When Barbora Vanickova first arrived in Whistler in November 2011, she was only supposed to stay for a month before returning home to put her Master of Journalism degree to work.
"I came in really blindly," she says. "I was working in Prague and I wanted to take time off before I chose the newspaper I was going to stay at."
Because she spoke almost no English, a Canadian journalism job was out of the question. Instead, the Czech Republic resident found work as a housekeeper, dishwasher, and at several other jobs before she noticed a need for sewing services in the resort. "I started sewing for fun," she says. "People started asking me to fix stuff, but also they wanted to learn. I opened a sewing business ... (and) it really became a professional job where I have to work hard. I wanted something fun."
Eight years after her "one month in Whistler," she's celebrating the launch of Muse Lab, which she's running alongside her business, Whistler Sewing Services.
With space secured in Function Junction (at 1208 Alpha Lake Rd.), Vanickova hosted her first workshops out of Muse Lab earlier this month. One taught older kids to make "monster pillows" with sewing machines and the other helped younger ones create headbands.
"It went well," she adds. "We're still learning. It's the beginning of the process."
Next up, she's hosting a pair of Mother's Day events on Sunday, May 12. From 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., moms can bring their kids in to make hand-stitched, felt animals (and enjoy tea and treats). Then, that afternoon, from 3 to 6 p.m., Vanickova will lead a modern embroidery class for moms alone.
"I had been checking on Eventbrite and when you put in 'Mother's Day' in Vancouver, 40 workshops come up—and a lot of things that aren't just going for brunch," she says. "We have amazing brunches here and I love them, but I wanted to offer something where ladies can go do something."
While she's slowly adding to her list of workshops—which also includes ongoing Sewing 101 every Thursday for locals to learn basic sewing machine skills and Mondays at Muse Lab where people can drop-in to use equipment for their own repairs from 12 to 9 p.m.—she's also on the lookout for people who want to host their own art events in the space.
"People want to learn more things and go back to making their own things, working with their hands. Leave the screen behind for a little bit," she says.
To that end, she has a European knife master and coming in to teach a knife-making workshop while his artist girlfriend will also teach a marionette-building class in August.
"They're coming here for it," Vanickova adds. "I don't even believe it's happening."
She will also be tapping into another niche market and teaching a sewing class specifically for people interested in creating festival costumes starting on June 4.
"I have this experience that people come to me every year two weeks before Burning Man and say, 'I wish I could do something, and now it's too late,'" she says. "It's a really long workshop because these things take time. (They can) come for a couple hours every week and work on their costume."
For more information on all the events taking place at Muse Lab, as well as their costs and how to register, visit yourcreativeuniverse.com or email email@example.com. You can also call 604-967-2422.