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    News — Femme Stories

    Femme Stories | Edition 12 | Anna

    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.
     
    Anna | The Wax Studio
     
    I met Anna from The Wax Studio a year ago when we were doing a Freewheeling Craft Market, our booths were across from each other. I was intrigued with her brand, she was clearly passionate about the environment and being eco-conscious and her candles had this gorgeous old world look to them. As I started exploring her brand and getting to know Anna, I came to discovery she was only 14 and already a maker, small business owner, eco-warrior and extremely talented.

     

    anna the maker of The Wax Studio candles

    How did you get started as a maker and a business owner?

     I have always loved candle making ever since I was younger and when I started it was just a hobby, but a couple years ago I decided to turn it into a business. I got involved with some local craft markets and they went really well and from there I launched my Etsy Shop. I also got help from some local entrepreneurs, who gave me lots of advice on launching my own business

     How has COVID affected your business? 

    When the quarantine started, I decided to pivot my Etsy shop and I started to offer local pick up, it was contactless and free, so my online sales really grew. I also started focusing on wholesale for stores that carry my candles. I adjusted quickly and even as things go back to normal I am still offering these options.

     Are you still able to create new products right now?

    I work right out of my kitchen, everything is eco-friendly so there are no fumes and I buy my beeswax locally so I have been able to keep up production. I make the candles one by one so it is a slower process, it is nice to be able to do that during this time. My dream is to one day have my own studio.

     What originally got you interested in beeswax in particular and where do you get yours from?

    My parents are very eco-conscious, so beeswax candles are all we used, there are no additives, so they are eco-friendly. I get mine from local beekeepers, I buy it directly from them. It stores really well and doesn’t go bad, so I can invest in bigger quantities, sometimes 400lbs at a time. 

    What is the process of making your molds for your candle designs and I know you are eco-conscious; how do you create you gorgeous coloured candles? 

    I use silicone and a model, sometimes the model is an actual candle or item I am replicating or a 3D printed version. For those I get help from University of Ottawa, they helped me get my design for the cone candle, which is one of my best sellers. Once you have your model, you put it upside in a cylinder on plastic or wood and then you pour silicone around it. When you remove the cylinder and the model, you are left with your mold which you can fill with your wax and the wick to create you candle.

    For the black and coloured candles, I use an eco-friendly vegetable-based dye that is safe for burning.

     From a business perspective, are you taking this time to test out new designs?

    Because of my online classes, I haven’t had as much time as I originally wanted. I am keeping up with orders right now and I am trying to look for new molds. I have some new amber glass jars I am looking to create molds of.

     The thing I noticed most about your Instagram, from the captions, to pictures is your incredible eye for detail, do you have any thoughts on expanding your company passed candles one day?

     I really like making candles, but for the future I have been thinking about expanding into beeswax beauty products. I have sold beeswax lip balms in the past, I stopped because I wanted to use compostable tubes instead of plastic.  I will have to do more research into this to make sure it would be eco-friendly if I moved forward.

     When you think about your future, do you want to go secondary school and if so what do you want to study?

    I really like having my business, it is a great form of education, I have learned so much through it. For school I definitely would like to go to university when I am older, I have a lot of interests but I really love math, science and engineering so I want to find something in those areas.

    Do you have any new products or virtual events you are working on?

    I have new cone candles in all kinds of colors for the holidays, like cream, blush pink and light blue and I'm super excited to be part of The Cheerfully Made OH WHAT FUN virtual show, November 5-8. I've loved being part of her Almonte Town Hall shows, and this one will be so much fun. I've just expanded to having stockists from coast to coast (B.C. all the way to Newfoundland) so I'm getting as many candles made and shipped as I can over the next few weeks for everyone’s holiday shopping.

     

    Anna is a really talented maker, her candles are intricate, classic and honestly so stunning you don’t want to burn them. I got some last Christmas and it took me forever to decide to light the wick, but when I finally did they got even more beautiful while they burned. She is the epitome of what we need to be as makers, she supports other local business through her own, she considers the environment when making business decisions and she makes incredible products. I love being beside her at markets and I can’t wait till in person shows happen again so we can catch up in person! This is the perfect season for candles, whether it’s to give your own home a lovely glow or give as the perfect holiday gift I recommend checking out The Wax Studio this season when doing your shopping.

