I know what you are thinking, Amazon is taking over the world and retail stores are dying by the day. Who would want to start or run a “brick and mortar” location now?
Well, my 2 guests have been doing so successfully for over a decade (almost 30 years between them), so let’s listen to them!
Jacqueline De’Ath is the founder of Homeworks Etc. DIY, and she helps people create their own home decor through popular workshops, as well as retailing it in her workshop/store. She has been in business since 2007.
Dana Shortt founded Dana Shortt Gourmet in 2004. She moved from catering into a retail location that provides delicious foods for entertaining, and prepared meals.
I have samples both their wares and I can say they really know what they are doing!
So sit back and take some notes as we explore what it means to succeed in the challenging world of brick and mortar retail.
Show notes: www.elaineskitchentable.com/097
Connect with Jacqueline:
- Website: https://homeworksetc.ca/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/homeworksetc.diy/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/homeworksetc.diy
Connect with Dana:
- Website: https://danashortt.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/danashorttgourmet/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/danashorttgourmet
Connect with Elaine:
- Website: https://elaineskitchentable.com
- Instagram: @elainetancomeau
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elainetancomeau/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElainesKitchenTable
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/chatwithelaine
Get a free chapter from Elaine’s book, Sell Your Passion: https://elaineskitchentable.com/book/
This episode sponsored by Coast Capital Savings. Would you like to have a dedicated small-business relationship manager who knows you and your business? I have banked with Coast Capital the whole time I have had my business, Easy Daysies, and they are member-owned, which means my business is their business! Call 1-888-517-7000 opt. 3 for latest small-biz promotions! https://www.coastcapitalsavings.com/
Welcome to Elaine's Kitchen Table. This is where we share tips about business and parenting. Being a mom of three, CEO of the award winning company Easy Daysies, speaker and educator, you're going to learn the tips and secrets of successful and incredible people. Elaine wants you to be inspired, challenged and motivated and that person you want your kids to grow up to be. This is real talk for real life.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 00:24
Hi, welcome to Elaine's Kitchen Table where we talk about how to create better. How to create better family how to create better health, business and self. And today we are sharing with you a podcast all about Mom Makers. This is the first of our series and we are so excited to share some incredible women who just make their passion known in and through their business. And Dana Shortt and Jacqueline De'Ath. Dana Shortt is an award winning entrepreneur who is a mother of two and the owner of Dana Shortt Gourmet and Gifts in Waterloo, Ontario. Her shop is like a boutique style gourmet food store specializing in handcrafted prepared meals. She even has like an olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting bar, gift baskets of quality chocolates from local suppliers and she opened up her first store, her current store in 2004, because she wanted to create delicious and unique dishes for people to enjoy that they couldn't get anywhere else using quality local ingredients.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 01:32
And Jacqueline De'Ath, is my other guest and she loves taking on a good DIY project, working with power tools, and just getting right into creating awesome, awesome products. As a mom of two girls and a recreational therapist, she realized the impact of handmade, which fostered the start of her business Homework Etc, in 2007. And she started designing a nursery and kids room decor, which then morphed into focusing on DIY home decor kits to do-it-yourself. And Homeworks Etc products have been featured on HGTV, Property Brothers, Women's Network and Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine. Jacqueline has also been nominated for multiple awards over these past recent years. Or I want to say about these two ladies is I am honored to call each of them my friend and I gush over them and what they do and their products, I've experienced both and I am just like totally in love with what they do and their products. And I chose to invite these two ladies on because they have something unique that they share, which is they both have a brick and mortar location.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 02:48
So when I was thinking of creating the Mom Makers series, I wanted to invite guests that would be of interest to you because you are a woman entrepreneur, the majority of my listeners, and if you're not a woman, entrepreneur, and an entrepreneur in general, I wanted to capture guests who would share with you their wisdom, their journeys, that their trials, their failures, their successes, so that we can learn from each other and these two brilliant ladies are going to share so much with you that if you are someone who is in brick and mortar or thinking about opening a brick and mortar location, you do not want to miss this because they are going to share some fantastic tips and strategies that you definitely do not want to miss. So here we go.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 03:44
Welcome and thank you for joining us today I always am so grateful to have you with us. And today we are launching our first of our series called a Mom Makers. And you know, it was so easy for me to think of these two incredible women when I thought Who am I gonna have on first and these are two ladies that I admire that I call my friends that I girl crush over from all the way my house in BC and I cannot wait to share them with you. One thing that's in common about both of them besides being multi award winners and award nominees is that they both have brick and mortar locations. And I cannot wait to share them with you. So I'm going to say hi Jacqueline and hi Dina. Hi. I could brag about each of you forever and like your your bioa don't even do you justice, ladies, because you're both so humble. You're both moms, Jacqueline's a mom of girls. Dana's a mom of boys and I'm gonna let you ladies continue sharing about you. And please don't don't be afraid to brag, please, Jacqueline, I'm going to ask you to go first. Tell us more. Tell us about your family. And what is happening for you today.
Jacqueline De'Ath: 05:14
Yeah, so we're located in Langley BC, that's where we live in now. That's where my store is as well, which is amazing. I have two girls, there are 16 and 18. And my husband just recently joined the team. So we're kind of all in it, which is, which is really fun to get to this point to be able to do that.
Unknown Speaker 05:40
And if you are in BC, it is worth the trip to come out to Homeworks Etc in Langley and just spend time there. Make something your DIY dreams come true, her location, so beautiful, I would want to move in and live there. I know she doesn't always have a buffet of food. But every time I've been there's always a buffet of food and a big coffeemaker. I mean, I just need to like, bring a pillow and I could live there because it's incredible.
