Social City Networking is all about COMMUNITY, and encouraging members of each community to become more engaged positively in theirs! We encourage people to become community leaders, and that they are capable of anything – that networking and connecting to like-minded individuals positively contribute to both personal and professional aspects of life! Since we believe Jennifer Cummer of Lüt Boutique can be looked at as a form of inspiration to people, we felt that sharing her story could help our community realize their own potential and capabilities!
SC: Describe what community means to you in one word:
SC: Why do you do what you do?
JC: I own and operate a friendly, independent clothing store on funky Main Street called Lüt (26th and Main). We help people find that special item either for themselves or a certain someone with hands on approach and personal touches all the way. We are a curated boutique for him and her that houses a selection of local, Canadian and international designers offering something different. We love fabric and well made timeless pieces! And we also have a gallery component to the store, increase our community with each new show!
Why I do what I do is to connect with people and help them make their day or the day of someone else that much better. Fashion is a great way to express yourself and celebrate you and I love being a part of the celebration!
SC: What are you passionate about?
JC: The arts. From designers to artist to dancers and singers Vancouver has such a pool of talented people! I always knew we wanted to be a small business that encourages artists; we are the first or only store for many of our local designers helping them learn the ropes of the industry and have given many local artist their first solo show venue. It is fun to be a part of their community and a strong support of Lovely Unique Things Vancouver has to offer.
SC: What about Vancouver attracted you to become engaged positively in the community, and how do you feel being engaged benefits the community?
JC: Vancouver is such a beautiful place and home to so many different people doing really interesting things that it seems very easy to be part of your community. There is always an art opening of interest or a new play or young talented band to go and support or new business to visit; there is never a lack of talent to engaged with. There is a real sense of neighborhood in and around the Main St area, with lots of our surrounding businesses being a small and locally owned and operated. Our neighbors are our customers and visa versa. Being community minded is part of being a strong small business and works for us as a company but also as individuals. In short, I like people and learning about their stories.
SC: What are your projects inspired from, and what are they all about?
JC: We are involved in several community projects over the course of the calendar year. Up next is Car Free Days (Sunday June 16th), a street festival on Main Street. This is great way to meet new neighbors, have a side-walk sale but just be a friendly part of the festival. It is also just cool to take back the street on-mass! It is totally family friendly and just a great day out in the hood. For us this is totally about community on all levels.
We do a winter coat and blanket drive with the lovely ladies of Social City Networking and Union Gospel Mission every fall. This is always so close to our hearts and something we always knew our business would do even before we had officially opened. This is about giving back and encouraging the conversation about giving back between our business and our customers. Being a designated drop-off point really helps them get their gently used items into the hangs that need them most.
We also support several female singer/song writers in the city by styling them for Girl with Guitars, an independent platform promoting female artists by giving them more performing opportunities and avenues. This is all about supporting our fellow females! Celebrating them and their talent and their fearlessness!
Personally I also volunteer at RAISE Society, a non-profit helping children and their families who are affected with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is something I have only recently started doing so I am excited to see where it goes and the adventures I have with it and the other volunteers.
SC: What is one major lesson/learning you are taking away from your journey so far?
JC: This sounds so silly but honestly being brave. Being brave enough to think you can do it and being brave enough to actually go ahead and do it, whatever your IT is. Knowing, in your heart, that you are capable.
SC: Why is community important to you (personally)?
JC: Personally community is all around me; my family, my friends, my business mentors and associates etc. These people help me work through my ideas, desires, fears and always encourage me and that works both ways, fluidly. Community is important because life (and business) can be isolating but community is knowing you are a part of the bigger picture.
SC: In your own opinion, how would you encourage others to live more actively within our community?
JC: I think sometimes people have a fear of the unknown and new. I would encourage people to attend more events, whether it be connected or your field or not, and challenge yourself to make one new friend at each event. Vancouver is full of vibrant people waiting to meet you!
SC: What is a personal experience you have had where social networking has benefited you in accomplishing your dreams and your goals?
JC: Everything! Really! When I think about what/who started me on my path into fashion and eventually operating Lüt is all come back to connections, conversations, suggestions and encouragement from my network and community. Some body thought I would do well at that school or should meet that person or mentor with that designer and before you know if you have a little black book of connections to help you work on your goals.
SC: What is some advice that you would like to share to people out there?
JC: Share your thoughts and dreams and desires with friends/family/network. You never know who at that dinner party or coffee date might be that missing piece of the puzzle. And always find time for a friendly cup of coffee. Some of my most exciting projects, both personally and professionally, all started over a friendly cup of joe.
SC: What are your socially conscious contributions to your community, and what inspired the idea behind them?
JC: Beyond our charity work and coat drives we also align ourselves with several donations annually for raffle prizes for events and charities that are doing great work in their community. For us the project or event needs to be about helping others and/or highlighting an issue in our community and close to our hearts.
SC: What is your favorite local spot and why?
JC: Locus on Main (Main and 25th so really close to the store) has become my go-to brunch spot. Food is fantastic, service is friendly and everybody knows everybody. It is like Cheers only over eggs and not beers!
SC: How do you feel small businesses and professionals can benefit from networking and community?
JC: Business is all about who you know. Yes be great at what you do but the more people who know about you and your work the better. People (network and community) is an incredible strong tool for any business to use.
SC: How do you feel small businesses/professionals can benefit from social media?
JC: Social media really keeps the conversation going. It is such a powerful and easy way for us to connect with several different levels of our audience (customers, designers, artist, media) all in one spot. It is such an easy tool to learn and use. And a great price for small business too! : )
SC: What are your thoughts on SCN and its work?
JC: Huge fan of SCN and their ability to bring people and businesses together. Whether it is an event, a charity drive or a female networking group SCN always impresses me with their work ethic and hearts. These ladies are so good at connecting people and building community! In short, Lüt loves SCN!
Connect with Jennifer at her lovely shop Lüt Boutique at 4219 Main Street Vancouver, B.C V5V 3P8
Writer: Krista McKenna
Social City Networking INC.: SOCIAL in the CITY 2013