For those of you who know Emily Arbour, you know she is a literal ray of sunshine and energy. She is the official cheerleader of makers and creators from far and wide and we are so proud to call her a friend!
WHAT'S YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH? I am the owner and organizer of Cheerfully Made Goods and Markets - a small brick and mortar shop and series of craft markets that features hundreds of Canadian makers and entrepreneurs. I have a passion for small businesses and handmade goods, and recently launched a digital course called Wholesale for Handmakers to help more makers take their hobbies to the next level. I have two kids, Clementine (12) and Griffin (10) and am married to a man (the nicest you’ll ever meet) I met at a bar almost exactly 20 years ago. The four of us live with our dog Sunshine in Almonte Ontario about a block from my parents and another 4 blocks from my shop.
WHO WAS EMILY BEFORE CHEERFULLY MADE? Before Cheerfully Made I owned another small retail shop called Blackbird. And before THAT I was a copywriter at an advertising agency in Toronto called Doner. I used to write television, print and radio commercials for Mazda. That feels like a lifetime ago!
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEMORY OF/WITH B+M? I have LOTS of great memories with Brodie and Michelle. Most of them involve behind-the-scenes at craft markets, but one of my fondest memories is the time we travelled to Halifax for the Halifax Makers market. We essentially restaurant/bar/microbrewery hopped the entire time and Michelle parkoured off of every stone wall, historic monument or parking partition we passed. One of my favourite nights ended with me tap dancing at a donair place. I don’t remember too much more of that trip, but what I do remember makes me smile.
WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING ON NETFLIX RIGHT NOW? Right now I’m watching a series called Special on Netflix. It’s about a gay man with Cerebral Palsy navigating dating, work and life in general. It’s written and directed by the lead actor and it’s both hilarious and heartwarming. I love how honest it is and how it really works to de-stigmatize people with disabilities. I love that my kids get to grow up watching television like this.
WHAT'S YOUR DAILY ROUTINE? I’m neither a morning or a night person, so the window for routine is a short one. :) I typically wake up at 6:30am when Brad gets up and then stay in bed until either Griffin (my 10-year-old) or Sunny (our dog) come in for a cuddle. I have my coffee (with milk and cinnamon) and stare at my phone on the couch until I begin to panic that I’m wasting my morning. By now it’s about 9am so I make sure the kids are checked in to home school, text my staff to see who wants to meet me and head out with the dog for a walk along the rail trail. If no one joins me on my walk I listen to a podcast called Smartless that I’m loving right now. I’m typically home by 10am, have a quick shower and head to the shop to make sure everyone’s happy.
The guts of every day are different. Sometimes it’s social media scheduling or bookkeeping, sometimes it’s ordering product or re-merchandising, today it’s sorting through the latest applications to our upcoming Etsy market…everyday is an adventure. That’s what I love about being an entrepreneur. There’s always something different to do.
My work day ends around 4pm and then it’s mostly making dinner, helping with homework, over-thinking about things that happened earlier in the day and trying to be present with my family. I try to go to bed around 10pm and then I read until the book hits my face and start all over again the next day.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THIS PATH TO YOUR KIDS? I would recommend doing what you love with passion to mine, or any kids. But I definitely think that the secret to most success is having a solid work ethic (which is obviously so much easier to have when you love what you do!). Neither of my kids seem to have any interest in following anything I do. They’re not impressed by me.
DO YOU EVER FEEL LIKE THROWING IN THE TOWEL? I meannnnnn, all the time. But never seriously. I love a lot about running a shop, but I definitely struggle with the emotional toll it has been taking on me lately. Covid was tough, naturally, but it wasn’t so much the decline in sales. We did ok. I feel like customers have changed a lot in the past two years. People can be very mean. I’ve learned that I’m a real empath and take on other people’s problems quickly. I struggle with a need to be liked (I’m working on it!) and you have to have a pretty thick skin these days. Especially since social media is such an important and necessary tool.Also doing taxes and paying the insane amount of overhead it takes to have a brick and mortar is a killer. If I didn’t love all the other parts so much this answer would be different I'm sure.
IF YOU COULD DO ANYTHING ELSE WHAT WOULD IT BE? I really love writing. My background is in advertising and writing scripts for television was always my favourite part of that time in my life. I have dreams of writing a novel someday. Something fictional. I think I can do that and still have a shop though :)
TELL US ABOUT 17 YEAR OLD EMILY? Ahhhh to be 17 year old Emily again :) Having grown up in Almonte from the time I was 11, I still have many of the same friends today as I did when I was a kid…which is a lot of fun considering I’m in my 40s now. My childhood home was the party house so I’d host epic bonfire parties that kids would come to from far and wide. I often didn’t even know half the people in my house. Somehow we never got in serious trouble and, as much as I want my kids to have as fun a childhood as I did, I don’t think I’ll ever let them have parties like I did. I won the most prestigious award my high school had to offer in my final year. It’s called the R. Tait Mackenzie “Joy of Effort” award for most well rounded student in the areas of academics, athletics and social participation. I think getting that award really highlighted how important it is to participate in all the things that bring you joy, even if you’re not a super star. I was never the team MVP or the president of the students council. But I participated in both with great enthusiasm, and sometimes that’s what’s most important.I believe life is about giving it your best and having fun doing it.That might even be my secret sauce.I also worked like a dog. I had a job at Peterson’s Ice Cream, the Gap and Harvey’s. It might sound lame, but I have always had a passion for customer service.
TELL US ABOUT 70 YEAR OLD EMILY? 70 year old Emily is retired and loving life traveling with Brad to anywhere we please! I don’t see myself not working, but either I’ve sold the shop or it’s running on it’s own without my interference and I’m volunteering with the Beautification Committee or something :) I also nap every day.
WHAT WOMAN DO YOU LOOK UP TO IN YOUR LIFE? I can’t put my finger on one woman in particular, but I admire anyone who lives their life with joy and enthusiasm. You know how some people are just magnetic? Who exude joy and make you feel better, or happier for having interacted with them? I really find myself noticing the energy of others lately and I’m so drawn to people who make me feel good. I want to be THAT kind of person for others.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE BLONDIE PIECE? I love my ORIGINAL salt and pepper East End sweater. It’s been very well loved and I’ve even had people tell me when they see others wearing it they call it “Emily’s signature sweater”. You should probably rename it :)