Colleen Rhodes is the founder of Meins Designs - a business that creates beautiful yoga accessories like meditation pillows, yoga mat bags, totem bracelets and much more. Born and raised in a suburb of Toronto, Colleen recently quit her corporate job of 25 years and relocated to Vancouver to become her own boss. She has been basking in the joy of cultivating her inner crafty being: Seamstress, Bracelet Maker, Photographer and Writer. With this refreshing new start, she hopes to live her life doing the things she loves instead of living someone else’s dream.
What’s keeping you busy these days?
I’ve been holding monthly upcycling workshops for a non-profit organization here in Vancouver, reading lots of memoirs as research for writing my own, writing my mother’s story, designing new products for my company Meins Designs which is always exciting and one of my favourite things and some dressmaking for a client.
When did you start your own business?
Meins Designs was born in April of 2014 after a life-changing trip to Peru.
What’s the best thing about being your own boss?
I love making my own schedule, working when I want to, making all of the decisions about my business, no one to report to and getting to do what I love every day!
What’s the worst thing?
Not having enough time to do everything I want. I always have so many ideas popping into my head about products I want to make and then seeing what they look like in different fabrics. Being your own boss means you’re in charge of all departments, Research & Development, Production, Sales, Marketing, Accounting. I love every aspect but it all takes time.
When did you get into creating and sewing?
My mother taught me to sew as a young child so by the time I went to home economics sewing class in Grade 7, I already knew how.
Why did you give up on it earlier in your life?
Being a grown up got in the way of my creative side. I got busy with life, family and a full time job, there was never enough time to spend in my sewing room. I only managed bits and pieces and that wasn’t very satifying.
You were working a normal 9-5 job in an office before. Was there one particular day where you realized that you want to change something in your life? And if yes, what happened?
If I had to choose a day, it would be the day I arrived home from 17 days in Peru. The last 12 days were spent in Iquitos in an ayahuasca healing camp in the middle of the jungle. I walked back to my car in Toronto after getting off my plane and could help but tell myself out loud, “This is so strange”. I knew right there that I had to make a change, I just didn’t know to what extent that change would be.
How does a normal day look like in your shoes?
My dog, Cooper is my alarm clock, I get up when he needs to go out. Some days we power walk on the bike path, other days we walk to the off leash forest so he can sniff around the trails. Meals are a very sacred event in our home, my partner and I light a candle and eat together in front of the window every morning. After that, I sew as much as possible or I get in design mode and come up with a new product, sometimes it’s a social media day when I post new products and promote them. I see my dressmaking client every couple of weeks or so for fittings, pickups or she brings me new projects. I fulfill orders and prepare for upcoming workshops. I spend evenings with my partner usually playing video games LOL.
What else are you passionate about?
Aside from sewing, I love to make bracelets, draw/colour mandalas and I especially love to write!
I am passionate about animals and animal welfare; I help out at The Happy Herd Farm Sanctuary in Aldergrove, BC every month, but I am most passionate about my own Wookie/Teddy Dog, Cooper and my cat, Charlie (RIP 1999-2016)!!
I love to recycle/upcycle as much as possible and try not to consume so much, I prefer to buy second hand if at all possible. Our apartment is full of upcycled and recycled treasures!! There are only a handful of items that were purchased brand new.
End this sentence: Life is good, when…
I can get up in the morning and do what I love.
Where can people connect with you?
Any exciting news?
YES!!! I have recently discovered a textile recycling business in Vancouver called Our Social Fabric. It is a non-profit organization run by a volunteer Board of Directors. They accept donations from individuals, estates and the film industry, theatre, manufacturing, which might otherwise go to landfill. They have sales once a month for the public to buy cheap fabric and notions. The money from these sales goes towards expenses like rent and supplies. I started volunteering with them in October and have applied to be on the Board of Directors, which I hope will be accepted by the end of this year. It’s so wonderful to be surrounded by so much fabric and many like-minded people with a similar passion for sewing!
Interviewer: Paula Hartmann