    Femme Stories | Edition 11 | Jacquie

    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.
     
    Jacquie | Jacquie K.
     
    I have been following Jacquie for a couple years and loved following her renovation journey with her bus, Billie. I am a sucker for anyone taking something that is seen as garage and not only saving it from that fate, but turning it into part of their business. Jacquie’s feed is filled with gorgeous pictures of her clients hair, makeup and nails all done by her and her team, but you will also see Billie the Bus, located in PEC, and her makeup brand Jacquie K. featured on her page. Her brand is diverse, innovative and unique and I loved talking to her about how this year has turned out.
    Jacquie - Ottawa and PEC makeup artist

     

     How have you managed your couples and shifting their weddings around? And how has this affected your 2021 schedule?

      As a team we book 150+ weddings a year, so it has been chaotic, when we hit the 50th wedding that was postponed I stopped counting. Basically, every wedding we had from April-July was postponed and a lot of our couples from August on, have either deciding to move forward or are waiting to see.

     That has definitely been the hardest part is the rescheduling, we have had to give up 50+ dates from this year and then those dates next year as well, it’s been a little tricky. Luckily, I have a team of five, so any dates that I can’t take myself my team members are stepping in, but we are at the point now where there are days in 2021 that every team member is booked. That is definitely the hardest part, when a couple is trying to reschedule but we don’t have anyone to offer on that date because we are fully booked.

    With your brand, you offer make up products on top of Hair, Makeup and Nail appointments, that must have helped during the shut-down?

    Definitely, my entire premise in business since I started is to have as many diverse income streams as possible, because you never know what’s going to happen. Even being able to start booking nail appointments for July is saving me, because of course makeup is still not allowed. My cosmetic line has been a huge part of my business for the last 2 years and I am so grateful for it right now because I was able to keep selling throughout the entire pandemic.

    Your social media is full of colour and is always super cheerful, and even though you couldn’t do nails you still showed the nail art that would have been available for April, this must have helped you stay connected to clients and spread some positivity to them?

     Yeah absolutely, it still helps to keep the cheery vibes in people’s heads and when I did announce that I was taking nail bookings so many DM’s came in probably because I had been sharing it. Overall though, during the pandemic I took a break from social media, which is probably the opposite of what a lot of people did. I needed that breathing room to think about how I wanted to run my business and Instagram page, it was quite an eye opener.

    Did you think of anything you want to change in the future or is it you need more time to disconnect?

    Mainly more time to disconnect, I realized I need to give more time to my life rather than my business. For the past 4-5 years I have dedicated every hour of every day to my business, so setting those boundaries that I am only working 9-3, 4 days a week, has opened me up to the idea that I can still make money while having a life, I have never had that before! 

    Before COVID did you focus on online sales or were in person appts more of a sales generator?

     Weddings have always made up the bulk of my sales, but for my cosmetic line that revenue comes from online sales. Last year I lived abroad so I already had a lot of systems in place to push online sales and make it as efficient as possible.

    With phase 2 happening, how excited are you to move back to a sense of normalcy? 

    I am very excited and very apprehensive. I am excited to be around my clients again and talk to people, but the terrifying part is the health aspect. With manicures and eventually makeup you are literally touching people, there is no way to get around that. Sanitation procedures have already been in place in the beauty industry as a whole, but now they are even stricter. There is a lot of time spent between each client cleaning, which is lost revenue, so it is a lot to organize and manage as the owner. In the bus because of space we can only take one client at a time, so even though it is opening we are limited to the number of clients we can see in a day. I am definitely still focused on those different income streams because we just don’t know how this year is going to turn out. 

