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Collected joy is the perfect store to start this podcast with because its first year in business...late 2014 to late 2015...was a significant year in retail. Anyone with a little skin in the game knew the Retail Apocalypse was tearing through retail giants and little guys alike. Radio Shack, Sears, Office Depot...Do you remember this? They were just gone, or chopped up and sold. At my store, brands that I trusted, family brands three generations deep, were being bought up by investment companies. Local men's retailers that have been in business for 50 years were just closing! In October 2014, I could have been looking out my window on Bloor Street wondering: why the heck would anyone want to get into retail right now?  It is so bleak!

Well, across the city from me on the East Side...Sharon Smyl, who had a stable job in the advertising world, making good money, medical benefits!! She's got two teenage kids and a house! Somewhere along the way, she got the entrepreneurial bug and she gave up all that security to open a store at a point in history when the analytics might say...This is not the right time! Sharon Smyl did it anyway, and she's six years into it. She even opened a second store right before the pandemic hit, but she has plans for more stores on the way. 
Who is Sharon Smyl. 
And what is Collected Joy?

What's this place. What's this place, this place let's go inside and find out. 

Sharon, what is this place? 

So the store is collected joy. It is a, not yet chain.  It is a store of two plus an online store. 
I opened October, 2014 here on Kingston road. And in November of 2019, I opened up on Mount Pleasant.
So I have two stores here in Toronto. For all intents and purposes, this is a gift store. It is a store filled with all of my favourite things. 

So you opened your second store and then the pandemic happened pretty soon after. 

Yeah, I did. Yep. 

Wow. So I'm going to just go back before we get into that whole shenanigans.


How did you come up with the name of the...

So the name of the store, it kind of happened organically. I wanted the store to be a place filled with things that I loved. The irony with all of this is I'm actually not much of a shopper. I like to go into places where I feel like somebody put a lot of thought into whatever it is they pulled together. 

Sharon may not like shopping very much, but you certainly can't tell by the curated collection of our goodies. Everywhere you look is well, a joy for your eyes, your nose, your skin. The store is a comfort. So shopping may not be her game, but gifting certainly is. 

The idea of collecting things and having a collection of things. That's where we landed. When I wrote the business plan, I wrote it: 
How do I want people to feel when they're in the store? 
I want them to feel welcome. I want them to feel joyous. I want them to feel like they belong. When we were toggling the ideas, Collected Joy came up and it worked perfectly. 
But also my mom's name is joy.


And my daughter's middle name is joy because of that. But when I was 15, my mother...I'm from a small town in Alberta. She opened a store called Just Joy's. So it just was a little bit of an homage and a nod to my crazy wackadoodle mom. 

Is she still around? 

She sure is. And so, she's so sweet and she's a complete, like we all are, a pain in the ass and she's fabulous and great. And so she called, when I told her about the name of the store. And she said, I know you didn't name it after me, but I just think it's really a sweet name. And she was very sweet and I go, oh, and I told her, I said, well, I didn't not name it after you. So, you know, it's...

Yeah, of course, she's in there. 


Do you have a partner in this business or is it all you?

It's all me. I'm I'm incorporated. So it's me, and then my husband is one of the directors. But he's a really silent partner. He actually, there was one time I was expanding into some clothing lines and I need an area for women to change in and I've read Paco Underhill's books and he's all about how people shop...and women have really distinctive ways that they need to shop or else it turns them if things touch their bums, did you know that women will leave a store? Like if they're....ugh. Cause you just go, oof, I don't have enough room or you, and so, yeah. So when we were figuring out where to put the change area, I have this closet under the stairs. He's like, Well, this'll work! I'm like, no, no!  So that was the end of that. Like that was that's where I've learned to just not get his involvement, but he delivers things to and from stores and he helps build shelves. 

That's so great. So is this your first business? You started six years ago. What were you doing prior to this? 

This is definitely my first business. Prior to that, I was a director of marketing, working with Minto for about five minutes. And then I realized I didn't want to do that anymore. But prior to that, I was in marketing at Starbucks for six years. So all of their out of home advertising and the in-store stuff, and I launched their loyalty program. So a lot of everything, and it was a really fabulous experience. 
And prior to that, I worked in advertising. So I was on the agency side. 

So, did you have a little voice in you? Like something that just wouldn't stop nagging, tapping you on the shoulder?

Yes, I did it probably about 15 years ago. I was out for dinner with girlfriends while I was still in advertising.

We're talking about what do we want to do? And I was able to articulate that I knew I wanted to run my own something. I couldn't get any further than that. I didn't know what it was going to be. I didn't know what it was going to look like at all, but I knew I was going to run my own something someday. It was always this thing in the back of my brain, for sure.  And then when this idea came up, it actually came out of the idea that I knew I needed to work for myself. And I didn't know what that was. And so I just sort of let that happen and evolve. It happened quite quickly, but I kind of just put it out there to say, it's time for me to work for myself. And then this sort of happened.

So at that time, could it have been anything it could have been a coffee shop or, uh?

Yeah, it could.  Yeah, it was, I was actually at a conference. And I texted my husband and somebody who's being on a stage and they were being smart and I'm like, well, they're not smarter than me. And also I was like, they're not teaching me, I'm not learning anything here.
So I texted my husband and I just said, I need to work for me. And his response was YES. And that was it. And then I got home and I go, well, what would it be? And he said, it doesn't matter. You already know that you work harder than anybody I've known. And so whatever you do, you'll just do it really well.  So that was sort of where it ended. And I kind of sat on it for a few weeks and I thought, well, how do I want to feel when I'm working, how do I want to feel when I'm running a business? And there was everything from, I don't want a really big commute. I want to surround myself with people that I enjoy. And I also want to be able to dictate and decide how busy and stressed I want to be and how big I want to get.

I've interviewed about a dozen business owners now, and Sharon is the only one who started her businesses in this Inside Out way. Like, find the feeling that you want in your life and build your business from that. What a revelation to build your business around your ethics instead of the other way round. 

So that's what it led to, and then I went: a store would be nice! And a store surrounding myself with things that I love would be nice. So that's how it happened. 

So how did you start buying stuff like, oh, well maybe, maybe we're putting the cart before the horse. What would have next step have been now? You're like, I want a store and what are you going to, where are you going to put it? And how are you going to...

What happened was I said, yep, I'm going to open up a shop. At the time I was like, 
I'm going to open up a shop near my house because I don't want to commute anymore. 
I'm going to open up a place that is going to be easy to maintain that I'm not going to have to do a whole bunch of work to. 
I then wrote a business plan. Quite frankly, the business plan is what grounded all of my decisions moving forward. And I wasn't going to write a business plan because I felt like it was all in the back of my brain. I'm like, well, I know what I want it to be. And everything in my head, my husband said, write a business plan and I go, well, what for? And he said, just get it down. So I wrote it and I sent it to him and I go, here's what it is.  He goes, well, I'm not going to read it. He goes, I don't need to read it. He said, you just needed to write this. And I'm like, damn, okay. 

