level and even represented Canada as a road cyclist. He also spent some time training and racing in Europe.
While racing in France, he noticed quickly that things were different. “Here it seems like everyone wants the magic bullet. You know? You see guys who have the fanciest bikes and the best gear and all these ‘nutrition’ products. There, the guys are riding old bikes and they’ve got ham sandwiches in their pockets. It’s just a totally different outlook on everything, not just nutrition,” he told me.
His hope is to simplify the way we eat and to remind us that fueling your active lifestyle doesn’t need to be so complicated. No gels, powders, shakes or mystery ingredients required. Dave is not in the business of sports nutrition, instead he is focused on real food for sport.
I know from reading your blog that you used to be a pretty serious cyclist. Can you tell me about that?
I just joined a club when I was 13-14. I was always riding my bike around. I joined the waterloo rides and then I started racing. I always liked biking and my parents were like, well this might be a good activity for you. While studying at UBC I took some semesters off from school to race and I did a season in France and raced on a French team. There’s a ton of amateur racing out there. It’s really easy to get on a team. I raced on a team there. I did some races with the Canadian national team over France. I was pretty full-on into it. I kind of wanted to turn professional in cycling. By the time I got to finally finishing university, I’d already been racing for a number of years and pro cycling is kind like, if you’re doing well, you can make $20 000 a year, that kind of thing. There’s a few guys who make good money, but everyone else is kind of…
Also has a job probably?
Kind of, yeah. Pro is kind of in quotation marks. After I finished shcool, I raced a little bit. I was racing part time and working. I worked for Thomas Haas. Speaking of passion, you should interview him if he has time! He is the most crazy passionate guy that you’ll ever meet. I was just working as a barista while I was sort of half still in school. My degree took six years.
That’s definitely normal for athletes.
I was working there and then still kind of racing and also trying to get my business started. I started doing some work as a nutritionist on the side. Then my buddy, sort of an acquiaintance through cycling, was opening a cafe, Musette Cafe. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that?
Yeah! It’s quite cool.
Thomas is a pretty passionate guy, too. The other Thomas that owns Musette. He phoned me up and was like ‘oh hey, I’m doing this cafe you should help me with it, I know you’re into food’. So, we actually first made the bar recipe to sell stricktly through the cafe. Once we sold a lot of them, I was like okay! It was kind of my idea in the first place to sort of use that as a stepping stone to start a food business. I had seen what Thomas Haas did with his business and the way that he started, it’s a much bigger thing, but he was doing something and he started this sort of on the side and at night that sort of thing. So basically, I started making bars as I sold more bars, I found less nutrition coaching work. Now I’m doing it full time.
Wow. Okay, so what I really liked about Prima and why I really wanted to talk to you was because you talked on your blog about how when you were in France the cyclists were eating real food and everyone else was eating gels and weird things that you don’t know the ingredients of. That really spoke to me because I used to play rugby and we would drink protein shakes and carbs. And I was like, what is in this?! I don’t know what any of the words mean. At the same time, I didn’t know anything about food — or care to do the work and learn. I was in this weird place where I didn’t really know how to feed myself for sport and so I was like okay I’ll just drink shakes because that’s easy. So Prima was really awesome to me. I love the idea of Food For Sport. So what I’m wondering is what was that like, and how did that experience change you and then lead to Prima coming into existence? What were you eating before that?
Yeah. Your story kind of shows how people get caught up in the whole performance enhancing drugs thing, too right? It’s like, oh, you need to be big or fast, just take this supplement and don’t worry about it. There is a lot of that that goes on. Here, it’s actually interesting on other levels aside from nutrition, too. Here it seems like everyone wants the magic bullet. You know? You see guys who have the fanciest bikes and the best gear and all these ‘nutrition’ products. There, the guys are riding old bikes and they’ve got ham sandwiches in their pockets. It’s just a totally different outlook on everything, not just nutrition. Europeans, I think, are way more sensible than us in the sense that you know the food is not so… I mean you can buy a granola bar that’s just wrapped in white wrapper instead of having all this flashy marketing stuff all over it. They’re more sensible in that sense, with food in particular. Going over there, the first time we went over we went for a month. We were riding on a French team basically and how it works in cycling is that you would show up for a race and the team director will give you a bag for food for the race. Here you’d get a gel, a couple bars, whatever. There, it’s a bag of dried figs, little fruit jelly things called pate de fruit. Just regular stuff. First of all, it’s way cheaper and second of all, it’s hard to find that other stuff in Europe, gels and stuff are hard to find. A big part of it is marketing.
