Jonathan Kane does not own the only tea shop in Kensington, but tries to set The Naked Leaf and its merchandise apart from the others.
Kane had a tea shop in mind towards the end of his dancing career and his artistic background makes today’s decisions for suppliers simple: Use local talent.
“If you look at past civilizations when you go somewhere, what is the thing that lasts?” he asks. “It’s the culture.”
He sells tea pots, paintings, tea tins, cards, chocolates, hand lotion and hair conditioner — all made with tea as an ingredient, and by Calgary sources.
The tea shop and dancing connection isn’t obvious to all, but it is to Kane. “I drank tea throughout my career — it’s just so healthy,” he says.
He finished full-time, professional dancing 16 years ago in Europe and shifted into teaching and freelance performing. A position with the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Fine Arts brought him here, instead of to his American homeland, six years ago.
In mid-September 2008, Kane decided to open The Naked Leaf in Kensington’s shopping district. Local art adorns his store’s tea tins as “all part of that moment” to sit down and relax; he hopes that while customers look at the artwork, it brings them joy and removes some stress from their day.
The Naked Leaf (#103, 305 10th Street N.W.) was nominated this year for two Calgary Oscars: Best in Retail, against 58 competitors, and Best Independently owned Business, against 47 competitors.
Calgarians can vote online (calgaryoscars.ca) until Feb. 19.