Natalie Tersigni of Gravitypope and Caffe La Tana

Words by Sara Harowitz

Photography by Sara Harowitz

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Natalie Tersigni is one of those women you could talk to forever. For one thing, she loves to chat (and she’s the first to admit it); but for another, she’s just got that spark, you know? The kind that makes you feel like you’ve known her for longer than you have. The kind that puts you at ease.

It makes sense, since Tersigni is essentially a professional host. Since 2007, she has been the manager of the Gravitypope clothing store in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood; more recently, she also took up a job running a women-focused wine night at Caffe La Tana on Commercial Drive. Alongside One of a Few shop owner Michelle Rizzardo, Tersigni holds an evening at La Tana called Lupa (Italian for “she wolf”). It’s a chance for Vancouver women—be they entrepreneurs, full-time moms, creatives, or cooks—to get together, to drink good vino, to dance on tables, to laugh, to connect. No agenda, no plan. Just women-produced wine, delicious Italian bites, music curated by women DJs, and fun.

These two roles, along with her other full-time job as a mother of a four-year-old, make Tersigni the perfect muse for After Oil: vitruvi’s sore-muscle blend of Turmeric, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Black Cumin Seed, and more. She’s on her feet for a living, so After Oil is the ideal post-work remedy for her neck, shoulders, and legs. Tersigni rolls some onto a troublesome knee while sitting at La Tana one quiet morning; sipping an Americano, she reflects on Lupa, motherhood, and stamina.

How did the idea for Lupa come about?

So I’m sitting here one night and I turn around and I look out into the room, and all of a sudden 40 beautiful women are in the room. All different colours, all different sizes. I texted the owners: “This place is the most amazing moment right now.” And from that I was like, “Oh, why don’t we try to recreate that?” And Michelle had hosted a ladies’ gathering maybe 10 years ago that I had gone to.

So I wanted to give us an opportunity to go out, just be around each other, see each other—there were so many reconnections, so many friends that hadn’t seen each other, people who had never met who were like, “Oh, I’ve wanted to meet you!” And it’s not solely a business opportunity or a social opportunity, it’s kind of whatever you want it to be.

Yeah, it’s refreshing to see an event that isn’t being billed as networking for “babes” or anything like that.

There’s no theme to it. It’s women in business; it’s women raising their kids and trying to work and hustle; and trying to be in marriages; and single, and trying to understand what it is to be 40 and be a single mom; or to understand being 40 and married and having multiple kids, and trying to manage a relationship and all the aspects of life; getting sick; putting weight on. Basic things that I think women are getting comfortable speaking about openly. Or we could just talk shit and get drunk and be chill about it—there’s no one judging us. And the wine is always exceptional.

You also run Gravitypope in Kits. Have you always been a fan of fashion?

When I was a kid I used to shop at Value Village by the pound in Toronto. My mom hated it. I went to a Catholic high school in Ontario so I had to wear a uniform, but I was always getting kicked out of class because I was always wearing a play on the uniform.

I think I was much more creative in my youth in how I dressed, more adventurous—and now I’ve sort of fallen into being a functional dresser in the way that I love fashion and I love high-quality stuff, and I’ll invest in things that are expensive and made well. But they’re pretty timeless in terms of style—most of my clothes have been in my closet for a long time.

You’ve been at Gravitypope since 2007. How do you stay engaged?

I think about it every day because it’s been so long, but my life has changed so much that it’s sort of my constant. Basically I go to work, Im surrounded by beautiful clothing, I have a great staff. Thirteen years is a long time, and I would consider a lot of [clients] good friends. One of them recently passed away; her ex-husband came in to tell me personally, and her daughter had said how important we were to her. It’s not just work for me. I mean of course there are days when I’m tired physically. I’m older, I’ve been on my feet working in retail since I was 18—you get physically tired, but then you get these spurts of energy that get you going. Some days are better than others for sure, some days you’re pumped and you’re excited, you’re inspired to do big things—and then some days you don’t want to get out of bed because you just bought a new duvet cover.

Some days youre inspired, you want to make all these changes—and some days you’re getting by. And I think that’s for anybody.

I’m loyal, I think. My company’s been good to me, I feel important in my company and I feel important on the day-to-day. If someone comes into the shop and I’ve never met them, I don’t like small talk, so I get right to it. That takes people aback, but I think more people than not want to be like that. They want to talk about themselves, they want to talk about important things. I love telling people where to eat, where to shop, you know, that’s always fun for me. I’m like my own concierge service. I love people. I can’t deny that.

To be pregnant and to work in retail is crazy. You’re talking about that, and that’s the gateway for women to share stories with you about their stuff, and then to have had a baby and have people come into the store and be pregnant, and to remember how I felt—and just to be like, “Just take care of yourself. Dont let anyone tell you how to be or what it’s going to be like, because it might not be like that. Don’t have any expectations.”

It does seem like pregnant women are offered a lot of unsolicited advice about how to do things.

I’ve had people come up to me and be like, “Oh, are you going to have a natural childbirth?” I don’t know about you, but this thing in here seems pretty natural to me. Or once you have the baby they’re like, “Did you have a natural childbirth?” I was always confused by that.

For me, I had a pretty long labour, unexpectedly … to have had a really long labour, and yes, to have had an epidural, and then to have someone turn around and ask me if it was natural or not? You’re kind of like, “Give me a break, dude. I’m still recovering from that.” But people will say whatever they want. You have to learn how to filter it.

I don’t want to make this a question about “having it all,” but I do think it’s amazing that you are working multiple jobs and raising a son.

I do think [having kids is] amazing, and I think it adds a new layer to you. I don’t think that you have to do it; I’m not one of those people who’s like, “Oh! You must!” It’s an individual thing, it’s a big deal—you carried a baby for nine months. It’s a huge deal.

We were at Laksa King last night on Hastings and [my son] was talking about heaven, and he said something about how there would be roti in heaven. And I was like, “Yeah man, there will definitely be roti all the time in heaven.” [laughs]

It’s just made me work harder. It’s made me put value on things again, which is good—creating a nice, peaceful home for him. It’s awesome. But again, if you don’t do it, power to you. You have your priorities in different places, and I’ve got this little dude who wants me to take care of him and love him and pick him up when he doesn’t want to walk, and that’s important and special, too.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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