Cyclists around here will say oh I saw this on tv and stuff like that. The guy on the Tour de France is taking energy gels. Well, yeah he’s taking that when he’s in front of the camera, but what do you think he’s eating the rest of the time when he’s not on camera? It’s a fruit tart or a waffle, that kind of stuff. All this crap — to put it politely — that we’re being sold here, as performance products. It’s all marketing. Same goes for the protein powders, I guarantee you, none of that stuff necessary if you eat a balanced diet – if you’re a vegetarian, it’s a little more difficult – but you can eat enough protein without any supplements. I just bought this beef jerky stuff at MEC that I really like. This natural beef jerky, Krave. Have you tried it?
Super good! It’s expensive, I mean it’s seven bucks for a thing of jerky, but it’s all natural meat.
I mean, the other stuff is not cheap either!
I know that’s the thing. If you look at the cost of that. Whey protein for example, that’s just a biproduct of making cheese. Somebody is making cheese and they’re just skimming all that whey off and they’re making this other stuff and selling it people for sixty bucks a jug. No one needs that much protein, even the biggest guys in body building. I mean, those guys are all doped up too. It’s all just this marketing thing and over there, they don’t buy into it. You can find those products, but nobody uses them. It’s the same with the diet stuff and regular nutrition, nevermind sports nutrition. People just eat regular food there. They don’t do the whole… I mean I think it’s getting worse in Europe, but you see a lot of people just eating regular stuff.
I think they have different relationship with food than we do. They don’t eat mindlessly, they don’t seem to snack, they practice moderation.
Yeah. I mean I was always the kid showing up at training camp with homemade granola bars that my mom would make me. So, I was already that guy. After going there, I came back and I didn’t eat any of the other stuff and I just made all of my food for racing. I would sometimes bring stuff for my teammates and that sort of stuff. That’s what got me on this way of thinking. And then studying nutrition at UBC, it’s pretty much all the profs telling you ‘hey, here’s how to make processed food and it’s bad for you’.
Okay, so I wanted to ask you, in running Prima, and also Performa, what do you hope to give to people or athletes?
I just hate seeing people do stuff that they think is necessary, but that totally isn’t, you know? I want to be able to show people, it’s a lot more simple than you think it is. If you and I had talked when you were in your rugby career, I would have said okay you know what, don’t worry about the supplements. If you just do these things every day, you’ll be fine and you can get to what’s important, which is enjoying your sport or your lifestyle. Having to sort of worry about food, which I think everyone does, and athletes especially. ‘What do I eat, what do I eat’ everybody asks me that, and it’s so straight forward. Sometimes I’ll tell people, just take a sandwich with you. They’re like, ‘what? I can do that’. Think of food that you would eat and then bring that with you on a hike. You don’t need that other stuff. The amount of dollars of marketing and advertising that’s been through this is so crazy that I just want to tone the whole thing down.
That’s why I called it ‘Food for Sport.’ People always misname it. They call it Prima sports nutrition or whatever. For me, sports nutrition, even just the term you’re telling people that this is nutrition. You can look at the ingredients and see that its almonds and stuff like that, that’s nutritious, but I’m not trying to force it down your throat like, oh this is good for you, it’s going to make you go faster. It’s not going to make you go faster. It’s healthy food, it’s regular food. That’s my thing. Making things more simple and letting people enjoy what they’re doing instead of worrying about food.
I really like how on the package it says ‘contains good things like…” (Actually, it says: “Made with care in a kitchen that uses good stuff like wheat, soy, dairy, egg, peanuts, and tree nuts.”)
Oh yeah actually I have to change that. I’ve got a new package design that we’re working on one of our potential customers was like ‘oh please change your allergy warning to comply with CFIA regulations and stuff. Technically, it’s supposed to read in that boring way, ‘may contain traces of x, y, z.’
I thought it was really clever and, I thought it was really in line with and stays true to this idea that it’s real food.
Thanks. We’re trying to sneak something into the new wrappers. When I have potential customers, places like Whole Foods and stuff, they’re like ‘make sure that your labels are in compliance’, which they’re not right now. But, anyways…
So I was wondering, what has been a valuable lesson learned or a pleasant surprise as a business owner?
