Gaia: Nadja! We are so excited to be interviewing you on behalf of Horse & Snake Vintage clothing. Tell us about the lot of you!
Nadja: There are three of us. Nicole is from South Africa, Sophia is from Wales and I am from British Columbia. We met working in the service industry. Slinging beers behind a busy bar is a an effective way to learn who you can count on to match your work ethic. Bonus points if you like each other too. So we became work friends and then realized we all shared a love of beer, a dry sense of humour and the urge to skinny dip in cool water in the middle of the night. So now we’re bonded for life. You know how these things go.
Gaia: Where did the idea of Horse & Snake Vintage come from?
Nadja: It’s wild to imagine, but a year ago Horse & Snake Vintage was barely even an idea. The name definitely did not exist, nor did the thought of a brick and mortar shop. Nicole was (still is) busy running her first business The Royal, Sophia was (still is) also working at The Royal and Nelson Brewing Company and I was in need of a career change and was kicking around the idea of a vintage market stall to do something I loved and ease me into my new community (I had just moved back to the Kootenays after 6 years). I did my first market on April 16th for the opening day of the Castlegar Farmer's Market. I woke up that morning to snow on the ground and my car doors were frozen shut. The wind was so strong it kept blowing my clothing racks over sending the clothing, that I’d spent hours cleaning and steaming, crashing to the pavement. It was a disaster. Markets are hard work!
A few days later Sophia told me there was a space opening up in Nelson. The Windsor Barber was moving from the sweet little space they’d been renting on Vernon St. I had zero intention of having a store and told her that but thanked her for thinking of me. She said, “Well I’ve already told the landlord about you and your business and he wants to meet with you.” I didn’t want to seem ungrateful so I agreed. When I arrived at the meeting, Sophia and Nicole were there looking all business with clip boards and wearing makeup and I honestly had no clue what was happening. I faked it through the meeting and we agreed to consider a lease. After we left I was like ‘wtf you guys’ and they were like “oh ya, so we’re jumping on board and going to make this happen!” I’d always wanted to be in business with these two bad asses so I was stoked! A few days later we signed a lease. A few days after that, Nicole was headed home to South Africa for a month and Sophia and I got to work on finding stock and building a social media presence. We got the keys to the space June 1st 2022 and were having our grand opening two weeks later. Exactly two months after my first market, Horse and Snake Vintage was an actual store in Nelson. What a whirlwind!
Gaia: How did you come up with the name Horse & Snake? Is there is any special significance?
Nadja: In the couple of weeks before my first market I was struggling to come up with a name. Before becoming my business partners they were my close friends so naturally I was bouncing ideas around with Nicole and Sophia. They told me to choose something I loved, something that was close to me. I grew up with horses and I’ve always been fascinated by snakes. In fact I have a horse and snake tattoo on my arm. I love the dichotomy of the two creatures. Also, horses play such an important role in Vintage. Western wear, for example, never goes out of style. My favourite piece of vintage I own is a gold snake necklace that belonged to my great-great aunt. So Horse and Snake Vintage felt perfect. I feel like it portrays our personal aesthetic of a little bit pretty and a little bit of rock & roll, with a penchant for durability.
Gaia: Why did you decide to focus on vintage clothing?
Nadja: In the beginning we did a lot more house wares and I wanted to do furniture as well. However, the space we were in was small and we quickly realized people were coming for the clothes so we streamlined the business to focus mainly on clothing and accessories. All three of us have had a lifelong love for vintage clothing. Using unique vintage finds to accentuate our personal style comes naturally to each of us. We all truly enjoy sharing that with other people. It makes us really happy to match different kinds of people with the pieces that speak to them. It’s exciting! We focus on quality materials and well made pieces. Not only is it important to us to be resourceful and to reuse items in a world where fast fashion is negatively impacting the environment, but we believe that unique, broken in, well made garments are the most luxurious clothing to wear.
Gaia: What is a clothing item or accessory that you cannot live without in your wardrobe?
Nadja: I think I can speak for all of us when I say an excellent coat. Runner up would be a quality leather belt!
Gaia: Are there any other personal spiritual practices you have? Do you mind sharing about them?
Nadja: We subscribe to the order of the burning of the lady candle. Take that however you like. It’s a long story. Iykyk (love you know you know) 🕯. As busy entrepreneurs trying to live balanced lives, we actually see very little of each other. When taking time for ourselves, Sophia and Nicole spend time outdoors with their dogs, and I with my two kids. Each of us feel deeply the need to spend time in nature in order to be able to fulfill all of our other responsibilities.
Gaia: Are there any spiritual philosophies, beliefs or paths you are drawn to that you would like to learn more about?
Nadja: We are all happiest in or near a lake. Skinny dipping saves lives! (When done safely and with friends. There was this one time with a cougar…)
We are always learning new ways to enjoy nature. We believe Black and Indigenous lives matter and Trans rights are human rights! We’re dedicated to a lifelong journey of educating ourselves and striving to be better allies while living and running a business on the traditional, ancestral and unceded homeland of the Sinixt, the Syilx and the Ktunaxa peoples.
Gaia: How have you all grown in the last year?
Nadja: We have come so far in the past year! We’ve learned so much about the business, about fine tuning our strengths and using them cohesively, about our customers and about vintage! Being your own boss is incredibly stressful but deeply fulfilling. We are just getting started!
Gaia: What is one thing you would like to grow in 2023?
Nadja: We’re off to a great start! We moved to a bigger location on Baker Street only seven months after opening our first location. We have so many things planned for this year. There are so many projects and collaborations in the works. We are extremely excited! We can’t wait to see the next year unfold as we put our plans into motion. We really love the community of artists and makers in the Kootenays and we are always looking for ways to highlight their hard work.
Gaia: What are your sun signs and do you feel you relate to it?
Nadja: Nicole and Sophia are both Taurus and I am a Pisces. Please pray for me.The most fun part about this venture has been making space for all three of us to explore our own creative process and finding where we overlap and how to elevate each other’s creativity. We definitely butt heads too, we’re not perfect.
Gaia: Where can we find more information about accessing your products and or services?
Nadja: We are located at 610 Baker St in Nelson, BC. !
You can find us on Instagram @horseandsnakevintage and our website is www.horseandsnakevintage.com
Gaia: What would be in your shopping bag at Gaia Rising?
Nadja: Tarot Cards!