Origin Story

And then… Finders Keep Hers Boutique was born.

Hello and let me introduce myself. My name is Alicia, and this is how my business, Finders Keep Hers Boutique, was born and has evolved into what is is today. Throughout my entire life, starting in childhood, my two main interests were fashion and animals. I would prioritize opportunities to experience fashion over anything else, like skipping important exams to attend the grand opening of new stores in town. I expected my teachers to understand this… which they didn’t, but I hope they do now! I spent most of my extra time convincing my Mum to foster animals and then adopt them. I also plastered fashion ads around my bedroom, so that no bare wall showed at all. If you have been a customer of ours since the beginning, you may remember the entire back wall of our store was also covered in ads cut out from Vogue. Luckily, I have since stopped this habit and our boutique décor has improved.
 
Alicia at home with her dogs
 
After high school I moved out of town for a couple of short periods, but the charm of the Comox Valley always drew me back in, and I knew this is where I wanted to plant my roots. I was working managing a specialist clinic, and this is when I began to sell my used clothing. I created a Facebook group called ‘Valley Girls Shop and Swap’ and sold my friend's used clothes for a percentage. Word spread quickly and before I knew it, I had fifty different garbage bags of clothes at my house with a list taped to each to keep track. I utilized a spare room at work and had girls stopping by every hour, that is until my boss found out – but hey, I was also trying to sell them on laser packages too!
 
  The original boutique, prior to our 2019 renovation.
Eventually the clinic closed, and I was laid off, and back at square one. I had 2 choices: to go get another minimum wage job and keep doing what I was doing or take a bigger risk. As if it was mean't to be, right then I walked by a “For Lease” sign in Downtown Courtenay. This was already beyond my wildest dreams! Could I even imagine myself, someone who had always just scraped by, with no post secondary education and only a dream, being a business owner? I phoned the landlord immediately and signed the lease that very same day. That is how I live my life – I always jump in headfirst, and know that if I believe in myself enough, I can accomplish anything. Two months and a tiny budget later Finders Keep Hers Boutique opened its doors with 75% consignment and 25% new items. In the two months in between I had attended some free business planning courses at the local Job Shop, as well as scoured the entire town for any free or almost free used racking, hangers, or store supplies that I could find. My three big splurges were paint, a steamer, and a sign. Since then, every dollar has been put back into the business and has allowed it to grow to the beautiful space and inventory it embodies now. Finders Keep Hers has evolved over the years since, away from the consignment inventory into the brands we love and covet today.
 
I am very grateful and humbled to have received awards and nominations for titles such as Top 40 under 40, Top 20 under 20, Women’s Top Fashion Store, and more. My business has allowed me to fulfill my passion of animals as well, as through it I am fortunate enough to be able to donate regularly to my favourite animal charities as well as having a flexible schedule that allows me to volunteer with all types of organizations.
FKH has given me the opportunity to contribute to many local charities.
I have learned many lessons over the years Finders Keep Hers Boutique has been open, some have been devastating and very expensive to learn, and others which involve much professional and personal growth. I truly believe that if you set your mind to your goal and do not give up that you can accomplish whatever it may be – if you have the work ethic to back it up. My business plans for a high-end clothing store were rejected multiple times, yet I kept working hard submitting them while after months the workload increased and the course occupancy slowly dropped from 12 to 2 people, 1 being me. Once in business I regularly heard disbelief from people that I looked up to, that I would never be able to survive long term. When I wanted to expand my space, they were again doubtful. To this day I am regularly told ‘no’ when asking for assistance. The reason I am telling you this is to let you know that things have never come easy to me, yet I continued to persevere and only shoot for my absolute highest goals without wavering. I know that there is always a way to make what you want to happen – it only depends on what you are willing to sacrifice. For me that has often been a social life and any extra energy, as it all goes into my business. I've opened about about the pressures on my mental health that running a business can take, and that is something that I have learned to prioritize. 
  
I hope that by writing this piece I was able to inspire some of you to follow your biggest dream and let you into knowing me a little more. Finders Keep Hers Boutique has grown into more then I ever imagined it to be, and I could not be prouder of this business and the community around it. It has become a place that all women feel safe, confident, loved, happy, and beautiful. A place that helps many charities for women, families, and animals. A place that has introduced many lifelong friendships. I have been told that it has become a pillar of Downtown Courtenay, and I hope this isn’t too cheesy but as I write that a tear rolls down my cheek. Growing up, times were tough for us, and I never would have dreamt that I would become a valued part of the community, or even be able to give back in the way that I have.
Alicia at home with her goats
Thank you to everyone who has ever supported Finders Keep Hers Boutique in any way, as you aren’t only supporting a business but supporting a dream. To our family, friends, employees, customers, partners, and online readers, THANK YOU!!!