Each week on B-Dairy, I share what I learned during the week about starting a brick and mortar shop. This week, I put my books aside to interview real people who have done just that. Meet Bridget and Christina, two independent women designers who teamed up to start their own businesses: Workshop Boutique and Flock Boutique.
What inspired to start your business?
We started our business almost ten years ago now (eek)! Christina and I were both independent designers selling our handmade goodies outdoors in tents at Ottawa's Byward Market. We met on Canada Day when there was a wind storm brewing and we decided to tie our tents together. Not the most sound idea, it turned out: but we're crafters, not engineers after all! The skies opened up, our tents flew in the air and we both got soaked. We became friends that day and opened our shop 6 months later.
Did you have a business plan?
We're both fly-by-the-seat of our pants girls, so no - no business plan. We have grown our business over the last ten years (we now have two shops: Workshop Boutique & Flock Boutique) by sheer determination and grit. A business plan, in retrospect, might have been a good idea! (-;
What are your businesss core values? Do they drive the decision making behind your business?
Christina and I believe in handmade. We also believe in ethical production. This is why we only carry goodies made in Canada (and a few made in the USA as well). We are very serious about our policy: we run both of our shops according to our values.
How do you choose your designers? Do you have any advice for young designers who are just starting to approach shops?
Back in the day, we used to go to craft shows and search online for new designers but now they generally find us (plus, running the shops takes quite a bit of time, so there's less time for surfing)! My advice for new designers approaching shops is to send a nice letter about who you are and what you do along with good photographs. We get dozens of submissions
every month and we only have about 5 minutes to dedicate to each one: so be short, specific, cute & crafty!
What is your favorite and least favorite part of owning your own business?
This question stumped us! We love pretty much everything about our business, so it's hard to pick a favourite: we love opening boxes of new stock, ordering collections, helping customers, doing the photoshoots for our online shop and working in our studio. It's all pretty awesome! Except doing the shop bookkeeping. That's not awesome. Not awesome at all.
Thank you Bridget and Christina for sharing your story and photographs!
Visit Workshop Boutique's online shop at www.workshopboutique.ca. Follow their shops on Facebook: Workshop and Flock. Here are their Twitter feeds: @ws_boutique and @flock_boutique. You can also follow them on Instagram (that's how I found them) @workshopandflock.