That’s a tough one. A pleasant surprise has been that throughout the whole thing – even just yourself reaching out – just how much support that I’ve had from people coming out of the woodwork almost. Tons of people, I mean my friends and family are supportive of me of course, trying to start a business. People that I don’t know that well or customers or whoever, they’ll just get excited about it and they’ll really go out of their way to help me or support me. That has been the biggest surprise. I wasn’t really expecting that. I was expecting it to be kind of a slog. In that sense that, I think people talk about brands and that sort of thing and if you can create a brand that’s more about a lifestyle and that kind of thing — it sort of sounds cheesy, but I’m authentic to my brand and so people that are interested in the same things that I’m interested in are going to get behind it. That’s been awesome because there are lots of times where something goes wrong. Having lots of people behind it, I know my new friend or person that helps me with such and such, I have to make sure I finish this order because they helped me out and they set it up for me.
A valuable lesson… there’s been tons. I don’t know if I could pick out one. Asking for help I guess. That’s kind of the flips side of having people get behind it is being open to people helping you. I have no business background, but it’s amazing how many people who, you just pick up the phone, call them up and say ‘hey this is what I’m doing and I’m having trouble with figuring out’. Not being afraid to ask for help is something that I’m getting better at doing. You know, I don’t want to bug people and I just kind of want to do this myself but, asking for help and being open to it. Sometimes you ask for help, but you don’t neccessarily want to hear any of it. For me I know that people know more than me in almost every aspect of what I do.
It’s always a pleasant surprise when you ask somebody to help you with something and I’m always like ‘uhhh’ and then they say yes and I always think, ‘really?!’
Something else I wanted to ask you was, what is your passion. Or, what are your passions?
I would say my passion is cycling, definitely all sports, but cycling is my number one passion. I wanted to be a professioal cyclist for a long time. I wanted to do that every day for a long time and I was able to do it full time for a couple summers and stuff, which was awesome. Food is my other passion. I sell mostly to cyclists, so far. If I can spend four or five or six hours in the kitchen and then go for a three or four hour ride every day, I’d be pretty content!
Actually, my girlfriend is super into food and stuf too and she’s opening a restaurant right now, so we have lots of kitchen time. It’s opening hopefully next month. It’s on the North Shore, it’s a pizzeria. It’s called Il Castello.
Il Castello. Nice! That’s super exctiing. I wanted to ask, what is your involvement in cycling now. Are you racing still?
I don’t race anymore. Tons of people ask me that. I still help out with a local team, a team that I raced on for years, it’s called Trek Red Truck. I’m actually just getting a cross bike put together for the fall. I still ride and stuff and I help out with a team. Right now, I’m so busy with this (Prima), but I try to keep involved a little bit. One of the guys who works for me actually is part of DEVO. Hopefully eventually I can support cycling in that way, but providing employment for people. When I was racing, that was something that was difficult for me. Thomas Haas was great because he gets the cycling thing. A lot of places are like, ‘well you have to work weekends’, and I’m like ‘well I have to race on weekends’.
What’s your favourite ride in the area?
From here, I can’t really say I love riding out here. I really like riding out in Fort Langley, out that way. From the North Shore it’s doable to ride out there and come back, it’s a five or so hour ride. On the North Shore, Indian River Road, if you haven’t been out there.
I’m scared to go on rides alone because I haven’t had to change a flat tire yet. I’ve been shown. I want to have a flat and then have the confidence to deal with it by myself.
Well, we should find the time to go out on a ride then.
I would be really keen! Okay, so one of the questions I’m supposed to ask as part of this series is, what are three principles that you live by?
That I live by? I haven’t really thought of my life in that sort of way…
It’s a hard one.
Good experience here! Number one would be just being nice to people and treating people the way you would want to be treated, with respect. Another one is just trying to keep a sense of perspective on everything. Maybe something goes wrong and somebody finds that their bar came unwrapped when it got shipped and these types of things. It can seem like such a problem, but then you think about the greater scheme of the world and human history, it’s totally not important at all. It’s the same thing with getting a flat tire and you have to take a bus home, it’s like well, you have a bike and… I don’t know. I try to keep a sense of perspective, though it can be hard to do that when you’re so focused in on one thing. And then staying active. Trying to incorporate some kind of exercise every day. Getting used to a more sedentary lifestyle now relative to what I did before. When I came off of training twenty hours a week, but if I get out for a jog today I’ll be happy with that. Just getting some fresh air every day and getting some exercise.
