MINDEMOYA – Anyone who’s met Mindemoya’s Moffat sisters, Jen and Ashleigh, knows that their enthusiasm is infectious. Their can-do attitude and zest for beautifying everything around them (just ask the community during the holidays) translates perfectly with their downtown Mindemoya store, Island Home Outfitters.
“It’s always been a dream of ours to have our own store,” Jen Moffat Kenney says while sister Ashleigh Keller notes that the store was more of a retirement goal that just happened a lot sooner than expected.
A teacher by trade, Jen explains she faced some health issues that made teaching harder to do, but she still wanted to work, so that dream to open a store became a reality for the sisters.
In 2015, Ashleigh (a certified dental hygienist) and her husband Ryan launched Island Adventure Sport rentals, offering paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, tubes, water skis and even personal water craft for delivery. (The business still exists as part of the Island Home Outfitters brand, but is not offering rentals this year due to COVID-19.)
The next year, in 2016, Jen struck up a conversation with Ben Wilson of Wilson’s Corner Store and talked her way into the use of his adjoining ice cream parlour, which was vacant during the winter months. The girls held a pop-up market in time for Christmas selling wreaths, signs and all kinds of Christmassy things, and it was a hit. The sisters also branched out to have their own corner of The Mutchmor in Providence Bay.
“We wanted to have something on the Island where you could go to get that perfect birthday gift,” Jen says. “We wanted to be able to offer those small little things and work with local makers as well.”
Jen and Ashleigh recalled the days of their childhood visits to Wool’n Things and that other famous sister duo, Marion Seabrook and Joanne Smith, and their whimsical clothing store Hawberry Habit. They explained that they sought to bring something of that calibre back to their beloved home.
“We thought, ‘let’s give people a reason to explore our beautiful town’,” Jen adds.
The sisters say they got their love of decorating from their mother and wanted to share that talent with the Island community. Island Home Outfitters has been open at the intersection of Highway 551 and 542 for four years.
“We’ve got an eclectic mix and something for everyone,” Jen says.
“And small batch is so important for us,” Ashleigh adds, “having something unique that not everyone else has.”
A visitor to Island Home Outfitters can spend an ample amount of time in the store as they go room to room finding different surprises and notions in each nook and cranny. There are home settings like tablecloths, placemats, serving pieces and fun napkins galore. Instead of buying a throw pillow for every season or occasion, the sisters sought out throw pillow cases, of which there are many options.
There are Manitoulin-scent custom candles by Forest Glen of Blind River, notepads made of recycled mining paper by the Woodland Sisters, CR Plastic Products of Stratford and their wide-ranging, multi-coloured patio furniture, 3D Lake Huron wall-hangings and, of course, their clothing line.
Island Home Outfitters launched its popular ‘Life is better on Manitoulin Island’ shirts a few years ago and with its ‘90s Vuarnet-inspired vibes, won over a major following. They have since added thick fleece blankets with the ‘Life is better’ logo to their list of offerings and the sisters say it’s a popular seller.
“We’re branching out with a few different things with the logo, including sweatpants,” Ashleigh points out.
Island Home Outfitters is open year-round and Christmas is definitely their favourite time of year, so be sure to pay a visit then, too.
For more information visit IslandHomeOutfitters.ca, visit their Facebook page ‘IslandHomeOutfitters’ or call 705-377-4433.