Creative Q&A: Camille Byrne of Cambie Design
Name, Location, Occupation
Shop owner of Cambie Design
Please describe your workspace:
A small retail space located on Queen Street West in the vibrant Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto. I am surrounded by product and pieces that I love and am very proud to sell, including the textiles I source from Peru. Everything else in my shop is made by Canadian artists and makers. It is a cheerful little spot with two small windows, allowing me to be creative to keep the space fresh and inviting.
What are you working on right now?
I recently put together an editorial shoot showcasing some of our product in living spaces and vignettes (the struggle of having a small showroom!). I have been organizing the images to put together our 2015 lookbook. I quite enjoy styling and looking at layouts!
What has been your most rewarding project to date?
Opening the storefront as it wasn't on my radar and a very big jump. I was at a crossroads in my career; I knew I needed to do something, change something but I wasn't sure what that was exactly. I went to visit a friend's shop and they let me know that the space next door was up for lease. I peered in the window and it just felt right (as simple as that!). Within less than 24 hours, I signed a lease and have never looked back. I didn't have time to think, I went for it and am so thankful I did as my business wouldn't be where it is now! Big decisions were made on a dime but I worked really hard and still do. It has been a dream!
Who are you inspired by?
I am inspired by the community that surrounds me here in Toronto. In growing Cambie, I have had the opportunity to meet many talented makers, crafters and small business owners. Seeing real people, doing real things and what they love, in the city that I share with them is incredibly fulfilling. The mutual encouragement and support is a constant motivation. A dear friend and I started a collective or monthly gathering of sorts, a group we call Babes Boardroom. It is an open invitation to meet and talk about a particular topic and we have attracted driven, career focused creatives from every background. Our attendees have an entrepreneurial spirit and often give the same feedback, they feel energized, supported and that they belong to something special. That's the best kind of inspiration for me!
Has there been a defining moment or turning point when you realized what you wanted to do for a living?
When I decided to start importing my blankets from Peru! Having started my business as offering interior decorating services, I often struggled sourcing the product that I visualized for a client's space. With a background in retail, I thought, "How wonderful would it be to provide the products that I am suggesting?". During a visit to Lima for a family wedding, I took the time to consider importing these beautiful blankets. Something I had never been able to source in Canada but always loved while visiting Peru, I decided to go for it! What a wonderful opportunity to merge my two worlds. I started selling these blanket at flea markets with a collection of vintage furniture I had sourced and before I knew it, turned all of my attention and business to retail.
What do you think is the most difficult aspect of your work?
The most truthful response is a struggle with self confidence. Particularly when I first began Cambie but every once in a while, the same questions creep in "What makes me think I can do this? Or do any better than everyone else?". Without fail, every time those thoughts start to cross my mind, something incredibly encouraging happens. Sometimes it's as simple as the kind words of a new customer or loyal follower. You can only ever think about things for so long (and with those thoughts, the less the better) and then you just have to go for it. It takes courage to put yourself out there but you'll never know unless you try, and you might actually surprise yourself at the beauty you can create and the people you can touch.
What are you reading at the moment?
I have been enjoying reading Creating Minds by Howard Gardner and recently picked up Kinfolk Magazine Volume 15: The Entrepreneurs Issue. I always love flipping through my current coffee table book of choice and long time favourite, Gestalten's Northern Delights: Scandinavian Homes, Interiors and Design.
What websites do you visit for inspiration?
I probably seek most of my inspiration on Instagram. One of the first blogs I ever sought design inspiration from was Design Sponge and I am still an loyal follower of Grace and everything that her team does! I love checking Design Love Fest as their ideas are always bright, fresh and colourful. I am always mesmerized at the beauty of Wit & Delight's Tumblr and easily loose vast track of time. And regularly check in with Hackwith Design House as their composition and photography is always an inspiration. I'm a big fan of their limited edition philosophy, having fewer but well made pieces and adapt a similar one to my day to day life and approach to interior design. To be honest, I quite admire and follow all of the women featured here on the Creative Q&A Series!
What are your simplest daily pleasures?
Taking some time for myself. I have become a morning person but often find it a bit of a struggle with the distraction of my tasks for the day. So, I have been trying to make more of an effort to take the time in the evenings for a quiet moment alone to reflect on my day, what I am happy with, what I would like to work on, where I see myself going, what I'm fortunate for. It's an enjoyment and exercise I try to practice regularly, either with a cup of tea or glass of whiskey, depending on the day!
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Doing a bigger and better version of what I am doing now. What a dream it would be to travel and source product from all over the world, not just Canada and Peru. Possibly a handful of brick and mortar shops, scattered across a few different countries, with most of my business focused online, possibly a printed publication. I see my home base being a beautifully designed but modest home by the sea, where my family, friends and roots are. I am content but never quite fulfilled, always learning and absorbing my surroundings.