Good Morning, an interview with Marla Ebell
Marla, Marla, Marla.
It was love at first sight in all the ways. I first discovered her shop Hold General via Instagram. I was taking a trip out to beautiful Victoria- the west coast of Canada, a few weeks from that point and made a mental note to visit the shop while I was out there. I didn’t know anything about Marla quite yet.
My dear friend Mackenzie and I were spending a few days adventuring around the island in his VW camper; cooking, swimming, talking, star gazing and planning a collaboration together. It was as dreamy as it sounds. Before venturing up-island and out of cell-phone territory, we visited a few sweet spots in Victoria including Nourish Kitchen, vegan restaurant Be Love (twice!) and The Market Garden– a beautiful outdoor urban garden and organic seed dispensary. I remembered the beautiful shop that I wanted to see, Hold General.
Upon entering, I immediately felt the need to pitch a tent and call it home. Beautiful, simple, thoughtful and consciously sourced tools filled the space, along with hanging herbs and produce from her family farm. And then I met the woman behind it all: Marla, with her open heart and welcoming smile. She was totally game when I almost instantly introduced myself and asked to feature her on The Well Woman. She was in the shop with her friends and HOLD collaborators, the equally wonderful Kelly Brown and Heather Dewey of Woven Wares. We were all instant friends, my favourite kind.
I absolutely love what Marla is bringing, making, doing with her General store and cannot wait for future collaborations between us. It is one thing to have a beautifully designed/curated store but after meeting this woman, hearing her story and the life she breathes into HOLD, it becomes so much more. Her space is a true extension of her life, her values and her family. Please read this sunflower’s interview below while turning your ears onto what she’s currently listening to.
Describe who you are. What is your favourite quality in yourself?
My name is Marla Ebell.
I am the owner and operator of HOLD. a general store based in Victoria Canada. I am a lover of wild flowers and natural simplicity.
My favourite quality in myself is being able to frequently fall in love with strangers.
What are your morning rituals? What’s the first thing you do when you rise?
I live in a tiny home in a quiet part of town. I wake up early with the sunshine in my little loft bed and listen to the birds for a few hours before climbing down from my little nest.
Does the quality of your morning set the tone for the rest of your day?
Very much so. My best days always start calm, with good food and a full heart. That sometimes means a solo writing session in bed, or coffee with a good friend, or just writing out the to-do list for the day.
What are you reading right now?
The E-Myth … it’s so abrasive to look at and I really dislike the title but it really does put starting a small business into perspective.
Let’s talk food. What does a typical breakfast look like?
My favourite in the last few weeks has been Mexican inspired scrambled tofu on a collard leaf with beans and cilantro and fresh tomatoes.
Coffee or tea?
Right now coffee… a lot of coffee.
Quality of food is so important but so is quality of mind. How do you feed your mind?
Allowing myself some alone time to take care of my home and body has been hard lately but when I can just giving my little house some love and going for a walk in my neighbourhood picking wildflowers and reminding myself how beautiful this world is.
Describe what it was like growing up on a farm. How did that change your connection and relationship to food?
It’s my Grandparents farm and we didn’t always live on it, we have drifted on and off over the years. My parents were both in environmental sciences. Foraging, fishing, visiting the farm and respect for the land and what nourishes us were always core values growing up.
I fell in love with absolutely everything about your shop Hold General. Tell us about your space. How did it come into fruition? What led to the opening of this space?
A general store has been on my mind for a very long time. I remember first chatting with my dad about the idea while I was in high school. I used to do marketing for my grandparents vegetable farm. After long harvest days, I would stay up all night before markets bundling vegetables in paper and string. I didn’t want the food my grandparents and I had grown and harvested with so much thought and intention to be sold in plastic bags and twist ties. Around that same time I studied holistic nutrition and herbal medicine and I would translate all my notes into books of illustrated monographs after class. I really loved making morally beautiful products and ideas aesthetically attractive in order to engage with a wider audience.
I eventually ended up studying design in Melbourne Australia. While I was there fell further into love with all things well made. The whole time I was in school there I was literally only doing homework or filling endless craft paper notebooks full of illustrative shop designs.
It took a push of confidence from a really wonderful past employer and a lot of trust from my family to give me the ability to make it all a reality.
What is the feeling you get being on your family-farm? Time in nature, picking your own food. Why is this an important element that you bring into the general store?
My whole family lives on the farm now. Quiet days spent there leave me full of inspiration. Watching the passion of my grandparents and eating the food they have poured it all into feeds my heart. Connection to food is core in my values and I believe the slow food movement is just the first step in having awareness to everything we surround ourselves with.
There is an incredible, like-minded, holistic and sustainable community focus in Victoria. What’s it like living there?
It’s amazing when people walk in and just get it right away. I can end up sitting on the floor with new customers talking foraging or sustainable textiles for hours. Having such a responsive community is incredibly encouraging.
How do you take care of your mind, body and spirit?
Spending as much time outside as I can. Soaking up evening sunshine, salty ocean dips and warm lake swims. I’m so looking forward to mushroom season coming up, harvesting and hiking in the woods is my favourite way to clear my mind and expand my lungs.
Having just opened a business, how do you take time to consciously unplug?
Spending days off out of cellphone range is ideal for me right now. I also have just recently started to plug my phone in not in my loft so I don’t panic in the middle of the night and start scrolling though emails and Instagram.
Describe mornings with one word.