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Behind the Scenes #1

Hey friends!

This is the first post in a series I've wanted to do for a while called Behind the Scenes! I'm going to take you through some of the Canadian vendors and makers that we carry here at Kinsfolk Shop. We'll talk about how they started their businesses, what they make/produce, their inspirations, advice they might have for people that are just starting out and more!

I guess the best place to start would be here at Kinsfolk Shop! I wasn’t going to include too much about the shop since I wanted to focus more on the vendors but I received a ton of requests on Instagram so here’s a little background info!

This started out in 2018 as a side hustle while I was still working in retail. I've worked in home decor and retail operations for 7 years and before that I worked in fast-fashion retail, fast-food...I've pretty much been in the retail/service industry my whole adult life (I'm 32 by the way!). I didn't want to be a part of the mass-consumerism and throw away culture of fast fashion and fast home decor anymore.  With my knowledge of retail and desire for change, Kinsfolk Shop was born.

It took me a while to settle on a name. I wanted something that sparked a sense of community, family, and belonging - and after deliberating with my sister, came up with Kinsfolk Shop.

Initially, KS was meant to be a physical retail space but the locations that I found were WAY out of my budget as a new/solo business owner, so I decided to go the online route. I had no idea what I was doing but jumping in head first is what I do best, so I went for it and learned everything about e-commerce on the fly (just a side note that I'm definitely not an expert in this and still have no idea what I'm doing most of the time haha). I ran everything out of my 750sq ft condo on a borrowed, 8 year old laptop (currently typing this blog post on it) while still working retail. It was a REALLY hectic time, especially with my little guy not in school yet.

It's now 2 years later and I just moved to a new city where I don't know anybody, and quit my job to run KS full time literally the month before Covid went down. It was (and still is) a weird, stressful time but on the bright side, I have a dedicated space to work in now and that 8 year old laptop is still alive and kickin! But in all honesty, the last few months can only be summed up as an overwhelming, surreal blur.

On Instagram, I had asked what you would like to see in this series and something I was asked (quite a few times) was how to apply to have products in the shop and how I choose which vendors to work with. There isn't an official process for this, but if you think you'd be a great fit, email me an introduction and wholesale info to tiu@kinsfolkshop.com. Makers and vendors that use responsibly-sourced, natural ingredients/materials that are mostly package-free is what I look for! At the moment, I’m trying to source as much as I can from within Canada with the exception of a couple vendors (basically if I can’t find a Canadian equivalent, I’ll search elsewhere). This is to cut down on how far things have to travel. To help reduce our shipping footprint further, Kinsfolk Shop offsets the carbon output from all shipments through Pachama via Shopify. Contributions are currently funding the Jarí Para Forest Conservation Project in the Amazon Rainforest.

Another thing I was asked quite a few times is what does my work space look like! Contrary to what it may look like on the interwebs, this is a small, solo operation! I pack orders, receive stock, run social media, etc on my own so at the moment, this is what that space looks like! It's not fancy, but it's functional.

This is my 'desk' area! Fun fact about this space: all of the furniture/shelving is second hand except for the stool and the white table in the centre of the room.

Office space for Kinsfolk Shop shows shelving with products

That green and white box at the back is from TerraCycle. I use it for all the things I get from shipping (either from supplies I've ordered, vendors, etc) that can't be put in the recycling. This includes bubble wrap, shipping label backings (did you know that the paper backing of stickers isn't recyclable in most municipalities?), plastic packing tape, padded envelops, etc. TerraCycle has a bunch of awesome recycling programs and will take back quite the assortment of things that can't usually be recycled.

Kinsfolk Shop office space showing an area where boxes and shipping supplies are kept

This is the box corner/local art wall! Pre-covid, I was able to get ALL of my boxes from work, other vendors, friends and family. Now, I would say 90% of my boxes I order new which isn't ideal but it is what is it for the time being. Check here to read more about how your orders are shipped! I also like collecting prints form local artists and this is a tiny snapshot of what I've got going on...I definitely need more frames.

kinsfolk shop office space showing large table for wrapping orders and shelving with product in the background

This is where I primarily work...packing up orders, unwrapping new stock, etc.

I also received a bunch of other questions as well which will be covered in other posts as they pertain to specific vendors and their processes! I can't wait to share them all with you!

I'm just totally blown away by the support and encouragement that this little shop has received but it wouldn't be anything today without your support, and of course all of the ultra talented vendors. That's why I wanted to do this blog series- so you can really get to know the people behind the products and what inspired them to do what they do!

Check back weekly for a new instalment of Behind the Scenes.

 Much love!

-Tiu

PS. Huge shout out to Kristen from Wild Made Goods for revamping my logo!

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