People ask me all the time about how I got my business started. Some people are curious, others are interested in striking out on their own. I thought I would take a moment to answer all your burning questions. Although the story is quite personal to me, I realize that every one of you has let me into your lives in some way.
I grew up on Vancouver Island. My Mom worked in insurance and my Father was the sports editor at our local newspaper. I watched my parents work hard, sometimes they were happy, sometimes not. I realized early on that one of the biggest factors to happiness is what you are doing everyday. I did not want my future to rely on someone else's decisions and actions. I knew as a teenager that some day I would own my own business. My Mom said I was a dreamer, but to me they were plans.
I found my love of floral design in my early twenties. I couldn't afford to take fancy floral design classes, but I just wanted it so bad. My first job was simply sweeping up in a small town shop. I then worked for four other shops, sharing with the owners my aspirations and being mentored in one way or another. Whether it was hands on teaching or seeing the owners triumphs and failures. I observed every aspect of the businesses as closely as I could. Sometimes I still feel like I am faking it til I make it.
When my future husband finished his PhD he got his first job at the University of Waterloo. We moved to Waterloo(from Edmonton at the time) in January of 2012. Our first impressions of Waterloo were colored by the grey of January, it took us some time to see the beauty of the city.
Shortly after our arrival I got a job at a flower shop in the Uptown mall that had just opened. It didn't prove to be a good fit for the shop owners and they closed in December of 2012. They suggested that I continue on in the same space with a trial lease. I jumped at the opportunity. Here is the part people really want to know about. How did I make this happen?
I was still in my twenties and at the time, to be honest, I only had about two thousand dollars and a credit card. I come from a modest background and I would not dream of asking someone else to fund my ambitions, especially something as risky as retail. I take pride in being self made. That being said, if it failed miserably we did, of course, have my husbands salary to live off of until I was back working for someone else. Failure was not something I considered at the time. It just was not an option.
As soon as the space was mine I went to work. I pulled up my boot straps and put my mark on it. I didn't have the luxury of time...the doors needed to be open to bring in cash. I worked 18 hour days renovating over the period of three weeks, my now husband would join me to help after he was done work for the day. I made all the tables and displays myself out of up-cycled materials.
Some of you may remember those first few months, the shelves were pretty bare. Thankfully by our first Valentines Day(three weeks after opening) I had become profitable, credit card paid off etc. For the first year I reinvested ALL that money that came in. I still reinvest, but it's now comfortably done.
At the start I literally knew no one in town. I think having some history in the area would of helped a lot in the early days. Now I know so many of you and I am thankful for every time you have come by. Charmed has grown because of you, my amazing customers and your loyalty. And here we are now, Charmed endured the Uptown construction, fully renovated the space I am currently in(this was not a small task in a 130 year old building) and my store is bursting at the seams with inventory. It is not as glamorous as people like to think. I still work long days. I shower at the end of my day rather than the beginning but I wouldn't trade it for anything.
Charmed was truly built on guts and years of planning in my mind.
My advice to future entrepreneurs:
-Businesses are not hobbies, don't wait until you retire to start one
- Never get comfortable
-Have a "no excuse" attitude. If you succeed it is because of you. If you fail it is because of you.
-Don't outsource anything if you can avoid it
-Risk is reward
-Keep your business yours
-A tight space equals more profit
-Always be ready for opportunity.