Chantelle Bianchi loves to hunt vintage rugs from across the world for her Toronto-based business, Worn & Woven Vintage Rugs. A Marketing Manager by day, Chantelle talks about growing her side hustle into a full time business and the challenges of running an online shop.
Ownr: What is Worn & Woven Vintage Rugs?
Chantelle: Worn & Woven Vintage Rugs is an online vintage rug shop, specializing in handwoven and one-of-a-kind rugs from abroad. Most of our curated collection is from Turkey and consists of pieces that are at least 25 years old or older. What makes these rugs so special is their authenticity, uniqueness, and durability. Not only are they beautiful to look at with their rich dyes and one-of-a-kind features, but they are extremely durable as they age.
Ownr: What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?
Chantelle: I’ve been surrounded by entrepreneurs my entire life. As a second-generation Canadian, my grandparents immigrated to Canada as young adults, and immediately started their own business as a means to survive. My parents had similar career paths, and several members of my extended family are or have been entrepreneurs at some point.
The resilience, hard work and determination of all the entrepreneurs in my family has been the ultimate motivation for me to get started and to keep going. I’ve always known I was destined to be an entrepreneur, it was just a matter of when.
Ownr: How have you managed to turn your passion into a source of income?
Chantelle: Planning, planning, and more planning. I cannot stress it enough. I’ve learned planning is the most important thing you can do as an entrepreneur for your business. No plan = no profit, as simple as that.
Although I’m an online-based shop, I depend heavily on Instagram as a marketing channel to drive sales back to my website. I have to meticulously plan my content for the platform, while constantly testing new hashtags, photoshoot angles, captions, and other strategies.
I use a social content planner to keep myself organized and plan my content a few weeks ahead of time. When am I going to launch new rugs? When am I going to post a new photo? What hashtags am I going to use to engage with my audience? What are my goals for this week? All of this is tracked in my planner and has been instrumental in my journey as an entrepreneur.
When it comes to planning, the only other thing to remember is to always leave room for the unexpected. Things might not always go as planned, so having an open mind and being adaptable to change is extremely important.
Ownr: What is the hardest part of running a business of this nature, and what do you love about being your own boss?
Chantelle: The hardest part of running an online vintage rug shop is sourcing authentic inventory. I was lucky enough to find reputable suppliers right away, and have been working closely with them to choose the right rugs for my shop.
Not being able to choose inventory in person has been challenging, and I rely heavily on pictures and messaging platforms to communicate with them and source rugs effectively. I also strive to keep my prices low and affordable, and finding great partners to work with is the only way to make that possible.
There are a lot of rug dealers out there looking to make a quick dollar, and being able to navigate that ecosystem without getting burned or taken advantage of is something I am constantly thinking about. Despite the challenges, running my own shop allows me to flex my creative muscles in a new capacity. I’m a Marketing Manager in my full time gig, primarily focused on business-to-business marketing in the enterprise space. With Worn & Woven, I’m able to sell directly to consumers, work in digital platforms I don’t normally use, create different media and digital assets, and ultimately grow professionally.
Ownr: What do you remember about the initial days of your business idea?
Chantelle: The initial days were a little daunting. By far, my biggest challenge was just figuring out how to incorporate and register my business. I knew I needed an ecommerce website environment, some initial inventory, packaging materials for shipping orders, and a marketing plan to get started. But I was clueless when it came to protecting myself and actually registering my business legally. That’s when I came across Ownr. Through a few google searches, I stumbled onto the Ownr blog where I found a plethora of information and helpful tools that made me feel more at ease.
Ownr has truly been a lifesaver for me. Not only was I able to confidently get up-to-speed on everything there is to know about running a small business, but I was able to successfully register my business in a matter of minutes. Ownr made it simple and easy to do, with language everyone can understand. The website and blog are also an incredible resource for entrepreneurs to learn and get all of the facts they need in one place.
Ownr: What does a typical day look like for you juggle your business with your full time gig?
Chantelle: I’ve been slowly adjusting and learning how to manage my time more effectively. I work Monday to Friday at my full time gig and reserve my evenings and weekends for Worn & Woven. I promote Worn & Woven primarily through Instagram. I use my weekday commutes engaged on the platform. Once I get home from work in the evenings, I’m either posting to Instagram, restocking my online shop with new inventory, taking photos or scheduling photoshoots, or shipping out new orders. I’m usually planning my content and the work I have to do for Worn & Woven a few weeks ahead of time, just to ensure everything is covered.
Ownr: We see you voicing your support for other women in business through your social posts. Why is this important to you, and what kind of support do women entrepreneurs need the most?
Chantelle: I’m a strong believer in community over competition and working together to get further. Women in business already face immense challenges on their own, and are often working in isolation as an entrepreneur. It’s important to support and encourage one another, and to take time out of our hectic schedules to recognize and celebrate each other’s wins. As women, we are typically underrepresented when it comes to c-suites and board rooms, and we need more support when it comes to career development, funding, and having our voices heard.
As a culture, we are definitely making strides to improve and are moving in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. We can start by supporting each other, and recognizing the wins, even if it’s just on a simple platform like Instagram. I like to take time every week to highlight and post about other women in business who are inspiring or motivating me – it’s just a simple way for me to give back to the community that supports me and say “Hey girl, I see you. You’re doing a great job, keep it up!”
Ownr: A business lesson that you swear by?
Chantelle: Really get to know your customers. If you can’t define who your target market or customer personas are, you won’t be successful. Tailor your content to their interests and the topics they resonate with most. This may take a lot of trial and error, but Rome wasn’t built in a day and everything will take time. Have a plan, and execute it well, with plenty of room to adapt if needed.
Learn more about Worn & Woven Vintage Rugs
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