What have sport and cycling given to you?
Pretty much everything. A huge network of people that I know, friends a lot of kind of those things that I live by. Skills of work ethic and having perspective of if there’s standing for eight hours making bars, its really not as hard as doing a 250 km race wherever and getting dropped and not being able to read street signs. Cycling I think, is a cool sport for everyone because you get out what you put in. I think that’s the most important lesson from cycling. Sport and life, I think are parallels. You can always draw them parallels.
I think sport is a great metaphor for life.
That’s why I think sport is really important. That’s what I really got out of cycling, and the same goes for building a business. You stay patient about it, you work hard every day, and you really can achieve a lot of things. When I started out cycling I wasn’t that good, and everything is relative, but I made a lot of progress from where I started and the same thing goes for everything else.
I wanted to ask you, what’s your favourite coffee shop in Vancouver?
Musette. Definitely Musette.
What’s your drink of choice?
It’s boring. I just drink drip coffee. Black coffee.
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So, we’re a little bit behind schedule (sorry!) but here we are! Interview numero uno by Sagal Kahin _________________________________________________________________________________________
When Tarini invited me to be part of this series, I knew right away that I wanted to talk to Anita Cheung. A yoga and pilates instructor in Vancouver, and the woman behind Community Social Yoga and Pop-Up MOMENT.
Anita and I did not meet for coffee. I know, breaking the rules already. Instead, we met at This Open Space (formerly, The Chinatown Experiment), where she was hosting a week long pop-up installation dedicated to bringing mindfullness to our busy city. This Open Space is an “ideas playground” that has hosted over 70 pop-up installations in the last two years.
“MOMENT Is a pop up installation dedicated to sparking curiosity about mindfulness. We aim to make mindful meditation simple, and accessible. We believe that meditation allows us to take more responsibility of our mind and our mental health. By changing the way we think, we can change our own lives as well as the world around us. “
MOMENT has since wrapped up, but the audio meditations are available online are available here. The space had been transformed with the help of Anita’s friends, or as she calls them, her crew. The afternoon sun was pouring in and it was just dreamy. There were plants everywhere, beautiful photographs on the walls, and on the floor were bamboo mats topped with pillows .
Since the installation was only a week long, I assumed (hoped) that you would forgive me for not conducting the interview in a café. To keep the spirit of the series alive, I made a point to have coffee some place new, so I could report back. Luckily, This Open Space is right next door to The Shop. The Shop is a store front that sells motorcycle parts, men’s clothing, and coffee. A space I would never have wandered into otherwise, but I’m glad to have found this gem.
While studying international nutrition at The University of British Columbia, Anita travelled to Melbourne Austrailia to fulfill a degree requirement and to run away from her own unhappiness. “I went there running away from problems, running away from dark thoughts.” At the time, she was certain that Vancouver was to blame. Soon after she realized that those feelings would have followed her anywhere. Eventually, the excitement of a new place wore off, and the unhappiness crept back in.
It was only in her darkest hour that Anita turned to meditation. “I found meditation, and as I always say, it saved my life. It allowed me to distance myself from my thoughts, and know that they’re just thoughts.”
Anita gained piece of mind, and became increasingly comfortable in her own skin. When she spoke to her friends, they told her meditation was not for them, it was too spiritual they explained. Now, she’s focused on making the practices of yoga and meditation accessible. Anita wants to give her students an experience that’s difficult to replicate. “I want to offer movement and connection in a way that makes us kinder, more conscious people. That’s my mission statement, if I were to have one.
What do you hope to give to your students as a yoga teacher?
Similar to what I received, it’s the idea of being comfortable with who you are. You’ll notice that in a lot of my classes I’m always like ‘And if you fall out of a balance, that’s fine just come back in! Or, not.’ It’s your practice. I’m just here to kind of guide you through it. You can listen to me if you want. I always say that. Another thing is, like I said earlier, my mission statement, if I were to have one, is to connect people, I think a lot of people are doing a really great job in the yoga community of teaching people how to be really self reflective. What I aim to do with my other business, Social Yoga, is to continue that self reflection, and being really conscious of what you’re doing in your day to day life, but at the same time, connecting. Self consciousness and connecting. Connecting with people, especially in cities, we’re just b lining in our own world, and in reality, we’re all living through the same things. We all crave connection, we’re just too shy to admit it.