    Jacquie and I talked back in June and since then we have moved into Phase 3 and with this her and her team have been able to start doing makeup. I asked how that has been, “Phase 3 has been confusing, to say the least. Numbers for gatherings are constantly changing & our brides seem to be preparing for a 2nd shutdown, though I’m nowhere ready for this, so fingers crossed it doesn’t happen! Despite all the uncertainty I’ve kept busy with building another business called Astrid Park with two of my friends & business partners, so I think that has helped with me staying positive and motivated in the everyday scheme of things.

    I saw on Instagram that Billie has a new home in PEC, I know you really wanted to get it in one location, it must feel great to see that come to life. Did you already have this in place pre COVID and where will it be and what services can clients book out of there?

     It was sort of in motion, I was in talks with one venue before I found the partner that I am working with now. I definitely wasn’t giving it as much time as I should have been and I kind of left it till the last minute. So, when COVID hit I didn’t have any excuses, I had all the time in the world to find the perfect location. Honestly, I don’t think it would have happened if the shut-down hadn’t been in place, I would not have had the time or energy to organize it.

    Right now, because of the limit of people that can gather, the bus will be stationary for the summer, but my goal is to take it throughout the county to do Pop Ups at wineries and breweries. At least for this summer though it will located in Prince Edward County and you can book nail, makeup and hair appointments.

     Are any couples doing a social distancing wedding this year and for 2021 are couples embracing that they might have to get married on a Friday or Sunday because Saturdays are so booked? 

    A lot of our couples are finding ways to celebrate their day, even though they have had to postpone. Once restrictions are lifted we will be able to do hair and makeup for the little elopements that a lot of couples are doing, which normally we would never take because we would have been booked on those days for bigger weddings, so that has been really nice to be a part of these celebrations.

     Oh yeah, a lot of couples just came right out of the gate and asked for Friday or Sunday dates, which has been awesome. Each couple is different, depending on their venue, photographer, catering, there are a lot of factors, I feel like all couples are just doing the best they can.

    Were there any plans you had for your company that will be pushed to 2021? 

    I did have the idea to buy commercial property in the county, it is a goal of mine, but there is no timeline on that. For right now I will see how the bus does in that area and go from there.

     

     Pre Covid I finally got the chance to work with Jacquie and she was delightful, professional, incredibly talented, and funny. I can’t wait till I get to work with her again, but until then I admire her beautiful artwork and get inspired! As lovely, charming and joyful as her social media is, she is a million times that, plus she is an incredible business woman. When she said “my entire premise in business since I started is to have as many diverse income streams as possible” I took that to heart myself! I love talking to other business women, we can all learn so much from each other. If you are planning your wedding, I highly recommend checking out Jacquie’s website or if you just need some local love added to your daily makeup routine, she has gorgeous makeup, that is natural and eco-friendly!

     

     

    Femme Stories | Edition 9 | Kaja

    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.
     
    Kaja | Jack Loves Mary & KajaPhoto
     
    It is hard for me to sometimes explain my relationship with Kaja. She is so much more than a friend or colleague, if you have worked with someone creatively, you know it is a very personal relationship. Sharing your own creative ideas can be scary, but with Kaja, I have always felt free to say that insane idea and then together we hone it, tone it down or push it bigger and make sure what we are saying is moving the bigger conversation forward.
     
    Her passion for Photography has been a part of her identity before we even met and I knew right away that she wasn’t in this for the short game, from day one she has worked to make Photography a part of her life and career. She has built up two incredible companies, Jack Loves Mary & KajaPhoto, although both very different aspects of the photography world, both have the same passionate, creative and unique woman behind them.
     
    This interview, besides being with one of the closest people in my life, was extra personal because Kaja’s Father-in-Law, Ron Stewart, passed away during the start of the shutdown. Ron was a man I have known most of my life, he attended the same church as my Grandparents, I went to school with his youngest son and his oldest married Kaja, my creative partner. My grandparents have always adored Ron and his wife Heather. He and my grandpa lived parallel lives; they had worked in similar fields, had travelled abroad to teach other countries how to farm properly, they both had stories abound and LOVED talking and listening to each other. Ron was gentle and kind and my grandfather loved being around him, I know his presence is missed by the Stewart Family as I know my Grandparents miss him too.