Now I don't like him again. It's up and down with this this guy. 

I know it. So anyway, I did the business plan and then from it came the, well, how do I want to do this? And how do I want to differentiate it from other gift stores?  I did a whole bunch of business analytics before it even opened up the store. I did the, does it make sense to open up on Kingston road? What are the economics here? Like what are the demographics? Who shops here? What's their average income, all that data. And then I realized I wanted to make sure that when somebody walked into the store, they didn't get like Oh, yeah, I've seen this before. This is just like XYZ or Chapters or Indigo. So then that led me to, when I source products, the products need to be different and not different for different sake. Cause it has to be different, something that people are going to want to buy that they're going to want to value that they're going to want to spend money on.

I started to dig into products that I thought people would like that I would like. And I found myself very easily going down the road of Canadian, not Canadian themed, but Canadian designed and for the most part Canadian manufactured and made. And I would say probably 80% of my products here are Canadian.

But you can't tell you don't walk in and see like maple leaf shaped maple syrup in here.  I mean people come in and they go, do you have even Toronto themed..?  
I don't have anything themed. You will come in and you'll be able to decorate your house or find really great cards or a great pair of mittens or whatever, that are fantastic that just so happened to be greatly made and locally made or Canadian made. That's sort of what's led to all this. 

That's been a really big push ...for Canadian Made during the pandemic. People I think are talking even more about shopping local and just helping the actual people who live in our neighbourhoods and produce our stuff and sell our stuff to us.

It also just makes it, for me anyway, it gets me super duper excited about the products. The stories behind them are so phenomenal. The greatest gifts that have come from doing this has been meeting the makers and these aren't women sitting in their back rooms, crocheting, doilies. These are women that are like, all right, I got to figure out how to have an environmentally sound pump for my soap, because...and it's all these things and they're smart and they hustle and they worked so goddamn hard and they inspire me every day. So that's what I've surrounded myself with. And I'm in awe of all of them. 

Have you noticed any shift in the general population toward buying Canadian since you've opened?

Yeah, I think appreciation has gone up for sure. I think in my small little corners of Toronto and now online, I think I've opened up the window for people to choose Canadian over Bed, Bath and Beyond or whatever, because I talk about both the quality and the fact that it's made locally and people are starting to, they're valuing that more. I think also people like that there's a story tied to what it is that they're buying for somebody or for themselves. I think there's a different kind of magic in that when you're gifting something and you can go, well, you're buying this, you know, love fresh product, by the way, Stacy went to Malvern down the street and her factory is up on Warden and Eglinton, people like that.  And they also love that they can see her stuff at Holt Renfrew they like that. 

I have another idea for another season of this podcast to do the, the manufacturers. 

Oh my God. Oh, yes!  I could give you a list of 39 of them. And most of them are women and they're so great. And they're just that' that. Like I've got on my website, and it's just Meeting the Maker and my questions are stupid and lame, and I want to copy all of the ones you sent me. I'm not kidding. Cause I'm like, Ooh... 

Go for it! Go for it! 
They say that the most successful stores are ones that are a brand. Do you consider your. To be a brand. Are you as collected joy? A brand? 

It's a great question. Two things to that: 
1. I am building to become a brand for sure. That's my goal. Do I think I am one now?  I don't know. It's ironic, I'm formerly an advertising person, and I don't spend any money on advertising because I think there's a different way to do it.
Do I think I'm a brand ambassador for the brands I carry? A thousand percent. 
When somebody purchases something here and when I tell them the story behind what it is they're buying, that they believe the authenticity of why I'm so passionate about it. So yeah, I would say sure. If you were to say Sharon, tell me all about Slow and Tea. I will tell you how does life story, because she's fantastic. Yeah. 

Do you think that people have started acknowledging that their local business owners are an endangered species? 

Yes. I think it's, um, changing.

I think what's probably happening more now, especially since COVID and all of this, I think people are now going, hang on a second, why aren't the great, big, huge corporations paying taxes? All that stuff's happening and how much, you know, how many billions does anyone really need all those things? So I think that's happening. I would like to think, and this is me being naive...and I'm also completely jaded now, since this last year really kicked my butt. But I do think that COVID has opened people's eyes to the earnestness of what small business owners, what, who they are. I also think though, that there is a real...and it's been really good...
COVID has helped push the wave of people valuing their local shops more and their local restaurants. There's a real vocal passion that I see a lot and hear a lot and it's really lovely. So I think it's evolved. I have a theory and I don't know if it's founded in anything. So all of the people that have been working downtown and all these big businesses are like, my husband hasn't worn pants in a year because he's in the basement working and I don't know how much of a rush his place is going to want to bring him back if they figured out how to master this at home. I think this is going to make people's communities more valuable to them. I think that people that used to go to The Path to grab their coffee and go grab their candle, they're going to leave their house for the 20 minutes, cause it's better for their mental health...they're going to go and they're going to shop their local shop. Was that loud? Sorry. We had somebody come to the door. 

It's a little loud, but it's nice to hear, y'know, customers...
Human beings! 

If you're interested in advertising on what's this place, get in touch. Here's a little something I put together for the city of Toronto, the place I was born, we've been running away up north for a lot of the pandemic. And now it's time for us to host the north and the east. It's still pretty good here. You'll compare it to other major cities in the world and it won't win, but that's Toronto check out some deals on your favorite hotel app finder.

September is a gorgeous month and Toronto hit a patio. Some stores walk around a park or stay in your room, order takeout from some of the best restaurants in the world. It doesn't have to be crazy. You don't have to go clubbing to run. It's still here. Anyway, back to the show, 

Aside from COVID, what is the biggest challenge that you've faced in your business?

So I would say one, I would say COVID yes, but COVID has done a lot of good. It's forced me to do things that I've been putting off for a really long time. So that's been good. There've been things that have happened, that has pushed me into things that I've avoided going: There's no rush for that. 

Like what?

Like going online.

Oh yeah. 

Going online, getting my inventory really tight. Like knowing what I have realizing that I've got this excess little bits that are living in places that's been helpful challenges for me, I would say, or what I find hard because I. So much maybe is staff labor. So finding the right people and finding the right people who are going to fit and align with who we are as a company, I've been immensely blessed with who I have had and who I currently have working for me and with me, I barely do anything anymore and they just are fabulous.

And it's so great. They're these women that. So effing. Awesome. So I would say staff, labor's hard to find if you can't find people that are aligned. I learned something this past year, and it's a reminder for myself, why I'm here is very different from why they're here. I'm mindfully checking in to make sure that I'm understanding that why they're here, that I'm feeding that need for them.

