One of Victoria’s newer spots in town is the ASH Refillery in the Cook Street Village. ASH is a place to inform yourself on local and eco-friendly products, help make life more sustainable and meet the wonderful trio of gutsy business owners who have opened their doors in the middle of Covid.
We asked the good folks at ASH a few questions about how this last year has unfolded and what inspires them in this little city.
1. How did you three meet & what inspired you to collaborate & create the Ash Refillery?
ASH is really a family business – the three of us are best friends and knew that if we were going to start something together, we could make it through anything! We all met at the University of Calgary, Adriana and Seth worked together and Seth met his now wife Heather-Lynn in a program that Adriana and Seth created. When we were in Calgary we had “make nights” trying out making different products and we loved to check out the local low-waste stores in Calgary (at this time there were only a few). We were inspired to change the way we lived and used on a daily basis. We knew that we wanted to do something different, something that built community and could be something good for others. Adriana and Seth always talked about opening different businesses and what we wanted out of life. The three of us were in Las Vegas (yes, Vegas) for Adriana’s 40th birthday and while we were having a spa day we talked about our dreams, came up with the idea and decided to take the plunge! Six months later we all moved to Victoria to make it happen – We haven’t looked back since!
2. Where does the name ASH Refillery come from?
ASH comes from our names – Adriana, Seth, and Heather-Lynn. We tried many different names for the store but something about ASH just fit. We had seen other stores with refillery in the name and as refilling is one of the most integral parts of our store, we thought why not, ASH Refillery – the and co. is really just for fun. We get so many questions about what a refillery is and it’s a great starting point to let people know some ways to think about how we can start to consume things differently.
3. How has ASH been received in your community, the cook street village, and further afield in Victoria?We have been received very well. We think about 75% of our customers live in the Village and surrounding area, so that has been so cool for the community vibe we envisioned in the shop! We have felt very loved and welcomed. During our first few weeks open, everyone who walked by said “welcome to the Village!”. There is also a Cook St Village Business Association that has been helpful to get to know other business owners in the neighbourhood and learn more about the history here. Greater Victoria has also been very warm and welcoming – Paula and Nairn from Zero Waste Emporium even met with us before we moved out here to share their story and tips!
4. What is like to launch a business in the middle of a pandemic?With any small business it can be tough to open regardless of a pandemic, but it has been especially challenging! Luckily we are all stocked up on soaps and cleaners at a time when it is crucial to keep things clean! It’s taken time to build relationships, get our name out there (especially since we were all new to Victoria), and figure out what Victorians want and like. We’ve learnt a lot and we have also needed to be creative in so many aspects of ASH!
5. What is the biggest lesson or take away from the last year?That people who live in Victoria really do love to shop local! It has been so lovely to have folks call us and ask if we carry a certain product so they can buy it through us instead of ordering online – that has been amazing!
6. How important is social media for you business? You look like you guys have lots of fun with it. Do you have any special tricks with social media that have helped your business?Social media has been super important in connecting with customers and other local business owners! We have a blast doing our videos/tutorials and definitely feed off each other’s quirks! Most importantly we’ve learnt to just be ourselves and share what each of us are passionate about; that helps us to connect with our community! Our authentic journey has been great to share with our customers because we know that we aren’t perfect at everything low-waste, we’re still learning and we want others to learn with us.
7. You have you own line of products, the ASH LINE,…what is your favourite product in the line & why?We all love our candles. For Adriana, the lemongrass one is always a favourite – no matter what time of year! Seth is a huge fan of the Cinnamon Spice in the winter scents and for HL, she’s newly and deeply obsessed with Fresh Forest. Always smells so fresh and clean.
8. As the low waste movement continues to gather steam, what do you suggest as some simple ways to become more sustainable & low waste?Start somewhere and take the leap.You don’t have to do it overnight, we actually always encourage people to use up products that they have before making some easy switches. Living more consciously and low-waste is a process and we can all learn together along the way! It helps to find a community that you can learn and grow with, where you can share tips or ideas and fumbles or stumbles along the way.
9. Who inspires you in the low waste community?To be honest, our customers! We love how they share their journeys and stories with us and that is always inspiring because they want to live intentionally and think about their impact on the environment, the earth and our relationship with each other.
10. What is your favourite local hang out in Victoria (either to grab a bite or enjoy a cocktail)?Hands down, Wind Cries Mary. The tater tots,…need we say more?
To find out more about this wonderful business, go check out their instagram for lots of info about sustainability & low waste. It’s such a treat to view their stories especially when they do demos. They have so much fun and you can really tell there is a lot passion and dedication behind what they do.
Tuesday – Sunday: 11AM – 6PM
Monday – CLOSED
Web – https://ashrefillery.ca/
Address: 200 Cook St #101, Victoria, BC