Tell us if you can remember, what went through your head when you were struck with the inspiration to start Acadamie Duello? If you can’t remember the exact moment please share with us the driving idea behind your concept?
It was a very Canadian beginning as the first fantasy of Academie
Duello was born over coffee in a Tim Hortons. I’d just finished
teaching a rapier fencing class at a community centre and was sitting
with one of my longterm students. He had been an instructor of some
eastern martial arts and we started discussing the idea of European
martial art being taught with the same esteem and respect of its
Eastern counter-parts. We imagined a beautiful brick and beam
building, maybe on top of an old fire hall, where students would study
swordplay in the way they did in the cities of Europe hundreds of
years ago. That idea stuck with us and was certainly the nucleus 2
years later from which we started Academie Duello.
Is this your first location or have you operated a business elsewhere?
Academie Duello started with reserved space on the skating rink at
Robson square (pre-restoration). We then moved into a space above
Waves coffee at 422 Richards St. We started a few months before the
Network HUB, Gorilla Foods, and Waves (this was the first Waves
location). All of these new entrepreneurial endeavours have become
tremendous successes, I’ve always thought that was quite interesting.
I have personally also operated a team building and coaching company
in New Westminster.
What do you feel are some of the most attractive reasons to locate a
I love the architecture and the history. There is a great sense of
community, there is an energy of rebuilding and rejuvenation, and a
ton of entrepreneurial spirit alive in the businesses in Hastings
Crossing. It’s a great place to find like minded people with which to
What are some of the more difficult challenges of operating a business here?
Being in or near the DTES has not been a challenge regarding crime or
street problems as one might expect, the main challenge has been
overcoming the impressions of those who have not been to the DTES in a
long time. People who don’t live downtown are caught up in an old
stigma and impression of this area of town that is easily overcome if
only you can get them to visit.
Where do you see this area going, or what do you see it becoming?
I love that the combination of reasonable rents and funky spaces has
lead to many new, innovative, and artistic businesses making their
home in Hastings Crossing. I see the area having the trendiness of
yale town with the true heart and soul of a community. A little grit
makes things earthy not dirty.
What piece of advice would you offer someone looking to locate their
Choose your neighbours as well as your landlords. Find a building or a
block where you can find like minded businesses and owners that will
both feed your endeavours and you personally.