Jacqueline De'Ath: 06:11
Yeah, I love bringing people together. And I think that's why I'm in the business that I am. DIY'ing in groups, obviously with COVID. That's put a big twist to how we operate. And yeah, I don't know if you want me to go into a little bit about how I started or?
Unknown Speaker 06:29
I do I'm just going to hang on one second. I want to say hi to Dana. Dana, tell us a little bit more. How are you? How are the kids?
Dana Shortt: 06:39
Oh we're good. So I'm in Kitchener-Waterloo Ontario. So plane ride away from beautiful BC. But I have two boys. John is 12, Michael is 8 they keep me busy, pre and post-COVID or whatnot. I mean it's it's it's always a bit of a juggle, as you know with the business and the family. But what we're doing just fine. I'm very fortunate.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 07:06
Yes and your location is now open and busier than ever.
Dana Shortt: 07:10
Yes, we opened up we took our time there we were allowed to be open the whole time as considered essential. I'm not sure how it works where you guys are but I decided to close and we had curbside pickup delivery. We already were online. So we were already all kind of set up our product, a lot of it is frozen. So that way works quite well. And then when they they have the bylaw of the mask in our area that's when I decided to reopen again to foot traffic in the middle of July. So it's been about a month, it's been going well.
Unknown Speaker 07:42
Incredible and I also wish your your store was out here in BC so I could just like eat everything that you show on Instagram because I gush over her food and this woman here Dana is incredible because she I think you see all my gushing posts. And then once she was posting about these shortbreads that she makes, I'm like, Oh my goodness, I'm like, do you ship out to Vancouver? And she's like, you know what, I'm just gonna send you some cookies. And I have like, it made me cry when it was like Christmas when I opened this gorgeous box of these shortbreads that are amazing. You'll be proud of me. I did share with my family.
Dana Shortt: 08:23
I wasn't sure, some people don't. That's up to you. I won't say anything.
Unknown Speaker 08:27
I will say it now I had one bag. That's, that's all I can say. And the evidence is no longer in existence. So no one can ask me where it is. Let's jump into this because you know what? In Canada alone, Canada's the home to 950,000 women-run self employed businesses. And that's insane and incredible when 150,000 small businesses are started every year in Canada. We women are just like, dominating and stepping out there. And it is hard. And I love, one of the things I love about each of you ladies is you guys are givers. And your business is a reflection of your incredible hearts, ladies. And there are unfortunately only a handful of businesses that do that are heart centered. And you both reflect that. And I would love for you to share your journey of how you started your incredible business. I'm going to ask Jacqueline to start first, if you could Jacqueline.
Unknown Speaker 09:40
Yeah, so I started now my kids were at the time two and four years old. And I started making decor for their kids' bedrooms for their nurseries. And that ultimately I mean I'm I'm a trained recreation therapist. So that's what I was doing at the time and became a maker. I mean, that was the days of Martha Stewart. And I thought, well, I could do this too. And, you know, started getting to learn how to use power tools. And I mean, I'd always loved arts and crafts, I'd always done that as a kid. And it was always a part of my life. And friends just started asking for pieces for their nurseries, because they were at the same point as I was. And here I was, at the point of having to make a decision, I couldn't raise a family and work full time, I went down to part time, and then made the transition and took the leap of, Okay, I'm going to do this, I'm going to make it a business, having no background in business at all, and started wholesaling just to local baby boutiques, and slowly figured out that my little townhouse with my garage, wouldn't suffice the growth of the business.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 10:53
You've become such an expert at it that you are now teaching other people how to do this, how to start their own businesses. And that is incredible, because it is incredible, successful model that other people are asking you to teach me how to do this. Whether it's their own store or as their own business. Yep. And that is incredible. What a full incredible circle. And you know, and I have just been in awe watching you because I started my business and gushed over you back then, and have just been so honored to be on this journey from the outside watching you. And I'm so so proud of you and adore you so much.
Unknown Speaker 10:53
So I found a warehouse space, and grew that way into selling into Amazon, and really was just taking it day by day. Hired some staff, I mean, the ball just kind of goes to the journey where I wasn't actually enjoying myself anymore, and truthfully wasn't earning an income, that I should have been for the amount of time that I was putting in the business. So, brought my business back home, went back to being a recreation therapist part time, and had just this, how can I make this work and was selling online, so I was still keeping it going. And then decided that I would trial a new way of operating, which was leading workshops to teach women how to make decor themselves and found the group dynamic and my background of melding the recreation therapist with the maker just was what it took to really get the ball going. So, um, opened up a location when I knew the business model worked. And really, here I am today. So it's, you know, we're doing DIY kits, we're now we're having women being able to lead their own workshops in the premise of their own home, because we've got all the instructions, all the kits, for them to choose their own decor for their home. And what I really love about it is it still connects people and it really just is a way of people taking time out to create which is totally what I'm all about. It's empowering women to take time for themselves, and to really be proud of making something themselves and hanging it in their home.
Jacqueline De'Ath: 13:27
Yeah, it's definitely been a journey. It's been a roller coaster, but I can tell you that it's all been worth it.
Unknown Speaker 13:35
And you know, yes, is absolutely a normal feeling to feel like okay, like, who hasn't? I still feel like sometimes I just want to throw in the towel and say, I'm so done. Yeah. And then and then finding a different way to pivot and I love that is what you did. You merged your, your professional train skills as a recreational therapist, tied in with teaching other people how to make it themselves instead of just buying your gorgeous product which you still also do. Yes, so much. So, so rich in so many aspects. Miss Dana, we'd love to hear your story to. When did you start and how did you start Dana Shortt Gourmet?
