At a time when the effects of climate change are felt across the globe, it’s more important than ever for us to reflect on how our lifestyles affect our planet’s ecosystem. With the aim to re-align herself with her environmental values—and helping others to do the same—Salina founded PickEco Refills in 2018, bringing a zero waste shopping experience to Chilliwack, BC. PickEco Refills offers cleaning products, personal care products, and groceries from a large selection of zero waste and organic brands, locally and online.
“I was always a passionate environmentalist throughout my teenage years, and having children reminded me to get in touch with my core values again to provide a better planet for my children and their children,” Salina explains. “When I moved to Chilliwack, I grew very fond of a soap dispensary in Vancouver where I could buy ingredients for my homemade products. I wanted a store like that in the Fraser Valley, so I made it happen.”
While making it easier to take steps towards a zero waste life, Salina and her team are also supporting the Downtown Chilliwack Market Society, which encourages food security through their summer market.
Business Loans for Women Business Owners in BC
To fund her startup, Salina connected with WeBC for a business loan.
“Starting a new business is a challenge in many ways, especially if you have no background in business. WeBC not only provided me with the loan I needed to get started, they also shared guidance through programs like the free ‘Starting a Business’ course.”
WeBC’s business loans support women entrepreneurs in the startup and growth stages of business. The unique funding program differs from traditional financial institutions, allowing broader eligibility criteria to meet the needs of women entrepreneurs. Alongside business loans of up to $150,000, WeBC clients are also supported with complimentary services like advisory support, mentoring and training, aimed at empowering women to develop and strengthen as entrepreneurs.
Q: What role has your community played in the success of your business?
A: I’m so grateful for the community in Chilliwack! We’ve noticed a lot of folks moving out here in the past years from all over the world, and it’s such a compliment when a customer says that our store is a reaffirmation that Chilliwack is where they want to be.
Our customers are extremely supportive and tell their friends and family about us, which helps immensely with maintaining and growing our business. I can’t express enough how great the Chilliwack community is and how strongly they’ve embraced our business.
Q: What’s the biggest lesson you have learned on your entrepreneurial journey?
A: When you’re operating a zero waste store, finding the balance between aligning to your values and vision for the business without neglecting the need to be profitable can be challenging.
It’s a very labour-intensive business model, but I’m getting better at making decisions that positively impact the financial side of the business and ensuring that we can stick around and continue to be a source of positive change in our community.
Q: How did the WeBC loan program support you in starting your business?
A: The WeBC loan is why PickEco Refills is here today; I used the loan to pay for startup costs, like setting-up our retail store and buying inventory. Just last week I made the last payment of my initial loan.
I’m so grateful that WeBC had faith in me and that I was able to make it all work in the anticipated timeline. I’m also really happy for all the women entrepreneurs starting out, knowing that WeBC is there to support them on their business journey.
Q: What does the future of your business look like?
A: After recently moving to the other side of town, we’re sharing a space with Stormy’s, which adds value for our customers in the form of access to delicious smoothie bowls.
I also just incorporated PickEco Zero Waste Society, which allows us to access more funding to ramp-up our local cleanup operations.
Lastly, I’m working toward getting some of our in-house wholesale products on the shelves of other stores with the help of fellow zero waste women entrepreneurs in BC.