Canadian designer, distributor, and manufacturer in the music industry
Serves beginner, youth and hobby player markets. My business currently carries four product lines – two FUNctional brands in ‘Freshly picked’ picks and ‘Acouskins’ decorative guitar covers. In addition, I carry ‘Strings’ by Aurora and Inlay Stickers.
How did you get started in this business?
I started getting into this business when I was a student at Durham College in 2014. I had been working on Acouskins as a project in one of my classes. One year I started selling wholesale of my product and soon after that I introduced three more product lines to the market.
How did the help you got from BACD impact you and your business?
My mentor Karen was a huge help to me as she went above and beyond to answer my questions and helped with me the administrative aspect of the business. The training that Patrice provided me was very helpful and she always had excellent advice and tips that guided me through the development of my business. Lastly, the grant helped me provide the minimum amount needed in order to get my distribution rights.
What was most impactful for you being in the Starter Company program?
The training and mentoring at BACD were the most impactful for me because it gave me the encouragement I needed to develop my business. I found that writing my daily logs is something that has given me guidance as to what aspects of the business I need to focus my attention on.
Why did you think you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur is something that I had always dreamed about however, I always thought it required some sort of super power to achieve it. I love strategizing and learning new things which comes daily when you are an entrepreneur. In addition, I have always been creative and FUNctional accessories allows me to express myself without being controlled.
What was more difficult than you thought it would be?
There are few things that have been more difficult than I thought they would be. One thing that I have a hard time doing is being a “salesperson”. I find that I don’t know the right questions to ask or how to approach some situations. Secondly, personal sacrifices are something that I never considered when having my own business. It is important to set aside time for yourself and find that work-life balance. Lastly, time management has been a bit difficult for me in the sense that I need to disburse my time evenly and direct more attention to areas that need to be worked on.
How do you market your business? How are people aware of your business?
The most common way that I market my business is through direct marketing. I visit retail locations that are in the music industry and I speak with young musicians. I also attend open mic nights in the area that I have visited. People are aware of my business through word of mouth, my website and also social media. I have a Facebook page, Instagram account and Twitter page for my product lines.
What do you do to keep abreast of the changes in your business and in your industry?
In order to keep abreast of changes in the business and the music industry, I attend events such as open mics, craft shows and vintage guitar shows. I also talk to musicians to get advice, feedback and to understand the latest trends in music. I also subscribe to the Canadian Music Trade Magazine.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?
Market research is critical, it is important to see if there is a market for your business and where that market is. Market research is something that is continual and will help grow your business. I would also say that feedback is very important. Following up with customers about your product gives you something to work with and improve your product.
What is it that you do that’s made you a success?
Following advice and asking the right questions has really helped me grow and become successful. I know there is always room for improvement and the more questions I ask the more changes I can make and incorporate into the growth of my business. I am also very organized which aids my operations of business to work smoothly and efficiently.
Has technology impacted how you conduct business?
Technology has been there from the very beginning for my business. When I am traveling and visiting different retail locations I can create invoices straight through my phone through an app. In addition, I have a device called “Mobile Pay Plus” that can take payments of debit and credit transactions. This device saves me from making a trip to the bank compared to situations where I am receiving cash.
What is the future for this type of business?
I think that the music industry is evolving and shifting toward music products/education for all ages. It is a very creative industry in which I believe FUNctional accessories can bloom in.
Whom do you seek advice from for your business?
I seek advice from my mentors, BACD, other small business owners and of course my mom.