So if one of them is here because they need to get away from their two little kids at home, then I make sure that her schedule is really, really tight and. She's got the freedom to flex with her kids. That was one of my big things. So labor staff and you know what cashflow just managing cashflow is always important too.

Those are boring. Sorry. No, no. I love the it's inspirational. How you treat your employees. And the thought that you put into your poise. Cause that's your biggest asset. It is. Well, because they really, so you ask about whether I'm am I a brand? Well, yeah, my goal is to open three or four more stores at some point, and I can't get all of them.

I'm trying to make sure that I have a face here and a face up at Mount pleasant, but the reality is I need the people up at Mount pleasant to fall in love with the ladies I have at Mount pleasant. Yeah. Yeah. How do you curate the items in your store? Like how did you go from four empty walls? Coming a store.

Do you travel to find things? How do you find stuff? So what I did to start, I would find various brands and products either online that I just would stumble across, or I go to craft sales. You go to the, not even the one of a kind show, but you go to the Cabbagetown festival, like the cabbage talk show.

And then I get all pathetic and desperate and go, do you do wholesale? I didn't even know how to ask people. I'm like, do you do wholesale? And I didn't even know really what that meant. And then I would send them these dorky notes and I would say, hi, I'm about to open a store. And I knew full well that when I'm about to open a store, you know, nothing about me or how I'm going to treat your brand.

Please trust me. So that's how I started. Did they, I'm interested to find out was everybody like yeah, of course I'll put it in your store. No, they weren't. And so that went really well. It shocked me. So then, then I, you know, at first I'm like, oh, well, how come? Because it then brought me full circle to the importance of brand.

I needed to explain to some companies, some brands like some product owners, why their brand was going to fit with mine. So collected joy is a really good place to be. Ridiculously trending, nor am I ridiculously folksy. I'm very welcoming. I think this is a really good place to come to get a whole bunch of really great, wonderful items.

So when I would approach those and I'm from a small town in Alberta, I've been here for 20 years, but I still feel like this little small town girl, who's trying to talk to this really slick, what I would deem as this is a really slick, cool brand from Toronto. Like this is the cool, so, but then I realized I was.

To let them know that I will treat their brand properly. And it's everything, it's everything for how I talk about it, to how it's placed in the store to even things like where we put a price tag, I'll make sure that where we put our price tags goes in a place that's not going to destroy their packaging because they're important.

That's their brand. That's how it started. And then it started to grow. And now what's happening is I get people emailing me or calling me. If I would sell their stuff, which is really lovely and flattering and great. And then I get to look at things through a lens of one when I have to love it. Like I have to love it.

And if I don't love it, then I'm then I don't, I won't sell it. So now when they email me, they'll ask me if I would like to sell their brand. And I always take a look at it. I put them through a professional lens. There are people that are like, Hey, I'm just starting out. And I can't do your market research for you in my store.

So you know what you want to charge? What sells really well, all those kinds of things. Then I used suggest they go to a local craft show for a couple of years. Grown. And, and there's some things that I know would probably sell well here, but I don't, I don't like them. I don't use them, so I can't sell them authentically.

So I just don't tell them, is there anything that you look for that you would like to be made in Canada, but that we aren't producing here? That's a really good, hard question. Like you have to, if it's 80% Canadian, you have 20%. That's not Canadian, is that because you can't get those things anywhere. No it's because the things that I'm getting that aren't Canadian are also really great and I love them.

So I can I sell these really great Swedish blankets and it's not that they're just gorgeous. And they're lovely. That's a really hard question. What I will say is that when it comes to jewelry, all of my jewelry is Canadian because there's way too many, really great Canadian design. They're so fantastic to choose from that.

I don't need to look at a great little designer from Portland as great as they are, and they reach out to me. It's I have a slight obsession with cards, like funny cards and really good cards. I don't care where they come from. If it hits me in a good place, I bring them in, which explains why I have so many cards.

Right. Have, have you ever heard of the retail apocalypse? No. Explain. So prior to the pandemic, everyone was talking about the retail APOC. But if you haven't heard of it, what you're implying that retails, like going to just go away, closing down, it's only going to be online. So I've heard, I've heard of that.

I don't think I've heard that name. All that even six and a half years ago when I, or seven years ago. When I decided I wanted to do this, people were like, well, you know, you can't, you can't really make a living doing retail and you can't really do this and this. And then I thought, well, but people are right, but people are so not withstanding that Heather Reisman, who also had the Gerry to defund her and back her up with her indigo and chapters, but people still are shopping at indigo and chapters.

People are still shopping at the bay. That's retail back then. I was like, no, I think, I think we're going to be okay. And so now. Point of the what's going to happen. Now? I, I think just the look on your faces when you got to see the inside of a store was really, really compelling to me because it's showing me how much people like to connect and how much people like to touch things and feel them and smell them.

You know, we are. Open for curbside pickup and the number of people that stare inside longingly. I don't think that goes away. I think that sort of stays even generationally. I have a 17 just turned 17 year old and a 14 year old and they shop in stores. They're not necessarily good at shopping online.

They're kind of crappy at it. I think that good retail will continue forever. I think that really great. Awesome green grocer will always do great because people. Go into there. So BU bah humbug. No, I don't think I'm going to go away. What are some of your strategies to stay relevant and, you know, stay, stay open.

So I just wrote a 2122 plan, a business plan slash where do I see myself go from here? My focus is, are, how do I grow my brand within Toronto? How do I grow my brand beyond Toronto? And how do I. Build my online before I even start putting a pen to a checkbook, I'm not going to start investing in advertising or formal advertising.

I'm going to be as grassroots and high touch as I possibly can with things I'm going to kind of wing it. I know that sounds a little bit dumb and a little irresponsible, but I'm going to believe in what I'm doing. I'm going to do it by making my website better. It's a good website. It's highly functional.

It's easy to use, but I'm going to make it better and I'm gonna make it easier for people to shop. I'm going to open up. Two or three stores over the next two or three years, we'll look into doing a pop-up or two and test that I did a pop-up a couple of years ago up in port Carlin. It was fun. It was too far away.

The learning I got from that will then inform the next one. So those are the things that I'm doing and here's the other thing I have no set, hard timelines. I refuse to get caught up in the need to get it done as soon as possible. And that just got to do it. You kind of have to do it and that's sort of it, but think it was in my, not in my first year, but we had people over and a really good friend asked me, what's been your biggest mistake so far.

Oh, I was going to ask you that question. What is that? Wow. You don't want that first year. I ordered way too many of those bags. I thought I'd sell more of them. And then all of a sudden it took them a lot longer. It might true. Can I tell you it might be. I ordered two of them. And so when I'm not saying that I haven't made mistakes, but I'm actually okay with the mistakes that have happened, you only learn from the mistakes, but I genuinely, it might be choosing the biggest mistakes have probably just been stupid, sloppy ordering errors.

