Business / Ontario / Recovery / The Wedge / Westport

How My “Non-Essential” Retail Shop Found Life Online

Elizabeth Hess, Owner Creative Gardens Floral Design, Westport, Ontario PHOTO BY theWedge.LIVE

By Elizabeth Hess for theWedge.LIVE

For the past 15 years, I have been self-employed in the horticulture industry. It has been the best journey that I have undertaken for myself and for my family. I started as a small garden design business and evolved very quickly towards a design-build firm.

At the start of my 10th season, I undertook the biggest expansion that my business had seen. My design-build firm now incorporated a garden centre and landscape supply depot.

In the spring of 2016, Maggie Germain of the Wedge introduced herself to me, writing a story on the various businesses of Westport, Ontario. In that first meeting, Maggie was excited for what I was working to accomplish.

Fast forward to the fall of 2018. My ambitions had taken their toll, as had the last 13 years of heavy labor, designing and installing my landscape designs. A realization at that point of the season was that I needed to reinvent my business and creative talents so that I could maintain my love for being self-employed. On December 31, 2018, I closed the business known as Creative Gardens Landscape and Design Limited.

Elizabeth Hess, Owner Creative Gardens Floral Design, Westport, Ontario PHOTO BY theWedge.LIVE

On March 22, 2019, Creative Gardens Floral Design was born at a new location in the same village. In that summer Maggie came for another visit to see how the new store was making out. Always with her camera and notepad on hand, because as a journalist, there’s always a story to tell. Maggie insisted then that I should have my store online. People needed to see what I had created and that an online presence would build my business faster.

I hesitated. I was doing well and my 20th century mindset was where I was comfortable.

In late January of this year, Maggie reached out again to see how things were going. After a series of unfortunate events, I was teetering on whether or not the struggle was really worth it. Again she insisted that an online store would be an amazing way to evolve.

Hesitation once again.

Then COVID-19 came, and the face of all business changed forever. With the entire world of commerce shut down, government mandated self-isolation, nearly 80% of businesses were forced to close their doors to keep people safe.

I got in touch with Maggie to say that I was ready for an online store as it was the only way that I could continue. I finally welcomed the 21st century with an e-commerce store so that I could and would survive COVID-19 (at least have a fighting chance).

From Start to finish, the longest 6 days ever, countless phone calls, collaborating emails, the virtual Creative Gardens Floral Design was ready to go! It was launched exactly one year to the day later of my original grand opening. Serendipity, coincidence or fate?

It does not matter how you look at it, but all business over time has to evolve, change and adapt to have the opportunity to be successful.

Maggie, who also runs Wedgeworks, was the driving force behind the scenes. She pushed me, sometimes harder than expected, out of my comfort zone so that the best photos, clear and concise text would showcase my products for the store.

Her abilities working with the Shopify applications made it so simple, I knew I had asked the right person to help with my businesses evolution. Her training, so that I could comfortably take over and manage my site, was easy to grasp and I was very quickly adding in more and more products to the store site myself.

Why I hesitated for so long, is something that is not easy to explain. My business just got a little bit easier. Survival is actually tangible. Life will go on, albeit differently, but I have accepted what our world is now and what it will be for the future, and I can continue living the dream!

I am thankful Maggie believed in me and my business–and for her professionalism and high standards. Thank you for kicking me in the ass! Yes, I needed it, to continue living my dream!
I wish you the utmost of success with WedgeWorks. I know that there are lots more businesses out there that will profit from your expertise.

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World renown marine village of Westport, Ontario PHOTO BY theWedge.LIVE

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