A passion for fibre arts earned Stephanie Papik, owner of Knotty by Nature, the Business of the Year award at the third annual B.C. Aboriginal Business Awards.
“It was great. I was really honoured,” said the soft-spoken woman.
Papik opened her fibre arts store on Government Street in Victoria three years ago with the help of a grant from Aboriginal Business Canada through the Nuu-chah-nulth Economic Development Corporation.
“I had some money and I found out that Aboriginal Business Canada provides grants to people who have some seed money and qualify for a loan,” she said. When her husband Ryan Davis told her he would work with her, she decided to go ahead and set up shop.
“Aboriginal business is vital to the province’s economic future and plays crucial role in the B.C. jobs plan,” said Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister Mary Polak.
“This year’s recipients - from catering to construction to real estate - show the drive, creativity and entrepreneurship that characterizes B.C.’s Aboriginal business community.”
Knotty By Nature is a retail business devoted to fibre arts such as knitting, spinning, weaving and felting. Papik offers both instruction and materials along with a welcoming spirit.
“We support local farmers and artists. When we started you couldn’t buy local fibre. There are alpaca farms up and down the Island, but you couldn’t buy a ball of yarn,” she said. She has changed that, offering products from around the Island.
Papik started knitting 12 years ago, learning the craft from her great aunt. “My great aunt is blind and she was knitting socks. I figured if she could do it blind, I should be able to figure it out,” she said.
She called knitting a great creative outlet which results in useful things.
“It’s been a really great experience,” she said of running Knotty By Nature. “There is a whole other community out there. A community of business people, a community of creative people I’ve met through the business.”
Some of those connections she made last summer when the Victoria Fibre Arts Festival was cancelled at the last minute.
“I put a call out to the community and together we pulled off the best fibre festival ever in Victoria,” she said.
They even raised enough money to ensure the festival will run again next year.
Papik said many Aboriginal businesses are successful, which was outlined by the nearly 20 businesses and business people recognized at the awards.
“One thing that we have in common, that makes us successful, is dedication and passion. We work hard,” she said. “Something else we bring to it, is the values we have of being inclusive. Anyone can come in and we will share our knowledge or get them to do a class and teach other people.”
Papik runs a knitting needle exchange and donates yarn to those who want to knit, but can’t afford the materials.
“We have a large space where people can come in and sit, we have the knitting needle exchange for people who are low income, we accept donations and give wool away to anyone who wants to knit for the homeless or who have no money but want to knit, and we are there for people who want to buy beautiful hand dyed silks – we cover a broad spectrum,” she said.
The B.C. Aboriginal Business Awards are presented by the B.C. Achievement Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation.