– Words by Angela Cowan Photography by Lia Crowe
When Rebecca Burrows purchased Victoria’s long-time favourite store, Hughes Clothing, in 2018, it realized a dream she’d carried since she was five years old.
“I just had this obsession with fashion and jewellery,” she says, remembering a day in kindergarten where all the kids were asked to draw what they wanted to be when they grew up. “There are people drawing doctors and firemen and everything, and I just drew a big ring,” she laughs. “I had this obsession with Audrey Hepburn and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and I wanted to work at Tiffany’s.”
While she didn’t make it to New York in her teens, Rebecca did work for a jewellery designer in Winnipeg who sold many pieces to Hughes Clothing. And when Rebecca and her parents moved out to the island, she popped into the shop with her resume. Then-owner Donna Anderson hired her almost immediately, and Rebecca worked there for more than a decade before stepping back to raise her family. But she didn’t stay out of the game for long.
“Business has always been a part of my life,” she says, adding that she’d always wanted to step into the owner/entrepreneurial role. “But Donna was just not ready to retire at that time.”
Rebecca ended up buying both the Bleue Coyote Pub in Brentwood and the Rod and Gun Bar and Grill in Parksville (although she has since sold them), while staying closely connected with Hughes. And when the opportunity came to take the reins from Donna, Rebecca knew it was absolutely meant to be. Just two years later in 2020, she helmed the shop’s move from downtown Victoria to Athlone Court in Oak Bay with enormous success. And now, business is steady, foot traffic is abundant and her customers are thrilled, echoing the joy Rebecca has found in her own life.
“I’ve been in times of my life—years—where it just felt like I was a salmon swimming upstream, and not doing what was making me happy, and not realizing it,” she says.
Now, surrounded by family and friends, a career that she loves, heartfelt relationships with her clients and a new Uptown location that just opened at the end of March, Rebecca is immensely grateful every day for where life has brought her.
“It’s completely come to fruition for me. I’m doing exactly what I’m meant to do,” she says. “I am so comfortable in my own skin, and I’m just loving my life. With business I always think about my dad. He’s been my driving force. He tells me all the time, ‘You can do anything you want to do.’”
Thinking back to those kindergarten goals, Rebecca laughs.
“I definitely think the little Rebecca is beaming on the inside,” she says. “She’s happy.”
The 7 Sins
Whose shoes would you like to walk in?
Audrey Hepburn. I dreamed of being her when I was a child. In her role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, she exuded style and grace like no other. I remember walking around my house all dressed in black pretending I was in New York City.
What is the food you could eat over and over again?
Pasta. I love pasta. I swear I should be Italian. Nothing fancy though. Spaghetti with olive oil, garlic and all the parmigiano.
You’re given $1 million that you have to spend selfishly. What would you spend it on?
Selfishly, I would move my parents closer. Mind you, they only live in Sidney and we’re in Oak Bay, but now with four stores and always expanding, I would love to have them next door to me. I’m such a daddy’s girl. I truly have everything I could ever want—purses, clothes, cars, jewellery—but having daddy next door, that would take the cake.
People who say they “can’t.” There’s no such thing as “I can’t.” “No” is not in my vocabulary. If someone says that I cannot do something, it just makes me want it even more. Setting my sights on building more stores and pushing through is how I keep going. Everything in my life gets taken to the next step. I’m constantly growing and levelling up my goals.
Where would you spend a long time doing nothing?
Easy, Maui. Though my idea of doing nothing is a 12-kilometre morning beach walk followed by a round of golf at the Plantation Golf Course in Kapalua with my husband.
What is the one thing you’re secretly proud of?
Oh man…secretly? Hmm. My heart. I love to give. That’s never changed, even when I’ve been burned. Yep, my heart. Oh jeez, now I’m crying.
What makes your heart beat faster?
My dogs. My kids. My husband. My parents. My life. My community. My businesses. Everyone and everything around me. I am so, so, so grateful for this life of mine.