     

    How was it being dropped into the new world of COVID-19 after being distanced from a lot of the information that was coming out at the end of March?

     

    We as a family entered the world of Covid in a unique way. Ron, my father-in-law fell ill earlier this year, and after weeks of tests and appointments we still had no answers. On March 10th we were finally given a diagnosis and he passed March 24th, so this time period was a whirlwind.

    Between you and my friend Sarah I was kept up to date on how Covid was impacting small businesses and freelancers. We were spending most of our time at the hospital with Ron and I just couldn’t divide my focus, so I appreciated that. Also, my wonderful assistant Kamara took the reins on some shoots that were lined up which, ultimately were cancelled because the shut-down was extended. Looking back on the month of March and beginning of April, it feels like one big long dream. The uncertainty of the city and the country and the world just seemed to mirror that of my own family.

    Have your couples all postponed to next year, are any scaling back and doing a more low key wedding or even social distancing wedding at the end of Summer or Fall?

     All of my couples that had weddings before September have postponed. Everyone has been different, some had specific dates in mind, because that is what their venue was able to accommodate, others have postponed and haven’t yet chosen their 2021 date. All of my 2020 couples and I have been in communication a lot over the last couple of months. For ones who haven’t chosen a new date, I am very transparent about what dates I have open, so they can make the best decision for their wedding.

    I haven’t had any social distancing or virtual weddings yet, but I would love to do that. I think I have always attracted the type of clientele who just want to do what feels right and personal to them, despite what their families want or "what they should do." That has been one of the cool aspects of this experience, to see how couples are making it their own. I have 2 couples who are still getting married, legally, on their wedding date, one is getting married at city hall and the other couple is meeting an officiant, which I will be photographing from a distance.

    On top of weddings, have you had photoshoots for KajaPhoto that were rearranged?

     Yes, March is a big month to shoot look book shots for businesses, those as well as some editorials ended up being cancelled. There isn’t really a plan to reschedule, because the difference is a lot of these clients are self-employed, and everyone is looking at their year and businesses differently now.

    How have you been dealing with all this “free” work time, has it been hard to focus on what to do first with so much unknown? 

    This week (first week of May) was really my first week of “free” time, because I had a backlog of editing from March and April. Also speaking for myself, my TO DO list is never not full. There are always certain items that take priority, but I have lots of work to fill my free time. I am actually looking forward to tackling some items on there that always get put off, like my KajaPhoto website has needed to be updated also, I am very excited to tackle my own wedding photos. I took photos on my camera when we got married in 2015 and I haven’t even edited those, so I know myself and my family are excited about that! 

    Were there any 2020 business plans you had that have been put on hold or postponed for Jack Loves Mary and/or KajaPhoto?

    Not business plans, just shoots that have been affected. If anything, I will be able to accomplish more business goals because I have time. The shoot is just that one day, for me afterwards a lot of the work is editing and getting those photos off to their respective clients. So right now, with no new events or editorials to shoot, I have a lot time to tackle my business goals.

    Has this disrupted your day to day routine or are you still able to be creative?

    Most people are struggling with working from home right now, where I have been self-employed and worked from home for years, so I know the struggle very well. I feel like people romanticize working from home, but you still have to create your own routine. Everyone else is experiencing this for the first time, I definitely feel more understood by my friends.

    As for creating, I shoot people, I always have, but because that is limited right now, I have taken to documenting the world when I am out for walks. We will look back on this as pre and post, so I am trying to take pictures that show our current time. 

     

    Like I said up top, Kaja is one of my favourite humans. She has not only documented/shot and creatively impacted Copious from the beginning, she has photographed our family and documented my sisters family from engagement, to wedding to babies. Her love for photography shows in each photo she takes and I have seen her go that extra mile to capture a true moment in a picture. Whether it has been working with her for Copious or having her there to capture my sister and I before she got married, I can’t imagine anyone else taking our photo. Her passion isn’t just about getting you that shot, it’s about the integrity of that picture, which makes every image she captures, beautiful.

