By Joseph Hutt –
Soon to join Hintonburg’s already impressive collection of storefronts, Malenka Originals will be moving to a new location on March 1 at 1098B Somerset West. Owned and operated by Katrina Barclay, Malenka Originals is part upcycled furniture store, part paint shop, and part learning centre, with a special focus on a brand of paint developed by UK-based expert Annie Sloan.
On top of being much more central than its current location in Britannia Village, Katrina hopes to take part in the unique trends of the area’s local business community.
Katrina has always seen Hintonburg as “an edgy and interesting place,” and comments that “what we’re starting to see take hold is that businesses are really starting to focus on making and sharing and learning.”
According to Katrina, this is what Malenka Originals has always been about: sharing a passion and providing people with a creative outlet. Katrina’s painting workshops are quick to fill up. She has also made time to organize workshops in partnership with other local maker-style businesses, such as the Maker House Co. and has lent her expertise to the Ottawa Tool Library as one of their volunteer Tool Educators.
While hoping to take advantage of the opportunities that Hintonburg will afford, Katrina is also looking forward to getting a second chance at establishing her space, something she felt was rushed in its current incarnation.
“When I set that shop up, I had little time to do it and I didn’t have a lot of resources,” Katrina says.
Now, with about four years of success and experience behind her, Katrina can plan this shift “with more insight and less pressure.”
Integral to this planning is Christina Maal, a passionate designer and employee at Malenka Originals.
“Christina walked into my shop three years ago, and she wasn’t looking for a job,” Katrina reminisces. “She wanted to talk about what I was doing and about reusing furniture. By the end of our conversation, I asked her to come and work for me.”
According to Katrina, Christina was drawn by the open concept of the shop, with all furniture work being done out in the open where customers can experience the process. Together, they’ve done their best to plan a layout that will preserve this atmosphere. “We want people to walk in and get that feeling of things being done here,” says Katrina.
“You have no idea how many people come into this store and say, ‘I can’t do this, I’m not creative,’” Katrina adds. “And then they come back in a few weeks, showing me pictures of these beautiful things that they’ve painted.”
It’s this attitude that makes Katrina such a great fit for the small business scene in Kitchissippi; she is already on board with a philosophy that, as she says, “doesn’t rely on people coming into a store and just buying stuff and leaving.”
This alternative approach to business pairs well, in Katrina’s eyes, with Malenka’s.
“That’s the thing about a lot of these businesses [in Hintonburg],” Katrina says. “They’re a lot about making, but they’re also about reusing, upcycling. We’re tired of the old model of just buying, buying, buying.”
“Everybody has a piece of furniture in their house that is very functional… but they don’t like the look of it,” says Katrina. Instead of tossing it to the curb, she really hopes that people will come into her shop and consider the possibilities.
“It’s about having customers taking on a more active role and having the chance to be hands on and creative,” Katrina says. “I want them to see how happy it can make you to rediscover your creative side, which this really does.”
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