Your home is your castle. At least, for Christina Kemp, a castle came with the purchase of her first home in Chemainus.
The Studio 77 and the Barber owner moved her salon down the road Dec. 8, 2020 after buying a 1910 heritage house on Maple Street that included the Castle bed and breakfast building.
Clients and friends are calling her a “modern day pioneer woman.”
Kemp, 37, and dog Ruby are now well settled into their new digs and loving every minute of it.
Kemp was born and grew up in Calgary and “this is actually my third time moving to the Island,” she said. “I keep on coming back. I think once you live here and you leave, it’s ‘why did I leave?’”
She came to the area once in her teens and again in her 20s and 30s. Kemp still wasn’t too familiar with Chemainus when she lived in Nanaimo during her 20s before going back to Calgary but is now entrenched in the town for business and as a resident.
Previous Studio 77 owner Linda Skagen, who’s also from Calgary, actually started the ball rolling for Kemp’s return to the Island and relocation to Chemainus.
“I saw the ad for Linda selling her business and it came with a place to live,” recalled Kemp.
She really wanted to focus her attention on hair cutting and styling and this fit the bill.
“I can do anything,” Kemp said. “I just like doing the hair.”
On Nov. 20, 2018, Kemp left Calgary and worked with Skagen for three months before taking over the business. She kept the Studio 77 name.
By February 2019, Kemp officially took it over.
As time went on, she felt the desire to buy her own property.
“It took me about a year,” Kemp explained. “I was looking at the Soap Factory first.”
Someone else beat her to it, but “I wanted to stay in Old Town,” she explained.
The owner of the Maple Street property, Harriet Howell, waited on her and Kemp eventually closed the deal after getting a mortgage. The closing date, ironically, was Nov. 20, 2020, and she got the keys to the house exactly two years after coming back from Calgary for all those who believe in coincidences.
The cozy confines of her new salon have worked out great and clients love the atmosphere. There’s also the matter of that adjoining castle.
“I do want to run the B&B,” said Kemp. “During COVID, I don’t want my clients to be uncomfortable.”
The Cottage and The Castle B&B name will also remain the same. There’s great opportunities there for Kemp once COVID subsides and tourism returns on a full-fledged basis, with people looking for a place to stay in Chemainus.
“I like Chemainus, it’s easy living,” said Kemp.
And the business side of things couldn’t be better despite the current restrictions and previous interruptions from the pandemic.
“I’ve always focused on my career,” Kemp said. “It’s always been my passion.
“It kind of transitioned a little bit with the kind of clientele. Linda had a lot of perms. Now, it’s less perms and more colours and cuts.”
And the split between male and female customers is about 50-50.
“I’m pretty busy,” Kemp noted. “I haven’t really advertised and I can’t really take on any more.”
The Castle B&B is fully self-contained with its own entrance.
Kemp has ambitious plans to spruce up the grounds for possible garden parties in the future and perhaps look at doing something like murder mystery dinners (remember those?) in the house and/or castle.
The house encompasses about 2,200 square feet and the castle another 1,700 so it’s a lot of space that keeps her quite busy outside of work hours just doing the cleaning.
“It does feel like a dream, but it feels like home, though,” Kemp conceded. “There’s a lot of maintenance in this place. It’s coming along. It’s a good challenge. I’m learning everything.”
For her first house, “I just went a little bit big,” she laughed.