TRURO, N.S. – Cobequid Educational Centre students recently heard about both the joy and the fear associated with running a business.
A panel consisting of local business owners Alicia Simms, of Rolling Sea Tattoery; Mariah Kearney, of My Home Apparel; Renee Rhodenizer, of Wink Day Spa; Mitch Cooke, of HAF Skate & Tattoo; Matt Kenny, of Tata Brew; and Paige Mullin, of Levels Game Loft; shared tips and answered questions during an entrepreneurship class.
“If you can find a niche and make your own place in it, doing what you love, every day is a fun challenge,” said Simms, who opened Rolling Sea Tattooery four years ago. “You get better quality work when you love what you’re doing.
“The biggest challenge was trying to handle paperwork and ordering. I had to hire a manager.”
Mitch Cooke also recognizes the importance of working in an area he was passionate about. He competed in motocross for several years, but in his mid-twenties, struggling with injuries, he decided it was time for a change. He approached the owners of a skate shop, and bought their assets.
“It’s something I love, but on slow days I have to work to control my mind from freaking out when nobody’s coming through the door,” he said.
The slow period was also a big challenge for Matt Kenny who, along with his partner, runs Tata Brew.
“Tatamagouche is a seasonal town,” he noted. “Summer is busy, but I didn’t realize how slow it would be over the winter months.”
To keep going during the slow times, they started canning their products and got it into liquor stores. Now, store sales make up a large percentage of their profit.
Mariah Kearney didn’t start out with plans to own a business; she studied education and taught for a year before deciding she wanted to be an entrepreneur. My Home Apparel is now very popular, but she realizes things continually change.
“I know the Home logo will die, like everything else,” she said. “I never see myself as a t-shirt company, but a vehicle to make a difference.
“My biggest challenges are staying current and not being referred to as East Coast Lifestyle.”
Renee Rhodenizer had no idea she’d become passionate about running a spa. She first studied massage at the suggestion of her mother, and now loves her job. She told students it’s important to de-stress at times, and she does that through conversations with her husband and co-workers.
Unlike the others on the panel, Paige Mullin knew she wanted to be involved in business, although she first thought she would do marketing and advertising for a large chain. She worked on her parents’ business plan for Levels Game Loft and ended up owning and operating the business with them. Because they’re all gamers, keeping up with what’s current isn’t a problem. What was a challenge, because their business is unusual, was learning what licenses they needed.
All six entrepreneurs agreed they’ve learned a lot from others, and they find local business owners are very supportive of one another.