When Chris Moon wakes up in the morning, he walks down the steps of his Bowser home and heads straight to his record player.
“I take care in deciding what record to put on, because I know there’s three other people who are going to be listening to it and I challenge myself to try to pick something everyone will like,” says Moon, referring to his wife Kristin and their two kids, Sawyer and Jack. “And it’s fun. And sometimes I get it wrong,” he chuckles looking at Kristin. She laughs and nods. “Sometimes in the morning, it’s a bit too heavy.”
They recall some of Kristin’s other feedback following Chris’ record choices. Comments like “too jazzy” when they have dinner company coming or one of Chris’ favourites, “too pretentious.” But often times Chris does get it right. When he’s at home with his family, and when he’s at one of their two stores where they sell new and used records, among other things.
Tears of Joy
Kristin and Chris opened The Other Side Artisan Collective in Coombs in 2016. They added Moon’s Records to the store a couple of years ago. The Other Side is a collection of locally crafted items including T-shirts, tanks, hats and hoodies with designs created, and screen printed, by Chris and Kristin. The store has a modern, folksy feel, adorned with Kristin’s handmade skirts, dresses, headbands, face cloths and scarves, as well as other local artists’ scarves, jewelry, wall art, eco-friendly homeware, blankets, candles, books, wallets, essential oils, herbal teas and tinctures and body care items. The Moons also do custom screen printing for other businesses, such as Loveshack Libations.
In August of this year, Chris and Kristin opened a second store in Cumberland called Moon’s Records. The new store is the culmination of years of hard work and the realization of a long-standing dream. Chris remembers when he found out that the Cumberland store was going forward. “I was so unbelievably stoked, I think I burst into tears,” he reveals. But as with all worthwhile achievements, it wasn’t easy, and it took several longs leaps of faith to get there.
A Creative Vibe
Chris grew up in Thornhill, Ontario, north of Toronto. He attended Western University in London, Ontario before deciding he wanted to pursue acting. He moved to Vancouver to attend Vancouver Film School and also dabbled in music. “I was looking for something to do with the arts that I could make into a career,” he says.
Kristin grew up in Bowser and was always making things as a hobby, including her and her friend’s prom dresses, and several outfits throughout the years. She ended up in Vancouver in her mid-twenties, studying textile arts at Capilano University, and working evenings at a restaurant in Kitsilano called Watermark. That’s where she met Chris.
“Chris was very different from the other guys I knew at the time,” Kristin explains. “He was hilarious and fun and had a very creative vibe. He was super into music and had pretty awesome style that was totally unique…and sometimes kind of out there,” she adds with a wide-eyed smile.
Chris recalls seeing Kristin before their rendezvous at Watermark. She was serving at another restaurant where he went to watch a comedy show. “I pretty much spent the whole comedy show just watching her,” he admits. After working together at Watermark one night, they went out dancing with friends, and Chris told her to break up with her boyfriend. “The rest is history,” he says.
A Leap of Faith
Within a few years they had Sawyer and decided to move to the Parksville-Qualicum Beach region to be close to family and friends. They had Jack while living in a cozy cottage in Coombs. They were both working day and night shifts in local restaurants when Kristin decided things needed to change, and she was anxious to put her schooling to good use. “So, she took a leap of faith,” Chris remembers. “She decided she would make things and sell them at markets.”
Kristin started Marie Moon Textiles, creating abstract designs on sustainable fabrics and printing them on pillowcases, headbands and scarves. She made artsy handwoven clutches, bamboo tie-dyed dresses and skirts, and scarves from organic cotton and tencel.
Kristin loved connecting with people interested in locally made items at the markets. “It’s so much more inspiring than going into a big box store and buying something that has no meaning, no depth — you don’t know where it came from, it’s just fast fashion. The meaning for me is connecting with other like-minded people who are super passionate about locally made art.”
After watching Kristin’s success selling items at local markets, including the Summer by the Sea Street Market and the Qualicum Beach Farmers’ Market, Chris was inspired to tap back into his creative side. He had an idea for a T-shirt so he asked Kristin to show him how to screen print. He was inspired by a design that was sold on shirts in Vancouver’s Gastown, listing all the signature streets in the area.
“I thought that was cool, and thought I should make one for the Island,” he explains. At the time, he adds, there weren’t too many people making shirts specifically for Vancouver Island.
The shirt design, which lists our local communities, proved popular, and it inspired Chris to come up with more of his own designs. He started In This Corner Clothing and got to work. His best-seller to date came after Kristin suggested he do something featuring his guitar. He took a photo of it lying on its side, and then doodled popular island destinations, local animals, mountains and trees around it. “It turned into somewhat of an optical illusion where you don’t even see the guitar at first glance,” says Chris. His “Qualiwood” T-shirt is also well-loved by locals and visitors and was purchased by the cast and crew of Chesapeake Shores.
Kristin has also produced several winning T-shirt designs. One, featuring a forest of hand-sketched trees and the text “Werifesteria: to wander longingly through the forest in search of mystery” is on tanks, T-shirts and hoodies seen all over town. She has also made a couple of Cumberland designs with mountain bikes, and Kristin and Chris have both created Moon’s Records designs.
Cash for Records
Kristin and Chris are excited to be in their third year in Coombs, and the new store in Cumberland is extremely exciting, says Chris. “We really like the energy there. Every time we’re there we just think, ‘we need to be here more.’” Kristin adds that the town seems to be full of artists, musicians and young families.
The Moons have even created a stage where local bands jam at the new store. Chris is thrilled that they now sell records at both stores, since he’s always had a great love for vinyl. He says initially he put a few of his personal records up in the Coombs store just to add to the décor. He played records throughout the day, and people loved it, he explains, asking regularly if he sold them. “So I thought, ‘why don’t we start selling records?’” He put out a sign on the highway that said, “cash for records” and people responded.
Chris says that the people who buy records span the generations. “The spectrum of vinyl collectors is huge, it ranges from 12-year-olds to very elderly,” he explains.
But why are people so in love with records? “They are tangible,” Chris begins. “Whether it sounds better or worse, it’s just more fun to hold a record and own a record, and be proud of a record. Your record collection becomes an extension of your personality, and you want to curate that to identify your taste.”
“It’s nostalgic,” Kristin adds. “Your collection represents the past and what you’ve been interested in over the years.”
The Moons agree that being able to work with amazing local artists, and doing something that has a positive effect on the community, is what makes their work so rewarding. “The artists we work with are facilitating our dream for us and we are doing the same for them,” says Chris. “They are able to make a living off their love, their passion,” adds Kristin. “And that’s what we’re all trying to do.”
The Other Side Artisan Collective is located across the street from the Coombs Country Market at 2345 Alberni Highway in Coombs. Moon’s Records is located at 2719 Dunsmuir Street in Cumberland.