Sarah Krauzig has a thing with birds.
This becomes obvious as soon as you step into Krauzig’s store, Bella Home Decor, at 137 Industrial Road.
The boutique feels as if it’s been transplanted from a trendy neighbourhood in Vancouver or Toronto to Whitehorse. On offer are all manner of kitschy knickknacks to brighten a home: wrought-iron chandeliers and candleholders, reproductions of Tibetan bells, funky picture frames and throw rugs.
And a whole lot of birds.
There are prints of peacocks and wide-eyed owls on pillows, pudgy green songbirds cut from fabric and pasted on to mixed-media wall-hangings and wrought-iron coat-hooks in the shape of birds perched atop bare branches.
There’s also a light fixture in the shape of a bird cage, complete with replicas of tiny white birds perched inside.
“Birds are trendy right now,” said Krauzig. “But they’re also timeless.”
Krauzig, 35, grew up in Whitehorse. She’s always wanted to own her own store.
And she sensed “a void” in the market for home decor. Cheap and functional items are on offer at Canadian Tire and Walmart, “but there’s nothing unique.”
She’s always loved the feeling of walking through stores like Anthropologie and Chintz and Company. So she set to building one of her own.
Krauzig hit on the idea while she was pregnant with her twins, who are now two years old. She was bed-ridden and had a lot of time on her hands.
Much depended on her laptop. Krauzig scoured design websites for ideas. She set up supplier contracts by email.
New additions to Bella are announced to customers over Facebook. And Krauzig regularly hunts for new additions for her store online.
“Everything I do is on the web. I couldn’t have done it without the internet,” said Krauzig.
She bought most of the jewellry on sale from Etsy, an online market for handmade crafts.
“It’s great, because it’s all one of a kind.”
Work by several local artists are on offer: bright acrylic landscapes by Deanna Slonski, paintings of old-style, rotund trailers by Lisa Graziotto, and bead jewellry by Carlie Ferland.
The challenge of buying local art is to find work that isn’t easily found elsewhere in Whitehorse, said Krauzig. She wants her store to be different.
Much of the wares on offer are vintage, or designed to look old and distressed. A prime example is a century-old cabinet, flecked with blue paint, that was bought in India by a Vancouverite who makes regular trips overseas in search of unusual items.
“There’s a history to them,” said Krauzig. “They’re unique. You wonder where they come from.”
The store has plenty of small items to accessorize a home, like funky replacement knobs for drawers. And it’s an ideal place to find unusual gifts, including greeting cards that fold into flowers or spool out into garlands.
Krauzig orders items in small batches. The plan is to have the store’s inventory constantly changing. Small batches arrive every week, with big orders arriving every month.
Shipping goods up to Whitehorse has proved to be one big challenge. Krauzig expected it would take about two weeks. Six to eight weeks is more typical.
The other big challenge is juggling parenting and business. Krauzig tries to spend half the work week at her store, the other half with her daughter and son.
Finding a location was easy. Her husband, Karlo, is starting a vodka distillery in Whitehorse, set to open later this spring. He had space to spare, so Bella opened in the same building. Copper stills are visible through an interior window behind the cash register.
Krauzig is just the latest young female entrepreneur to bring a piece of big-city life to Whitehorse. In doing so, she’s received encouragement from Lori Simcox of Unity Clothing and Marya Morningstar of the Urban Cake Shop.
Bella quietly opened its doors in mid-December. The store’s expected to have a grand opening in about a month, after the next big shipment arrives.
Contact John Thompson at