A surprise makeover with the Swan Sistersbohemian
Here at Style In Form we believe that a home is more than a place to rest your head. A home is who we are. It should embody how we see ourselves and most of all it should be a place we come to recharge, relax and revive.
This secret project was a labour of love from all of us to one very special lady. Ariel Swan is devoted to helping those in need in Vancouver and beyond. She gives her time, energy and love without a moment’s hesitation to make sure the lives of others can be just a little bit better.
Working with Serinda, we helped revamp Ariel’s space into a modern, boho-chic retreat perfect for this hard-working gal. The best part was seeing Ariel’s reaction and knowing that we could help bring some joy to someone who has given so selflessly to so many.
Robbie sat down with Ariel to chat about the makeover and so much more:
Q: What was your first reaction when you saw what Serinda had done with your place?
A: Very, very surprised. It was, and is, perfect. I’m not a decorator, but everything was exactly as I would have done it. My place was “nice” before, but now it is so much more.
Q: Did you know what she had planned?
A: No, not at all. I had a sneaking suspicion that she was up to something, but never imagined it was this. She asked me if she could “help me decorate” but I thought that meant buying a new rug or moving some things around.
Q: What’s your favourite thing about your new place?
A: I like that she kept my Boho vibe. It’s updated and new, but still feels like me.
Q: Why do you think Serinda wanted to do this for you?
A: It is her way of saying thank you. I’m always giving back, working on our charities, donating my time, and I think she wanted to express what that means to her. It is sometimes hard for me to accept gratitude – I’m bad at receiving – without feeling guilty. It’s really hard for me to just let somebody do something nice for me without wanting to give something back. This just “was” and I had to just say “thank you.” It’s a big lesson.
Q: Why is charity work, the “giving”, so important to you?
A: I want to lead by example. I want to raise people up to be the best that they can be. My charities all involve community involvement. It’s not just about people giving but also getting involved with the people they are giving too. I love the phrase “the minute you know, you can’t unknow.” Getting people into the Downtown Eastside to actually meet the people that live there has a very profound effect. You can’t “unsee” that kind of poverty. These are real people, once you meet them, you can’t “unknow” that they are human beings.
Q: When was this instinct to give borne? Where did it come from?
A: When I was about to turn 29 I looked at my life and realized that I didn’t want to celebrate. All of the things I thought I was going to accomplish hadn’t happened. I felt like my life had no value. I knew I needed to make a change, that I needed my life to mean something. That’s when it started. When I started to want to inspire other people to do more. It’s one light that lights another light that lights another light.
Q: Do you want to talk about your charities?
A: Of course. The primary work I do is with a Vancouver organization called “Feed The People”. What it is, in a nutshell, is people giving back on their birthdays. Basically, they donate all of the money that would be spent on gifts, dinners, new outfits, etc. to Feed The People. We then take that money and, usually in conjunction with a local restaurant, make food and bring it to the needy in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. But, and this is the best part, the person who gives up their birthday and their friends, come, help make and distribute the food. It’s what I talked about earlier, the “being there” the “knowing” is such an important part of it.
I also help organize Slow Jam Sundays, Vancouver’s best night of music. Generally, one dollar of the admission is donated to charity. For the past few years, we’ve been working with a village in El Salvador. We’ve built houses, a new water system and we’re now raising money to build a community center. It’s in conjunction with a great Latin American agency called Techo.
I also work with my sister Serinda’s charity, called Deedly. It’s an online app that educates kids about issues in the world, be it global warming, poverty, or access to education. So, here is how it works; someone donates to Deedly. For that money to be dispersed, students and kids need to learn about a particular issue and “unlock” that money to be donated. It’s great because it teaches children about world issues and about the organizations that strive to make the change and hopefully inspires them to want to get involved and make a difference.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add? Any “takeaways” from all of this?
A: I’ve never felt like I’ve really had a “home”. My parents divorced at an early age and my Mom was a bit of a gypsy. We moved around a lot. I’ve been traveling a lot over the last few years… It’s really nice to go home and feel like it is “my home.” I never want to leave!