Unknown Speaker 14:18
I graduated from the University of Guelth with a Bachelor of Commerce in Hotel and Food Administration it was called. But I realized I didn't want to work in the hotel business. So long story short, I went to chef school in Toronto with George Brown. And at that time, when I graduated, I wanted to be a private chef. So I wanted to work for a family or two, that was my goal. And I was doing that and, for a few different families and they started asking me to cater, which really wasn't my plan. But I was young, I was early 20s. And I needed the money. So I'm like sure I can do this, right. I actually worked for some caterers when I was in Toronto at George Brown. So, to really try to simplify it, what happened was I would cater these big events or weddings. And, you know, I remember going and people looking at me. And I was probably 24, 25. When I opened the store was 27. And I remember there's some, definitely some women when I look back, or the planning is what they were a little nervous thinking, are you really going to be able to pull this off? Because you know their kids were practically my age. So but I did, and, and then these clients would say to me, you know what, thank you so much for catering that cocktail party for 50. But you know, this time, I just want to have, say, 20 people, my hubby's going to grill some steaks, I'm going to make dessert, can you make the appetizers and the side dishes? So to which I would say yes, but then it became pretty obvious that to go to our grocery store, here, Zehrs, pay retail prices, have to go rent a kitchen, and pay for that. And then lugging things back and forth, wasn't too profitable, right? So I ended up then that's sort of what led me to opening up a small store with the kitchen. So I could bring sort of like for me home. So people who asked me Can you just make hors d'oeuvres or soup, I would do that, but I'd make it in bigger batches. And then I would sell things from the store to people walk in traffic, as well as to the customer who would order this for a party.
Dana Shortt: 14:31
So that's, that's sort of the quickest way for me explain to you how I started in this business. And then over time, we've just grown. So what was our kitchen and retail is now just our kitchen. In 2008, I bought the business next to me, which was a gift store. So the joke was I was expanding because I was pregnant with my first son, and the store is expanding. And then we added chocolates and gift baskets. In 2012, we added an olive oil and vinegar tasting bar. And then now we have 5000 square feet in our lower level of my building where I am, the plaza, where we have our walk-in where we store all of our extra additional food, we have a room with all of our gift ware and baskets. And then we have a room for production of all those baskets, which we make a lot make thousands and thousands, especially in our fourth quarter. So it's just over time added things. And then when my kids were born, when John my oldest was born, I stopped the full service catering. So we stopped doing the bartending serving going out to these big events. And I had to pick up catering where I would use, I would refer a bartending company who could help if people needed that. And then when Michael was born, I stopped the pickup catering as well. And we are now a solely a retail store. People say Oh, Dana Shortt catered it, because we have a wall like 12 or so large coolers of entrees and soups and all kinds of things that people will take. And then in their mind I mean they're not necessarily making all the food. So it's funny how we'll still sometimes win these catering awards, but I haven't catered in eight years.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 17:52
That's incredible, that is beautiful journey. Wow.
Dana Shortt: 17:56
You know what it has, it has been for sure.
Unknown Speaker 17:58
And absolutely, and I see that with retail, with with having a brick and mortar. As my husband and his family, also are brick and mortar. They started I don't know, like 40 years ago with having a hut in a mall to develop film, pictures, no one does that anymore. And so they had to evolve because film cameras aren't a thing. It's more very retro, or unless you're a professional photographer, but then you probably have your own darkroom and developing your own pictures. And so they also evolved over the decades into taking school photography and sports and dance pictures and so with COVID of course, that really affected them with no schools open and no sports. So always changing and finding different strengths to lean on.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 18:54
And that's one thing I admire about both of you is having different baskets, if I could say, so that your eggs aren't all in one basket, and that there's different revenue streams coming in, in different ways and excellent, that Dana, you've already had the online setup. So that is huge. And like even with Easy Daysies I have learned over the years to not have all my eggs in one basket as well. And I've had, you know, painful lessons and expensive lessons along the way. But yes, thank God during COVID I was very grateful that Easy Daysies did become a tool for families who are just craving structure and routine. So we still saw the sales going through and I was so grateful and that was a huge blessing for us to see that. And you know I would love to hear some of your lessons. I know that in our journeys, like how long have each of you been in your business?
Unknown Speaker 20:01
So since 2007, is when I first started, yeah.
Unknown Speaker 20:09
The store opened in 2004. So we're going to be celebrating 16 years, this November, sweet 16. And then I actually had that other business where I was a private chef, and then the catering and renting the kitchen. That was couple years before that. So about 20 years I've been on my own.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 20:25
And you look like you're 22. So there's that.
Unknown Speaker 20:28
I'm 43 next week, so in the past, when people would come in they were like, you're Dana? Yes. Like you're Dana on the sign? I don't get I don't get that anymore.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 20:41
Can I talk to your mom?
