Blush Grove is a lifestyle brand and boutique home décor store based in Toronto, Ontario. In this interview with Ownr, Blush Grove’s Founder, Fiona Mascarenhas shares her experience starting her own company and shares her advice for fellow entrepreneurs.
Introduce us to Blush Grove
Fiona: Blush Grove is a boutique home décor store from Toronto, Ontario, creating small batch and calligraphy inspired goods with the goal of making a house, a home.
What inspired you to start a business?
Fiona: I’ll be totally honest in saying that the decision to become a business owner wasn’t intentional. Although I didn’t know it at the time, Blush Grove started as a goal to learn calligraphy on my summer bucket list back when I was in university.
I decided to document my progress in learning the art of calligraphy on Instagram. It started as a new hobby but as I began to progress and actually develop my calligraphy skills, I started getting custom order requests through my Instagram account and became a small business owner just in a blink of an eye. This brought a whole new wave of challenges as I navigated the ups and downs of starting a small business.
Since this all began as a hobby, I didn’t have a business plan – I didn’t even know where to begin. I took baby steps and started with a business name that was “Dashes & Donuts” at the time. I grew Dashes & Donuts from a hobby to a full-fledged small business by popping up at handmade markets across the GTA, and building relationships with customers every opportunity I got.
I was very proud of how far I brought my “hobby” but I reached a point where I knew I wanted to turn it into an official business and going with the flow wasn’t cutting it anymore. So, in 2019, I decided to re-brand my business and start on a clean slate.
When you decided to make your business official, what did you tackle first?
Fiona: As I started the process of re-branding my business, the first task I tackled was creating a business plan or what I unofficially called my “business vision board”. I wanted to have a clear sense of purpose for this business and what I wanted to achieve, so this was the first and most important step for me.
From there, I used Ownr’s business name search tool to verify all the business names I brainstormed. This was the most difficult part of the process as I knew the importance of having a business name that would not only resonate with my audience but also represent my business and me in a unique way. After many days of searching for the right name, I landed on “Blush Grove” and I was so excited that I registered it right away.
I wasn’t used to following an official business process from my first venture but Ownr made it easy to start and focus on the things that I was most passionate about: getting Blush Grove up and running! Once all the official matters were out of the way and Blush Grove was a registered business, I started building my website, sourcing products, and working with suppliers to launch as quickly as possible.
What has been your biggest success or earliest win in running your business thus far?
Fiona: My biggest success to date was scoring a storefront to hold a pop-up at Sherway Gardens in Toronto during the busiest shopping month of the year, December.
That experience in itself took Blush Grove from an e-commerce store and turned it into a home décor brand with a storefront. I took the opportunity to work at the store for the entire month and because of that, I was able to get real-time feedback on our products from window shoppers and build relationships with customers through every transaction. I think it’s so important for customers to have a face to put to a brand and I’m so grateful for this experience that allowed me to do that.
What has been your biggest challenge in running your business thus far?
Fiona: The biggest challenge in running my business so far is balancing my full-time job with this “side-hustle”. Many of my customers are often surprised that Blush Grove isn’t my full-time job but it’s a passion of mine that excites me.
I think the challenge that a lot of small business owners struggle with is lack of resources (time, money, human power, etc.) and I’m no different. Since I’m often strapped for time, this has forced me to become an expert in prioritizing my tasks to grow Blush Grove. This means using all the hours following my 9-5 to improve my website, post on Instagram (@Blushgrove, if you want to check us out!), find new suppliers, or walk to my post office to ship out orders.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs starting out in their business journey?
Fiona: My advice to other business owners would be to lean on others in the industry. If you’re just starting out in building your empire or trying to learn calligraphy, let’s grab a coffee and chat! I think there’s a misconception that running a small business needs to be a lonely process and something you do alone, but I’ve found that my best ideas come from early feedback from my family, friends, and other small business owners.
Where can people find out more about Blush Grove?
Website – www.blushgrove.com
Instagram – @Blushgrove
Facebook – @Blushgrove
Twitter – @Blushgrove
Pinterest – @blushgrove
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