Yeah. I think to. You know, rose who works here, goes, you know, we have 37 of those already and I go, Hmm, sorry. Yeah, I would do that. And whoops, seriously when I go, oh my God, no, I need tons of those. And then I look and really have a lot of them all ready and that, and that's just truthfully, that's me being sloppy and lazy.

That's all. Retail is kind of a big ship to turn because you order it. Uh, a few months. I don't know how far it advanced is with you, but with clothing it's eight months in advance. It's seriously. Every time I look at clothing stores, I'm thinking, holy crap, I don't know how you manage your inventory. All those things.

I, God bless you. Well, you're doing it. I look at you and I'm like, she's doing it. She's still doing it. She's doing it in a pandemic. Blows my mind. So we're winging it. It's been really interesting. It's been pretty fantastical. In fact, sometimes I think back to cause March 16th was when I closed down and it was really emotional.

I remember. And I keep getting hints of that emotion. That was a big thing now. Um, do you feel, do you think that coming up to the year anniversary is going to give you some PTSD for lack of a better word? Does it, it reminds you of the time. Yeah. You know, what, as we start to kind of move into the year two of this, and however that's going to unfold because we just kind of keep putting little band-aids on things and yeah, let's close, collected joy.

Cause that's, what's causing the, the growth and the numbers, but it's ridiculous. Whatever Sharon, what advice would you have? For an aspiring store owner. I have two answers to that one, I would say. And this sounds a little bit lame and cheesy. It's know why you want to do it. Be really clear with your why still really clear with my wife.

I know why I'm doing this. The other thing is truthfully and he keeps he's getting credit and he keeps coming up. Read the business plan. It grounded me in. Thinking about all the things, especially retail. And I found it online and just like, how do you write a business plan? And I found one that I liked that I thought wasn't gonna take too much writing.

And it took more than I thought, but it grounded me in making sure I had answers to as many questions that I thought I was going to have to, because when you're writing a business plan, you're always forced to go back to the why you're doing it. And when you're writing, if you're struggling with writing it, because you weren't going back to the why, then you're not.

Is what I would say. I had a business plan by the way. And it was my father who told me to get one that sounds like too much work. And he's, if you're not going to do that work, you're not going to have a store. Oh, okay. I'll go online and I'll figure out the, yeah. It just forces you to answer the questions.

I'll deal with that later. Oh, I have to deal with that now. Oh, here's my other state of guidance or the thing that I learned. Hire experts in areas that you're never going to be an expert in. A lot of people can navigate their way through the, how do I set up my phone and my stupid printer and all that crap.

And if it's done, half-assed no one on the outside will notice, but hire a good accountant. So I don't go to jail for tax. Yes. Yes. Just hire a really good bookkeeper. Hire a good accountant for the first little bit. I had a few small batch vendors out of the U S. That I would bring it into Canada. So I hired somebody for that because I didn't ever want my passport to ever get damaged by me doing a paperwork wrong.

And then me sitting at the border. And these are things that quite frankly, you never should have to get really good at. Just make sure you have somebody you trust that can teach you as you go along, but you don't have to be the expert in it. So hire a good, hire, a good accountant. If you can find one, okay.

We're into the touchy feely part. What is one thought or mantra book or recipe or whatever it is that helps you persevere in retail? My mantra is every day I get to decide that this is what I get to do, because quite frankly, I could, I could stop this tomorrow and go back. And, but I get to decide. And so every day I choose to do this and it's under, so it's my mantra of you.

You're choosing to do this again today. Share. Go and do it and have fun. And if there was one retail super power that you could not live without, what is it? Oh God. Oh, Christy just said something. No, now I can't use it, but it, what did she say? She said resilience. So that's my, that's just a word I like, I like.

Thank you, Christine. I don't know if that's my superpower though. My superpower is keeping things in perspective and looking at things in the long haul. You know, I don't have to, you don't have to solve for this tomorrow. It doesn't have to get solved for next month. We just need to build to the longer game.

It's a long game approach. I'm the two marshmallow girl instead of the one marshmallow girl, you know, that study. No, no. The study with kids where they put a kid in a room and they said to the kid that you can have this one marshmallow right now, or you can wait five minutes and we'll give you two marshmallows.

Right. And so I'm the, I'm the one that I'm willing to wait the five minutes to get. So it also just tells you that I was really like marshmallows and cookies. The pandemic has really pushed that for me to go, okay. If I had to shut down for six months, what would I need to do to make sure that lasts?

What's the long game? How do I make sure I survived? I think it's being able to see. More of a macro longer game perspective. Amazing Sharon, you are an inspirational business owner. We're so thrilled to be able to talk to you and dive behind the bricks and the mortar and people have gotten to know you better.

And. The story behind your store and they want to shop there. Well, thank you. .

Episode 1: Collected Joy

Gift store with

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Episode 2: The RE Place

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Episode 3: Neat.Space.Edited