    If you are couple recently engaged I highly recommend checking out Jack Loves Mary. Kaja’s eye will get you unique and creative shots for your big day, and if you are business needing product shots, website photography or an editorial, check out KajaPhoto, or just flip on over to any page on the Copious site, because she took them all!

     

     

     

    Femme Stories | Edition 8 | May

    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.
     
    May | Farinella
     
    I have known May for 6 years, since the beginning of Copious. She has styled, helped to sell and even modelled for me. Besides being a supporter of my brand, she has an incredible eye for detail and an effortless style that people want to emulate, we always want her involved in our photoshoots. That is why I wasn’t surprised when she first told me she had taken on the role of GM for the restaurant Farinella. I knew why they wanted her; because of her ability to help create a brand, help tell that story to clients and her unparalleled work ethic.

    Farinella Team, Ottawa Pizzeria and Gelato Restaurant

    When things started to shut down and self-isolation became the norm, mentally where was the team at?
     
    We all went through some pretty crazy emotions, specifically the Sunday before the announcement came in, Nina and I definitely broke down. It was a beautiful day outside, but it was slow at the restaurant, you could really feel the fear of the unknown. We did shift quickly into plan mode and the team that decided to stay on with us was very calm and collected, Nina became that quickly and Cez is always that way, it was really me who couldn’t get there. I was full of anxiety those first couple of weeks, we went from having no information to having an abundance of it, we went from having no cases to it spreading and my anxiety was driven by my fear of it all and my desire to protect our staff and customers.
     
    This situation did drive us to make quick and efficient decisions. We closed that Tuesday to regroup, but right away when we reopened Wednesday we did curbside pickup. Honestly, we already had very high standards for our staff and the cleanliness of the restaurant, but this kicked it into overdrive and my fear drove my vigilance. Because of the job we were doing, we were around more people. Even though we had a perimeter around the restaurant and had a system in place to never be in contact with customers or delivery people, I was fearful for myself, my employees and all our families. It is my job to keep everyone safe and I didn’t always go about that in the nicest way, which didn’t make me the easiest person to be around. I became someone my staff didn’t recognize because I was letting my fear and the irrationalness of it take over. It wasn’t till they came and talked with me that I looked at the situation and realized how unhealthy it was for myself and my team.
     
    Do you feel like Farinella was able to transition quickly during these times because you were already geared towards take out?
     
    Yes, our whole idea for the restaurant is takeout, so we didn’t have a lot to change. This current situation does take away from being able to sample our different styles of pizza and getting individual slices, but it was necessary to switch to orders being for half or whole pizzas and have people call in their orders, to make sure everyone was safe. Right now, we are pumping out 8 pizzas every 15 mins, so that is something we are not used to, but are extremely grateful for the support. Pizza, gelato and ice cream are comfort foods, something you can eat every night of the week, unlike more fine dining restaurants we didn’t have to shut down to regroup or revamp our menu, we were already set up for this.
     
    That sort of answers my next question, how has support been from the community?
     
    It has been amazing, there is this one gentleman who orders a pizza every Sunday, it is his thing and we love that. Our regulars have been super supportive and we have gained a lot of new customers because they see their friends posting about the meter long pizzas and they want one, a lot of new people have discovered us as well. The support is amazing and we are grateful to feed people great food and bring some comfort to them during this time.
     
    On social media you tackled this quickly, you were very transparent, did you find this helped the community trust you were doing your part so they could still enjoy pizza?
     
    Even before this we already had strict rules in place for how the staff handled food. For example, we always wore gloves while handling the pizza or scooping ice cream/gelato so customers saw that when picking up their order. Many of our customers told us before this, that they liked how we handled our food. When we shut down on the Tuesday, we asked our staff; what do we need to do to make ourselves feel safe and immediately we all agreed no customers in the shop. It helped us and our customers feel safe, which helped us continue to run our business.
     
    You started doing delivery as well as pick up, how has that been?
     
