Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Gareth Davies, founder, and owner of Maker House Co., located in Ottawa, ON, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Maker House is a retail and e-commerce store with Canadian-made goods from over 200 artisans across this great land! We carry thousands of locally sourced products ranging from furniture & homewares to gifts like gourmet food or bath & body products. We invite customers to "Know the story of your stuff" and Meet the Makers behind them! We are proud to represent a very diverse range of creative talents, and we even make custom furniture in our very own Woodshop.

Maker House also gives back to our community by donating 2% of all sales revenue through our #CraftChange Fund. Thanks to our awesome customers, we have donated around $150,000 to over 40 organizations since opening in 2015. You can follow along via Instagram (@makerhouseco) or our website for the latest donations.

Tell us about yourself

I had a career in advertising and sales before starting Maker House as a 'pop-up to a permanent store in late 2015. Within two months of customer support, we signed a long-term lease in the same location!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Growing the business to annual revenues of $2M with 15 employees and recently adding group Health Benefits for our team -- all in 6 years after starting with around $50,000 in startup capital.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

All the unseen paperwork (HR, Payroll, Accounting, etc.) and managing expenses as you invest in scaling up. Also, wearing all the hats for each department (Purchasing, Marketing, Sales, etc.), but then deciding the right time and being mentally prepared to hand over departments to other leaders (and, of course, finding those leaders!).

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Talk about your idea endlessly, gathering feedback from your target market customers until you can distill it to an 'elevator pitch' that they understand and would spend money on. They will give you your best ideas!
  2. Write a focused business plan with realistic financial targets, and then be adaptable after you launch. Targets help you know how you are doing, and you might also find new revenue streams (pivoting) will exceed your planned model.
  3. Stay organized. Keep lists every day and prioritize the things that matter short-term over the long-term (in the early stages). Chances are, the long-term projects will change by the time they are key priorities.
  4. Be resourceful and seek help from family, employees, or partner businesses who complement your model (for example, with cross-promotion to share customers).

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

If you are successful, then your company will be asked to give back. I recommend building a charitable program into your DNA from the start, so you can account for it financially and also leverage it as marketing and communications to grow your customer loyalty.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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