The Knotty By Nature Fibre Arts shop is a kaleidoscope of bright colours. Just walking through it makes you want to start a hobby to be able to use the products that are offered for sale.
Stephanie Papik, also known as Paniguvluk, is the founder and creator. Knotty By Nature carries knitting, weaving, spinning, felting, and fibre arts products. It also offers classes so that people can learn how to use the products. Papik keeps the cost of the classes low to allow as many people as possible to experience the joys of fibre arts. Papik was inspired by a great aunt, who, even though she was blind, knit a pair of socks for her father-in-law. “She was kind of my initial inspiration into the fibre arts because I figured, if she can knit and be blind, then I have half a chance.” From knitting, Papik moved into weaving and then spinning. That is when she noticed a need in Victoria for stores that went beyond knitting to include unspun fibres. Together with her partner, Papik conducted market research and developed a business plan. Once they could get funding, she took a leave of absence from her full-time job to open the business. The business started as a booth in a farmer’s market. From there, she moved into rented facilities. A crucial part of enhancing business stability was to own the building in which they operate. Through relationships built with community members, Papik and her partner were able to find a building, which they purchased in 2019.
Papik’s financial institution is Nuu-chah-nulth Economic Development
Corporation (NEDC). Through NEDC, in addition to the money that she had saved, she was able to get a grant and a small business loan. It also allowed her to purchase the building with a smaller down payment than she would have needed. “They have been really key in the success of Knotty By Nature,” says Papik. Papik’s educational background is an Honors degree in science. While not having a business degree has created some challenges, she feels that it has allowed her some freedom. “It’s been a bit of a challenge, but it shouldn’t deter anyone who’s considering running a business.” Papik feels that her experience in her government job and that of being a parent has helped her, especially in trying to teach people new skills. She also thinks
that the knowledge gained from running the business has helped her in other parts of her life and created a synergistic relationship. For Papik, the rewards have focused on relationships and community. For example, in response to a request from a local community organization to
participate in a mural project, Papik collaborated with artist Nicole Neidhardt and the community to develop the inspiration for the mural. The creation of the mural, which can be found on the outer wall of the building, was a community event, and community members were invited to add handprints to the wall.
“All in total, we had 96 humans involved in the mural project.” Papik has also worked to give back to the community. “Early on, when we opened up, there used to be a fibre arts festival and then it stopped. So, we started putting on that, and it’s been huge because it’s encouraged others to start their businesses. It has been so wonderful, just to see how empowering it is.” The key advice Papik shares comes from the inspiration she received from Elders in the north. “They would say how important it is to find something that inspires you to be creative, and then in that
creativity, you can find ways to contribute to the community.” Papik embodies this philosophy and is an inspiring example of putting it into practice. Papik sold her business at the end of 2021
to Ryan Davis, and she still has ownership of the building. Letting go of the business has created space for focusing on Indigenous-centered initiatives through the Culture Den Society of which she has been a co-founding member since 2021.