Donna Gumprich grew up with six brothers and sisters in a rather modest home in Saskatoon. She has very fond memories of her childhood, though she recalls that it was a rather boisterous household. “We didn’t grow up with much, so we learned how to repurpose the things that we did have,” she admitted. Although the thought of lightening ones’ footprint on the planet wasn’t really a conscious decision back in those days, today, it has become a way of life and a passion for Donna. Her goal is to help people move towards a healthier lifestyle; all the while lightening the ecological footprint on Mother Earth.
For as long as she can remember, Donna has had an interest in fashion. “I used to watch old movies just for the clothing,” she laughed. She married young; admitting that back then she didn’t know any better. “I was married at 18 and I know that this was rather young but it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I don’t regret it because I have two beautiful children as a result. He was a wonderful man but just not the right man for me,” she reflected. After the split, her husband moved out west and a short time later, Donna and her brother decided to make the trek out to BC too. “We moved to Vancouver without a job, we knew no one and we must have had about $500 between us. My goodness, that was about twenty-seven years ago now,” she chuckled.
Being a determined, motivated woman, it didn’t take her long to find a job. She began working at a restaurant where she was a hostess by night and their bookkeeper by day. “I did this for a couple of years and then decided to pursue my first love which was fashion. I went to the Helen Lafeaux School of Fashion Design and loved every minute of it. I was even named Top Design Student,” she enthused. It was a two year program but she rolled it into one year, while still working full time. “I stayed up until 4 a.m. many times doing homework.”
Aside from her interest in fashion, Donna also had a keen interest in designing jewellery. “I studied gold and silversmithing in Vancouver for two years. I never did pursue it but it was something that really interested me.”
After graduating, she quickly came to the realization that while she would love a career in fashion design, it was one that wouldn’t pay her well enough to live on. “Instead, I took a job as manager of a higher end British clothing store in West Vancouver. I remained there for about a year and a half but the job wasn’t leading me anywhere, so I went to work for Jenny Craig when they first opened up in Canada,” she said. Within six months, Donna was a Regional Supervisor, where for the next five years she was responsible for five centres. “I had to make sure that we met their sales targets and I was also in charge of all of the hiring, firing and the training. It was a great job and I learned so much. I had the opportunity to travel and there was a lot of personal development,” she said.
While she worked at Jenny Craig, she became a friend of a gal from Chilliwack who was getting married and she invited Donna to the wedding. “I didn’t know anything about Chilliwack but that night I met my future husband, Shane. There was a definite spark the night we first met and three years later, we were married,” she laughed.
Following her move to Chilliwack, Donna operated the restaurant at the Bingo Hall for ten years. “I loved it but eventually it got to be too much. I was working 16 hour days, 7 days a week and after awhile, you do burn out,” she said.
She took two years off but after that time, this enthusiastic go-getter realized that she needed to go back to work. “I was reading the Province one day and it had an article that featured a business that was changing the carbon footprint. For three, consecutive weeks they ran articles on ‘green’ businesses. When I approached my eleven year old daughter about the prospect of going back to work, she said that I should do something that would make the world a better place to live. After six months of research, I opened up All Things Being Eco on Vedder Road and this past September we celebrated our third anniversary,” she said.
Although she opened up her store at an incredibly difficult time; when the world’s economies went into a tailspin, the store has done remarkably well in those short three years. “I have a wonderful clientele base. We are like an old fashioned general store with something for everybody.” The store is the Fraser Valley’s most comprehensive organic boutique. Donna works hard to bring in innovative and high quality organic, recycled, natural, fair trade and earth friendly products at very affordable prices. “We stock organic clothing, skin care, bath and body products and cosmetics, bio-degradable diapers and cloth diapers. We handle a big selection of bamboo clothing and linens. We also have bath and body products, home decor, stationary, kitchen and bio-degradable cleaning products, toys and so much more,” she said, enthusiastically. Donna is incredibly knowledgeable about each product that she sells which is a true testament of her passion and dedication to what she does. She also has a jewellery studio at the store and teaches jewellery classes.
Donna looks forward to going into work each and every day. There’s no question that as a small business owner she’s busy but she still manages to find time to do other things that she also enjoys. “My husband’s family is very affected by diabetes and it also runs in my mom’s family. I am a marathon walker and have done marathons in Rome and Iceland for Team Diabetes. I am looking at doing another marathon, perhaps in Rio or I might go back to Iceland,” she smiled.