Dana Shortt: 20:44
That happened at the beginning, not anymore.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 20:48
I would love for you each to share a lesson that you would like to share and pass on. Just one, I'm sure there's so many lessons like, do you want me to start? I can start, okay, I've learnt that in business, you need to go with your gut. And not with your heart. And you're both very heart centered. So I think you can relate. And I've shared the story before of how I tried to be safe and cautious when this distributor in France reached out to say I would love to distribute your product. And you know, I wasn't ready to go international at that point. And I didn't do anything with it. But he pursued and wrote to me for a year. So he said, You know I've been writing to you for a year we've been in communication, I think you are ready, now. And so I did I got my product internationally translated for international French, I paid to get the CE logo that is necessary on products to sell to Europe. And long story made short, he placed a large order, I got a small deposit for this order. And then when I was on the boat ready to ship out to him, he said I need to cancel. And this is a gentleman he sent me pictures of his four year old son, I sent him at the point Purdy's Chocolate because Purdy's is made in BC, Vancouver BC. And all this and he said that I need to cancel because one of his vendors went bankrupt. And however it would help for him to have my product because it would help his family and this and then I would give him net terms, because he can't pay me right away. And we agreed on net-90, which was for a very large order. And my gut said Don't do this. But my heart's like, oh, but it would help his family and his four year old son. And needless to say, it's I don't know, he it's been like, I want to say six years. And he's never paid me. And the most damaging part to me was he was using images of my children to sell product on his website on his social media for product he never paid for. And he just disconnected himself. And yeah, it just broke my heart. But that was a very expensive, huge lesson to me to go with your gut and to trust your gut. And also, when is the first time the customer get 100% payment upfront? Yes, indeed. Okay. How about you, Dana, what's the lesson that you've learned?
Unknown Speaker 23:36
Oh, my goodness. So when I read this, when you sent some of these things you'd be chatting about I mean, I have learned so many things. I'm just going to share one because I could I could spend an hour talking about all the things I've learned some of the lessons and mistakes but for me, I guess I feel like I can remember when I first started my business first couple years, I remember actually thinking it was possible to never disappoint or have an upset customer at all. And that's just impossible, even if you think about the fact that tastes are subjective. So you know, someone may love the butternut squash apple soup, and someone else may find it's too sweet or you know, not enough ginger. So that's just a small example.
Dana Shortt: 24:17
But I've learned that mistakes happen. We try very hard not to have mistakes happen we have a lot of procedures in place so we can minimize those sorts of things, everything from standardized recipes down to the gram of any spice so that we want that consistent experience and taste to how we answer the phone to, just all kinds of things to try to minimize, you know these errors from happening. But I have learned that sometimes mistakes do happen you know your customer may get a batch of something that wasn't quite right. Or you you know for you know you supposed to send a gift basket out on Friday for someone's birthday and something you know it's a crazy day in December and something got you know, missed so what I've learned as they happen, but then what we have control over is how we react to them.
Unknown Speaker 25:04
And I've personally found that, you know, we try when something does go wrong to go above and beyond do things our competitors wouldn't do. Because you'll build that loyalty. I don't we don't make these mistakes on purpose. But if you Wow, the customer, I have found that they become brand ambassadors. So an example might be I was thinking of what example there's several to give you but one time we at Valentine's, we do these three course pickup dinners. So it's like a soup or salad and entree and a dessert. And someone and this is years ago, when gluten free was sort of, you know, not maybe quite as popular as it is now, now have four menu is gluten free. But this gentleman said, Would you be able to make a gluten free package for my wife and I? No problem. So we did that. And then for the dessert, I didn't make a gluten free cake or, you know, tart or whatnot. I have these mint smoothie chocolate bars, which are really popular here in town. And they're large, and I included those. And he called me. And he said, You know, I love the soup and the entree and whatnot. But I have to tell you, we were disappointed that that was the dessert.
Dana Shortt: 26:12
And instead of being defensive, I put myself in his shoes. And I'm like, you know what, I can see how, I can see how he'd be disappointed. It was, you know, it's really tasty chocolate. But it you know, he's probably picturing Valentine's and you know, like a really kind of more fancy baked good. So I'm thinking, Well, what could I have done differently? I could have called him and said, instead of it being, you know, $25 a person, what about $18? We don't do gluten free baking here. But, you know, I could have handled it that way I could have went to there's a really great gluten free shop and ask and just had them, you know, just bought it from them and told them Is that okay with you? A lot of things I could have done differently. He was very gracious, a little disappointed. But I ended up sending him a bundle worth more than I don't remember, I think the meal for two was $50 or something like that. But I sent him a bundle of $50 worth of gluten free soups and entrees and had it delivered to him and his wife with a handwritten apology just saying you know what, you're right. I dropped the ball on this one. And those sorts of things. Some people in business, maybe when they're starting out might think I can't do that. I can't afford it. But we always look at the life time value of a customer and also just trying to do the right thing. So something goes wrong. It's not just well here's your money back, but it might be so sorry, here's something and then here's a little box of chocolates or just trying to surprise and delight. Yeah, because a lot of people as we know, don't really offer great service anymore. So anyway, hope that wasn't too long. But that's what I've learned.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 27:42
So many so many incredible lessons there. I love that you said you know, you can't control the mistakes that can happen. Like sometimes quality control slips. And I understand that as a product maker as well. And that sucks, because you can control that like whether it's like a lost delivery, because kind of whatever system you're using, whether it's some delivery service, and it falls through the cracks, or something happens, it breaks, something happens. But you can I love what you said you can control how you react to it. And that is as a gem right there. Like you can control how you react to it. And from how you react to it, you can make a raving fan out of that customer because you went above and beyond to say, Oh my goodness, you owned it. You didn't reject what they said or the complaint. And I always say be so grateful for that. Be so grateful that they took the time to tell you this. I'm so upset, or I received bad product. I say thank you, oh my goodness, thank you so much. And I own it. And I feel like you must be so disappointed. You shouldn't have received something like that. And then to go above and beyond. And that is incredible. Because what a beautiful testimonial that becomes for you. Because even if they don't write it down. They're just telling their neighbors like oh my gosh, you know, this Dana Shortt. She sent us this gorgeous basket because the dessert didn't work out. And that's incredible. And others, they're gonna be a repeat customer, for sure.