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Episode 4: Antique Emporium

Episode 5: Hanji Gifts

Made You Look Final
[00:00:00] Miranda Black: At 23, Sarah Dougal was in jewelry school. When she realized the options to sell her work. Once she'd graduated, you know, the business end of being a maker, they were slim to none that was 20 years ago back in 2001. And she decided her best solution was to open her own store with this unique business model.
She breaks down. Because I did not operate like this, but I kind of wished I had, oh, and she was pregnant when all this was going down. So now 2021 is both her business and her son turned 20. I'm having a fan girl moment here. She shares how she persevered in Parkdale and how. The store causes so many heads to swivel made you look, who is Sarah Dougal and how has she made so many people look, 
[00:00:42] Sarah Dougall: what's this place, this place, what's this place.
What's this place. What's this place 
[00:00:50] Miranda Black: let's go inside and find out I'm blown away by. Um, oh my goodness. Wait to dive in to see how this whole thing came to be. So what is this place and who are you? 
[00:01:03] Sarah Dougall: My name is Sarah Dougal. I am the shop owner here at made you look jewelry. We've been here 20 years. I thought I wanted to make jewelry for my living, but at that time, There was a real lack of venue for graduates.
So you would come out of the program, then not have a studio to make it in and not have customers to sell it to. That was the dilemma where we can come and make jewelry and be able to sell that jewelry to the public. So have a proper venue for sales. I'm looking out at the options and going, this is bleak.
It all just started. Talk over the table in the 
[00:01:36] Miranda Black: cafeteria, you were a student and you decide to go out and buy a building. Like, 
[00:01:43] Sarah Dougall: yeah. How do you hop, skip, and jump to that space. It really was born from bringing that conversation to the dining table at my parents' house and saying, there's gotta be something better out there.
And it was at that point that we started looking for the right space, which ended up being this building on queen street west. 
[00:02:04] Miranda Black: I'm going to sneak an apology in here. We recorded this part of the episode in masks because Sarah was working the floor. So there's some hot mic issues, popping PS and so forth.
The problem does resolve itself. So please bear with us and I appreciate your forgiveness from my learning curve. You started looking with your parents, 
[00:02:22] Sarah Dougall: my father in particular. So I was 23 years old, crazy pregnant with my son. It was now or never kind of saying it was like, I want to create an amazing life for my son.
I want him to see what possibilities exist in life. My dad is very practical. I'm the dreamer. And my dad is where the rubber meets the road, where you take dreams and ideas and make them meet reality. 
[00:02:49] Miranda Black: Great synergy. 
[00:02:51] Sarah Dougall: Yes. He's a number cruncher and he's very practical in that. He didn't want me to rent my retail space because he was concerned that I would never get a chance to get ahead and that the rent would just tsunami every month while I'm trying to build my business.
And he was like, if you're going to do this crazy thing, you need to own the. You need to not have your investment be swept out from underneath you. Part of the business model was to be landlords and rent apartments. So I was living upstairs, working in the gallery downstairs and then had tenants. So when you add all of that together, So you're starting to become this sustainable dynamic.
And of course at the time it's felt like a huge chunk of change by no means. Did that come easy? A building that was in a neighborhood that not everybody wanted to be in. 
[00:03:43] Miranda Black: I remember the moment deciding to pull the trigger on this. If you take us back 20 years ago, I 
[00:03:50] Sarah Dougall: do remember that because I was a very rebellious teenager and push the boundaries of.
Because my parents, a lot of stress, there were many, many talks about how they can't trust me. And I was just one of those kids and I'm pregnant. I'm starting my life, my dad and I had quite a serious talks. And he's like, are you serious about this? Because this business is going to be. Ball and chain around your ankle.
And I said, I'm going to picture this ball and chain to be made of solid gold. So yes, I am stuck here, but I am tethered to something full of potential. That was that moment where I was like, I'm in. I realize what I'm saying yes to, I can do this. 
[00:04:31] Miranda Black: Okay. So your. Three. And first of all, how did you come up with the name 
[00:04:36] Sarah Dougall: it started with playing with the word you, we were hoping that the experience that we could offer would be individuals that the jewelry is unique.
Lots of it is one of a kind. We want to hear your story about your relationship. We're going to customize this piece. So kind of started there a lot of what we do really lives outside the box and it makes you look. Also wherever we're located in Parkdale, the look of our facade, like all of that is designed to make you look as well.
So that's how the name came 
[00:05:07] Miranda Black: to be. You mentioned the neighborhood Parkdale. This neighborhood is not the same as it was 20 years ago, or, I mean, you would know better. Has it evolved? It 
[00:05:17] Sarah Dougall: has absolutely evolved over the years. And I would say that 10 to 12 years ago, we were at a bit of a sweet spot that I would describe to be sweeter than where we are right now.
Yeah. Before the pin. Our neighborhood lost a few very key businesses that played a significant role in anchoring the vibe. And the, we 
[00:05:41] Miranda Black: to talk about that because you mentioned in the made you look archive, I'm going to jump in. Cause we refer to the made you look archive a couple of times in the interview.
And what we're talking about is this hashtag she created on Instagram. It documents this huge milestone, her 20th anniversary through pictures and stories, and you can find it at hashtag made you look archive. You mentioned there were no. Stores there, except for designer fabrics, you describe all these little things that people from the outside, they never in a million years think they affect business it's stuff.
You can put into a business plan. And I love how you give credit to designer fabrics for bringing in this particular clientele. Small businesses have like a butterfly effect. Now that you are the butterfly effect. Do you feel that 
[00:06:30] Sarah Dougall: responsibility? Uh, I certainly do. I don't feel like I act any different than when I was brand new.
That level of intention and care has always been there. So those 
[00:06:43] Miranda Black: clothes like designer fabrics, is there other stores there that were in the neighborhood? I didn't realize 
[00:06:49] Sarah Dougall: that it's more than just designer fabrics, that we are grieving. The loss of it's also the Cadillac lounge.
Yes. He had been there for 20 years. So we'd been around like the same amount of time. They just attracted people from all over the city. They had their own unique vibe and it was a one of a kind venue. And during that time, this was the strip that never slept. There were taxi cabs going all night long. It is queen street.
It's a famous street. It needs to have these unique businesses being large and in charge kind of thing. And so that's really missing. But as far as that energy here in Parkdale, it's gone and it's hard to replace that. 
[00:07:36] Miranda Black: Give you pause or use guns, a blazing. How do you feel about business right now in Parkdale?
[00:07:42] Sarah Dougall: That's interesting. Uh, personally, still guns, a blazing jewelry has been a part of human history since the beginning of time people want it, it's intuitive and I'm just presenting it in a certain unique way. So personally, I'm still completely invested in what I'm doing and really excited about what's next for my business and our community.
As far as retail in Parkdale. Oh boy. Oh boy. Yes. Pause. Pause is a good word. People like me, retailers, a type people. It's hard to pause. You want to put your finger on something to say, Hey, I'm recognizing this trend, but we are in a global pause. You know, you have to just hunker down and be okay with not knowing the outcome right now.
All I can do every day is put that forward. 
[00:08:29] Miranda Black: That I really love about your store. You have a really visible repair department and I had a tailor shop and I loved the ability to service garments. I think it's naive to think that your clothing, your jewelry, your shoes, that you just walk away and you never have to upkeep.
And a service department, also employees artisans, you employed tailors and seamstresses or jewelers. Was that always 
