Shop Local Feature: Not your average businessman
When one thinks of the word ‘businessman’, the mental image one conjures is unlikely to look like Castlegar’s own Yanive Fenier.
But, resplendent in his “Kootenay business suit” (jeans, T-shirt, running shoes), with bushy long black hair and five o’clock shadow, Fenier is perhaps the perfect Shop Local poster boy – someone who earns a living sharing his passion with his community, and who gives back to his community at every opportunity.
Owner of Supercat Studio, Fenier works full time providing guitar, drum and vocal lessons to more than 60 students, many of whom perform together at community events ranging from benefit concerts to Silver City Days, Sunfest and more.
“I’ve done everything from high-rise window cleaning to running a Keg restaurant to working as a Level 2 insurance broker,” Fenier said. “I started up Supercat about seven-and-a-half years ago, when we first moved here. I was working as an insurance broker in the daytime – suit, tie, short hair, the works – and teaching in the evening.”
Fenier said it was a great way to make extra cash, but he never imagined that in about a year and a half, he’d have enough students to ditch the suit forever and focus on music full time.
“Now I’ve got Christina Amelio teaching vocals and Dakota Ravestein teaching drums,” he said. “I’ve got a couple of students in the U.S. that I teach using Skype, and I post video lessons on You Tube for anyone who wants to learn.
A firm believer in the Shop Local concept, Fenier not only shops in his own community, he enthusiastically gives back wherever possible. He’s held benefit concerts for the Cancer Society, the food bank and, just last Saturday, he and his students raised over $700 for local 12-year-old Cole Hoodicoff, who was paralyzed in a skiing accident last year … and who is also learning to play guitar at Supercat.
“Yanive’s an amazing person – he’s 100-per-cent positive all the time,” said Cole’s mom, Amy Walters. “I didn’t ask him to do this benefit concert, I didn’t even know about it. He just told me he was doing it, and that was that.”
Fenier also organized Musical Bridges in April 2011, which saw three simultaneous rock shows in Castlegar, Texas and Toronto, which raised $1,200 for two local boys struggling with health issues. And then there’s the guitar raffles he has twice a year, which raise money for local charities and for Fenier’s Angel program, to help out families who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford music lessons for their kids.
“Everybody deserves a chance to learn,” Fenier says.
Fenier’s students are now gearing up for their summer schedule of live performances, including Silver City Days on May 12, the Trail Relay for Life on May 26, Castlegar SunFest on June 2 and Sing for their Supper at the Castle Theatre on June 23.
“Playing live is a great experience; to have that energy and excitement of being on stage,” Fenier said, adding that it also helps kids build confidence to just get up there and do their thing.
And yes, he said he knows he doesn’t come across like your average businessman … but he’s okay with that.
“The Kootenays, and especially Castlegar, are open-minded communities where people are judged based on the work they do, not on how they look,” he said. “I love living here, and I love working here.”
For more information about Supercat Studios, visit www.supercatstudios.com