    We did at the very beginning, but we quickly stopped doing it ourselves. It just became too challenging with how much pizza we were having to get out each hour and we did have a smaller staff. We already had Ubereats in place so we just continued on with that.
     
    What new tools or apps have you been using to keep the business going?
     
    None really, but we are actively looking for a way to help our customers place take-out orders online. That has been the biggest shift for us is dealing with customers calling their orders in. I pretty much always am talking to a person and have another on hold waiting to place their order, so the struggle is if people can’t get through they start messaging us through social media and obviously we can’t be taking orders that way. We are looking for a way to make it easier for everyone.
     
    Lastly what is your hope for the future?
    Like a lot of people, our year will look different. We won’t have as much money to make bigger purchases, but we will be ok. Our customers are supporting us and will continue to do that as we shift back. People miss going out, they miss seeing friends and catching up, so we look forward to being that place where they can do that again.
     
     
    Everything Farinella does, they do well, whether it is Pizza, Gelato, Ice Cream, Coffee or Pastries, you can see the respect they have for the product they make. From the incredible ingredients to how they showcase the product, they love what they do and what they make, and you will love it to. If you haven’t tried this restaurant I highly recommend it, you will be supporting a local business and get the most incredible meal. Talking with May just further instilled how much they care about what they make.
    If you want to try Farinella for dinner tonight, check out their website and call in your order and make sure to follow them on Instagram.

    Femme Stories | Edition 7 | Oriana

    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.
     
    Oriana | One of a Kind Show
     
    The One of a Kind Show has become this nucleus in my life. It is the 2 biggest events in my Copious year and prep is started months in advance to ensure a successful show. On my end a lot of time and money is spent to get to this show, on their end it’s the same story. The OOAK Team is working towards the same goal as each maker and the support they provide us along the way is invaluable. I have come to know these women as some of the hardest working, most helpful and friendliest people I know. The fact that so many of them know my name when I am 1 of 600-850 makers is a testament to how much they care about their makers. For this interview I talked with Oriana who is head of Recruitment and Creative Content Coordinator, she was nothing but candid and honest about how this has affected their team and what they are doing to prepare for the future of OOAK.

    One of a Kind Team, OOAK Show

    Going back to March, with information changing daily, how did the team deal with this?
     
    We were very aware of the coronavirus, it was in the news, we were following all the information. We had revised and updated our health and safety plan, we were buying SO much hand sanitizer and the recommendation was, events could move forward, you just had to be safe. I definitely don’t want to call it denial, because really at that point, we were moving forward and invested in the shows’ success; we were all very hopeful it would happen.
     
    The week of March 9th totally changed everything. I felt like I worked at a news network, every couple of minutes someone had new information and we were in meetings all day long trying to figure out a way to keep everyone happy. Mind you this is during our busiest time leading up to the show. We were very torn on what to do and we realized, we needed to hear from our vendors, so that is when we sent out the survey to get a consensus of what the group wanted.
     
    OOAK has always been a company that cares about the mental health of its employees and makers, how did you ladies deal with the stress?
     
    Everyone was having a hard time, I am the most outwardly emotional team member, so there were a lot of tears, but also as a team we knew that the makers and our customers were relying on us. Although this has been an awful experience to go through, as a team it was one of the most incredible experiences, because you really saw everyone leave any extra baggage at the door and just be there for the team.
     
    When the email finally went out with our decision to postpone the show, we were in the office so late that night, we all kind of gave each other a minute. We had stayed strong for each other and we were wanting to be efficient for you guys, but we were also exhausted.
     
    When you are leading up to such a big event everything else gets quieter and that one thing you are working towards gets so loud. Even though we didn’t get to put the show on, that whole week was so insane we all took the weekend to ourselves to mentally regroup.
     
    You did such a great job of keeping makers in the loop and asking our opinions, and I know it is hard to please everyone, but do you feel like you moved forward with the consensus?
     