[00:08:55] Sarah Dougall: part of your plan? Service side of the business is very important when you're dreaming up a business. One of the first questions. Someone will ask you is, well, is it a product based business or is a service-based business, but if you can create a model that involves both, then it's the best of both worlds.
So I don't have to have a customer buy one of my finished items in order to be come a client of mine. They can come in with a bauble that they got at. Hmm. That is special to them, plastic and glue that has deteriorated. It's not easy to find a place to fix something like that. The traditional jewelry store is mostly focused on gold and things where there's more of a profit margin when it comes to repair.
So I mean, how much money can we make gluing a bubble back on, but we can make. We can make people happy and that's worth a lot. And all the systems involved in managing those items because they're, people's precious belongings. It's like at the dry cleaners, you drop off your shirts and they only different things like how do they bring all those items back together again, so that when you come to pick them up, all five items are there similar for us because it's not always the same jeweler that's working on every item, different skills involved.
So part of the work of running your own business is figuring out. That as efficient and easy so that the customer has nothing, but the best experience, 
[00:10:19] Miranda Black: uh, service department has that helped with your growth and your longevity? 
[00:10:24] Sarah Dougall: I would say so. Absolutely in business speak, you could call it a loss leader because not a lot of money to be made and huge labor.
You make a friend and people are so passionate about their jewelry. They're out in the world saying, oh yeah, this was my thing that I love that so-and-so gave me. And I thought it was broken forever, but those people that made you look, they fixed it. And now they're my saviors 
[00:10:45] Miranda Black: for me as well. I did, I was going through my jewelry from H and M and I thought, no, one's going to service.
I took it to you guys. I was super embarrassed and I'm like, if you can't fix it and the girl was, oh yeah, no problem. We can do that. You made my day. 
[00:11:02] Sarah Dougall: Yes. It is a very special component of our business and not completely selfless. The jewelers that get to interact with those pieces. It enhances their repertoire as far as.
How jewelry's put together, especially when it comes to vintage jewelry and pieces that are made in a bygone era. And we're seeing them today. It's such a gift. Really. We're so privileged to be able to have access to people's items that we would not otherwise see. So really it makes us better Goldsmiths and jewelers to be able to touch these things.
Even the H and M items. 
[00:11:35] Miranda Black: Retailers might think, oh, it's going to cost too much to employ someone like that. But if our goal is to get repeat customers, getting them in the door, a service department creates all those opportunities. It would be so great for so many different items, not just your clothing and your jewelry and your shoes.
Which is also 
[00:11:53] Sarah Dougall: rare. Well, for sure, because I mean, hopefully we're entering into a day and age where each one of us is being more mindful about wasting and like it, isn't always about having to buy something new can be equally as valuable for you to become reacquainted with something from 
[00:12:09] Miranda Black: your past.
Absolutely. Equally as valuable. I got that pile. I got them home and it gave me a joy as if I'd bought something. And 
[00:12:18] Sarah Dougall: people really seem to express that when they see the thing fixed, like they drop it off all mangled and maybe they're even at feely a little embarrassed, as you're saying, and then they pick it all up and it's like, what
[00:12:33] Miranda Black: if you love to shop? I have a feeling. It also like the rush of having something repaired. The problem is the more we repair, the less we buy, which is very unhealthy for a consumer based society. But if you could just take a leap of faith for a second, that we won't face mass extinction. If we cut our consumption and instead of giving our dollar bucks to a factory line and investing our time and hunting in a mall, maybe in this utopian world, we give our money to skilled labor and invest in higher quality goods.
I know it's just a fantasy, but it's interesting to think of different ways. We can get our shopping buzz on without ringing the earth and the people on it dry. So can you. To the student and the back of the classroom, which is me, your business model, the consignment versus wholesale because in clothing or the kind of clothing that I was in, I didn't buy out of a catalog, but I went to a show.
You touch it, you try it on. And then you buy a bunch of. Yeah, you definitely buy more than one. This is not how you do business. You have a totally different business model. It seems it could be far less wasteful because once you put something on sale, which is inevitably going to happen, when you have multiples, it's lost its value.
[00:13:42] Sarah Dougall: Yeah, for sure. It's such an interesting question. So there are 20 self-employed jewelry designers who pay me a monthly fee to be part of our studio. They're just lending me their jewelry. So they've created a line and then they've said, I wonder if anybody will ever buy this stuff. And I say, I wonder if anybody will ever buy this stuff too.
[00:14:02] Miranda Black: I don't know. Quite no money has been exchanged. No money is exchange. Artists has made the. Yeah. 
[00:14:10] Sarah Dougall: And that's their risk, right? That's their risk that they came up with that design. They put their money into it. They're showing it to me. And I'm saying, yeah, let's give it a go. So we have a contract that allows them to feel comfortable leaving me with their goods, with no money exchanged.
We do everything under the sun and moon to give that line the best chance at selling as itself, the designer gets a check and in exchange for that dynamic, I offer the jeweler a better price than if they had sold that item wholesale. 
[00:14:41] Miranda Black: So do you have any 
[00:14:42] Sarah Dougall: employees? I do now in the early days, it was just me for seven years.
I worked seven days straight, just myself in the gallery. 
[00:14:53] Miranda Black: So if it were to work with a clothing store, not, I am in no way wanting to open another bricks and mortar store 
[00:15:00] Sarah Dougall: because I wanted you to open up one next to me. He were parked
[00:15:06] Miranda Black: totally. With a clothing store, you would have different clothing designers and they would, 
[00:15:13] Sarah Dougall: so for instance, all of those designers, someone like me would go to them and say, Hey, when you're not doing your show, does this inventory go? And they might say, oh, just kind of hangs out in my studio. And I would say, do you want it to just like, hang out in my store and stuff?
Yeah. Your inventory. If you need to do a show, if you have a private client, what you need to do, if you sell something online, then you'll only have one of come get it. But in the meantime, if you've got stock, that is not being viewed by the public and it's tucked away somewhere. Why not have it 
[00:15:46] Miranda Black: in storage with me?
Because this is the first time I've heard of it. Other than consignment, like consignment clothing stores. This is not, this is not where did you get this 
[00:15:56] Sarah Dougall: business? So one of the businesses that had a big influence on my vision for this store was a venue called arts on king. And I sold art for the wall and sculpture, and maybe even some furniture all the way down into smaller objects, including jewelry, they had such a variety and it was all contemporary, but still very accessible, like.
To purchase, not just art to point out, you know, and I really appreciated that. And some of the way in which they were able to get their hands on such a huge amount of stuff was through consignment. So it's not a new model. It's just that a maker. It's almost like a maker. Has it in their mind that they've been successful.
If they've convinced a retailer. By the lines and that somehow it's less successful if it's just being sold on consignment somewhere. But what I say is, if you've been able to sell your line wholesale to a buyer, that means you convinced one person. That your work is desirable. Who knows if it actually sells to the public, you've just convinced one person on consignment.
It's the public that decides. And when you make sales, it's still legit customers. Who's actually wearing this stuff. Not just people who like it for their store. So I just, I encourage people to be more curious about the end buyer than the, 
