Entrepreneurial-Life: On a West Coast Island

In Work-Life by Desja Walker2 Comments

by Desja Walker – Owner of Haven Living, located on Vancouver Island

A “safe haven” was the initial concept that became the foundation on which I began to build my dreams and create the Haven Living all natural skin care collections that currently grace the shelves of several retailers across Canada and the USA.

Haven Living Skin Care Collections are hand crafted on Vancouver Island, by myself, Desja Walker, an esthetician and hair stylist by trade. My dream was to create an authentically natural skin care line and create a store that would allow me to nurture my love of the beauty industry while inspiring creativity within myself and others.

I had been living on the Lower Mainland of British Columbia for nearly 20 years prior to making the move to Port Alberni, on Vancouver Island. The mellow lifestyle and laid back little town drew me in, as it was so different than the constant pressure in Abbotsford. The simple change of location has allowed me so much time in my life while I raise three children. The sense of community here is something I was really missing in my life and absolutely love the people here. I have found a fierce squad of avid supporters who love the shop, and have become people I am blessed to call my friends. We have a community of like-minded people who are working hard to change the way Port Alberni is viewed on the world stage and are huge supporters of local business here in the Alberni Valley.

Despite the overwhelming love and support of the community, I have faced so many entrepreneurial challenges that one really only discovers once you’ve thrown yourself into the arms of self-employment. Finding a storefront location to meet my needs which included a manufacturing space meant settling for a location that perhaps wasn’t ideal. We are located off the beaten path which has created a bit of a challenge for exposure. Thankfully the opportunity to reach so many people via social media has been super successful and allowed me to reach so much farther than just locally. With technology at our fingertips it can sometimes be as much of a curse as a blessing however.

The Alberni Valley not only is home to an amazing community of people, but the most beautiful outdoors I have ever seen. Woodlands, trails, lakes and the ocean canal has made Port Alberni a mecca for the outdoor enthusiast. As a mom of 3 small children it has been a challenge to take advantage of all it has to offer, so I created an “Island bucket list”. Whether it is local activities, or places we have yet to visit, I want to experience it all. A main driving force for me right now is the desire to limit the kids screen time. The stress of the business really began to take a toll on me in the new year, as I fell extremely ill, coupled with the loss of a dear family member, it forced me to take stock in what was really important to me and how I wanted to raise my children.

The work/life balance can be the toughest part of this entrepreneurial life. My work hours usually start fairly early in the morning before the children are awake, and some days can run late into the night depending the season. I find my biggest challenge is to put down my phone. In a world where social media is the root of many of our businesses, it can be really challenging to not feel pulled in so many directions. Regaining focus and balance is something I am continuously working towards. In May I made the solid decision to shift focus back to myself, and do a lifestyle overhaul in our entire household. I began a clean eating and whole food journey that has ultimately changed my life. I began to incorporate exercise that includes our naturally beautiful valley to help reduce my stress level and change the direction of my children’s childhood. All it takes is the decision to want to change. After all, we are all so busy in life surviving; sometimes we forget that we exist as unique spiritual beings.

My goals for 2017? Balance, health and joy. I want to set goals and smash them; both in my personal and entrepreneurial life. I hope that above all, people see me as a mover and a shaker – a positive light and someone who inspires change. The shop has given me the strength to ask the universe for all the joy that I had hoped. Every day when I get to turn the key to my “safe haven” and I sometimes have to stop and remind myself that great blessings come with great work and sacrifice. Sometimes that’s the best way to learn the lessons we need to discover!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Desja is now in the process of moving her store to a downtown loaction. To learn more check out her blog.


  1. absolutely amazing customer service and interaction. Loving their products. Everyone should check it out. Look forward to your new store in the future.

  2. Thank you Lorraine! Please know that your love and support of the shop does not go unnoticed. You have no idea how much that means to me!

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