Dana Shortt: 29:24
And you're right, because you know, you just, if they don't tell you, they tell somebody else, I'm so sorry I don't know if I should call I don't want anything for free. Like, you know what, thank you for telling me because whatever that issue is, I have the ability now to fix it to go above and beyond to make sure you're happy. You know, we have a premium product. And if they don't tell me, we don't have any way of knowing or making it if solving the issue or addressing it or apologizing. And you're right, more people would probably say I don't know if I'm going to go back there. You know. So when this happened or so it is it's actually a gift when people do know you're honest, and I find a lot, most the time, it's not people ranting and raving, it's from the heart saying. I just wanted you to be aware of this.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 30:08
Yeah, absolutely. And you know what they're not telling you, they're gonna tell somebody else. And so, so grateful that they're telling you, right, when something goes wrong. How about you Jacqueline do you a lesson to share?
Jacqueline De'Ath: 30:21
Just one? Just one for now! I thought. I know, I think, um, I think as a business operator, my biggest lesson is to value the service that you're bringing to the table value the products, because not everybody is your customer. Really know your target market, really know your numbers, and really value the service that you bring to the table. In the DIY industry every well not everyone. In my opinion when I first started, I thought, well, everyone can do what I do. Everyone can make what I make. There are people who have the ability to make wood signs, it's everywhere. So why would people want to come to me? So it wasn't until I understood what I brought to the table and why my business was different, that I felt so comfortable. And I had, I was welcoming to people who would come through my store doors and say, You know what, I'd love that idea, I can make that. Because that's what I want to do is I want to empower people, I don't want to see that as competition. There are, there's enough business out there for everybody. Embrace the maker embrace, just there's different customers who walk through the door and everyone has a different need to be met.
Jacqueline De'Ath: 31:42
We have people who want to refinish furniture and just want to learn about paint, we have people who want to buy the full DIY kits. I have customers now who can make their own products at home, but they come to me and shop to buy our kits. Because it's easy, it's high quality, it's not cheap, it's classy, and I think that's what makes us different. So just really knowing your value. And knowing the service that you provide, I guess that I mean, my biggest lesson, and in that I think were my lessons of not being able to be profitable, because I was afraid to ask for the money part of it. So really pricing your products, well, knowing the value that you bring, so that you can be profitable, because you're not in business just to make people happy and to offer cheap products.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 32:37
Now, I love that. You said like, you know, like yes there are other people who make wooden painted signs and finding how you can be uniquely different, right and for you, you're striving on the quality and the experience. And that's incredible and that's beautiful because I know that I've made several things from your DIY workshops, and, but the quality is great. And the experience of, what we when we go and do this is you know, it is me time and you feel so proud, ultimately, that you've made and you are you're absolutely empowering that woman to say I can do this. And even like, you know, like, I've come with women who were fearful because they are like, I'm not a creator, I don't do crafty things. But they loved it. And it was so therapeutic and they were so proud of what they made. And it looked beautiful, and because of the quality of your product. So that is very important.
Jacqueline De'Ath: 33:40
And I think what Dana said too, is it's the service that you're providing, right? It's the experience and how you make them feel. So if you make them feel valued, and you value what you're bringing to the table, what an amazing match it is. And that's what keeps customers coming back.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 33:55
Yeah, absolutely. And, and I know we've kind of touched on this, but I want to go a little deeper into lessons but in a different way. Because I know that when people see each of you they're like, Oh, she's so successful. How did things come so easy for Dana and everything's probably just so easy for Jacqueline. And we know, that's not the case. And one of my favorite things I heard Sara Blakely say, was her favorite memory of growing up was at the dinner table when her dad would ask every night at dinner. Hey, kids, share one mistake you did today. And they loved that because it taught them that making mistakes is a great thing. It is part of growth it is how you learn and how you become successful because if you don't take risks, you don't make mistakes. If you don't take risks and make mistakes, you aren't going to grow to that next level. So let's put it in reality check for our awesome listeners who are like, wow and gushing now over you two ladies, like I do. Let's say, you know, the journey wasn't this easy. And I didn't get to where I am today, because it was easy. I definitely made mistakes. And you know, I shared one of my mistakes is, you know, people will say to me, oh, Elaine are too nice, you get taken advantage of. And then they that same person who said it actually takes advantage of me! I don't know, as a warning, silly me, my bad. So what is a mistake that you have done a time when you took a risk? and it failed and because I want a reality check when people, so they can relate to you and say, oh, okay, she has fallen down. What is one of those moments, that you can think of Dana do you want to go first?
