I've had the opportunity to meet so many local Calgary small business owners and I am always so inspired and in awe of each of them. Apart from the fact that Calgary is seemingly booming with new businesses, I really feel that Calgary small business owners have a mindset of making their dreams come true. Whether they're serial entrepreneurs, mompreneurs, individuals who found their niche years ago, or people just searching for their place, Calgary boasts a strong community for small business owners to do their thing, and to do it well.
Our Calgary culture isn't just one of "yee-haw'ing" Cowboys, nor is it simply that we work towards making our dreams come true, but it is so much about support, kinsmanship, and truly working together.
Through the photoshoots I've organized for Apostle, as well as during Pop Up Boutiques, and attending local events, I've had the pleasure of meeting SO many local business owners, and it really is safe to say that I've loved getting to know them all! While it's easy to love a brand and the product or service they offer, you don't truly know that brand until you meet the people behind it. Once you know who is at the core of a company, you understand their values and vision, and the passion that is driving force behind it all.
While there are about 100 local small businesses that I'd LOVE to write about (and many I have in my blogs about past photo shoots), I want to take the time to mention three specific Calgary small businesses (and I'll do it in order of when I met them).
Heart & Swirl
I first came across Heart & Swirl on Instagram a couple years ago and wanted to be a part of one of their painting workshops & wine tastings, but the stars didn't line up...until this spring.
With a passion & appreciation for wine and wine culture, Heart and Swirl owner, Kelley Abbey, came up with a fantastic idea for an event - combining wine & food pairings with a painting workshop with a local artist. Kelley guides you through three different wine pairings and teaches you about the wine and why it is complimentary to the food item you have with it. In between each tasting, a talented artist then guides you through the steps to create your own beautiful masterpiece (and something that you'd actually love and hang in your home). Kelley (and the artists) put in all the work to organizing a night for you, and all you have to do is arrive. How often does that happen?!
In my world, I am the organizer. So to arrive at the venue and have everything set up and ready & waiting was such a great treat. I took the Abstract Stripes workshop with Jill Paddock, and she rocked!! Her instruction was clear and simple to follow, and she was on hand to help with colour suggestions or technique assistance, or even just an encouraging word when all you see is a mess on a canvas (or maybe that was just me). I was even able to come home and work on my piece some more because Jill was so generous with her instruction and letting us know her tricks. Now don't get me wrong, my painting isn't quite Jill-quality, but it's me-quality, and I love it!
Heart & Swirl has ongoing events scheduled, and if you want to take part in one (or three) of Kelley's amazing workshops, all you need to do is become a member (it's free!!). Heart & Swirl members get updates on scheduled events, recipes from Kelley (which are so delicious!), discounts from local merchants, and the ability to register for a workshop. (Heart & Swirl hosts member-only events, and while it sounds super exclusive, literally anyone can become a member, so don't be dissuaded by that.) While this sounds like a sales pitch, it really isn't (especially since you don't have to pay to be a member!). Kelley doesn't even know I'm writing this. I just had such an amazing time at the Heart & Swirl event that I want everyone else to experience it too!
(I'll let you in on a little secret... Kelley and I are currently working on plans for an Apostle/Heart & Swirl event exclusive to Apostle customers. Sign up for the Apostle newsletter if you want the details!)
Little w Studio
Another Instagram relationship success story here.
I can't recall exactly how I came across Little w Studio on Instagram, but that just goes to show that an amazing talent & business finds its way through. Because of her amazing talent, and she seemed like such a solid, down to earth person, I reached out to Christin to see if she would be interested in being a part of an entrepreneur support group. ...ok that sounds bad. Not the type of support group where we are dealing with deep issues (although we could all claim to be addicted to working at any and every given moment), but the type where we support one another's businesses and are a base-camp for encouragement, ideas and growth. Anyways, I digress. I went from becoming a Little w Studio observer, to a full-out fan, to a support, and then to a full-out customer.
Christin's work is impeccable! She will work one-on-one with you to create something that is 100% unique to you, or you can work within her templates and either order as-is, or customize it with your family name. I not only had a custom sign done as a gift for a cousin's wedding, but now Christin and I are working on a design for Apostle to use at Pop Ups! If you've seen me in the last few weeks, chances are that I've been showing you the Little w Studio Instagram account. But when you come across something good, you want to tell people about it. I'm SO excited to see the Apostle sign, and will definitely be showing that off!
I don't even want to say how I met Bethaney from Brier Breton (yes...it was also Instagram). But what makes this relationship slightly unique is that it was meant to be, or in the stars, or a divine meeting...or whatever you want to call it.
I'd mentioned to a couple people that I wanted to have more photos of just the jewelry - shots that really show the details, but in a pretty way and not just with a white background (these types of photos are often called "flat lay" photos). I have amazing photographs of the jewelry on beautiful models, and I have done some flat lay photos myself with pretty flowers, but it takes me FOREVER to get a great shot, and right now I would rather spend my working hours on other things. Also, I was once told "Stick to what you're good at. Everything else can be hired out."
This is a real scenario of "ask and you shall receive"- I asked, then a couple days later I saw that "Brier Breton" had liked one of my posts on Instagram. For some reason I was curious and looked at the account, and then her website, and I loved her work! I learned that Bethaney does Product Styling, Photography and Content Creation, and I thought "this is exactly what I wanted!" and sent her an email right away.
Bethaney and I just wrapped up a collaborative shoot on the weekend, and it was such a pleasure to work with her. Although I feel like she did all of the work because I couldn't be there, and she likes to work on her own so that she can be inspired and work at her own pace without distraction (and let's be honest, I can be pretty distracting with my constant banter and my need to crack jokes all the time). Plus, four days later she had all the of edited photos ready! She is a kind-hearted, hard working, talented woman that knows her way around product styling and photography. We talked before about how we wanted the pictures to look, and the end result was perfect- light, airy, and pretty.
If you are a small (or large) business owner and you need quality product photography, check our Brier Breton!!
Calgary is bursting with amazing small (and big) businesses, and it's so nice to meet the people behind the brand. When you get to know the owner and you know their story, what drives them forward, and what gets them through, you get a sense of what they, and therefor their company is all about. You see the vision, you hear the heartbeat, and you can't help but fall in line and support them.