JuliaChurch

Julia Church tells Nettle’s Tale

Julia Church launched her “swimwear brand for everyday women” in 2014, hoping its crowdfunding campaign would hit $10,000. Nettle’s Tale raised more than $70,000. Church has since opened a flagship store in Vancouver’s Gastown and sold thousands of swimsuits, posting $500,000 in revenue last year.

widget8:30 a.m. Church arrives on Cordova Street and stops in at the shop, talking to neighbouring vendors while sipping a Birthday Cake rooibos tea. She then treks up the stairs of one of the area’s oldest buildings to her office, which looks down at the storefront. Church originally had a location on Main Street, but she jumped at the chance to cater to the tourists and cruise ship visitors who stroll Gastown’s streets: “If you’re talking about foot traffic, you can’t get any better than this.”

10:30 a.m.  Though Church spends much of the day chatting with her close friend and No. 2, marketing manager Kaycee Vandenberg, they almost always have a meeting about social media. “I’m the one attracted to risk that needs a bit of variation in her day, and she picks up the loose ends and ties them up,” Church notes. “She’s always saying: ‘So, in order to complete this thing that you started and didn’t finish…’”

Lunch  Taking breaks isn’t really a thing in Church’s life. The only day the theatre grad (sometimes) takes off is Sunday, so she can perform with the Vancouver Theatresports League. During the week, she often tries to cram in meetings with pattern makers, web developers and videographers right after or before lunch. Thankfully, she keeps the office mini-fridge stocked.

2 p.m. Most afternoons, Church heads to Clark Drive, where Nettle’s Tale swimsuits are made. “It’s one of the only manufacturing shops in the city that’s able to make swimwear,” she says, explaining that fabric quality means longer assembly times.

“With a T-shirt, the fabric can be stacked really high before they batch-cut it, because there’s not a lot of stretch,” Church notes.  “The problem with swimwear is that you can only stack it so high, and then you have to sew all the elastics into the seams.”

4:30 p.m.  Church, who only recently hired a full-time store manager in her place, always finds time to visit the shop and chat with staff. The store, which is designed to look like a cabin in the woods, doesn’t just carry Nettle’s signature product. “People are always surprised by the concept,” Church says. “They walk in and go, ‘Oh, there’s swimsuits and raincoats.’ It’s very Canadian, but it’s everything that the Canadian woman who would be attracted to the swimsuit line would want. It’s a lifestyle shop for sure.”

Church usually allocates half an hour to spend down at the shop, but it often ends up being much longer. “I just love talking to people and get stuck down here for hours.”