Can you tell me about Community Social Yoga?
It is small group progressive yoga class. What I’ve realized, is that people think that means liberal, like progressive art or something, but it’s progressive in the very literal sense. It’s like a dance class, you’re progressing. You take one, and you learn a little bit more and you see the same people, and you sign up for four classes at a time. They’re small group, so no more than 8 or 10, I have one that’s 12, but that’s just because the venue is larger. They’re held in unconventional places, that was a really organic thing that happened. I originally was going to rent out a space in Hastings temporarily and then a friend of mind sort of stepped up and said ‘Do you want to hold it in my shop?’ she wanted to do some yoga at the same time, so it was perfect. Then I realized, ‘Hey, that really works!’ because not only do you get people — you know, people always talk about yoga, off the mat which is the idea of being gentle with yourself and being kind with yourself off your yoga mat, in real life — but taking it one step further, and taking yoga out of the studio, I think is really powerful. I was reading somewhere that, when you see your kitchen table, your brain knows it’s time to eat. You see your bed and you’re like ‘Okay, it’s time to sleep’ so it’s really easy for us to fall into a state of calm and peace when we see our yoga studio because we’re so trained to see that. When you throw someone into a brewery, a coffee shop, or something, it re-jigs you. I think that if you can find peace in a brewery, you can find peace anywhere. That’s the goal there.
What sounded really great about Community Social Yoga is … Maybe an anecdote because I don’t know how to explain it. I played rugby for a long time and then I was really injured and I couldn’t play anymore. I was really itching for something to help me deal with all of the stress and anxiety I was feeling, so I bought a Groupon for Bikram Yoga. Now, I wouldn’t do Bikram, but if not for that experience, I wouldn’t have been open to trying other styles of yoga. Even though I was able to find the release and stress relief, and feeling like my body was working, I still really craved the community that comes from being on a team and having those people, where you all always show up and work hard together…
Your crew, essentially.
Yeah! And so, I’m not very good at approaching people, but I still always thought it strange that every day, at the same time, the same people are there and you get naked together, you go in the room and you sweat together, and it’s awful, and then you leave. Nobody says hi, no one talks to each other. I wasn’t bold enough to say hi and that is a thing I’m working on, but that is why Community Social Yoga sounded so amazing to me. What I’m wondering is, how do you incorporate that social element into a yoga practice?
The classes are different. Here’s the thing, people are like ‘Oh it’s so cool, it’s yoga in a brewery or it’s yoga to cool music‘ but I feel like anybody can do that. Anybody could put out a cool event, and it could be yoga to cool music, and maybe they’ll have beers, but it’s not the same. For me, it’s the social aspect, that you see the same peopel four times in a row, whenever somebody wants to sign up and they’re like ‘Actually, I’m gonna‘ be gone this week‘ I usually say, ‘sorry, wait for the next one’, because it’s so crucial and so essential to be there. It includes a flow practice, but it starts with conscious time of breaking the ice. Whether it’s telling someone about your day, well that’s actually really cheesy, I’ve never done that! Something that helps us mingle together very consciously. Then, the last 15 to 20 minutes is a little bit of the digging deep. The thing is that we are all watching Netflix, and we’re so fucking alone. It’s the real talk that doesn’t happen. That’s the goal, the layers and why things are the way they are. The class is very special on it’s own and it’s hard to replicate in a one hour yoga class anywhere else.
I ramble a lot! Sorry.
No! I feel like I’m nerding out a little bit, getting to talk to you. It’s weird to say this… actually it’s not weird to say. Through social media, I feel like I learn about a lot of cool people and I feel like I’m following they’re lives through photos. Sometimes though, I’ll see the person in real time and I’m like ‘Oh my goodness this is horrible! I don’t know how to behave!
Oh, don’t worry!
But, that’s what it’s there for! So that you find about people and the things that are happening, but when it comes to ‘in real life‘ I never know how to behave so I’m ‘ugh!’
Oh! I’m the queen of awkward, right here.
No way! Okay, so I wanted to ask you… well I should probably explain first. I saw this video series on YouTube and it’s called Partners in Crime. What I really like about it is that they find people who are doing really cool things, usually they’re entrepreneurs, and rather than talk about themselves the series has them take five to seven minutes and talk about all the people who help them be amazing and do cool things. Not for seven minutes, of course, but I’m wondering who are some of the people who help you to be awesome?
