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About Ronald McDonald House SWO:Provides a home away from home where guest families can focus their attention on their ill or injured child and family.
About Chris:For as long as I can remember, I’ve been making, drawing, writing and collecting cool stuff to show people.
Blog Articles by Shuug
There’s a great quote about entrepreneurship that says it’s like jumping off a cliff and figuring out how to build a plane on the way down. It’s true – there is a great deal of figuring things out as you go along. Yes, there is a certain point at which you must simply commit, and be willing to take on whatever comes as a result. But to my mind, the quote doesn’t do justice to the experience of launching a business. When I think about what got me to take the plunge in the first place, there was a lot of learning, and a lot of help involved.
All through my life, from the boisterous restaurateur who gave me my first job to the team at rtraction, I have been fortunate to work with a lot of great entrepreneurs Each of them helped keep a vaguely-formed thought smoldering in the back of my mind: that someday I wanted to run my own business.
It took the help of an exceptional mentor to stoke that fire and give shape to a nagging idea that just wouldn’t go away. Louise Karch is fond of reminding people that a vocation is not simply a job, it is a calling. What was calling to me was the idea of creating an amazing place, and sharing my enthusiasm for “cool stuff” with others. Louise helped me realize I had to find a way to listen to that calling. It was hardly a business plan, but it was a purpose. Once I had fixed on that purpose, it was only a question of figuring out how to make it happen.
It might have taken many more years for this dream to materialize if it hadn’t been for “The Met.” Setting up a booth at the weekend artisan’s market provided me with a tremendous opportunity to see if retail was really the vehicle to get me where I wanted to go.
It was a crazy, hectic few months preparing for that launch, but after my first weekend I knew I was on the right track. Working at the Met showed me how hard I could push myself, but also that Über Cool Stuff would require more of my attention than I could squeeze in around a full-time job. After seven months, I was exhausted.
I shelved the business to recuperate, but never stopped searching for the right location to make the store work as a full- time venture. Everything clicked very suddenly when I learned of a space that had come available just a few doors down from my old home at The Met on Carling Street.
This time it would be a much bigger risk. I wouldn’t consider doing it without going full time. After doing a detailed projection of “what’s the worst that could happen?” my wife agreed that even the worst-case scenario was something we could live with. And the alternative – doing nothing – was not an option. The choice was made.
I opened my doors 102 days after first hearing about that space. It’s honestly a bit of a blur – especially the final week of preparation. Although there were moments of panic and many late nights, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
I’m proud to join the ranks of businesses in the core, and have a newfound appreciation for how hard they work to make our downtown great. From the Small Business Centre to Downtown London, to my new neighbours, to my friends and colleagues: people have gone out of their way to support me.
The only thing as gratifying has been the reaction of people when they walk into the store. One man walked in the other day and told me in mock reverence, “The sign does not lie.”
So while it’s far from glamorous, and while I know there will be bumps in the road ahead, the best word to describe how I feel at having launched into entrepreneurship?