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Two Whistler businesses named semi-finalists at Small Business BC Awards

BRed, Velvet Underground make the top 10 in respective categories
bread biz Ed Tatton hard at work at BReD in Creekside. The shop is one of two Whistler businesses up for a Small Business BC Award. file photo by darby magill

before ed and Natasha Tatton opened their plant-based bakery, BReD, in Creekside last March, there were a few who didn't think it was the best idea.

"When we first opened we had a bit of a backlash, people saying that Creekside was a dead zone, why were we going to open a food-and-beverage business when most of them go out of business within a couple of years?" Natasha recalled.

But a line of customers outside the shop before its 7:30 a.m. grand opening would serve as a sign of things to come.

Even a rogue fire alarm couldn't deter the hungry masses.

"You'd think that would put everyone off, but no, the line stayed," Natasha said.

"And we were like, 'Well, this is a good first day.'"

Though the early summer months proved quiet, the business posted its best month on record in August.

"We had a really good summer ... it was much better than we expected, because we thought maybe this is just a winter business," Natasha said.

"And it's been kind of steadily growing week on week now since the mountain opened, and now we're kind of getting back up to the numbers of when we opened originally in March, so it looks like we're going to have a really awesome, rocking winter in terms of sales."

The Tattons' hard work is now paying off in the form of a semifinalist nod at the Small Business BC (SBBC) Awards under the Best Youth Entrepreneur category.

"It's really great to get the recognition, because we've just kinda had our heads down working solidly since we opened, more or less," Natasha said. "When we found out that someone had nominated us it was really nice to get some sort of feedback other than customers coming in the shop."

Another Whistler business—Function Junction-based The Velvet Underground—also hit the top 10 in the Best Immigrant Entrepreneur category.

"I'm pretty stoked ... it means that we have quite a loyal following, because they obviously voted for me, but full disclosure: I did actually nominate myself," said owner Amy Rafferty, with a laugh.

Opened about a year and a half ago, The Velvet Underground is about more than the vintage clothing it sells, Rafferty said.

"We're really trying hard to promote a community movement towards living a more sustainable life, whether that's through our café, with plant-based food, or through our vintage clothing and second-hand clothing," Rafferty said, adding that sustainability and self-expression are at the heart of her vision statement.

There's also a push to make the shop a true community space through live music events and more.

"We want to create this whole community that are all dedicated to creating this movement towards sustainability and self expression, and we're all about art and things like that ... supporting local music aligns with that as well," Rafferty said, adding that there are also plans in the works to host yoga classes, comedy nights and film screenings, among other events.

Originally from Australia, Rafferty first came to Canada in 2010, and settled in Whistler about five or six years ago.

Both businesses will now be invited to submit an extended application form, which will be used by the SBBC judging panel to determine the top-5 finalists.

Those finalists will then be invited to pitch why they are B.C.'s best.

Winners will be announced at the SBBC awards gala on Feb. 21 in Vancouver.