Oh my god. I have no problem listing this. I could probably ramble for seven minutes!
Well do, if you feel like it! I just didn’t want you to think you had to talk for that long.
There’s so many people! First person that I can think of is a yoga teacher named Alex Mazerolle, everybody calls her Ally Maz. She is from Vancouver, she is very well known in the yoga community, is an ambassador for Lululemon. Honestly, having her as a mentor, she’s like a friend, big sister, boss because I work at her studio. It’s this jack of all trades thing. She’s so grounded and has a really god ear, to listen and help you figure things out, which I think everybody needs. She owns Distrikt, she just opened a yoga studio, and she does yoga for teen girls.
That’s how I found out about you, actually! I somehow stumbled across girlvana and was obsessed with it! I was like, I’m too old but everyone needs this. I wish I could go on their retreats.
Yeah! When I was coming back from Melbourne, I’m the kind of person that I can’t just casually come back with my tail between my legs, right? I was like ‘I need a purpose, something where I could be like I came back for this’. So, I met Alex online. I googled ‘yoga teen girls’ and she came up. I emailed her and told her my skill set and she was like ‘perfect, you’re just the person I need to get my shit sorted’. Then we skyped, we met and I came back then started interning for her, working for free and that has been amazing. She’s always so supportive. Of this (Pop-Up Moment) of social yoga. Alex is one, definitely.
My blood sister is another one for sure! She’s Confetti & Co, I don’t know if you know that?
I’ve seen that! I feel like a weirdo for knowing.
That’s my sister! Her work ethic and her support is such an inspiration. My edible advice, Jennifer Trecartin is someone else.
I saw that you are part of My Edible Advice, on the blog…
Yeah! It’s sort of weird. We’re friends, I worked with her sister, at barre method a couple years ago, and that’s how we know each other. Jen just needed help with her admin and she wanted to make some more fun work for me, so I wrote a little bit for her blog and then started teaching yoga to some of her clients. Really, she’s got my back! She’s an entrepreur that I really look up to.
All of my friends from high school, from university, from sorority land. Always so supportive. Parents, also so supportive. Even in this space, Marina an interior designer friend, Jordan who is a photographer. Megan all the plants are from this woman who owns three shops in Deep Cove: Ahoy, Sunnyside and Room Six. She co-owns two of them with the guys from Herschel. She came in and did the plants and they’re just so beautiful it really lightens up the space. Cat who painted the pallets. So many people.
The girl who does the malas! I’m an ambassador for her, with this and when she first asked me I was like ‘What? You asked me to be an ambassador and I was like, Why me? I’m no one!’ It’s funny because her company has really grown, and I’ve grown since then too.
Jian, who co-owns Distrikt, he’s the best man that could possibly exist. He’s just a really solid guy, whose helped both Alex and I with our boy problems and life problems, stuff like that.
So many friends. The guy who DJ’d our opening night and the Social Yoga night at Fortune, he’s a friend of mine. He’s a math geek by day, DJ by night, pretty rad! His name is Rob, but his DJ name is elrizzy.
There’s so many! Any yoga teacher, studio owner, like the kids yoga studio I sub at, Yoga Buttons. So, Carolyn from Yoga Buttons, I’m like ‘You trust me with children?” Well, I actually have a lot of experience working with children, so it’s really not weird at all.
I know what you mean though, trusting you with their business.
Yes. As a budding yoga teacher, anyone who gives you the opportunity is golden! The guys from the Juice Truck, again trusting me to come into your space. Josh from the brewery. ‘What are you people thinking?! Are you crazy?’ I’ve got a friend that’s a photographer as well that’s very inspiring. So many young entrepreneurs that I admire so much. . Those people are my crew, I’d say.
I meant to ask this sooner, sorry I’m botching the order here. What is your passion?
It’s funny. Before, my passion was to ‘save people,’ (using her university degree, though she said she learned quickly that the world didn’t need saving, especially from the western world) and then I realized that my passion was never food. I actually have a terrible relationship with food. It’s better now, but as a teenager, it was terrible. I think I was trying to hide that a lot. For me now, my passion is to bring together people and give connection and consciousness, it always comes down to that. And adding self compassion too, but it’s to connect people. In this space, it’s a beautiful marriage of everyone’s best work. I love being the connector. Just being aware of who you are and what you bring to the table. I love self help books and self discovery things, and being able to share those learnings.
What’s a really inspiring book that you read recently, or ever, or…
The Art of Possibility, it’s a beautiful book. I used to work for Ivviva — oh yeah, those are some other people to add to that list! My manager and assistant manager, amazing — but yeah, The Art of Possibility.
Nice. Okay, I have two more questions, and then I’ll be done. They’re not deep at all. The first one is, what is your favourite coffee shop in Vancouver?
Hm! It’s funny, I don’t drink coffee. I do drink tea.
You don’t drink coffee? That’s fine! Or, what’s your favourite tea shop.
I actually just started drinking vietnamese coffee, but that I make at home. Favourite coffee shop, I’d say Nelson the Seagull probably. I haven’t been to Matchstick yet, everybody tells me I would love matchstick.
Matchstick is really beautiful! It’s very different from Nelson the Seagull.
Really? I haven’t been yet.
I’ll ask you first, what is it that you like about Nelson the Seagull?
Well, they’re really cool people in the sense that they’re really supportive of things. I know that Ally, my friend, mentor, sister from another mister-ish, she did Yoga Eat Repeat there.
I went to that!
Yeah! That they’re so supportive of that is amazing. They’re food is delicous, they’re all about local homemade and all that stuff. I love anyone who supports local businesses. Anybody who falls in that group. And, they’re space is beautiful, that helps!
I really like Nelson the Seagull because it feels like somebody’s home. I like how they have communal tables, too. I mean, I don’t know how to talk to strangers, but I still like sitting beside other people.
Another thing that I really like about them is that they seem to be really aware of where they’re situated geographically.
Yes! The suspended coffees. Love that!
Yes, and there’s people always coming in and talking to the people who work there and they really seem to have integrated into the community really nicely, and they found a way to make it work. That’s always a touchy subject, young and hip and in what neighbourhood, and at whose expense, but I think that’s something special about them.
I totally agree.
What’s your drink of choice?
Oh, that’s a hard one! Alcoholic or…..
No caffeinated, or tea.
Well vietnamese coffee if we’re going to say a coffee type thing. Or a milky oolong. Ooooh! A Thai iced tea actually.
Oh, what is that?
I don’t what the difference is actually. They do something with the tea that’s a little bit different and I’ve had it only at a few restaurants here.
Oh, I think I know what that is. It’s with milk, and it’s sweet and it’s cold.
Yes. So good!
____________________________________________________________________________________ Interested in submitting a post to the World Cafe Series? Here’s how!
I have been waiting for a very long time to reel Sagal Kahin into the world of the Passion Proj in more than just a “check-out-this-post-and-come-to-this-event” kind of way. And here we are. I’m beyond excited to introduce you to Sagal – one of my nearest and dearest; a lady who inspires me (simply by the way she lives) to think differently and challenge my self-imposed restrictions on life and the way things ought to be. Sagal holds a BA in Human Geography from the University of British Columbia, was a varsity Rugby player (and continues to kick-ass in all things sport), pottery aficionado, and lover of cooking. She’s creative and witty – you’re in for a treat with this gal as your World Cafe Series host in Vancouver.
On August 11th, we met up at Matchstick Coffee Roasters in East Vancouver – an absolutely beautiful space perfect for dreaming big dreams and getting things done. But it’s more than just a beautiful space; I was drawn to their vision and mission:
At Matchstick Coffee Roasters, we believe that all too often we place common things into categories that they need not belong. Too many of us go about our daily routines, experiencing daily products and services, while subscribing to the underlying premise that that which is familiar must also be mundane. Common becomes status quo. Common becomes trivial. Common becomes commodity.
At the core of Matchstick is our desire to take that which is common, like a daily mug of coffee, and produce it with the highest level of care and attention. We believe that something familiar can still be special.
AND, they strive to “source organic, seasonal, local ingredients wherever possible”.
Without further ado, here’s my interview with Sagal (along with many a picture from her instagram feed! (Follow her @sagalk):
Tell us about a great conversation you recently had
I just took part in a Young Women’s Cycling Camp, and I was lucky enough to interview the founder and organizer for an article I was writing for work. She’s AMAZING. I’m inspired by her.
She’s a doctor, has 2 children (one 3 month old and one 3 years old) and she’s super involved in the cycling community. She had this feeling that there’s not enough women in the racing community and biking community…so she said, “Ok I’m going to fill this void”. She’s busy but she just found people to help her run it..and she just did it.
