zofia makes the move
I was working as a fabric developer in London when I got the idea to move to Vancouver. I love London, but it was making me feel squashed, physically and mentally. I wanted to be outside more. I craved nature and fresh air. I’d never been to Vancouver, or even to Canada, but in my mind I saw endless ocean, mountains and clear blue sky.
I applied for a Canadian work permit and started searching the Web for textiles jobs. The first search result was always fabric developer, lululemon athletica. It was a perfect role for me, but I didn’t know the company so I put off applying. Then my work permit came through three months earlier than I was expecting. With some encouragement from my friends, I powered through my lululemon application and sent it off. Someone from People Potential interviewed me by phone later that week, and it went really well. I didn’t have the job yet, but I wasn’t going to let that small detail stop me. I booked a one-way ticket to Vancouver.
When I arrived, the weather was grey and the clouds were heavy over the mountains. I went to my interview at the SSC, got a job offer the next day and signed a contract that week. It all felt a little crazy. I felt a little crazy. Then the clouds cleared, and I discovered the view from Coal Harbor, the seaplanes floating in the bay, the inviting green of Stanley Park. It was amazing. I was really here.
“It hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows. Getting settled takes time, but feeling supported happened from day one.”
I was expecting some cultural adjustments, but I didn’t realize that the first culture to conquer would be at lululemon. I found it a bit overwhelming at first, all these high-fiving yogis who were always talking about vision and goals. I spent the first days of on-boarding wondering if I’d fit in. Parker, who opened our week of on-boarding, knew I was here solo, and she invited me to go to yoga with her one evening. Laura, who recruited me, found me a home. She was moving out of her apartment, so she put me in touch with her landlord, and I moved in a couple weeks later. Laura even helped me move all of my stuff! Those are just two examples. People at work have been really great, especially the other ex-pats who know what it’s like to move country. It hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows. Getting settled takes time, but feeling supported happened from day one.
As for Vancouver, the culture shock has actually been pretty minimal. It’s similar to home in a lot of ways. There are moments when I miss British pubs, and I get the occasional longing for Marks & Spencer ready meals. On the other hand, I enjoy, take part and live the healthy lifestyle here. I didn’t even like yoga all that much when I arrived, but now I love it. I still go to the studio parker introduced me to regularly, and it’s since become an important community for me. I don’t feel squashed anymore. I feel lighter and brighter now. Coming here was like a big exhale.
Last summer, I went on an overnight sailing trip for my birthday. We basked in the sun, ate lingcod and crab fresh from the ocean, and watched seals bob around our boat. We were only about two hours from downtown Vancouver. I remember turning to my friend and saying, “Some people don’t even know you can live like this.” But it’s also about the little moments. We did Ashtanga this morning in the yoga room here at work. It was 7am and I was doing sun salutations to the sunrise. Things like that make me feel grateful for where I am every day.
“Nothing is preordained. I decide what my life will be. Working at lululemon has taught me that.”
Which isn’t to say I’ll live in Vancouver forever. Maybe I’ll go back to England one day. Or I could pack up next year and move to Italy, Paris or New York. Nothing is preordained. I decide what my life will be. Working at lululemon has taught me that. It’s opened up more possibility in my mind for what my ideal life might be and given me the confidence that I can achieve it. I don’t ever feel like I’m being put in a box here. I’m a fabric developer today, but I can be anything I want tomorrow. That said, I really do think lululemon and me were pulled together by the universe. Whatever it was that brought me here, I know I’m in the right place, right now.