The Revelstoke Mountaineer’s new Revelstoke Profiles series highlights leaders from across the community. If you’re interested in participating in the series, or know someone who should be featured, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We chatted to Nicole Cherlet, owner of Big Mountain Kitchen & Linen, who also volunteers as the director of memberships for Revelstoke’s Local Food Initiative and director at the Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce.
We picked her brain about her business sense, what she does when things get rough, and what she thinks is the best of Revelstoke.
RM: Tell us about your company and your role?
NC: I come from restaurants and hospitality, so retail wasn’t really on my radar until I met Deenie, the previous owner of the business (when it was Chantilly Kitchen Bed n Bath).
Once I met the customers and got to know the business, I saw what my skill set and knowledge could bring to the business, and the opportunity to help more people learn to cook for themselves and spend their housewares dollars more responsibly.
I do most of the heavy lifting at the store: ordering and curating our inventory, customer service, web development, marketing, financials, and anything else that comes up. I get a kick out of the puzzles, and finding unique things that make our customers keep coming back for more.
What are your favourite leisure activities to wind down and why?
NC: Reading books, going for walks in the woods, watching fires. I spend a lot of time with people at work, and I need quiet time to unwind.
I miss having a ski pass, but until I get the daytime operations running smoother without me, I need to be at the store! This past winter I got a huge kick out of snowshoeing out on the flats out at Mulvehill Creek.
Do you have a life motto or a mindset that you try to live your life by or utilize in difficult situations?
NC: Piss or get off the pot. If it’s right, go for it. If it’s causing grief to anyone, move on. There’s a fine line between fighting for a good thing and beating a dead horse.
What’s your favourite thing about living in Revelstoke?
NC: The community, hands down. I get to rub shoulders with some really smart, ambitious people here.
We have a concentrated group of amazing, conscientious, innovative citizens that would bend over backwards to help and support their colleagues as well as strangers.
If you could change something for the better in Revelstoke, what would it be?
NC: I’d say more innovative, independent business owners, but I see that happening all around me.
New owners, new businesses, people making their own way and offering their unique opinion in the form of a shop instead of bringing chain stores and listening to what the city head offices say we should want.
How do you (if you have the time) give back to the community?
NC: I’ve been volunteering for the Revelstoke Local Food Initiative for several years; I love participating in the community gardens, Garden Guru workshops and other educational programs.
What are you passionate about?
NC: I’m passionate about sustainability in all things; I love the concept of permaculture where each system feeds another.
We can get smart about how we live; enjoy the luxuries while supporting our environment and society.
How can people connect to you or your organization online?
NC: We’re most active on Facebook, but I have Twitter and Instagram accounts as well as @BigMtnKitchen. I enjoy spending professional time on LinkedIn as well; it’s amazing to be part of the cutting edge of retail right here in Revelstoke!
If you could achieve one thing in your field, what would that be?
NC: To bridge the gap between bricks and mortar and online retail in a way that the customer can play a much bigger role in their own experience.
The online experience offers a unique type of service that has an especially big impact in remote communities like ours, but most businesses are missing the point of the customer experience. Technology should be with the goal of making it easier to do business with you, not harder.
Where would you like to see your business in a few years from now?
NC: A destination store for housewares and knowledge, selling and communicating to customers online and through the storefront. Regular customers from Revelstoke, our surrounding communities, as well as tourists coming from the larger cities.
Who inspires you in your field of work?
NC: Diane Bull from Style Trend. She gets “it”, the customer experience, and believes in what she does.
What do you think are important practice/habits in the workplace?
NC: Have systems to get the ideas and workflow out of your head and somewhere visible for your team to collaborate with. I use Trello (an online app) to manage all of the things I work on; I have to work to stay in the habit of using it, but it always makes my life easier when I do!
Staff cannot read minds, but given a suggestion and a goal they can help build the business.
How does your business impact the community?
NC: Big Mountain Kitchen & Linen has been the storefront for the Local Food Initiative since the before I bought the business. We want to make sure people know how to process and cook with all the delicious things coming out of their garden or from the farmer’s market.
Having the right tools for the job makes it easier, and therefore more likely we’ll eat the fresh things instead of the processed junk the industrial food companies are throwing at us. I try to make sure our customers leave with ideas and inspiration to have a closer relationship with their food.
Anything else you would like to get across?
NC: I try to ensure that my business is offering something of value to our community. If there is something for your home that you’d like to have, but can’t find in town (or elsewhere for that matter), please ask. Often I can find it, or I may have some information or suggestions on what to look for.
Most of our businesses here in Revelstoke are the same; always ask the staff before you assume you can’t find it here. It may just be downstairs and we forgot to restock the shelves 🙂