One of the people who participated in this camp was Jasmin Glaesser – 2 Time World Championship medalist and Olympic bronze medalist.
Lisa’s just really cool. She doesn’t make any money running this camp; it’s entirely volunteer, so I was asking her why she’s so obsessed with being an ambassador for this sport. She simply said it’s because cycling has given her a lot in life and she wants to give back to that community. Through cycling, she was able to do things like travel around the world, and even ride a tandem bike with somebody who was visually impaired at the paralympics.
I’m inspired by the stories of female athletes. And the thing about Lisa is she’s not really focused on being an athlete; she’s at a different stage of her life but really committed to the community and giving back and being a mentor for young women in sport. And without sacrificing work and life to do that: she’d bring her baby to the session and just say: “someone hold my baby so I can show you”. She has her cake and eats it too.
Cycling at the Burnaby Velodrome Club. July 21, 2014. @sagalk
Favourite cafe in van city and why
Culprit Coffee for when I have work to do. They have huge windows so i feel like i’m outside still. And i can babysit my bike while it’s parked outside!
Nelson the Seagull - favourite place when it’s raining. it’s cozy; I feel like I’m inside someone’s house. And they have communal tables and soft music, dim lighting and really cool books to browse through.
Crema Coffee Bar & Bakery – because I trust them to steam the milk to a temperature that doesn’t make me gag.
I also really like them because it’s a very social coffee shop; not a lot of laptops open – people are there to have coffee – not there to do work. And if you just walk across the street (or sit on the patio) you can see Stanley park and the Lions Gate Bridge from across the water and it’s really pretty.
What’s your go-to drink:
small americano; black
and when it’s not hot anymore, I don’t drink it. game over.
July 4, 2014. @sagalk
3 principles you live by
1. doing things that make me nervous…which is a lot of things [at this she laughs] and basically challenging myself to step outside my comfort zone
2. Packing my life full of work and fun in the hopes of achieving good work-life balance
3. Saying “no” and reminding myself that I don’t have to please everyone. What other people want me to do and what I want to do are sometimes two different things and while in some contexts its harder to say “no” to people, I don’t want to consistently find myself doing what I don’t want to do. Knowing that “No” is OK and then just owning it is important to me.
Most recently inspired by (Event, person)
I actually just made friends with this girl named Stephanie – we’re just really on the same page about a lot of things; it’s weird. Also, she shares my love for the Whole Foods Burrito bar. She’s insanely outgoing and super friendly with people which I really admire. She’s also always asking people really good questions – strangers included. She’s really curious about people and can talk to anyone – and unapologetic about it. Those are all things I hope to be better at so I really admire that about her.
Favourite book, film, blog
I don’t think I have a favourite anything to be honest. I appreciate good photography, lifestyle, fashion, design and mommy blogs. I’m very biased to an aesthetic appeal; I like beautiful spaces and read a lot of blogs that are visually inspiring.
[Some of the good stuff she’s led me to: swiss-miss, brooklyn to west, and a cup of Jo].
Tell us about your typical day
I usually wake up an hour after my alarm goes off. Almost always. I’ve yet to master the art of going to bed at a reasonable hour, so I’m always pressing snooze a million times. On an ideal day, I would get my exercise out of the way before work, but that doesn’t happen very often. Then I make a smoothie, drink a cup of coffee, and eat oatmeal, every morning. And then I bike to work. My days are not cool.
[I beg to differ. Sagal’s days are packed with goodness including unplanned 84km bike rides].
most excited about with the world cafe series:
Having an excuse to talk to people i wouldn’t otherwise have the courage to talk to
what keeps you going when the going gets tough?
I always tell myself that regardless how it’s going, it’s eventually going to be over. There is a deadline and whatever it is I’m not enjoying is going to end. (think: exams). Also i read this quote and thought. YES. yes. “sleep is for billionaires.” I am not sleeping.
Sagal, thanks again for jumping on board. We can’t wait to discover the movers and shakers of Vancouver with you!
Passionate Readers: stay tuned for posts from Sagal which are scheduled for the 15th of each month.
What can you do RIGHT now because you’re so jazzed?
Like us on facebook, share our posts via twitter, and submit a post to the series – here’s how!
That’s all for now! @sagalk wishes you a good day along with the rest of us at the Passion Proj!