An Interview with Jesse Keefer of Bodega Ridge

I first found out about Bodega Ridge after Carina visited the log-cabin resort last year. I have to admit that I was extremely envious, as she returned with tales of sunsets, wood-walks and fire-place snuggles (all with wine in hand). Located on the north side of Galiano Island (the sunniest and wildest of BC’s Southern Gulf Islands), Bodega is run by Jesse Keefer, a husband and a father of a darling little girl growing up in paradise. 

Meeting Jesse in person was next-level. He is old-fashioned-movie-star-ruggedly-handsome, not that that matters 😉 … He sat down with us at Cartems the last time he was in the city, and we talked all things kids, love and dreams. This weekend, we are fortunate to share the island experience together, and will share it all with you here soon! In the meantime, here is our first *Dad* HUSTLER interview!

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Photo: Jarusha Brown &  Adam Johhson

P&H:  What were you doing before establishing Bodega Ridge?

Jesse: I was involved in cycling and based in Vancouver, where I was born and raised. I raced my mountain bike and road bike events all over North America for almost a decade and had a several jobs in the bike industry itself.

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Photo: Jarusha Brown &  Adam Johhson

P&H: What was your trigger to follow this career path?

Jesse: I stumbled upon this career serendipitously! Kind a right place at the right time kind of deal, at least that is how I feel today! For the first 6 years of running the business I would have argued that it might have been the wrong place though, given how much work it took to get everything to where I wanted it to be. The distilled version is that I was turned onto the idea of purchasing & running in a round about way from a great guy I know from Colorado, Peter Johnson.

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P&H: Where do you get your inspiration from (ex. what’s the appeal of being on the island, what you decide to put in the cabins, etc.)

Jesse: The biggest appeal of the island to me is that I live in a seemingly remote destination that has all the benefits of being in a small town yet is only a 50 minute ferry ride from Vancouver. Galiano is full of inspiration, whether it is the natural beauty of the setting or the islander’s themselves.

My inspiration for what is in the cabins came largely from my love of natural materials with genuine endurance, things that are timeless. I also have great influences in the form of the women in my life, both my mother who has always had a passion for antiques & design and my wife who has had a career in design, with her specialty being lingerie. My mom dragged me into antique stores from a young age and I think it rubbed off on me by osmosis whereas my wife really encouraged me to be a lot more considerate in terms of making design decisions for Bodega.

My wife and I make an interesting combination with regards to our taste. She likes more a more modern aesthetic, while I really like materials that tell a story, whether it is a beam was milled from a tree that fell down on the property or flooring that was salvaged from my family home in Point Grey prior to getting demoed.

P&H: What role does social media play in your business?

Jesse: It is huge. I am very glad that I was an early adopter as it has really driven a lot of business our way. Instagram has been the most important and I like how it encourages interaction and sends like-minded people to come and stay with us. If they like pictures you are posting, they will probably like the property.

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P&H: Do you involve your daughter in your work at all?

Jesse: She is only two so not much at this point although I make a point of having her come and interact with our guests, partially because I am so completely in love with her and am so proud that she is our kid and also because it is good for a child living on North Galiano Island to get socialized. Our guests are the best, so she has made a lot of great relationships already.

P&H:  How important is it that your daughter takes on or plays a part in the business when she’s older?

Jesse: It is entirely up to her and what her needs are. I’d love her to be involved in Bodega but only on her own terms. After all the fun I have had having my teenage niece Isabella help out a bit the last two summers, I hope she likes it!

My the support of my family was absolutely essential for me to get this project off the ground and I would love to be in a position where Chris and I can help Edie along in her career, regardless of what it may be. My wife always tells me the story of her stepdad Brian buying her a high end sewing machine when she was a teen interested in fashion design and how much that meant to her. Seeing what an inquisitive and energetic girl Edie is now, I can only imagine what she is going to be like when she is a teen.

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P&H: What has been your biggest challenge running your own business?

Jesse: Working 7 days a week and typically working through the summer without a vacation. It really stings when I constantly miss out on trips with Chris and Edie, but hopefully that will change soon.

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P&H: What is the hardest part in maintaining the work/life balance?

Jesse: Keeping work at work. Between answering calls, fielding questions and staying on top of our marketing plans work has a way of creeping into our private life. Since we had Edie I put my phone on private after 9 and finally have a receptionist to answer most of our calls so it is improving.

P&H:  What does success look like to you? How will you know when you have achieved it?

Jesse: There are a lot of different ways to measure success but none more important than having your heath.

I suppose I would say that my career was a success if I have a retirement with lots of traveling with Christine, financial security, happiness and lots of time to spend with Edie. I’d also love to see Bodega Ridge carry on whether it is Edie running it or someone else I care about.

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P&H:  What advice would you have wanted to know 5 or 10 years ago?

Jesse: Hire a good bookkeeper and put in a solid system from day one. I abhor paperwork and having a good routine can save you a huge amount of stress & money. I would be lost without the help of our dear friend Kendall who has reformed my disorganized ways!

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To connect with all things Bodega, here’s all you’ll need:

 

 

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