[00:17:20] Miranda Black: the middleman. It's an interesting way of thinking about the different retail models that might work better for people moving forward.
[00:17:29] Sarah Dougall: Totally totally less risk. One more example. And the line of jewelry, there might be some really exquisite pieces, one of a kind expensive showstoppers, but if I have to buy the lie, I might not have the budget to buy that showstopper. I might have to just buy the little trinkets and the things that I'm really sure are going to sell, but it's in the designer's best interest to have that showstopper on display.
You've got showstopper, that's going to increase my chances of being able to sell it. Trinkets and we'll just call them. So in that wholesale dynamic, the offering gets constricted by the limitations of the buyer. Whereas if we get into this consignment deal, no risk can put these extravagant pieces on display and they sit there and that's okay because it's used as a tool to sell those other items.
[00:18:18] Miranda Black: I want to talk about selling online because you know how rich the in-store experiences. I personally never found that oomph or that inspiration to take my store online. I was very resistant. I couldn't, or wouldn't face it. I didn't have to, but now you have to go online and you have a great website and I'm not even sure why.
It's great. Is your online store rewarding for you? How do you grow to love your honor?
[00:18:53] Sarah Dougall: Awesome question. I love the question so, so much. So although we do have a robust website that features over 2,500 unique or individual products, it is not an add to cart website, so you can not click. Anything. Yeah. And that is why I love my online baby. So I'll back up just for one second. Say I did have an add to cart website a long time ago, the labor involved in putting the.
It was so intense. It still is. Fraudulent transactions were way more common back then. So you're always up against, is this a legit sale? Like this stuff. And then you're like, ah, they're probably just trying to Rob me. So it sucked basically it sucked, but it's important for me to say I tried it it's like online dating it sucks.
So that's how I feel about the online, add to cart website for my business. And the reason I say that is because I am selling a unique, one of a kind product. Our customers are coming to see us because they're looking at things they've never seen before. So we have a lot of descriptive. And measurements, and we actually just added this new try-on feature during the pandemic.
So you can actually, uh, hold your hand up and superimpose the ring onto your hand. So our client is able to send us a message and say, oh my God, I love this. How do I buy it? Then we get back. Awesome. Here's how we can do this. And there's lots of different ways we say, great question dot item has just sold, but I have these other three that are similar and I'm going to send you photos right now.
And you like one of these better. So we have this personalized experience virtually and lo and behold before. Ready to buy that we learn is that they actually needed that conversation before they could feel totally confident about the purchase. What happens with a lot of add to cart websites is in order to give the client confidence to make that purchase, you have to say full refund, no questions, blah, how to spend my time processing refunds.
I would re rather than. In the client, make them feel more and more confident about what it is that they're buying. So that is how I'm able to love the, the online presence. 
[00:21:05] Miranda Black: I did a shopping online experience, but you still have to talk to 
[00:21:09] Sarah Dougall: people. Yes. Well then we won't. We want it that way. We want to be grounded.
In reality, a lot of people are online. People are on their phones. I have to accept reality where it is, but on my terms, I don't want to lose. What's special about our store, which is the personalized experience, which goes back to the word you in our logo, you know, you're not a zombie on the other end of the computer.
I'm not just selling one of 85 billion of these. Yeah. It's about you and your unique needs and your unique questions and your 
[00:21:43] Miranda Black: it's a hybrid it's halfway between I sold a lot of custom suits and I was like, I can't sell, is it impossible to sell custom suits online? Totally. The hybrid model. Maybe it's the way to go for people who they've got something that's 
[00:21:58] Sarah Dougall: unique.
One of the biggest challenges is. To stay true to who you are and all of that gumption that you had that got you to the point where you said yes, and I'm going to open up the store and I'm going to do this thing. You have to keep that intact. It can get clawed away at because every minute of every day, you're being told that you should be doing something different.
I wake up to emails saying, hi, I've combed your website and you are failing in all of these categories. 
[00:22:28] Miranda Black: I still get. No years and people will be like, I just went through your, and I'm like, really? Because right on the front page, it says I'm closed. I want to read you a quote from your made you look archive that really spoke to my heart.
You said. Social media is often a platform showing only the positive and happy side of business, these successes, but the truth is there is a test every single day, without being able to make peace with the stuff that's really difficult. I would have been back to my cashier job at Loblaws in a flat. Now this was regarding the brick that got thrown through your window.
Every retailer has had that call in the middle of the night that the alarm is going off for some reason, but it transcends. That little quote transcends the brick, the pandemic, because it's just the latest challenge and the latest test that you've gone through. Um, the question is what is the biggest challenge that you've faced since.
And it doesn't have 
[00:23:37] Sarah Dougall: to be the pandemic. No, for sure. And it isn't, it isn't the pandemic. I think finding a pace that's sustainable as an entrepreneur is probably the number one biggest challenge. I was so grateful to have my young son at the beginning of my career because he would force me into doing something else, playing Lego, caring for him, cooking dinner, bath time, all of that.
As he's gotten older, there's nothing. Hold me away from work, work, work, work. It's easy to keep feeding that I don't want to refer to it as a monster, but I think I should, because it can sneak up on you that your life has become out of alignment. It's really easy to just get in a cycle of more and more and more, but you're never, it's never enough.
So finding the. To be able to take pause and reflect that to me is the ultimate biggest challenge of running a business like this. But just to speak to the quote that you read a simple way to explain how I've dealt with the blows with the hard times, and to not be totally discouraged by them connects to sort of like a Buddhist philosophy about how joy and suffering.
Are inseparable and the way that you can actually got a piece of paper right here. So you take a blank piece of paper and you imagine that joy is one side of the page and suffering is the other side and try and separate two, you can't and they don't and suffering is not something to resist. It allows it is actually the conduit to joy, that idea.
Really rang true for me early on in my career. And so when I met with something that feels sticky and icky and hard, I'm still really intrigued and curious, and it doesn't like knock me right down, because that would be just way too exhausting 
[00:25:33] Miranda Black: and internal struggle. The internal struggles are always harder than the physical brick through the window.
The physical brick through the window is bandaid. You know, it's like, okay, we'll just fix it. And it's fine. But the internal struggle 
[00:25:45] Sarah Dougall: that. Yeah, absolutely. Because at the end of the day, it boils down to the quality of the thoughts in your own mind, which is something that people are trying to conquer at all times, no matter what their vocation, you know, that's a human conundrum.
Doesn't matter if it's about business or not. And I think getting at peace there, it means you can be peace in peace, wherever you 
[00:26:07] Miranda Black: are. I was about, it's a question that I only just thought of. It's not a gotcha moment at all, but it is a sensitive issue. I'm just wondering if we can talk about Yelp reviews for a moment.
Cause it's a bit of a prickly place for me. I used to get ticked off by random people who didn't even purchase anything, but they have this power to rate it and to create an impression for the rest of the world based on. And just, I personally, I'm sick of people who have no experience who are able to hide behind a username on Yelp or any of these review sites.
