A dignified visit with Jen Kaboom!
Brutal Reality Digest is a young publication but we have ethics, dammit! We only want to work with people on the level and thank the Space Lord Mother Mother we found Jen Kaboom - owner/operator of New World Designs! She has been an outstanding partner for both BRD and our pals over at PunKanormal Activity and for that she gets the Brutal Approval! Let's hear from her!
BRUTAL REALITY DIGEST: When did you launch NWD?
JEN KABOOM: I wish I could take full credit for New World, but sadly I cannot. New World has been a Vancouver staple for over 30 years! I officially took over the business In January 2018.
BRD: What was your motivation to start your own business?
JK: I had been the “Sunday girl” at New World for about 5 years before the owner had expressed to me that she wanted to retire. When she presented me with an option to take over ownership, I jumped on it. I gave the entire business a facelift, moved locations (just around the corner from the previous location – mainly due to a colossal rent increase due to a new name on the lease), and put my spin on it.
BRD: What's your favourite part of being a business owner?
JK: I absolutely LOVE curating every single piece in this shop. The buying shows are a ton of fun too. It’s nice being able to put faces to names when 99% of my rep relationships are online based. Sadly, I don’t think these buying shows will happen again anytime soon though.
BRD: What do you hate about being a business owner?
JK: How glued to my phone I am at all times. I need to always be ON, even when the shop is closed. And since I have no backup, or emergency contact, if my alarm ever goes off, I need to be able to answer that call and get to the shop as quickly as possible. It makes going places a little tough.
BRD: What is the sketchiest moment you've experienced at the store?
JK: My shop is on Hastings. There’s A LOT of sketchy shit that’s happened. It’s really all how you deal with it though. These people are human beings as well. Treat them kindly, and hopefully you get the same in return. I’ll share a good story with you though. A couple years ago I was running a contest for 2 tickets to see Dita Von Teese. With every purchase you’d be put into the draw. I’m still super old school with my receipts here, and hand write all of them, so with the hard copy, I would get the customer to write their name and phone number for the draw and I’d put it in the draw box. These 2 younger girls came in and were just blindly wanting to buy things without trying them on (shoes, dresses etc.) and paid with a card that they had to swipe. I got a slimy feeling right off the bat with them, yet still chatted them up about the contest. After they had paid and left (the card went through), I took a picture of the written receipt with their name and phone number, as well as the receipt from the payment machine just because I had a hunch. A month later there was a dispute on my Moneris account from, you guessed it, the girls. I actually phoned her and gave her a piece of my mind! And I passed on the info over to Moneris and all was dealt with 😊 Moral of the story – don’t fuck with me.
BRD: What is your proudest moment?
JK: My proudest moment was being able to donate $2500 to Ovarian Cancer Canada. I lost my best friend to Ovarian Cancer, and keeping her memory alive, I have special tags on specific items in the shop that I knew she would have loved. I donate a portion of the sale from those items to OCC. I also have a donation box on my counter as well, for those who wish to donate to the cause.
BRD: What advice can you give to people considering starting their own business?
JK: If it feels like work, you’re doing it wrong. That being said, you have to have discipline and be your own cheerleader. Some days are great, and some are super shitty. Have all your bases covered and always prepare for the worst. I feel right now I am experiencing the absolute worst. I mean, NO ONE could have prepared for a friggin pandemic.
BRD: How important is supporting the arts to you?
JK: Incredibly. Pre-Covid you would see me at basically every show. We have such an amazing scene here in Vancouver, and when shit hit the fan this year and our local bands were forced to cancel their tours and stop playing shows, I opened up space in my shop for them to sell records, and t-shirts.
BRD: What's your favourite thing about Vancouver?
JK: If you asked me this question 6 months ago, I’d say that there’s always something to do, or a show to see. But now my favourite part is what draws most non-punks here – the scenery. Mountains AND ocean. Can’t beat that!
BRD: Name some artists, bands, filmmakers in Van who we should be paying attention to!
JK: Oh there are SO many! I can’t really recommend any filmmakers since I don’t watch TV or go to the movies or anything like that.
Artists I’m a big fan of, and display their art in my shop are:
Paul Gardiner – also a wicked good tattoo artist!
Local bands I can’t get enough of are:
Dead End Drive In
The Greatest Sons
I’ll also tell ya to keep an eye out for up and coming band Pilsgnar. Their album should be out next month!