I’ll admit it – I enjoy shopping at big name stores and even more if I can score a great discount. But I LOVE browsing and shopping at small independent stores that stock local makers. That rush when I’ve discovered a really cool jewelry brand is unmatched. Of course, there will always be things I need from a big box store but when I can shop from a local small business, I will.
From an early age, I’ve been a creative soul. Always thinking of ways I can create something out of nothing. This led me to start my own hair accessories and jewelry business utilizing leftover fabric and findings from my own clothes. Having the opportunity to work at one of Pakistani’s top textile houses, that embodies the Pakistani people and culture through their designs was a pivotal point in shaping my opinion of supporting local.
Seeing a shirt hanging in a store, you would never think of all the people involved in creating it. Working at Khaadi involved interacting with pattern creators, designers, tailors down to the man hand-embroidering on fabric. Seeing them arrive at the final piece was eye-opening. This is why I admire and really look at the craftsmanship of independent makers.
Local Businesses House Creative Talent
Lots of small businesses make handmade products which could be the work of a solo entrepreneur or a small team of talented individuals. Learning about their process and seeing the products just blows my mind. Skilled people need to be supported for showcasing their creative skills and excellent use of resources.
Someone I admire for their work ethic and practical bags is Beverly Wang, the founder/designer/maker/marketer behind ByInabe. Each bag is singlehandedly designed, cut, sewn and marketed by her! I own two of her pieces that I use almost every day and they still look amazing. Which is not the case for a bag bought from the high street that would fall apart in the first year. For this reason, I understand paying a certain price for a product I know was created with care, using quality materials and through sustainable means. And if that still means nothing to you – in most cases, only a handful of one design is created so your piece is unique.
Local Businesses Offer Personal Connections
To say I don’t own jewelry pieces from big box stores would be a lie. I do have some pieces but I don’t find myself reaching for them. I don’t feel a personal connection to the piece. Whereas when I wear a pair of handmade earrings from Bijoux Pepine, I know Perrine made them, she used indigo flower to create them because I’ve seen her process videos on Instagram. Her pieces are made in small batches so I am one of the lucky few to own her earrings. I treasure them so much more because there is a real person behind the brand.
“Support Local” Means Supporting A Person’s Dream And Culture
I support local because it makes me feel good. As a DIYer, I get excited when someone appreciates my quirky earrings or random home decor projects. The same goes for small business entrepreneurs. They put their heart and soul into creating something they are passionate about.
In an interview with Tara Cochrane of Wonderkind (which you can read about here) she shared why supporting female-owned small businesses is important to her, and I wholeheartedly agree.
The entrepreneurship journey comes from different places. Some just have the dream to run their own company, for some, it’s a lifestyle choice to free up their time to spend with families.
We believe that when you invest in the community and women you invest in so much more. You invest in their child’s hockey team and giving them the freedom to choose motherhood. Or for some entrepreneurs who don’t have families, investing in their dream.
Makers are passionate about where they’ve come from and their craft. They’re actually excited to share their stories with anyone, be it a stranger. You can tell how much they love what they do and this inspires me share their stories.
At one of the Citizen’s Collective markets, I was busy reading the quirky statements on Tribe Chocolates’ packaging when the owner Eric Berg, with so much enthusiasm, began explaining how their chocolate was made from the huge maraca-shaped nuts (cocoa pods) on the table. He explained how he feel in love with how much the Shipibo tribe in Peru cared about their land and harvested it for cocoa. The process was intriguing that I sampled the ground nuts from the pods, further convincing me that by buying this chocolate I was supporting his idea and team directly.
Local Businesses Define A Community
Local small businesses are the charm of a community. Think of how your local café owner knows you and your drink of choice. Think about that sea glass necklace that your friends always admire from your vacation on the east coast. Think about the quirky shops along Main Street. If these were all replaced by the Walmarts of the world we would never experience true art and fine craftsmanship.
So the next time you think of buying something as small as bread, think about going to your local baker or grocery store. If we don’t support these guys they won’t exist.
How Can You Support Local Small Businesses?
Leave a testimonial or review: Small business owners love to know when their customers are happy with their products and services. You can do this on Google or under the product listing on their website. Go one step further and post an Instagram Stories review.
Sign up for their emails: Small businesses work hard to create each product which they would love to tell you about in an email newsletter. This is also where you can be the first to know about a promotion or exclusive offer.
Use social media: If you love them, talk to them and about them. Like, comment and share their posts so they know you appreciate their work. Post a photo wearing or visiting their store so your friends know how amazing the brand is. Don’t forget to tag them or the store location so even more people know why you love them!
Shop small before shopping big: Before you go to a big box store, go to the small guy around the corner first. They carry essentials too and would be so happy to see you drop by. Plus it’s great for the economy.
Buy gift cards: Maybe you don’t need anything right now but you can always buy a gift card and use it towards something for yourself or holiday gifts for others down the line. This is especially great for giving seasonal businesses a boost during the off-season.
Go to local events: This could be food truck festivals, street fairs or holiday markets there is sure to be an event in your town. If you’re in Toronto the biggest and best is the One of a Kind Show. As well as a number of smaller craft markets like the Trinity Bellwoods Flea and Etsy Canada markets happening throughout the year. It’s your chance to meet entrepreneurs in person, hear their amazing stories and of course shop local. Trust me, you can’t walk away without liking something. Follow me on Instagram, I’m always posting about or checking out an event and would love to take you along.
Let me know in the comments if you’re an avid supporter of local talent or you want to be more supportive moving forward.
Photography: Sammie Chan