“Now more than ever Vancouverites are conscious of where the products they buy come from,” says local creator Jenna Hurbert, “They...love to meet the maker and hear their story.” Eight years ago, she and her brother Chandler started Make It—a non-traditional craft and artisanal market devoted to fostering creativity, connection, and conscious shopping. Since then, Make It has grown exponentially, and now attracts more than 250 “makers” and 10,000 shoppers per year. SAD Mag is excited to be joining Make It in their upcoming spring fair on April 22 to 24 at the PNE Forum.
To celebrate some of the amazing talent who’ll be exhibiting this year, we chatted with three local creators about what it takes to make it as a maker. Up this week is Lia Padgett, owner of Vancouver's deliciously natural Thirsty Whale Elixirs.
SAD Mag: Tell me about Thirsty Whale. What are you all about?
Lia Padgett: Thirsty Whale Elixirs helps you bring home healthy cocktails and sodas, through delicious shrub syrups. Our shrubs are made with fruit, organic apple cider vinegar, and cane sugar.
SM: What exactly is a "shrub" syrup?
LP: Shrubs have been around in various forms for hundreds of years, from their beginning in England, to the Colonial US, through Prohibition, and finally to their latest resurrection in 2012. The term “shrub” refers to preserving fruit with sugar and vinegar (or alcohol, as was commonly done in past centuries). The syrup that is a result of pressing the fruit makes a wonderful cocktail and soda mixer—whether you use still or bubbly water, hot or cold, with or without alcohol, you get a refreshing fruit-forward, slightly tart, delicious beverage.
SM: How did you get started?
LP: I've always wanted a food business. I spent my childhood and youth cooking and preserving food with my mother and grandmother, but could never decide on what I wanted to focus on. Until a friend introduced me to the unique world of shrubs.
SM: Tell me a little bit more about your culinary childhood. What do you remember best?
LP: One of my fondest memories of cooking with my grandmother was making fresh buns. We would make a big batch of white bread in the old Bosch mixer (that my sister still uses to mix her family's bread) and then we would start cutting off chunks of dough and shaping them on the flour coated counter. She would always slice off a few long pieces that we would fry in a cast-iron pan of oil [and] then dredge them in cinnamon and sugar. She called them “dough gods,” [but] now we all know them as “beaver tails.” After the buns baked to a golden perfection, she would rub a bit of butter on the tops, which caused them to glistened as they cooled. Then we would break the buns open and add a healthy layer of butter, apricot jam, and a thick slice of cheddar cheese. Oh so good. Every time I smell fresh baked bread I think of those delicious sandwiches.
SM: Why do you create? Why is your business important for you?
LP: I love the idea of producing good food—well, in this case, good drinks and sodas—that anyone can enjoy, from the young to the young-at-heart.
SM: What's the most challenging thing about making elixirs?
LP: Producing and bottling a handmade liquid product is very physical work.
SM: Fill in the blank: I couldn't go a day without _________.
SM: What are you looking forward to about most at Make It?
LP: I'm looking forward to seeing dedicated market attendees. And building relationships with the other vendors.
Find out more about Thirsty Whale Elixirs at the upcoming Make It Vancouver (April 22 - 24, 2016, at the PNE Forum), or visit thirstywhale.ca. Be sure to drop by SAD Mag’s table at Make It to say hello, grab a couple mags, or pick up some special SAD swag. For tickets and information, check out makeitproductions.com.