Inside is a beautiful space, with bamboo floors and light wooden walls that seem to amplify the sunlight and infuse the interior with a sense of space and energy. Everywhere you look are simple and stylish goods made from chemical-free, allergy-free and organic natural fibers—and at one end of the shop is a seasonal cafe that specializes in raw foods.
I recently spoke with Qeanu Aidan who, along with his business partner, has been developing the business for the past 25 years. (The Blaine store opened in 2018.) Aidan has the infectious spirit of a man who has managed to find happiness, and wants to share it with the world.
He started down this path while pursuing a PhD in economics at Columbia University in New York City, where he and his partner met a man who had embraced a raw food diet. “He looked so young. He had a vitality that was incredible, he just looked 20 years younger than his age. Full of energy, full of joy, full of passion, really happy.” They carried this inspiration home with them to Denman Island in British Columbia.
“We started as homesteaders on the island, where we tended to rescued animals, grew our food, and just lived the whole homesteading life,” Aidan explains. They blogged about that life, and soon people started to ask where they could buy some of the everyday items they used—and actually made—for themselves.
The couple began producing their personal wares on a larger scale, and opened a small shop. But after growing the business for 20 years, they ran into a barrier. “You only have Canada Post—no FedEx, no UPS, no guaranteed delivery time,” says Aidan. “So we moved to Point Roberts, and got access to a lot of that logistical infrastructure.”
Aidan was working as an economics professor at Oregon State University in Corvalis when he realized that another piece of infrastructure was missing. “I remember when I was teaching, and the entire commute I basically couldn’t find any food on the highway. And so I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have a place in Blaine for fruits and smoothies and raw foods?’ So we opened the cafe.’”
Blaine made sense because it was between Vancouver and Seattle, but there is a much more personal reason it was chosen. “In other places, where you live is all paved over with concrete, and then you go to an urban park or a nature reserve—you divide the two totally. But here it sort of mixes,” Aidan says. “There are a lot of farms and old homesteads as you go east of the highway, where California and Dakota Creeks are. As you paddle along there you see a lot of former homesteads. And I think that’s beautiful because it really brings people back to keeping horses, or growing things. I like that a lot.”
Nowadays the shop is home to a selection of goods that are both completely natural and totally practical. They tend to focus on the basics and on gifts, and rely on their website to showcase their full range of products. “In the beginning we thought we’d put one of everything we have here, but online we have 1,200 products,” Aidan says. “Instead of 70 styles of shoes, we just have maybe 10 or 15, but anyone who sees products they fancy online can just let us know and pick it up here the same day or the next day.”
When asked which items are most popular, Aidan is quick with a list. “Bedding is a big thing. We have mattresses, comforters, bed sheets and pillows. And the footwear, people love that. The backpacks—people love them because it’s such an outdoors place here. And then of course underwear and socks. Because they’re worn directly on the skin; that’s where to start if you’re concerned about purity.”
Aidan is passionate about sharing information and happy to play host to a variety of clientele. “There’s a variety of backgrounds that prompt people’s interest in what we do,” he says. “Chemically sensitive people come here, and eco-purists who want to do what’s right for the environment. And then there are people who simply want to find a gift for somebody [or] are into meditation and yoga. Health instructors, massage therapists—there are a lot of backgrounds where it sort of behooves them to be open to chemical-free products.”
And that openness to natural health is the driving force behind Rawganique. “Once you’re in contact with the idea of a healthy lifestyle, it’s tough to ignore,” Aidan says. “Once you learn about it how beneficial it is, then it’s a no-brainer.”
There’s no hard sell at Rawganique, just a positive attitude toward making good decisions. “It’s friendly, welcoming, and we’re here to help people make better choices. If they have a particular problem to solve health-wise, or a gift they need, we’re here to help.”