The idea for The Femme Stories was born last year, but with any small business some ideas just have to wait. When everything started happening surrounding the pandemic I was PROUD of my friends and colleagues for how they were tackling these unprecedented times and I wanted to document that, these are their stories.

Emily | Cheerfully Made 

I knew of Emily from Cheerfully Made before I actually met her in person, word of her incredible shows had reached me in Toronto. When I moved back to the Ottawa area, her Spring Show in Almonte, was the first Copious show I did. I was blown away with the setup, the organization and her CHEER! All the people who came out were there to shop local, but more importantly they were there to shop the local artisans with the Emily Approved Stamp. I quickly realized that Emily had cultivated relationships with these shoppers, and they trusted her opinion above all. I had just been let into a very inclusive circle! See what I did there? Cause makers are super inclusive!

emily from Cheerfully Made shop, an Almonte shop that carries locally made products  
At the very beginning, when everything shut down, what was your immediate outlook?
Every week has been different, which I’m sure is what a lot makers have been feeling. We had just gotten back from a trip when the schools were closed those first 2 weeks, so for our family we were trying to juggling the kids and Cheerfully Made work. Spring is my time to start ramping up for shows and sales at the shop, winter is a slower time for us, I definitely count on spring being an annual rebirth in the store, so my I was in that headspace.
With that said, I definitely believe in the power of positive thinking, so with our Spring Show a month away, I kept the date as is, thinking this would be over by the. It definitely took me awhile to catch up, I kept thinking it wasn’t going to go on this long.
Around the time of us starting to self-isolate, you posted about upping your website game, was this well underway before everything happened? 
I had been building towards it for a while now. I had a website, but I wasn’t really making sales on it, so the goal was to streamline the look of it and make it one place, for both my customers to shop and to highlight makers for upcoming shows. It launched right before the isolation went into place, which was perfect timing, it gave my customers a place to shop and support local in their community.
A lot of businesses find it hard to transition to online sales how has the support been from the community?
It has been great and right now even though things are the way they are, people still need to buy things and past that they want to support us. On the other side of this laptop I am a consumer as well and right now I am truly looking for stuff to buy, it’s maybe not a lot, but it adds up for small businesses.
Knowing you to be a very positive person, what are some of the positives that have come from this time?
Honestly at first, I was like I could use a break. There were lots of things at work that I needed to catch up on, including the website. It wouldn’t have been fast tracked the way it was if it weren’t for this happening. Sometimes you need that push to really make something happen. The same goes for the markets, this year being the 10th annual Spring Market, I didn’t’ want to let it go, it helped inspire me to come up with the virtual market idea.
Being a maker, I jumped at the idea of this virtual market, how did the idea come about?
Originally, I had postponed the Spring Show, but pretty quickly I realized even if that was an option, I might have restrictions on the amount of people allowed in or have to cut back on vendors, so my intuition told me that a physical market wouldn’t be a go. Once I cancelled, I took the day to get my thoughts organized and see what my options were, at the same time the website was doing really well and I saw it was a viable option for customers to find makers and support them.
With the platform already in place all I needed to figure out was how do I merge what makes a Cheerfully Made Market special to the website.  I did a huge brainstorming session to make a list of all the great things about our markets and then see how I could translate those virtually. For example, swag bags, the first 50 people get those at my shows, and virtually I will know who the first 50 shoppers are, so I knew I could still give away swag bags. Music was another big thing, my customers always tell me how much they love the music at shows, so I will have a Spotify Playlist that can played while they are virtually shopping, helping to bring our show experience to their homes.
There are lots of other details I am organizing for the Virtual Market, but I have been blessed with the guts to move forward and have blind faith that it will work out. Plus, I know all the makers want it to work, so together I know we can all create an amazing experience for our customers!
If you have ever been to a Cheerfully Made Show you know the detail that is involved, Emily creates an experience. The thing that impresses me most about all these women, is their drive to not let this affect their business. Yes, some things will be different, but Emily has always been about supporting the maker community that she loves, and sharing their talents with clients who trust her. Hearing her speak so passionately about this new challenge, I was inspired myself. It made me think, how I can make the shopping experience special for all the clients that attend this Virtual Market, she elevates us with her ideas and enthusiasm, plus she does it so cheerfully!
Cheerfully Made is multifaceted business, from her bricks and mortar location in Almonte, which carries all locally made products, to her markets that she puts on 4-5 times a year in both Almonte and Ottawa, to the courses she has created to help makers get started, up their game or branch out to a new area. Ultimately this woman is about one thing, the Canadian craft community, she supports them, promotes them and shares her knowledge with them! You can connect with Emily via instagram, facebook or check out her website
And be sure to check out the Virtual Market Event Page to get all the details!
Written by Carissa McCaig

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