Local shop supports Brantford artisans

Small vials of liquid lie with plants contained inside

PHOTOS BY ALEXANDRIA LEASK

Essentially Yours is giving local artisans a chance to show off their talents.

August 2019, Nancy Dawdy and Ashleigh Bowman opened up their own artisan shop. The pair spent years hosting workshops at home and renting spaces from other businesses. They found it difficult to sell their products from home and renting was becoming costly.

Dawdy found the hardest part of working from her home was how far she lives out of town.

“I like to say I’m five minutes from a pizza but when you’re trying to get people to your home they’re like, ‘Oh no, you live too far away.’”

Anytime they would go for lunch or breakfast together they brought up the idea of owning their own shop, but they made no real plans to move forward.

Sitting at Angel’s Diner on early March morning, Bowman told Dawdy she made plans to see a realtor that afternoon.

“I literally almost lost my breakfast,” says Dawdy.

The co-owners now support over 40 artisans in their shop while continuing to sell their essential oils.

Their artisans can rent a room for their workshops as well as showcase their products in store. Dawdy says that approximately 95 per cent of products in the shop belong to someone who has made them.

“We have a couple that are outside of Brant County but not too far, we’re trying to stay local,” she says.

They take a 10 per cent commission from each product sold in store. Dawdy says that extra cash is put right back into advertising the artisans and their workshops.

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Although Dawdy and Bowman want to support as many local artisans as they can, their shop is not large enough. Those who aren’t showcased have been put on a waiting list if an opening becomes available. 

“We’ve been a part of vendor groups and artisan groups before so we just thought, let’s incorporate local businesses and let’s represent them, let’s get them exposure and help them be successful,” says Bowman. 

In the month of March, Essentially Yours is hosting approximately 13 workshops for the public. The artisans rent the space from Essentially Yours, but they don’t pay commission for the profits they make during the workshops. 

Each artisan has a unique set of skills. Leslie Knutt, a pyrographer at Essentially Yours, describes her skill as using a heated tool on a wood canvas. 

“So basically, I like to burn things for fun,” she says with a laugh. 

Aside from working through Essentially Yours, Knutt travels to craft shows in and around Brant County. She says she doesn’t go to as many as she did when she started because of the cost and the effort it takes to get her products to the show. 

When Dawdy and Bowman asked her to be an artisan at their shop, she was excited to show off her products at a new venue. 

“With here you have somebody who’s constantly trying to market you, who’s constantly trying to share your product, whereas you don’t always have that with the craft show set time frame,” she says. 

Dawdy and Bowman’s main focus is advertising their artisans and educating the public about the benefits of shopping local. Bowman says they hope to expand their business in the future. 

“Eventually maybe Essentially Yours will be able to offer job opportunities and be able to give back in that aspect.”

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