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Local luxury hat shop attracts cultural tourists to Nelson, B.C.

Success Story Info

  • Organization: 

    Lillie and Cohoe

  • Region:  British Columbia
  • Impact: 

    Luxury hat boutique expands to become a cultural tourist destination.

  • Project: 

    FEDOs: Lillie and Cohoe

  • Category:  Francophone, Tourism, Women
  • Story Date:  2020-08-19
Trying on hats

Lillie and Cohoe is more than a luxury hat shop in the heart of Nelson, B.C. It is a cultural tourism destination that attracts residents and visitors alike. Liz Cohoe, sole owner and designer, has been creating handmade, luxury hats since 1990 and now sells her unique products internationally.

Lillie and Cohoe’s hats are an expression of Nelson’s colourful culture. Liz is inspired by the Canadians from Quebec who settled in this rural town and hopes her business contributes to the richness of Nelson’s culture.

The Économusée network helps local artisans like Liz develop their businesses. This way, the cultural heritage and traditional know-how is preserved and shared in an engaging and sustainable manner. Through support from Économusée and the Francophone Economic Development Organizations (FEDOs) across Canada, Liz transformed her business into a destination for tourists to experience Francophone culture in rural B.C.

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) supports the development of official language minority communities (OLMCs) in 3 ways.

First, WD helps OLMCs build stronger economies through the FEDOs.

WD also invests in ventures that expand, strengthen or diversify businesses in OLMCs through the Economic Development Initiative (EDI) program.

Finally, WD examines proposed projects in all funding streams using an “Official Languages Lens” to evaluate whether a project’s benefits can be extended to the Francophone community.

Local luxury hat shop attracts cultural tourists to Nelson, B.C. (length: 2:56)

Transcript: "Local luxury hat shop attracts cultural tourists to Nelson, B.C."


(The camera pans the mountainside outside of Nelson, BC.)

(Text on screen: Scenes in this video were produced prior to COVID-19 health restrictions.)

(Lillie & Cohoe logo and text on screen: handmade luxury hats Nelson, B.C.)

(Various shots of restaurant interior)

(LIZ COHOE - OWNER/DESIGNER, LILLIE & COHOE voiceover and on-screen) – It started out on the mountainside outside of Nelson. It just was always this dream to be there because we loved it a lot. We really enjoyed the place.

And I was really surprised, because at that time I was working in the manufacturing and ski-wear manufacturing industry and truly didn't want to leave it and couldn't see that happening here. So I didn't really know what I would do here.

(Scenes of activity on the shop floor and in the hat-making area)

(LIZ COHOE voiceover and on-screen)
The whole idea is that we're creating something that's really based here. It reflects a lot of what's going on in the world in fashion and style and beauty, but it's here.

Nelson has kind of a hippie history and many people from Quebec have been part of that and still are here or continue to visit. I think, in general, the culture of Quebec contributes a lot to more colorful and expressive ways of being.

What I learned with hats is how that item becomes something that's just there because that person who's wearing it looks so good in it. From there, just our complete belief that we can do this.

We were not doing well financially, but we were making it. But there's a lot of work. It was a huge amount of work and we had different kinds of help along the way.

The coming in of Western Diversification is really going to make a difference. It's going to allow what we've done here, I believe, to flourish.

We just fit right into it. It has to do with economic growth and health of rural areas. It has to do with cultural development and recognition all through Western Canada.

All of us that are working here are supported by all the money that we bring in from the outside world. So, we're not only turning over what's already here. We're bringing money in. So now, with tourism and people coming here to visit us in this place, we can do the same thing for us and for the town with people who are coming to see the town.

With our relationship to Économusée, more people who are not in Nelson are going to know about it, too. And it will be interesting to them. It might even be interesting to them as far as how they can do something like this in their own community.

Eventually somehow, somebody says, “I'm so amazed that you've done this in Nelson. It's so great. I bring my friends here. It's really awesome. It makes our town feel like it's different than most towns.”

(Western Economic Diversification Canada wordmark)

(Canada Wordmark)

[Music stops]

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