And I'm wondering if it's time for the resurgence of the business owner as the expert and not the random stranger who's creating their 
[00:26:53] Sarah Dougall: own completely, completely. So I love the question because it's a provocative topic that needs to be talked about. And many questions are the same old question over and over again.
But this is certainly a question that never comes up. I completely agree with you that Joe Schmoe's opinion doesn't get to have merit with me, or if there's a potential client that is looking at Yelp review. Before they come to see me in my store right there. That's a deciding factor for me because I'm not looking at a Yelp review before I go into a store.
So right away, we're dealing with a segment of the population that I can't relate to. Which is fine. Spend your time reading Yelp reviews. Yeah. I, I hope your life is full of joy. I hope this fills your cup and entirely. So you have someone who spends their time doing that and Zen's are going to align with the person who's spinning negativity.
They're going to align with that. So in a way, I like the Yelp reviews because I feel like it's weeding people out in advance. Like I, wasn't going to want to do business with you anyway, if this is how you tick. So please, please be influenced by that review. We're cool. And then there's that provocative moment where she's listing the thing she's taking issue with about the price point.
And I'm like, right this minute, I could run them out, run my store and find you a hundred items that are $20 in. 
[00:28:27] Miranda Black: Well, there were people who were saying it's pricey and blah, blah, blah. And I looked online for starters. And second of all, trinkets there. 
[00:28:37] Sarah Dougall: We've we've always wanted our store to be for the people in our neighborhood from day one and every day, since then anybody is welcome in our store.
If somebody has $10 to spend, I can show them lovely options, not one or two things, and that's always been a mandate. So if somebody missed. And they didn't even ask when they were in the store. So for any one who's listening, who has felt the sting of a Yelp review in one way or another, and I'm sure it's many of you, there is an amazing south park clip on YouTube.
And forgive me, maybe you'll have to bleep me out. It's it's called. Burgers and com it's a hilarious song about Yelp reviewers who go to restaurants and write negative reviews. And the south park guys are saying that they're going to taint the food with.
And so it's crude, but it goes right to the point that says, How about you review this burger that's full of, because that's how we feel about you is of course so intelligent, so on point, and it really drives home that it's really a skewed way of living in the world. It's nothing I want to align with at 
[00:29:58] Miranda Black: all.
I was shocked to find that it still has so much power in the world and these were elite. Uh, elite 20, 21 reviewer. So they have, you know, quote unquote, I'm using air quotes. Correct. And it's the opposite. It's my own personal crusade 
[00:30:18] Sarah Dougall: to 
[00:30:19] Miranda Black: Yelp and to crush Yelp reviewers. 
[00:30:22] Sarah Dougall: Yep. I don't know if you're familiar with the author Bernay brown, but she is she okay.
I don't even have to give an introduction.
Okay. The books it's called daring greatly. The title, any entrepreneur could relate to, to do the thing that you're doing right on the first page, she talks about how you don't get to have an opinion about my life. Unless you are in the ring with me doing what I do living life through my vantage point with my scars, with my perseverance.
So if you dare think you're going to impart your opinion on a subject matter, that you are not even remotely close to. Inappropriate it lacks class. It locks tact, it lacks intelligence at the end of the day. So I am with you sister. You know what? You know what Brenda, the universe is reviewing those customers.
They are already creating their own best life and I'm using air quotes. So enjoy 
[00:31:36] Miranda Black: what is your biggest success at. 
[00:31:41] Sarah Dougall: This amazingly magical space that I've created at the surface. You think we're talking about jewelry and that I've created this business that has jewelry at like the epicenter of the reason why I'm here.
But really this is a community. These are people who have all chosen to follow their dream and their heart. What I've been able to create has allowed. So many people to prove to themselves. What they're capable of, and it has trickled down as far as their children, many of the jewelers children, we see, oh, it's not just my mum.
Who's a jeweler. It's all of these various characters who have committed to this kind of lifestyle that. Within these walls. And I didn't really realize that that was what was going to happen when I first opened. And the focus was so much about the jewelry, what feels so satisfying is relationships.
Often. What we talk about is that none of us are getting rich, quick doing what we're doing, but our lives are really. Yeah, the quality of our lives are rich and so dynamic. And so that to me feels like the biggest thing. 
[00:32:56] Miranda Black: There was one retail, super power. You couldn't live with that. 
[00:33:01] Sarah Dougall: What would that be?
Being able to meet someone where they're at, I feel is a retail superpower. As we reenter after the pandemic, one of the things I had to really coach my staff about, they said, you know, we're likely to be confronted with extreme. We're going to have some clients in the store that are elated about being in a store again and overwhelmed by the beauty and the product and just giddy and excited, you know, unicorns and rainbows, and like just over the top.
And it's going to be easy to want to meet them where they're at. Cause that's a heightened energy and it's easy to join in on that. But I said, well, we have to be careful because we're likely to meet people that are still nervous. And maybe this is the first time they've been out and really long time, or maybe they lost someone special and they're grieving.
It's just a ferry unknown time. So if you're with client a and your unicorns and rainbows, and then the next client you meet is not nearly at re unicorns and rainbows. That's a bigger distance to travel, to meet that next customer where they need to be met. So I said, guys, I want you to just be in the space as grounded as you can.
Be strong and stable, be aware of other people's energy and your own energy. And the more we can make that meat, the better a connection we're going to have with one another. And just takes one second to look you in your face and say, hello. Just that one little extra pause. I see 
[00:34:29] Miranda Black: fondest memory of this place so far.
[00:34:33] Sarah Dougall: Very hard to pick just one 
[00:34:35] Miranda Black: the last time I'm got to make your brain 
[00:34:37] Sarah Dougall: work. No, I love these questions and gosh, oh my, how could I pick just one? Well, I mean, you touched on it a little bit about your own journey with having a bricks and mortar store and having your son. And saying, you know, it was a bit heartbreaking for you to close your store while he was still young, because then he might not have known like what you did and you won't have those memories that is like huge, like a huge thing that you did.
So I think for me, where I'm at today is that my son who's 20 works with my dad here at the store. And so he's here three days a week doing the bookkeeping with my dad. Who's 74. And so we, we work together. You know, our family and this was never a goal of mine. Never an expectation of mine, never something I put on him to say, wow, one day you got to work for me.
And you know, this is a family business. Like I would have never fed him that line. But just naturally, like, that's how it's turned out. It just blows my mind. And I pinch myself every day to have this time together. So it's all very close and it's like something to really protect and preserve and respect and we nurture it every day.
So that's my most. Thing that has come out. It's 
[00:35:55] Miranda Black: amazing. Thank you so much for talking to me about your business, your ideas, and your thoughts about how business moving forward for bricks and mortar retailers. 
[00:36:05] Sarah Dougall: Thank you so much for doing what you're doing. If 
[00:36:08] Miranda Black: Sarah Dougal hasn't made you look in real life yet Google her store or follow her on Instagram.
You're going to be blown away by the artwork, the jewels, everything I'd love to hear your thoughts on the current state of shopping and retail or anything you've heard here today. So get in touch at what's this and I'll see, in two weeks.

Episode 6: Made You Look Jewellery

Parkdale's Flashiest Storefront

Episode 7: Unboxed Market

Toronto's First Zero Waste Grocery

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