Behind the Scenes: Alita, Jason & Family – The Beginning!
On this festive Easter weekend, as families gather and enjoy some good quality time, we thought this a great opportunity to let you in on a little background on our family: Alita and Jason, and two lovely kids, Hannah, aged 11, and Lewin, 8.
Alita and Jason met in Duncan, BC while they were both on vacation 20 years ago. When they met, Alita was in a relationship and thought Jason as simply just a friendly guy. Jason, however, thought perhaps a little bit more of Alita and when their paths crossed later that year, and he discovered her to be single, made his move. Upon meeting again, and to Alita’s surprise, he’d remembered her name. Not so for Alita, as she had to be reminded of Jason’s! Despite the brief memory lapse – oops!! – the two hit it off right away, having a lot in common and much to talk about, they exchanged numbers and their long distance relationship began!
Alita was studying History at the U 0f S in Saskatoon and Jason was a carpenter in Vancouver. Within a couple of months, Alita made a trip to Vancouver to see, 1. if the spark was still there; and, 2. to take the huge step and meet Jason’s family. They discovered immediately that the relationship was still strong and they continued long distance dating for the next year and a half. They became favourites of WestJet!
Their lives began together formally when Alita and Jason married in November of 2001 and together as entrepreneurs only a few years later.
What began as a home-based gift basket company in late 2004, laid the foundation for what would become Inspire Floral Boutique today. Looking for opportunities to continue moving inventory more effectively, the business quickly evolved into a vending booth on the grassy corner by the CIBC in Invermere. As fate would have it, Jason, helping his landlady on his day off bale hay (despite being desperately allergic!) near Edgewater happened to meet a couple visiting for tea. The visiting couple happened to own a storefront in downtown Invermere and were on the hunt for a new tenant.
The ball was officially rolling! After putting together a proper business plan and getting an honest-to-goodness business loan, Be Gifted was born and moved into her first home, the ‘pizza wedge’ shop in the Toby Block, right next to Konig Meat and Sausage Co.
As Alita and Jason worked to design the store layout, build shelves and get the new store stocked with all the goodies that defined Be Gifted, they were delighted, terrified and surprised to discover that they were expecting a child. They had learned in their second year of marriage and had come to terms with the thought that they were possibly not going to be able to have children! That year the couple was blessed with two babies: a store named Be Gifted… and a sweet wee daughter named Hannah (Gift from God). Needless to say, hours of endless hard work and a crazy learning curve – on all fronts! – ensued!
After two successful years in the ‘pizza wedge’, an opportunity to take over a larger space two doors down made itself available. Be Gifted financed it’s own expansion and grew from a 100+ square foot space to a 400 square foot shop and with a back door for deliveries and storage! This lovely space was home for the next eight years.
The downturn of the economy in 2008/2009 made the retail business challenging in Invermere. Despite still being busy in the store, it just wasn’t enough to make ends meet and support a family. Particularly given the time that was required to keep the business going. This proved to be a crossroads. Alita and Jason were forced to take a long hard look at their business model, knowing they were confronting a choice between severely cutting costs or shutting down entirely.
After much soul searching and exploration, looking at all the options and possible avenues, after committing 10 years to retail, they were starting to get their heads around the very real possibility of closing the Be Gifted doors. For good.
But… if there was one thing Alita and Jason had learned, there are twists to every story!
One random afternoon, the owner of Canterbury Flowers walked into the shop, exhausted and overwhelmed. She, herself, was at a crossroads and, while her flower business was growing, she knew it needed someone else to take it to the next level.
The seed was planted!
After much contemplation, research, planning, business plan writing, and negotiating finances, the opportunity to lease store front in one of the best locations in town made itself available to the couple. The idea for Inspire Floral Boutique was born: combining the gifts of Be Gifted with the flowers of Canterbury. After nine months of planning, and several more of hard physical labour, Inspire Floral Boutique opened in its new home.. The decision lay two old businesses to rest and brought a whole new one to colourful, sweet-smelling life!
Between the countless hours, often into the wee hours of the morning, and the invaluable help of friends and family, a new dream became reality. Alita and Jason appreciated all the support as well as their new landlord’s patience putting time, effort and investment to making the building what it needed to be to house the new business. After the redesign of the building to make it the perfect fit for the business, the couple is grateful for such a blessing!
Today, the foundation of Inspire Floral Design, as identified in their tagline, is Intuitive Gifting and Creations for Every Occasion. Alita, Jason and their talented staff work tirelessly to create and experiential environment where customers feel at home: confident that their specific and individual needs will be met, comfortable they’ve been heard. All the while finding a fun and safe place to get inspired and explore their creativity!
Stay tuned for Part II- The Business where we see how Alita and Jason grow a business while keeping relationship and family in tact!