Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sara Nguyen, Owner of See-Scape, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.

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

We're a sci-fi-themed bar and event space. We offer video games, board games, cool events, and a visually unique space. It's also a community space for many different people in different scenes. All of our booths are different-themed, and we were the very first place to do this. Our customers come from all walks of life and are all of different ages. We have lots of artists, musicians, people who work in film, gamers, nerds, geeks, punks, goths, movie lovers...really anyone and everyone.

Tell us about yourself

What first got me started on my business was when I was 22 years old, and I had missed Fan Expo one year because I had eaten a bad burrito and had gotten food poisoning. I had to miss it, and I was super upset. I had worked on my cosplay for so long. Then I started to think, why not have a place where you can have different fandoms all mashed up in one? I can have cosplay parties, have live music, do events, and have a really cool-looking space that no one has. Really go outside of the box visually. Really, I was a misfit my whole life. Didn't really fit in anywhere. I was really into punk rock, and I always wanted to have a punk bar, but I was also a huge gamer and geek. That was a real dream since I was 19...but everyone wants a bar at 19; haha, that's a common dream. Then eventually, while in school and working a bunch of jobs, I started saving lots of money and thought, hey, this is actually possible. I can open up a nerd bar and have cool events whenever I want, maybe even live music! What motivates me is my customers; so many of them tell me it's their second home. All the musicians who play there, the DJs...also, I feel like I have a responsibility to keep Toronto fun. There are not too many venues left, especially small ones. I think of the time I was 14 and going to the big bop to see punk bands play; it's been gone for a while now, and I loved that place. I'm pretty sure I have many customers who feel the same about See-Scape, so I have to keep it alive.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Being alive, both physically and mentally, haha. I'm half joking there. In all honesty, it is a really hard question for me because I'm always striving to do better, but I would have to say building a great community/home for many different people. And maybe actually having the guts to risk it all and open up See-Scape.

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

Well, for me personally, it would have to be taking on so many responsibilities (you're responsible for your whole staff and all of the customers). When something goes wrong, it's on you alone, and that part is hard. Also, it's a commitment and a half.

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

  1. Treat your staff well; they will, in turn, take care of you.
  2. Believe in your vision even when no one else does.
  3. Have a goal and plan.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

The only thing I can add to this is that, yes, it's definitely scary starting your own business, and there's really no right time to do it. The right time never comes; you'll always run into difficulties; that's just part of the game. You need real hands-on experience. If you happen to fail, well, you can either pick yourself up again and do it all over with better experience or say, eh, at least I tried it, and it wasn't for me. Being an owner is a lot of hard work, and it's important to have the right people who love your vision. I'm blessed to have an amazing crew, for example, Adam, who has been with See-Scape since day one and who helps manage. So I guess what is important is your staff. Treat them well, and you'll see that the hard days don't always feel so bad.

Where can people find you and your business?


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