Nordstrom fever can be felt everywhere in Vancouver these days. My social media feed is full of beautiful images from all of their preview parties and activities held in the last few months.
The popular American department store opens up on September 18 but for months Nordstrom’s has built admiration amongst Vancouverites. How better to do this than to invite one of Vancity’s best loved food personalities on to their ambassador team: Jackie Kai Ellis. If the super-chic store is trying to align themselves with folks who live with with style and flair, it’s only natural that they chose Ellis.
If you were to write a text book on how to switch lanes, change your life and follow your professional (and personal) dreams with grace, then Ellis would be a case study. A lifelong baker, she owned a successful design firm in Vancouver before deciding to close shop, move to Paris to learn how to bake for a year. She returned to Vancouver to open Beaucoup Bakery (aka my happy place, mmm, almond croissants), become a food, style and travel writer and now owns a tour company. The Paris Tours takes people to all of her favourite, pastry haunts in Paris. Sign me up.
She’s a dynamo, that as one friend said, is bound to have her own tv show one day. All the flattery aside, Ellis is a lifelong baker who worked hard to realize a life full of the good stuff: a life full of change, adventure, travel and good food.
Click on the jump below to meet Ellis and her take on how to work really hard to get what you want out of life.
Jackie Kai Ellis, owner of Beaucoup Bakery, The Paris Tours and food/travel/style writer. Age 36.
So how did you get that f*#king awesome job? Can you describe what your job is and what it is that you do?
I own a bakery in Vancouver that specializes in French-style pastry. I also own a pastry tour company in Paris, so I travel there several times a year and show people where to get the best pastries in the City of Light. I am also a food, travel and lifestyle columnist for publications such as The Vancouver Sun and Montecristo Magazine.
Did you have to give anything up to get here?
Yes. I do believe that to get what I want, I often have to sacrifice. Luckily we get to choose what we keep and give. When I decided to move to France and eventually chose to open the bakery, I chose to give up a successful career in design, the notion of financial security, the idea of “home”, having children, security in many senses of the word. All I knew was that I wanted to live and truly experience life, I knew exactly what I was willing to sacrifice to do it, and it gave back to me a hundred fold.
However, I also constantly check in and redefine my values so that I can evolve the things I choose to welcome into my life and the things I’m ok with giving up. I have always said that I can have anything I want but I cannot have everything. That’s fine with me!
What has been your inspiration along the way?
I am inspired by stories of thoughtful, strong, and courageous people. Women such as Anais Nin, MFK Fisher, Maya Angelou and even Eleanor Roosevelt have inspired me to choose a path that is uniquely satisfying to me.
In three words or less, what’s the best part of your job?
I love it
In three words or less, what’s the worst part of your job?
I’m always working
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Spiderman and a fashion designer
What is your drink of choice?
Where was the last place you traveled?
Currently on a plane from wine tasting in Penticton
What’s on your playlist right now?
Lianne De Havas – Green and Gold has got my toes moving.
What are your top three reads vis a vis your career (books, magazines, manuals, podcasts)?
Personally, I was given the book The School of Essential Ingredients once and it informed many parts of the vision I had for Beaucoup, what food meant to me and what it meant to feed others.
The Emyth was instrumental in helping me understand fundamentals in building a business that was sustainable.
Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. How I live my life and direct my career are inseparable. In everything I do, it is simply another path to learning to become my best self, and I think the most authentic careers come from the place where our truest selves are allowed to express our most unique gifts.
Any advice for someone who’s looking to lock down their f*#king awesome job?
Be clear about what you truly want, why you want it and what you’re willing to do to get it. Do it because you care deeply about it. Be flexible in the face of change. Fail with grace and humility. And work really f*#king hard.
** This is NOT a sponsored post – I happen to love Nordstroms because of their kick axe customer service, not to mention beautiful things. And I’ve been a fan of Jackie’s ever since I bit into one of her croissants which she perfected one day by remaking the recipe over a dozen times, or the so the legend goes…