Meet Valérie & Karim | Portraits of merchants & professionals of Côte-des-Neiges


Published on: 15 September 2021 | Category: Entrevues Portraits de professionnels

As part of the Portraits of merchants & professionals of Côte-des-Neiges project, we invited Zeineb Khalfallah (@zeineb_conscience on Instagram) to join us in our visit of 11 businesses of the SDC Côte-des-Neiges who have participated in the project. In addition to the exhibition on Promenade Jean-Brillant of the pictures taken by Drowster and Gaëlle Leroyer, Zeineb shares with us the moments she took with the owners and managers. Learn more about your merchants and professionals of the Côte-des-Neiges district! // Find out more on Zeineb talks and meet Félicia Balzano, general manager of the SDC Côte-des-Neiges and who is behind the artistic direction of the project!

Arriving at Caravane Café, Félicia, DG of SDC Côtes-des-Neiges, Gaëlle, photographer, and Zeineb, myself, are welcomed with delicious Lebanese pastries (Mafroukeh) and rose coffee.

The retro decor of the place, especially the upper floor, and the friendly atmosphere were as sweet as the treats offered.

Each space has its own charm and is adorned with collectibles that take us on a journey to a whole new era. “Every object in this place has a soul and a history,” says Valérie Aubin, co-founder of the café.

The authenticity of the place allows its visitors to easily create links. At each table sat a group of friends chatting about hot topics, students who came to revise their courses in teams, etc.

“We use local products that we buy from nearby markets to emphasize the authenticity of our products and services,” says Karim Ouertani, co-founder of Caravane Café.

The two creators met 11 years ago while working in a café during their university studies. Their passion led them to create a space to share their best values.

Sitting next to each other, over coffee, the couple opened up to us to tell us about their entrepreneurial journey.

“When I discovered this location, I immediately saw an opportunity to develop a space for students made by students. At that time, we were still in college. But that didn’t stop us from embarking on the adventure.” Karim recounts.

The young couple founded Caravane Café in 2012. Their vision? To communicate on the multicultural aspect that, by the way, represents the two founders so well.

Karim, originally from Tunisia, moved to Canada 21 years ago. He fell in love with the city of Montreal and especially with the district of Côtes-des-Neiges where he has always lived.

Valerie, on the other hand, grew up in Montreal. Her mother is from Quebec and her father is half Serbian, half Belgian.

During our interview, Valerie shared their common vision of creating a welcoming environment for all the ethnicities that make Côte-des-Neiges so charming.

“I remember one day in particular that had a big impact on me. On my way back to the café, my eyes fell on a table with people from almost every culture sitting around it. At that time, there was no COVID. Although they didn’t know each other, these students from different backgrounds were sharing a small space to review their classes. That day, I knew that we had won our bet, to create an environment where everyone feels at home.” Confided Karim with great emotion.

Writer-journalist-reviser: Zeineb Khalfallah | Photo credit: Drowster

Complete the experience by visiting the free exhibition on Promenade Jean-Brillant from September 15 to December 5, 2021. Info: here

ABOUT THE PROJECT: Portraits of merchants and professionals of Côte-des-Neiges is a project aimed at connecting citizens with businesses in the territory of the Société de développement commercial (SDC) Côte-des-Neiges. Through a series of portraits taken at 11 businesses and businesses, we discover 16 owners and managers of businesses in the area. This social and cultural project is intended to be a real encounter with the people behind the professional. Through this very first edition, you will discover women and men, young professionals and seasoned entrepreneurs, from different cultures, from different backgrounds, offering a varied commercial offer and all having in common their love for Côte-des-Neiges. Discover the exhibition section here on the Promenade Jean-Brillant and continue the experience online thanks to the touching interviews carried out with each of them and available on the SDC Côte-des-Neiges blog and via QR codes on each panel. This project is an initiative and is under the artistic direction of the SDC Côte-des-Neiges. The exhibition component was produced in collaboration with the Maison de la culture Côte-des-Neiges and the Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough.

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