Thursday, 31 March 2011

Meet the expat: Fabrique Fantastique

The lovely Jan runs two Etsy shops, Fabrique Fantastique and her gorgeous new shop, Boutique Fantastique.

I love looking at her scarves, they're so pretty. She also sells quilts and sari fabrics amongst other things. Her new shop specializes in vintage clothing and the wedding dresses are exquisite.

I believe, Jan, with her inestimable energy is planning to open a third shop on Etsy in the fall. I can't wait to see it.

Jan likes to call herself the 'dinosaur' of the team and exclaims (on occasion) that she needs technological help. But for a dinosaur her blog looks really awesome!

When I asked her if she's willing to be my subject for our Meet the Expat post this week she was full  of reservations. She thinks she's the oldest person on our team (she'll be 70 next month) and she's lived in Toronto for 45 years. So wasn't sure whether she can validly call herself an expat.

I, of course, disagreed. I believe that's exactly why it's so interesting to talk to her about her experiences as an expat. For some of us, after all, that's our future. To become naturalized citizens in whichever country we reside.

Jan was kind enough to answer my questions and give me a bit of background on her life.

I am an English publicans daughter and always lived 'above the shop'. I was washing glasses by age 14 (that was the legal age to be in licensed premises then).

I went to Canterbury College of Art and worked in London after wards. I have 3 grown children, the eldest reversed the situation by marrying an Englishman and lives with 3 children in Yorkshire.

I pursued my art inclinations, working with textile arts, showing at small galleries and a little teaching.

When my youngest started school I fell into a lovely sales career in the publishing industry here, lots of fun!

Austerity Britain shaped me and I always was an enthusiastic collector of vintage textiles so when my publishing career came to an end I started to deal in this area...still love it, especially the thrill of the chase.

Why did you move? 
I came to Canada for the usual reason...I married a Canadian.

We met in Spain, married in England and came to his home city because, at that time, Canada had a very good standard of living - central heating, supermarkets, washing machines etc - that were not available in England at that time.

We never made a conscious  decision to stay, in fact we are still thinking and talking about living in Britain!

Biggest challenge being an expat?  
Biggest challenge was recognizing that I was living in a different culture. (My husband's mother was Romanian.)

I had assumed because it was English speaking things would be the same. At that time Canada was moving quickly from being a somewhat boring English outpost to the multi-ethnic society it is today.

Biggest joy being an expat?
Biggest joy was that Canada has afforded me many opportunities that I do not think would have come my way had I stayed at home (maybe I'm wrong, for Britain has changed mightily too).

Jan was also kind enough to let us see some of her photos from her cabin in the woods. She thinks this would count as one of the things that she would not be able to have in the UK. I tend to agree with her.

I love the sound of this cabin, it's on a small, 1 acre island on the Georgian Bay of lake Huron. Meaning a two hour drive from Toronto followed by 20 minutes travel by boat. Sounds divine.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to me Jan. We know you've had a hip replacement recently and we're all very happy at your recovery and hope you feel more mobile every day.

You can find Jan online:

Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently an expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)


  1. Don't know about the 'lovely'. Jacqueline, thank you.

  2. What an interesting read! We'll always be immigrants Jan, if not expats :) Your kids are the true Canadians.

  3. Wonderful I love hearing more about our amazing Jan and what beautiful views you have Jan no wonder you have stayed so long - well written Jacqueline.

  4. Wow Jan, so nice to read more about you!! You are just such a great lady.

  5. Shirl/Artophile31 March 2011 at 21:20

    This is a lovely peek into your life, Jan!
    Love your views but it must be chilly to be so near the lake in winter!

  6. I have admired Jan's shop for a long time - very good to read a bit more about her. I particularly liked the G & T view!

  7. Excellent interview Tange!
    I really enjoyed reading about your life Jan

  8. Wonderful interview! So interesting and lovely work.

  9. Woow, I didn't know that Jan is almost 70 years old! :) I think she is still so young in her heart. Great interview :)

  10. Nice to meet you Jan.
    That cabin sounds so wonderful, I zenned (made-up word) just looking at the photos.