There are many online-based shops now. It can be a blessing in disguise for small business owners by saving on specific overhead fees in the long run, like maintaining a physical store. Having an online presence can direct people toward your brand that may not have been able to find you before, and it can help connect them to information about what it is you do.
When it comes down to it, a shop’s online presence often is the deciding factor if consumers choose to shop with you. If you don’t have a website nowadays, just spreading your business by word of mouth is rather hard to compete with.
One shop I’d like to highlight is strictly online based and carries mostly Canadian brands and makers. Based out of Guelph, Ontario I’ve been following Kinsfolk Shop for a while now, inspired by-products for your home and the low/to no waste benefit from them, I am always kept on my toes for what’s to be added next. Tiu Tabak’s a multi-talented entrepreneur, has a heart of the green.
This is still a new business of a few years, so more surprises and products will come. I wanted to chat with the person behind it all, wearing all the hats running everything herself, Tiu’s independent in taking professional photos of featured products, running an online website, package and receive orders, maintaining inventory, and more.
When did you start the kinsfolk shop and why?
I started Kinsfolk Shop in the summer of 2018. I was working in retail at the time (and had been for over a decade). I saw firsthand the amount of rampant consumerism, waste, and the vast disconnect between people and their things. I knew there had to be a different way of doing things. At the time, I also ran a small Etsy shop and met a lot of other makers and vendors through craft shows. They inspired Kinsfolk Shop, and I wanted to bring that craft show market to an online platform and wanted to carry products that were mindfully made and took both ethics and the environment into consideration.
Who has inspired you to choose the low to no waste products for kinsfolk shop, and how do you decide what cuts?
The inspiration for low/no waste products specifically came from working in retail for so long. I worked in fast fashion and fast home decor and had my eyes opened. There was always so much packaging, and we’d get new products every week and fill dumpsters full of plastic, Styrofoam, etc.
Also, you see in the news that stores and companies sometimes destroy and throw out perfectly good products, and it happens A LOT more than people think. Something would have a misprint or came in the wrong colour… we’d have to toss it and provide proof that it was destroyed so it was nearly impossible to salvage things.
The low/no waste aspect of it was a natural part of my product selection process. I wanted to consider how it’s packaged and what consumers are supposed to do with the product if and when it wears out or is no longer helpful.
What made you decide to stick with an online shop only?
To be totally honest, it was a cost thing. When I started the shop, I lived in Burlington, ON (just outside of Toronto) and commercial rent is very expensive… like thousands of dollars a month. It’s virtually unattainable for small businesses owners. I started this shop with my own savings, and it felt a bit too daunting and risky. I would still like to open a physical space one day! The shop is online-only and operates out of a small fulfillment space in Guelph, ON.
Who and where do the shop products come from?
Products come from different vendors across the globe (Ex. Redecker is a German brush maker, Bambu is a certified B Corp from China that makes kitchen utensils, Stray & Wander is a Fair-Trade Turkish towel manufacturer, etc.). But most of them are in Canada. I met a lot of people in my craft show days and have had the incredible honor of being able to work with them and carry many their products for the shop. I’ve also met a lot of makers and vendors online through Instagram and Etsy (especially this last year!). As I find Canadian alternatives for some of the other products I carry from overseas, I’ll switch it up!
How have you managed and kept your small online business organized with an employee chain of one, especially during a pandemic? Are you considering expanding the business in the near future?
It’s been wild, that’s for sure! When I worked in retail, I was an operations manager (basically in charge of maintaining and organizing back rooms for different stores) so keeping things organized and running smoothly is what I love to do! There has been hiccups along the way but my partner, Rahul, has been a HUGE help and volunteers his time now and then when he can 😛 I couldn’t do it without him.
I don’t have definite plans to expand right now. I’m in a spot where I’m enjoying it, and it’s manageable, and that’s more than I could ask for! We’ll see how things go, though!
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Author: Kayla Stephens, Content Writer, Toronto, Canada. If you have any stories or comments, kindly email: – [email protected]il.com