Dana Shortt: 35:57
Sure, when I was thinking about this, in terms of my career in terms of 20 years, so I started, I was very young, as I mentioned, so I really didn't, I mean, I had a couple different chefs, I worked for in my early 20s, at catering companies and cooking schools who were great, but I really didn't have a lot of experience, certainly not in a traditional sort of, you know, traditional atmosphere. So I was sort of, you know, I've learned a lot about people management over the year. So my sort of mistakes, I had to say that would be what I've learned the most from would be the side, it's sort of the people part of it in terms of managing people and learning that balance between being friendly, but not being friends. And I've come to realize that I have a very high tolerance for drama. So again, I am heart centered, and I give people the benefit of doubt, I do see the best in people, I tend to overlook the bad and which can be good. But in terms of the you know, you got to be realistic, too. Or I think I had a real note here. I think there's been too many times where I was avoiding the tough conversations. And that always often always would lead to a fall out in terms of instead of just when I started feeling like you said earlier Elaine with your you know, your little spidey senses and your inner voice, what your gut's telling you, when I knew something was okay, this person is starting to come in a little bit later, or they're not quite as friendly with customers, or they're bringing in maybe they're having, you know, they're not in a good spot in their relationship with their husband or boyfriend or girlfriend or whoever it is. But they're then bringing it into the workplace. And I mean, I'm not so much that way anymore. But that whole thing about, you're only you're only as good as your weakest link. So if someone's not pulling their weight, and you have these amazing people, I've got a great team. So when you have these great people on your team that just, you know, give their their heart into it when they're here. And if someone else is not having not necessarily pulling their weight, it's like, well, these really talented sort of driven employees think well, why am I doing that? You know, it's not fair, why is so and so taking an extra 10 minutes for their break, and nothing's really being addressed.
Dana Shortt: 38:08
So what I suppose I guess a failure would be just having things sometimes go on too long, which then results in a crisis or in, you know, in a situation that perhaps could have been avoided. If I had those tough conversations earlier to say this has to change, or else I don't think it's a good fit. So kind of more aged, these lessons and whatnot, are in recognizing that. And also, you do have a great team member. It doesn't mean they never didn't need any coaching or mentoring or management either. Everyone needs that. He's just gonna stay on track like that. So that would be one of mine.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 38:51
Yes, they say that business would be super easy without people.
Dana Shortt: 38:58
My dad always said, like, he had his own business and said, customers are easy. Customers are the easy part. And I mean, I got a great team, like I said, but I understand. You know, years later, I understand what he meant.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 39:11
Yes. And as they say, hire slow fire fast. And that's hard. That's so hard. I don't like that aspect of business either.
Dana Shortt: 39:25
If you enjoy firing, there'd be something wrong, right? However, I remember reading this book, this restaurant man trying to think of the name - Joe Bastianich, and he was saying he was, he owned about 10 restaurants in the New York City area. And when he had to let someone go, he always had to think of it like this person who's not pulling their weight or is doing something that's inappropriate or whatnot. They're affecting everyone's livelihood, because you have too much of that going on. the restaurant's not doing as well. I mean, long, long way out if you close then you've got 100 people who are unemployed who all of a sudden are looking for work. It is sort of that ripple effect. So it's not fun but necessary at times again, mistakes happen. And that's part of owning a business. And same with not every single person is going to be a good fit or going to work out.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 40:12
Yeah. So true. Great advice. Great advice, how about you, Jacqueline, is there a risk that you took or mistake that you want to share?
Jacqueline De'Ath: 40:25
So many, from the beginning, I started with a business partner. That failed, because we were not on the same page, I made my biggest investment in my business, when I first started out by spending $15,000 on a website, that didn't work. Thank God, technology has changed. And there are other platforms now that don't have to be created to have an ecommerce website. Ah, gosh, I went overseas to have production made because I was so overwhelmed and couldn't manage that, that completely failed. I got my inventory, and it was all wrong. And I thought I had done my due diligence. Um, I could keep on going. My brick and mortar store, I didn't know how to be a boss, I didn't know how to set structure. I, we just literally went what needs to be done today. And so I've learnt so much. I mean, I think my biggest thing with a brick and mortar especially is create structure, and create people who have to be in charge of specific responsibilities. Job descriptions are huge, even when you are maybe yourself and one other person, know what your responsibilities are. Because it's, it just makes life so much easier when everybody knows what their responsibilities are.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 41:58
That's perfect, you are jumping into exactly what I wanted to talk about next. So we may have a listener right now who is thinking OK you know what? I want, I've been wanting to open my own brick and mortar, location, but I'm not sure if I'm ready, or, yeah, I'm ready, Bring it on, I'm not prepared or I may not have thought of these things. I would love and be so grateful if each of you ladies could share three things that you would say, okay, you are thinking of starting a brick and mortar, you better know these three things. And maybe they might overlap. And that's okay. Because obviously that means it was important. So if you could share three things, and if you only have two, that's absolutely fine. But you're saying to this woman who's listening right now, okay, honey, if you're going to start this brick and mortar, you need to know these three things. Dana, what would you say to this woman?
Dana Shortt: 42:52
I remember someone saying to me having a retail store is like having a baby chained to the sidewalk. So that's the first thing I'd say not to be negative. But to put that into perspective, to think about that. Now, again, I'm 16 years in so I have a great team, I have a general manager. You know, I have, you know, lots of flexibility and freedom. Yesterday, I worked the whole day from home working on Christmas items. And the store runs just fine, I'm going away next week. I mean, it's I probably won't even get a call, you know, but that took years that took years and years of procedures and loyal customers and you know, certain amount of money coming in. And again, we talked about learning about the people management and what do they need. But there were many years where I don't look at it as a sacrifice because I wanted to do it and I was enjoying what I did. But I would you know, I remember when my girlfriends, I was there for our 30th we had a little weekend away. But I missed the 35th one of my one of my good friends, I still wonder if this was a mistake, she asked me to be in her wedding party and I you know very nicely as I could said that I don't think I can do that I was I was in my late 20s with the store and I was literally kind of at the time just working and sleeping with a few things. And you know, it's hard to look back it was a long time ago but I that's my memory of it was a lot of work and sleep and not a lot in between. I just didn't want to say yes, I knew I wouldn't be able to go to all those events that people want to do. And you know, I was there for the important things the shower, but all you know, going to look at the for the dress to get all that stuff. I just I thought I already knew I'd be the one bailing constantly, I didn't want to put that pressure on myself or lead to disappointment, right?
