Eryn Beattie, the owner of Luna Collective, is a licensed nurse by trade—but you might not guess that walking into her small, brick vintage and handmade goods shop located in Fernwood Square, Victoria. The avid camper and outdoor enthusiast began her small business journey in a rather untraditional way: by accident. What initially started as a sewing hobby, soon evolved rather quickly into owning and operating her own retail shop in just a few short years. And here’s how she did it.
During nursing school, she was merely sewing clothes for herself as a pastime in between study breaks. And while practicing her backstitch and falling in love with repurposed fabrics, Beattie quickly realized she’d soon have more clothing than storage space. Faced with a surplus of product and a need to clear her inventory, that’s when the entrepreneurial bug first bit.
In 2016, she started selling her pieces online and at markets as a side hustle which helped introduce her to the local art community—a network of support she’d soon learn to be vital to her business’ success. Beattie was busy building her network of local artists and like-minded people when a local shop she frequented in downtown Victoria closed and the landlords were looking for a temporary pop-up. Despite all the anxiety you’d expect to feel before venturing out on her own, Eryn decided to “just go for it” and jump at opportunity and secure the space.
After three months, the pop-up closed, as pop-ups tend to do. She was hesitant to venture off into a more permanent lease because of her lack of experience. But soon after a more permanent space opened up in Fernwood Square and after considering her options, Eryn’s entrepreneurial spirit fought through and she decided to go for it again. She took the plunge and opened Luna Collective, selling and showcasing a curated collection of handmade and vintage goods.
Now, she’s been in business for almost four years and through her shop, she’s supporting over 75 other local small businesses and artisans. “It’s a special feeling to look back and see the growth of your business—I just love it!” she said, “It’s really special working for yourself. Anything you do is directly your choice. When you do the work, it’s rewarding for yourself.”
We wanted to know more about Beattie’s journey from hobby to side hustle to small business. So we sat down with her to find out more about the lessons she’s learned and the advice she has for anyone starting a business.
Why did you create Luna Collective? Why not work for an established retailer?
By creating my own storefront I was able to take the artistic lead and create a space that was a reflection of myself. I am so passionate about the products that I bring into the shop, and to be able to handpick each item means a lot to me. By creating my own business I had the freedom to do exactly what I wanted to do, and connect with my community in a way that felt natural to me.
Do you have any mentors or coaches that inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
When I was in high school, I worked for my best friend’s parents who owned their own restaurant. I was able to directly see the hard work that they put into their own business, and it felt really special to work for a small family-owned company. I remember at that age wanting to own my own coffee shop that would double as a store. Well it turns out I don’t actually like coffee, but I did end up opening a store! When I first opened the Luna Collective I didn’t have a mentor, but I have met a lot along the way that I continue to look to, and have helped me to grow my business into what it is today.
What does it mean to you to be a female entrepreneur?
Being a female entrepreneur means a lot to me. Historically, women, trans and non-binary people have faced more challenges than men in the business community. I am really proud to be a women-owned business, that carries the work of over 50 other women-owned businesses in Canada. There is a strong sense of community with other women-led businesses, and it’s important that we continue to uplift each other and inspire women to reach their goals.
What general advice do you wish someone gave you when you were first starting?
I think I could have benefited greatly from some general advice regarding business financials and navigating the paperwork side of running your own business. I have figured out a lot along the way, but at the beginning, I was navigating a lot of systems I wasn’t used to and could have used a hand from someone versed in that area.
Have you ever been given bad advice, that you’d warn others not to take?
I had newly opened my store and was convinced by an online advertising company to sign up with them on a “free trial.” Turns out the free trial wasn’t so free and it ended up costing me $300 with no positive results. I was able to get my money back, and it was a good learning experience to not trust every “good opportunity” that would come my way.
What financial advice do you wish someone gave you when you were first starting?
I think there is a lot of financial advice that would have been beneficial to me when I started, but one thing I wish I had been given advice about was how to prepare for income taxes as a self-employed individual. I didn’t properly prepare myself in my first years of operating and had to learn my lesson the hard way.
Have you ever been given bad financial advice, that you’d warn others not to take?
I’ve been given some pretty shady advice by people who weren’t asked for their opinion (and definitely didn’t have the credentials to be giving any sort of financial advice). I’m lucky that everyone who I did seek financial advice from has had my best interests in mind.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far?
I think most business owners would feel the same way as me, in saying that the current pandemic has been a big challenge to overcome. Closing my business to the public for three months at the beginning of the pandemic was also an incredible challenge. It was the right thing to do to try to slow the spread of the virus, but it was very scary to shut my doors and think about how I would survive the coming weeks. I’m extremely grateful for how quickly I was able to pivot to online-only sales, and for the customers who got me through those months with their support.
The biggest challenge for me is the continued idea of the unknown. Throughout the last year, so many changes have happened, and there have been a lot of ups and downs of unpredictable times. These changes make it a lot harder to look towards the future and plan what’s next for my business. In the past year, I have been a lot more focused on short-term goals rather than long-term goals because of this.
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