Scott Hawthorn is the CEO of Native Shoes, the Vancouver-based company that produces foam-injected, molded polymer footwear that’s colourful, washable, waterproof and odour-resistant. It’s also extremely successful – with booming sales online and at over 45 distributors worldwide.
Hawthorn was one of the original founders of the company and re-acquired it just last summer, taking on the role of CEO. But his entrepreneurial ambitions don’t end there. Hawthorn has a significant portfolio of prime Vancouver real estate, which, in turn, has led to him opening trending restaurants (Salt Tasting Room, Judas Goat and Alfresco) and Parking Spot, an art gallery that Hawthorn loans out to artists with interesting ideas for show.
In the photo feature that follows, YouInc gets a behind-the-scenes tour of the space where Hawthorn lives and works – a world where work is life, and where art and commerce live side by side.
“Native Shoes is a Vancouver-based company that started about four years ago and aspires to be a significant company that operates on a global level. And hopefully will be built into something that has a lasting economic legacy for the city of Vancouver.”
“I’m somebody that likes to get ideas off the ground – and partner with people once those ideas are off the ground. That’s what gets me out of bed every day and gets me excited about things: trying to find a better way of doing things.”
“This space is a combination of both life and work. There’s an art piece on the wall there that I got at a charity auction. It reminds me of that time in my life when I was developing this building and I was exhausted, and I thought about giving up. Looking at that art piece reminds me never to give up, no matter what is going on in your life.”
“I have a finance background. I worked in Tokyo for a French investment bank for about ten years. So I have that part, but I also have a creative side. Which is perhaps a bit unique in that way – the combination of business sense with creative skills at the same time.”
“This is by an artist named Tobias Wong. He passed away about a year ago, walking in his sleep. This piece is based on a famous blown glass vase by a Finnish designer named Alto, and he basically used it as formwork to make a doorstop out of concrete. He poured the concrete into the flower vase, it took its shape and hardened, and the only way to get the concrete doorstop out of the vase was to drop it and smash it. I find it humorous because it takes a precious piece of art and, in using it to make something else, you have to destroy it.”
“I connect well with other entrepreneurs. I connect better with people of a similar mindset – those who see the world as being full of possibilities rather than limitations. Most entrepreneurs have that in them, a desire to find a better way of doing something and to look at possibilities in the world that others might not think exist.”
“This is by an artist-designer named Athena Theny. She made it and she gave it to me. It’s a cast of an eagle’s talon. There’s one in bronze and one in silver. She works out of my space around the corner, it’s called Parking Spot, a space that I give free to entrepreneur for about a year at a time. In fact, last week she quit her full-time job to work on stuff that she’s more creatively inspired by – and to make that her lifestyle and her business.”
“There’s a great quote by Picasso. He says, “We’re all born as artists. The great difficulty is in remaining one.” I think we all have an artistic ability inside ourselves. But to get a project from idea to execution into the public realm – there are a lot of skill sets required to make that happen. The artist comes in at the very beginning, but may have trouble with the execution. That’s why you need a lot of people on a team – to help that idea turn into a tangible reality.”
“This painting is by an artist named Charles Forsberg, originally from Vancouver but who now has a studio in Berlin. He did a show down the street from my home here about ten years ago. A lot of the pieces really resonated with me, but Charles didn’t want to sell any of them at the time. Also, the woman I was dating at the time, didn’t like his art so much and didn’t want it in the house. Years later, after that relationship had ended, I went to see Charles again and I saw this piece stacked against his wall. I put it up in for a couple of weeks and finally told him that’s the piece. He ask why. I said that’s the piece because I’m getting my life back. I’d felt I’d given it away to someone else seven years before that. And the piece, when you look at it, looks beautiful from afar and it draws you closer to look at it – and when you get closer you realize it’s quite scarred and has a different feeling and texture to it. That one is there to remind me that while pieces may look beautiful from a distance, you need to look at things on a much closer scale to see what they really are.”
“I’m inspired by anyone who is doing something that they’re passionate about. They could be recognized, or not recognized, but so long as they’re approaching something from a place of genuine interest – to the point where they are not the most important thing. Often, what they’re working on is much bigger than them, and they recognize that.”