"I moved to Edmonton 6 years ago and knew 2 people and they have since moved away. I had to really build a network and maybe being that I'm not from here served me well."
The focus of Habitat's etc.'s store is on beautiful, small batch, unique, quality, locally made and North American made products. They enjoy bringing handmade products to their customers that tell a story and with this they aim to build community thought hosting workshops with local makers.
We asked owner, Annie Parent, some questions about her Edmonton Made business. Here's what she had to say:
When did you start your business and why?
I started my business in April of 2014. I had stumbled upon a store in California and it was a moment I will never forget. I had always wanted to own my own business and I was inspired by the store and all their local wares. I felt there was a need for something like it in Edmonton and so the journey began to open something similar but with Edmonton made products.
Why did you start your business in Edmonton?
I have an entrepreneurial spirit and I have a love for creating. My passion include décor and design along with a need to create and bring people together. Out my passions grew the idea for habitat, a place where people could come and learn a craft and build community along with provide a place where conscious shoppers could find unique and thoughtful products for themselves and their loved ones.
What was your biggest challenge in the early days of your business?
Gaining support from those around me, it is not an easy thing to do, leave your stable income and start a business, and friends and family had a hard time seeing my vision. Although there was lots of support, I still felt very vulnerable starting a business and it's quite an emotional rollercoaster that any skepticism would really bring me down.
What is your biggest challenge today?
The biggest challenge for me today is cash flow. In retail it's a constant in and out of cash and managing that is the most difficult. The market ebbs and flows and you really need to have a good grasp on your customers needs in order to forecast sales and manage your cash flow. Although we try to keep our customers happy sometimes its difficult to provide those products right away since the cash flow can vary quite dramatically.
Did you/do you have a ‘support network’? What does that look like?
I have a great support network and I'm always trying to find a way to increase that network. I value the opinion of my fellow 104th st. business owners along with a number of other business owners that I have met over the last 2 years of running habitat. Edmonton is an extremely supportive city and although I am a new business owner and fairly new to the city, people have really been willing to share their challenges along with their successes, they really see the importance of helping each other, and that has been instrumental for me in the first 2 years of operation.
Are there any particular resources (local programs, blogs, webinars, video series, forums, books, etc.) you used to help scale/develop your business that you’d recommend to small businesses?
A strategy that I have always used in my life and career is networking. Having a really large open network has been my most valuable asset in running my business. I moved to Edmonton 6 years ago and knew 2 people and they have since moved away. I had to really build a network and maybe being that I'm not from here served me well. It was a huge exercise in getting out of your comfort zone. It took a little while but once you get into a groove in this city the support network is endless.
Is there a piece of advice you would like to pass on to other Edmonton Made businesses?
Network and support each other. If I don't have a product that someone is looking for and I know where they can get it, I'm sure to let my customers know. We need to support each other, it's very important to feel that support and to provide it in return. It's very draining, time consuming and emotional to run your own business, there must be passion in what you do and if you understand that then you really respect those that are also in the same boat, so why not help them out in any way that you can.
Is there an Edmonton Made business you’re cheering on?
Too many to name. But the resurgence of handmade products of all kinds, I am really cheering on. The amount of creativity and amazing craftsmanship that I have seen from Edmontonians is incredible. I am cheering that on the most!
At your size, do you still feel your business is “Edmonton Made”?
In what way? Absolutely, although we do have e-commerce and sell to anywhere in North America, we have a focus on Edmonton made products. The downtown dwellers as well as those working downtown have really embraced habitat and we could not have made it through the past 2 years without them.
Anything else you would like to share about your Edmonton Made story?
Edmonton is a city that really embraces it's 'own' and that gave me the confidence to take a big risk and start down the path of being a business owner. I don't think I would have ever opened habitat had it not been for the sense of community and support I sensed from Edmontonians.