    Yes, I really believe in my gut, but I also love numbers, and based on the hard data we got from the makers, we moved forward with the right decision. Something I have learned in this job is that there will always be a difference of opinion, when you are working with 600+ people/personalities, everyone won’t 100% agree. I absolutely welcome the discussion though, as long as it is done with respect, I am always open to talking about it. Once that dialogue happens I think that makers see that we really are trying to do our very best to make everyone happy, but also to keep their businesses alive.
     
    Even with the postponement, there were a lot of makers who thought we should have cancelled right away. At the time though, we didn’t know that it was going to go until June, we wanted to give makers a chance to sell their products. Everyone had been working so hard for the show and we know how much needs to be produced for it, we wanted our makers to have a chance to salvage the season.
     
    Logistically, what did you guys have to go through to reschedule/cancel such a major event?
     
    Janice took this project on as our director, it was a lot of communication with Enercare to choose a new date and figure out what hall we could be in. From a logistical point of view, Val would have had to redo the entire floor plan. As a group we were going back to the beginning, reworking sponsors, partners and guest speakers. Thankfully we didn’t get too far into the replanning process before the City of Toronto said no events in June. Obviously, we would have done it happily, but from an efficiency point of view, we were able to focus our efforts elsewhere.
     
    The Virtual Show has been a success for a lot of vendors, did you guys know right away you had to do something to keep the shows presence in customers minds?
     
    We knew we had to something, but we didn’t know that exact idea right away. Once we started talking and decided that we wanted to one stay in touch with customers, two show off our makers and three connect those two groups, we knew Instagram was the best way to do this. So, it became a matter of getting all our stories organized to set up our virtual market.
     
    What other apps have you used to keep in touch while working from home?
     
    Every Tuesday and Thursday we do a group meeting through Microsoft Teams, even though we are working on our own a lot right now, we are a team so these group meetings are super helpful to stay connected. We also used Later to help schedule all our stories for the Virtual Market.
     
    Were there any 2020 business plans for OOAK that have had to be put on hold?
     
    Maker Day was something we had all been working towards for the Spring Show. It was inspired by the Camp OOAK we did, where we got to bring like-minded creatives together. We had been working on this idea for a year and were all really excited for it. We had wanted this to be something special for just the Spring Show, so we probably won’t get to see it come to fruition until 2021.  We have also been working on a blog project forever. It has two streams, one being a way for customers to get to know the makers more and the second stream where we can offer more resources and ideas to the maker community. We want it to be a space where we can share all the connections we have made with you guys, community over competition always!
     
    To be honest, this whole landscape has either accelerated or changed a lot of plans, just based on what life is like and what life will look like moving forward. This event has really catapulted everyone into the digital space in a big way and that will continue to be a goal for us. We have always been focused on our digital space at OOAK, but because of the current times we see the need for it even more.
     
    With things being so up in the air, what does planning for the Holiday Show look like?
     
    Even in a perfect scenario, where we go back to having this event like we normally would, there would still be changes. This whole experience has changed human behaviour and we have to modify our event for that, basically we are planning for every scenario. We are not pretending like everything will be perfect, we are laying out multiple situations to be prepared for A, B and/or C. There is a lot of research happening right now to ensure that with any scenario that comes up we have a plan in place.
      

    After Oriana had answered all my questions, I wanted her to know how much I appreciated them. I can’t imagine what it is like to put this show on, let alone have it postponed 2 weeks before opening day and then cancelled. OOAK is a huge part of my yearly salary, as it is with many vendors who participate. I did not envy them having to make these decisions that held a lot of our fates, but every step of the way they kept us informed, asked our opinion and really like she said before, put our interests first. Doing this show requires a lot of sacrifice on both sides and these women always show up for us. I could hear the emotion in her voice the whole time, how draining this had been to put all the work in and get no real reward.

     “Our reward is the show, coming together for a cultural moment that OOAK staff, makers and customers adore.”

    We will get that reward again, hopefully soon, until then I highly recommend following this amazing team on social media (Instagram || Facebook) so you can see what they have planned for the future, I know it will be brilliant and done with nothing but heart, because this team has that in spades!