Dana Shortt: 43:05
So that's just something where it is a big commitment. I mean, any business, right? But when you have those hours, but you have to be open from this 10 until 7 our hours right now. And I remember I mean, early first couple years, my mom would come and she would like, you know, help customers and man the cash by like doing something really important. I needed my bank or whatnot. Otherwise it'd be me here from the beginning to the end. I come back, there'll be all these mistakes, but I just wanted to make sure someone was there to try to help. So just in terms of realizing the commitment, you're entering into, I would want to also encourage them to think about, what is it? Is it actually a store? Or is it the creative aspect of if, because if it's the creative aspect of it, you can, there's so many things you can do, you can have a pop up shop, or you know, you do it at Christmas somewhere. My girlfriend, Nicole, she has a salvage business, she loves it, she sells online, she also has a maybe a 15 by 15 booth at St. Jacobs Antique Market. So she gets that creative outlet with setting up all her displays and all these cool vintage pieces. She's finding she's pays a fairly good rent, I believe like fairly reasonable. But she's not having to be there from the minute it opens till when it closes, there's someone else who's managing your inventory. It's all tagged in terms of what's you know, charging the customers for her product. So can you have a business where you can be creative and have an online store? Because as we know, it's very expensive. So another thing I want them to do is look at those fixed costs, how much do you actually have to sell? In order to be profitable? What do you want to make? You know, what do you want to make per year or? Obviously, at the beginning, you know, you're, it's going to take time. But I mean, like I said, it is expensive to have that retail space, and to have that store and it's so competitive now with online. So I want to make sure depending on the business, is it viable to look at your competition too.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 46:20
Excellent, I love that. I'm gonna see if I can reiterate all that you just said in my Reader's Digest, condensed version is it is full on commitment, it is not something you can just say tomorrow. I mean, I don't think it's that easy. But it is like, like you said, like a baby chained to the sidewalk. And you got to be ready to give up all those hours and possible friendships, like on pause, but true friendships understand that? Yep. And then you said, evaluate is this only for creative purposes? I love that. But like how you worded that? Is it just an outlet and want to share on how to creatively display what you have to offer? And test out other avenues before you commit to a brick and mortar? Like you said, getting a kiosk or a cart somewhere. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant way to start. And yes, if it is like immensely successful, you know that you might expand because you now know the numbers to see what you can afford to do. And yes, it is very expensive from the start and you have to be ready for that sacrifice. Awesome. Thank you. How about you Jacqueline, three lessons that you would say okay, here if you are ready or thinking about wanting to open a brick and mortar, you need to know these three things.
Jacqueline De'Ath: 47:46
Know your demographic. Location, location, location. I've had three different locations, all different. One was in an industrial area, another one was in like a residential area. And now I'm in a high traffic area. And it really does make a difference. Exposure, signage, I thought those were little things. In retrospect, those are the big things, so I pay a higher rent. But for me, it's well worth the investment just because of the foot traffic that I get. So again, you can't predict those things. But just from my previous experience, it was just such a good decision or risk. However you look at it. So definitely choosing a location. I've also thought of opening up multiple locations and had two locations running at the same time and have learned that you can be a destination location, we have people coming from surrounding cities to come and shop at our one location. So yeah, just location. If you're looking for a place, make sure it really is a good fit. With square footage and everything with potential growth. Like Dana, you had the extra space to grow your business where you're at. And so even if you're just starting out already looked ahead at what that may potentially look like. What the pros and cons of that are.
Jacqueline De'Ath: 49:24
And number two is when you're setting up a retail location, when you're at the point to commit, please set up an online store at the same time as you're setting up your main location. Dana you were set up with COVID with already being online, we were as well. It made the pivot so easy to be able to still service our customers without a hitch. So take the time to set up an online store at the same time as you're adding your inventory for your POS system. It will save you so much time in the long run. And then yeah, evenings, weekends, whatever your hours of operation, really make sure that you can service your customers during those times 100%. And I overextended myself when I first started a retail store, because I was open 10 to five, for open to the public retail shopping. And then I was open starting workshops from six at night until 9:30, at night doing leading workshops in groups. And so I got to the point where I was able to hire staff to lead the workshops, which was amazing, but just make sure that your family is ready for it. My husband was super supportive, my kids didn't quite understand why I was working so much. But really, burnout is so easy, and you cannot do it alone, you cannot do it alone, especially if you want to be successful. And you want to enjoy a little bit of time to yourself, it's mandatory that you have help.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 51:03
I love it. I'm going to repeat what you just said. So the first one, of course, location, location, location. And also to add on to location, location location is you might not need multiple locations, as you can become a destination location. And people can just come to you and there goes, reducing your overhead immediately by reducing multiple locations. And so important, and I love how you had all different multiple locations, like from residential, industrial and high foot traffic.
Jacqueline De'Ath: 51:42
If I could just add to that, too, just one of the reasons why location really worked for me is because I did craft shows I did markets, and it felt like a traveling circus. So for me actually having a home was so much more time saving. So that's why a retail location really worked for me.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 51:59
Yes. And I know that you do like Pro-D workshops for teachers and and sometimes you have a spotlight at a pub, where it's like wine and DIY. And brilliant. It's all still part of marketing when you do that, but yes, having a home base and let people come to you. Absolutely. And then number two, oh, gosh, okay.
