Story and Photography byu Lia Crowe
In 2010, Tamara and Jonathan took a leap of faith and followed a longtime dream of living in Victoria. They moved from the Okanagan with three small children and a dog temporarily into Jonathan’s parents’ house in Victoria, started Thomas and Birch Cabinetry from scratch and haven’t looked back.
“We just did it,” Jonathan reflects as I meet with the couple at Tamara’s beautiful photography studio (Hudson Wren Modern Fine Art Portraiture) on Herald Street to chat life, style and a shared entrepreneurial and adventurous spirit.
“Oh, look. She’s already getting emotional!” Jonathan lovingly teases his wife when I ask about the motivational juice behind her photography work.
She says: “If your house goes up in flames, what do you grab? Your kids and your photographs. For me the juice comes from the fact that I’m creating something for families that they will cherish forever. I feel that having a family portrait is such an important part of a family’s history.”
And what gets Jonathan fired up about his work?
“Connection,” he says. “The kitchen is a very intimate place in a home; it’s the heart. So when I’m creating that space, I need to connect with the client so that I can understand how they are going to use that space and create memories there. I also love the family aspect of our company, the people that work there. Some have gotten married and had kids since working for me and I get to see their families grow. That’s exciting for me.”
What are they passionate about outside of work?
“We’re all about where the good food is,” Tamara laughs. “When we travel, before even seeing the sights we want to know one thing — ‘where’s the best place to eat?’”
For Jonathan, it’s about his contribution to his kids sports: “I coached my sons’ football team for 10 seasons. Watching them progress as young men has been very exciting to see, and very rewarding.”
And what qualities do they hope their offspring will inherit from them? “I hope they get Tamara’s ability to care,” says Jonathan. “It’s so immense and I think that if they can do that with their own kids, they’ll have great families and success in life.”
Tamara hopes they get her sense of adventure. “We’ve had some great adventures! Every time I say, ‘I have an idea!’ Jonathan braces himself. Creating these memories for them is such a big deal for me and I hope they do that for their kids.”
When it comes to style, Jonathan has a fresh perspective having recently lost a bunch of weight.
“Now I’m enjoying shopping and dressing up! I just got rid of the last of my XL clothes and I’m never going to go back. I now care about style,” Jonathan says as Tamara teases him about his new-found enjoyment of shopping.
Tamara’s style can be best compared to the Ralph Lauren aesthetic: “Simple and classic. Things that have longevity; not things that are trendy but rather have good style. In that way, you just need a few simple, timeless pieces that you can jam out every day and you never get bored.”
Fashion & Beauty
Uniform: Jeans — dress ’em up or dress ’em down.
All-time favourite piece: Levi’s denim jacket.
Currently Coveting: Ulanily Pointy Toe Bootie Marc Fisher Ltd.
Favourite jewellery piece or designer: Leah Alexandra.
Fashion Obsession: Shoes.
Accessory you spend the most money on: Shoes.
Necessary indulgence for either fashion or beauty: “Did I mention shoes?”
Scent: Marc Jacobs (“Unfortunately it is discontinued now so I’m savouring it.”)
Favourite Denim, brand and cut: Levis 511.
Current go-to clothing Item: Blundstone 584 - The Winter in Rustic Brown.
Best new purchase: Anthony of London brown leather motorcycle jacket.
Favourite Day-bag: Milwaukee “Packout” tool bag.
Accessory you spend the most money on: Watches — Citizen Nighthawk.
Sunglasses: Arnette Witch Doctor.
Necessary indulgence: Milwaukee Tools.
Favourite skincare or hair product: Ursa Major Face Balm and Uppercut Deluxe Pomade.
Style / Inspiration / Life
Style Icon: Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy.
Favourite Artist: Bobbie Burgers and Miguel Vallinas.
Piece of art: Abel Massot.
Favourite Musician: Too many to list just one.
Era of Time that inspires your style: 1960s Mad Men Mid Century Modern.
Film that inspires your style: Kelly McGillis Top Gun blazers, white shirts and jeans.
Favourite Cocktail: Gin and Soda Lime.
Album on current rotation: I have a few on my list rotating right now, including Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Eric Church and Leon Bridges.
Favourite Flower: So hard to pick just one: peony, anemone, tulip, hydrangea.
Favourite city to visit: San Fran.
Favourite What do you read Online for style: “I check out Pinterest once in a while if I am looking for inspo.”
Favourite Print magazine: Elle Decor.
Favourite book of all time: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.
Favourite place in the whole world: Anywhere there is an adventure to be had with my family.
Style / Inspiration / Life
What do you read Online for style: Houzz.
Fave Print magazine: “Boulevard …and it’s not just blatant sucking up!”
Favourite style Blog: Houzz.
Favourite Artist: Ren Matheson.
Piece of art: Anything by Ren Matheson.
Favourite Fashion Designer or brand: Banana Republic.
Favourite Musician: Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Era of Time that inspires your style: ’50s and ’80/’90s.
Film that inspires your style: Top Gun.
Favourite local restaurant: Brasserie L’Ecole.
Favourite Cocktail: Moscow Mule.
Album on current rotation: Villains, Queens of the Stone Age.
Favourite Flower: Tulips because they are Tamara’s fave.
Favourite city to visit: Havana, Cuba.
Favourite App: National Post News App.
Favourite place in the whole world: Home.