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Louisa Gillespie

Louisa Gillespie

Arctic Flower Greeting Card Business (Resolute Bay, NU)

Louisa moved back to Resolute Bay after living in the south for 30 years. One day, while out for a walk she noticed a cruise ship in the bay. Louisa investigated and found that Resolute received a number of cruise ships during the year. The visitors came to the community for a few hours and often left without buying anything or having any tours or events planned for them. She noted right away that there was an opportunity to sell things to these visitors.

Louisa began collecting beautiful flowers growing around the community and pressing them in old telephone books. Using her artistic talent, she made gift cards with the pressed flowers on them. Then, Louisa faced a challenge in deciding how to sell the cards. She contacted the gift shop at the airport and the rest is history. She began to produce more cards and attempted to build up a stock at the gift shop, but they often sold out. On good days, she sold up to 50 cards!

Louisa has explored new ways of producing the cards, developing a series of sample postcards with images of her flowers and art work on them. These cards provided her with the opportunity to expand her product selection, reduce her workload (as she didn’t have to produce each individual card) and provide customers with products at different prices.

Louisa’s business has now grown to the point where she would like to move into a larger work space. To work towards this goal, Louisa attended a small business workshop organized by the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce. The workshop focused on helping participants develop a business plan.

Another important resource for Louisa has been the local Economic Development Officer (EDO). EDOs are the primary support for local businesses. They provide information on funding and support programs, help develop business plans and address a range of other issues that affect businesses.

Louisa currently sits on the hamlet council and works as a part-time student councilor. These responsibilities leave her with less time for running her business. This is a common challenge for small businesses – success can mean you have to work more and spend less time on other things.

Louisa’s interest in business has stimulated thoughts of starting another. Currently there are no services to take tourists around the community and to archaeological sites nearby. Louisa feels there is a viable opportunity to offer tours for a reasonable price. Again, she has identified a business opportunity that builds upon her interests, her skills and an available opportunity.

Louisa says she is as busy as she wants to be with her business. Many small business owners aspire to this goal. Her advice:

Do not only focus on making lots of money, but find something you enjoy doing and that provides an income

Have faith in yourself and your skills, work at something you like to do, and learn to look after yourself first – a successful business isn’t worth your health.