Pamela Law: The business of change
I read a posting on Facebook not long ago that was poking fun at the fact that the Chilliwack Mall was the last mall on earth to have carpet. Well, the jokes will be coming to an end because as you are probably aware, the mall is getting an extreme makeover and the carpet is being replaced by porcelain tile. “The renovations should be done by the spring of 2012 and we’ll have three new tenants including Reitmans, SportChek and Winners. Toys R Us Express has also moved back. We’re excited to get this done,” said the mall’s manager, Pamela Law.
Pamela grew up in Campbell River and the family home was right on the ocean. “I was the middle child born in the middle of the week but even so I had a great childhood,” she laughed. As kids, Pamela and her siblings were always outdoors and on the water. “At night, I’d watch the cruise ships on Georgia Straight lit up like a Christmas tree and I thought that they were just beautiful. I guess that’s why I love cruising so much,” she chuckled.
She has always had a creative streak and an entrepreneurial spirit, something that she acknowledges she doesn’t inherit from either of her parents. “My parents were hard-working, middle class folks but they weren’t into taking chances,” she noted.
When she was 16, her parents divorced and from then on she became restless. “I was living in Victoria but decided that it was too small so I headed off to Toronto. I then came back to Victoria then went to Vancouver, then Burnaby, Langley and finally ended up here in Chilliwack,” she laughed.
Pamela was always business oriented and worked in various corporate capacities. She decided to take her CGA but with one course left to complete the program, she decided that it wasn’t for her. “I just resolved that it wasn’t for me because it wasn’t creative enough.” She took on a job with the Ministry of Health and worked for them for the next eight years. During her final year there, she also worked with Immigration Canada to get the boat people from Laos settled into the country. “This was a fascinating job and I saw all kinds of things that you wouldn’t believe,” she reflected.
After moving on, Pamela took on a position with Rogers/Cantel and became its manager of financial accounting. “I enjoyed the job and I had the chance of moving up the corporate ladder but then I met a cowboy, an entrepreneurial one at that, and he taught me the world of business,” she laughed. His background was sales and marketing and hers was finance. They combined their expertise and decided to buy a business. “We bought a sign and print shop business in Langley and ran it for 10 years. I absolutely loved it because I was able to combine my creative side with business,” she said.
While Pamela is quite the city girl, the couple made the decision to move out to Chilliwack. “After awhile, the commute became too much so we sold our Langley business. I thought that I’d retire but I became bored and shortly after started as the director of marketing at the Chilliwack Mall and in 2003 became the mall manager. No two days are ever the same and I guess it’s the variety that keeps me here,” she enthused.
The couple had thoughts of selling their house, buying a rig and going on the road but Pam laughed, suggesting that her sewing machine was too cumbersome to fit in the rig so that idea was dashed. Instead, she set up a studio at her home to create jewellery. She was wearing an earring and necklace set that she had created and they were stunning which would explain why she has clients in Hawaii, Germany, Holland, Australia and the US. “I’ve been a seamstress for as long as I can remember and three years ago I became serious about making jewellery. I design my own pieces and use genuine gemstones to create each piece. My brother built a website for me and I sell the product on line at www.evernicedesigns.ca and it’s working out very well,” she said. She’ll be attending a ‘Made in BC’ artisan show at the Croatian Cultural Centre and if things go well, she plans on exhibiting at shows in Calgary and Edmonton.
Pamela is quite satisfied with her life but admits that between her on-line jewellery business and her role as manager of two malls, she doesn’t have a whole lot of spare time. “Aside from my role as manager at the Chilliwack Mall, our company also has a mall in Whitehorse which I manage as well. It’s a strip mall with national tenants so it’s not too onerous. I usually travel up there twice a year to deal with things. Right now, I’m just excited to see things moving forward with this mall. It’ll be great when it’s all done. It’s going to look absolutely lovely,” she smiled.