Many who live in the lakecity are transplants which gives them a unique view of the community, none perhaps more so then Sarah Grieg.
Grieg has lived here for almost 18 years now after marrying a lakecity man in Alberta. However, she was born in Sudan and grew up overseas in Africa as the daughter of two missionaries until she graduated high school in 1997 when she came to live in Canada.
She jokes that her biggest culture shock was getting married as it turned out that, at least initially, the fact that she and her husband were both Canadian didn’t immediately mean they had all the same values. On a more serious note, she said there were some adjustments to be made that still stand out to her to this day.
One of them has been cleanliness, as when she was in some parts of Africa, there was a good deal of garbage and animals on the streets. The roads meanwhile, she remarked with a laugh, are wonderful with far less potholes than the roads in Kenya, where she went to boarding school at Rift Valley Academy. Funnily enough, she added, there are several alumni of that same school, like her dentist, that have also made their way to Williams Lake.
“One of the things I really noticed when I moved back and got a job as a waitress is the amount of waste of food. I found it really difficult to throw out half-empty plates of food and entire cheesecakes,” Grieg said. “I worked at the Cheesecake Cafe and I gained probably 25-pounds because I’d take all the leftover cheesecake home and eat it.”
Another thing she appreciates about Canada is something many of us take for granted, which is the safety. In Africa, many of the compounds she’d stay in would have high walls surrounding them with broken glass or spikes embedded on the top. In addition, she was living on the continent during the Rwandan Genocide and saw firsthand the impact that had on people.
“I love Williams Lake, Williams Lake is home now and I love the community. I love that when you walk into a business the people are friendly,” Grieg said. “I hear negative things about Williams Lake but I honestly have not experienced many of them. I love how connected to the environment and nature we are here with bike trails just out our back door (with) camping, swimming and all that kind of thing.”
A big eye-opener for her coming to the area was her husband’s family who are “stereotypically” Canadian and live in a log cabin. They took Grieg hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities she’d never gotten the chance to do before. Winter and winter sports have never really clicked for her, however, and she’d still rather be too hot rather than too cold.
Since coming to Williams Lake she and her husband have had four girls together, something both her mother, her aunts and uncle and a close friend all share which led to her joking they should start a club for parents with four girls. This theme and motif eventually morphed into the name of her business, the Four Girls Club.
For about the last four years she’s been doing various craft fairs in the lakecity, which was a goal of hers when she was younger. She’s kept at it and while her business “isn’t super professional” at the moment she plans to make her little enterprise a more tangible venture with a website, business card and other such elements.
“It’s basically just the things that I like trying. I’m not specialized in anything. I want to try painting then I want to try sewing, but most things that I do have something to do with my girls and recycling,” Grieg said. “I did grow up in a (developing) country, I have seen lack, I’ve seen trauma and poverty. From where I’m at in my life, I feel this is where I can make the most impact in what’s around me by being responsible for what I own and what I do.”
One of the things Grieg currently makes and sells through Four Girls Club is reusable maxi pads due in part to finding out how many maxi pads go into the landfill each year. While she knows it seems like a small thing to do, she does have four daughters and she knows this is their own way of helping to tackle that waste. The average woman will go through 16,000 pads in her lifetime, Grieg said, so even a small reduction in this number going into the landfill can only be good.
In part, she also started making them for one of her daughters who has special needs and dexterity problems. When reusable underwear she’d bought began falling apart, Grieg figured she could make her own and found an entire community dedicated to reusing and being environmentally conscious in as many ways as they can. It saves money and in Grieg’s opinion is a more responsible way to deal with this important fact of life for women.
Recently she has also been making clothing for dolls, vintage and otherwise, which she said helps fuel her creative side. Grieg has loved making costumes for her girls at Halloween and as they’re getting a bit old for that now, dressmaking for dolls has provided an outlet for that passion.
Working on projects similar to the dresses is “almost an inevitable product” of what’s going on inside her. She’ll often have “creative hiccups” where all at once she wants to create and work on all sorts of things.
“Anytime that we express ourselves in our creativity, the world becomes a better place and you become a better person. I would way rather buy something that someone made with love in their home and support them,” Grieg said.
“I would way rather support this community and the people who invest in this community through their time and effort to make it a better place.”