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I should probably say this more often, but I have amazing friends. Not only are they loving, caring people I can always count on, but from time to time they can also be incredibly inspiring.

The reason I’m having one of these “be grateful for what and who I have in my life” moments is because recently one of my best friends took one of the biggest risks of his life! After being laid off from his prior job as a high-end furniture and design store manager from a company he grew to embody and embrace wholeheartedly for five years, my friend decided to go it alone with two of his former co-workers and open his own furniture and accessories store.

I know this has always been a dream of his, to have his own store, be his own boss, and growing up together we spoke about it many times: about how cool it would be, one day, if only… yada yada. Truthfully, I never really thought it possible mostly because I never had the balls to drop my comfy 9-5 to do anything like that and I found it hard to imagine someone close to me would be able to do the same. When he told me his intention to go it alone with his two business partners not three months ago, I had to admit that I had serious reservations about the idea, as many others close to him had. Of course I would support him regardless, but as his close friend I worried about his own financial and career situation.

Not that I thought the worst was going to happen, I guess I’m just very cautious and know that it’s just a tough economy right now notwithstanding the challenges of starting one’s own business at the best of times. I also know that over the years, he and I have had a lot of big ideas, some have been hits and some have been misses, and most have never come to fruition. I just knew that if he poured his heart and soul into something so big- his ultimate dream- before the time was right, that it might not come together or might not be what he had envisioned and he’d be crushed.

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Anyway, my worries ended up being entirely unfounded. Did he ever pull it off. After an intense month of store renovations, branding, sourcing, and placing orders the store finally opened last week to my awe and wonderment.  As soon as I walked in through the papered-up door a few days before the big reveal I nearly fell over. The space is more gorgeous than I could have ever imagined, with his personal flair peppered throughout the store from the furniture and art collections to the layout and merchandising. It’s not like anything else out there, it’s so unique, so him. As I stood there, speechless with my hand over my mouth scanning the room I couldn’t have been more proud of him. To believe in himself when he had to, when many people thought it too big a risk right now, the wrong business at the wrong time, he and his business partners stuck to their vision and created something that is truly inspirational. So, all sappiness aside, thank you for showing me that following one’s dreams is not something abstract and cliché, but something that, with enough fortitude, can actually become a reality.

Congratulations Craig, I wish you all the best with Parliament. With your talent, passion and dedication I know it will be a success.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Parliament, the website is www.parliamentinteriors.com.

If you’re in Vancouver, check the store out in person at 115 Water St. in Gastown.