Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Chantel Coyle, Co-Owner of The Modern Makers Market, located in Peterborough, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Multi-vendor artisanal Gift shop and Vendor events. Our customers are thoughtful people wanting to support small businesses while discovering new and exciting pieces for themselves or for gifting.
Tell us about yourself
I started as a handmade business, and having to travel to the GTA or other areas for larger events with a younger and more relevant to my craft crowd was becoming expensive. Breaking away from the Hobby business status was not always possible with the vendor events in my local area. Etsy was the only real online e-commerce aside from eBay, but Etsy was and continues to be a tough platform to crack.
I teamed up with two other women and have built connections with like-minded small businesses; we created this Market. It was successful immediately! Our city obviously needed our events because, like us, customers weren't always able to travel to see events like ours. At the start of the Pandemic, our events for 2020 were canceled. At this point, it was my business partner who had moved overseas and me. We continued to find avenues in which we could support small businesses that were going to need the support, but nothing we could do virtually stood out to be unique to us. I happened to stumble across a commercial rental in a residential area close to my home, and after chatting with my partner, we realized we could open a brick-and-mortar and bring the market world to retail. In a way that was unique to us, that felt right, we went for it! It happened very fast!
We took inspiration for our module from our market events, and the bulk of our marketing remained on social media. The idea for our store would be simplistic and minimal furniture that had a clean industrial vibe that we easy to move or change. I wanted to be able to merchandise the space similar to how Big Box stores do from a marketing standpoint. I wanted guests to feel like they saw something new every time they visited. We opened in Nov 2020, and in two months, the shop brought in over 200k, which was a direct profit for the sellers within our store. I can't even begin to express how shocked, proud, and elated we were.
Moving into 2021, we thought we could expand our space and take on the neighboring unit so we could evolve and offer a workshop/event space. Unfortunately, we went into a hard lockdown in Jan 2021. We did our best to work with the health unit on attempting to wholesale essential items from small businesses within Canada, but it didn't work out. We did a hard pivot, and we worked tirelessly over numerous weeks to upload everything in our shop into an online platform. We moved back to our social media community, doing live shows, stories, and posts to showcase the sellers we had in store. Every day we had orders to fulfill, and curbside orders were growing. We didn't have to close down, our community was supporting us, and that was special.
We were contacted by HBC in the spring of 2021 to do a pop-up in their Oshawa center location. This was a big deal to us! At this point, we were so used to flying by the seat of our pants that we pulled it all together, and in July 2021, we opened a pop-up in the Hudson Bay Company. Sadly, they weren't much of a support, and while their idea or intentions behind the concept of bringing us in was exciting, it didn't work out. We made the decision to pull out in Sept to avoid a catastrophic loss. At this point, we hired a Shopify expert and had a whole new online platform built. A newer platform called the multi-vendor marketplace. Our in-store vendors could manage their own product listings, and this allowed us more time to grow our brand.
In the new year of 2022, we discovered we would be able to host our large vendor events again. Our Spring 2022 event was the biggest non-holiday event we ever hosted. Vendors reported record market sales. Our community was excited to have events back on, and they supported our vendors incredibly. At this point, with the way our brand was moving and with myself being the main contributor to the operations, I respectfully requested to buy out my partner and move forward as the sole owner of The Modern Makers Market and Shop. It's now been a full year since I took ownership, and I've grown two social media accounts by nearly 10k, collaborated with so many incredible business owners, developed brand values that are unique to me, and created a team of wonderfully supportive people.
Supporting small businesses is my passion, and when the industry presents itself as more challenging, I thrive. I will continue to use this platform to support small businesses that want to grow, but I will also use this platform to raise awareness of important social issues. I don't believe what's happening in our world and what happens in our industry are exclusive of one another. I live in a neurodiverse world and am surrounded by such a diverse and vibrant community. Within that, there are a lot of vulnerable people, and it's my mission to create safe and inclusive spaces.
This year, our events are evolving. I include unique entertainment elements that connect different communities. In our shop space, I'm introducing a more welcoming environment by hosting monthly unique workshops. I'm opening our space to different industries and encouraging people to think out of the box when furthering their growth and success. At 35 years old, I am proud to say I have a lot to learn, and I want to share that experience with others moving forward.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Visibly seeing the growth that I accomplished on my own. Seeing the success and growth that others have experienced after their time with us. Knowing I've contributed to other people's confidence in their own journeys has been incredibly fulfilling. My biggest accomplishment is never giving in and continuing to be myself in this industry.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The constant pressure to perform for others while building my own brand and the expectations that people have of others before being accountable for themselves. Everyone seems to look for what they're entitled to instead of utilizing their own tools for success. The ignorance that is displayed towards my role and people not understanding the physical and mental workload of an entrepreneur. The lack of support from my local business community has been tough. I've put a lot of time and effort into my local economy, and the response can be disappointing. Unless you pay to be a part of things, you're never recognized.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Understand finances. Do not start a business unless you know how to organize your finances.
- Utilize every resource you can find and join whatever affordable programs you can to help you learn more about the business world. You'll end up connecting with others which is important.
- Take marketing and social media courses. Social media will be the most important sales channel you'll use.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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