Jacqueline De'Ath: 52:21
Online Store, yeah, website.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 52:23
Open an online store at the same time, hey, why not even before if you already have that awesome. But have that and we talked about that earlier, not having all your eggs in one basket and being ready for that pivot if a pandemic occurred or something.
Jacqueline De'Ath: 52:42
You'll never be able to say that again.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 52:43
Right? Or like maybe there's a fire next door, and you have to close your door down for a while, for a month, you are still ready and able to offer your products or services. So important. And that third one is, is the hours of operation yes. And being ready to spread yourself to meet the hours of your customers, rather than you know, your dream hours of 12 to two. But to be realistic and ready because you cannot do it alone, you will need support, whether it's family, friends, moms. And you know, I've been there and I fully get it. I remember, like having my mother in law and sister in laws and we're all sitting there packaging, and my mom and my sister, and thank God for big families.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 53:37
And I remember once when I had Easy Daysies as part of the 39th annual I think it was the Emmy Awards. And I had to package 1000 things for the Emmys. And I at that time, I sucked even more at asking for help. And I remember the doorbell went and there was like 20ish friends standing outside, saying let us in we are going to help you and I cried. And they brought food they brought help. And they just for two days, they helped and they just packaged things for the Emmys. And I actually included that photo in my book, but it still touches my heart. And that was a while ago.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 54:23
But so much great advice from both of you. And I'm just so honored. And I know I could talk to you forever. In fact, we've kept you longer than I wanted but I want to leave on one note. And because time is short, my podcast is all about create better about how to create better family, create better health, create better business, and create better self. If you could just pick one of those four. I would love you to just share and leave our amazing listeners with this one word of advice on how to create a better life? If you chose one of those four, what would it be? And what do you want these amazing listeners to hear and take away on top of all the other awesomeness that you've shared? To say, Hey, you know what, this is my gift to you, I've learned how to create a better life as up and down as it may be, because life is not smooth and perfect. And I try to teach that to my kids, so that they become risk takers and know that it's okay to fall. And just to have that strength to pick up, what is that one that you would say? And I'm going to ask you first, Jacqueline. Which one would you pick? If you want to say here's how to create better- blank.
Jacqueline De'Ath: 55:49
Gosh, work on yourself. I think being in business is the biggest eye opener to self improvement. Because you really have to be okay with who you are, even when you make mistakes. And mistakes are, like you said, before Elaine, mistakes are a blessing because they take it to the next step. And surround yourself with positive people. I've fired friends because they were so negative and what are you doing? And I don't understand and I, you know, people don't have to understand it's just shut out the noise. Yeah. And yeah, work on yourself and, read books and just yes, surround yourself with people who, who are supportive too. I think that was three things. But anyway.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 56:45
Yeah but it's all about working on yourself, for sure. And surrounding yourself with positive people, right? And so important.
Jacqueline De'Ath: 56:56
So so important.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 56:57
Dana, if you were to choose to share one tip on how to create better life, what would it be?
Dana Shortt: 57:05
Sure, well I agree with Jacqueline too in that it's a inside out, not outside in. But when I was thinking about this question I was thinking about, I like to use the term harmony over at work life balance. A customer might talk about that a number of years ago, about her and her girlfriends actually using the term harmony, instead of the work life balance. Because sometimes your business will get more of your attention. Sometimes your family will, you know, sometimes you might be so busy, like for me in my busy season in December, I'm not working out too much. But throughout the year, I consistently exercise and whatnot. But sometimes so it's that, for me, it's that harmony. And it really then goes further to that it should be measured over a lifetime. Not so much in my opinion on a daily basis. Because as I said, sometimes you know, different areas, your life, are going to get more attention than others. You don't want it to be totally out of balance either. But that harmony. So that would be my tip.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 58:02
Beautiful. I love that analogy. I love the word harmony. I love how you said it. Work life balance is yeah, I almost cringe when people say how do you balance everything? Or it is one place or another and at different times in your life. And I love that you said you measure it in a lifetime. Not at that single moment. And I so appreciate that. And I am one to be a strong cheerleader for mastering the art of single tasking because you know, social media glorifies the multitasking juggling diaper bag to the laptop and no just focus on doing one thing well at that moment, because it will increase the growth, the impact and the integrity of what you're doing, then to dabble into many things at once. And so ladies, you are awesome. And I am so grateful for you. Although I will have where to find you in the show notes. I would love to ask each of you right now if someone wants to look you up right now, Jacqueline De'Ath, where, how can they contact you?
Jacqueline De'Ath: 59:19
Head to Facebook or Instagram @homeworksetc.DIY. You can check us out there.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 59:25
Perfect. And how about you Dana?
Dana Shortt: 59:28
Yes Facebook, or Instagram. It's at @danashorttgourmet, with 2 T's and our website is easy too, Danashortt.com.
Elaine Tan Comeau: 59:37
Perfect. Thank you ladies. Ladies, I adore you. And I'm so grateful for you. And thank you to each of you for being a blessing in my life. And I'm just so grateful for each of you. So our listeners I'm just so grateful for you as well. Thank you for spending this time with us. I know that you also learnt so much. I hope that you were writing things down and if you were driving, I hope you didn't write things down. You can backtrack and rewind and listen and jot down notes at home. And thank you and have a fabulous day. Jacqueline, thank you so much honey. Dana, thank you with all my heart.
Dana Shortt: 1:00:13
Thank you ladies, it was a lot of fun doing that.
Jacqueline De'Ath: 1:00:17
Elaine Tan Comeau: 1:00:19
Everybody bye for now, have a great day.
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