We work with a lot of companies within our Little Black Book program, and we love seeing them grow and reach new milestones. Today we celebrate Kootz Rootz! Co-owners Leah and Kelsey wanted to tell us their views and outlook on the past year!
Kootz Rootz is officially a year old! 2017 was a fast-paced year of both business growth and personal growth for us.
When our web store launched on February 1st last year, a passion that had been years in the making was realized. Kootz Rootz was born in 2013, when we purchased our website and started scribbling thoughts and doodles on scraps of paper. It took a few years to fully flesh out our brand and vision, as life was happening at a fast and furious pace. Between then and now, there were no less than 3 babies born, 1 wedding, a house purchase, and voyages across the world! The funny thing is, once we launched the web store, many people had thought we’d been doing it for years, as we’ve always been huge advocates of Kootenay tourism and supporting local. Building our own brand while continuing to support other local talent and the amazing outdoor opportunities in the area was just a natural extension of Kootz Rootz.
Our biggest accomplishment this year has been our collaborations. We love supporting other entrepreneurs and working together to showcase how many fantastic, delicious, and well-made local products you can get in your own backyard. All of our models are from the Kootenays, all of our apparel is printed in BC and we exclusively partner with brands in Western Canada. We try to keep things as local as possible and want to see our home region flourish. Our photography, social media, and blog content is always 99% Kootenay.
We thought of a few things we’ve learned this past year that might be helpful to other creatives and (mom)entrepreneurs. Here is our top 5 (+1 because we couldn’t narrow it down) list of advice:
- 2 heads are better than 1: People get a kick out of us being sisters in business together. It’s cute, I guess. But we both agree, holy sh*t, thank goodness there are 2 of us! Being Kootenay-raised sisters is a great conversation starter when meeting locals at the markets, but it’s also imperative to our business. There is so much to do. Juggling the creative aspects of the job with the day to day realities of budgets, expenses, and collaborations is a ton of work. We simply couldn’t do it without each other. Even though we are sisters, we don’t always think the same or agree. We work hard at being open-minded and flexible with each other. (And sometimes we are on the same wavelength and have experienced some real psychic moments – true story!)
- Balance: This term is an anomaly when you’re a Mom with a full time job and a small business on top of it. There is no such a thing as balance! Hypothetically we work daily to balance our lives with career, small biz, travel, spouses and kids, but some days that gets skewed and there’s not much you can do about it. It’s part of the hustle and our best advice is to give in to the chaos! Just make sure that when you need that down time – take it! Our ‘why’ is definitely our families, especially our kids.
- Protect your brand: Take the correct steps to legally build your business and curate your content and style to be 100% true to your brand voice. Be authentic and have a clear vision. We followed all of the above and still had an unfortunate situation of plagiarism and TM infringement on our brand that took up way too much of our time. Yep, it sucks, but we urge you to stay on course. A wise friend told us “One can NEVER hold the energy and intent of the original creators and will always set themselves up for failure. It is a bad energy in which to base an entire business foundation.” Thank you wise friend!
- Go for it: If you have a great idea for a product or business, go for it. We have put a ton of work and time into our brand and it has paid off. We are making sales, meeting amazing local makers, collaborating with fantastic brands, and promoting the Kootenays for the magical place it truly is – these were all goals we set out for ourselves in 2015 when we developed our apparel line! We are learning to embrace challenges and setbacks by making them learning tools.
- Emotional Support System: It’s important to have a support system close at hand. We are so thankful to our (handsome, intelligent, handy, etc. – just in case they read this!) husbands who have been instrumental to our growth and allowing us to follow our passion. Stressful times could have been much worse if we didn’t have someone at home who knew we had the talent and drive to get it done. Also, red wine, lots of red wine. (Disclaimer: This post is in no way sponsored by red wine. But it should be.)
- Never Stop Learning: Don’t be afraid to ask questions! You can’t possibly know everything about running a business. Being vulnerable is OK. We’ve learned so much from fellow entrepreneurs. We all have the same struggles so sharing is a great way to learn and build a community that has your back. We surround ourselves with other like-minded folks, many who own their own businesses, and we support and learn from each other.
In 2018, you can expect even more exciting collaborations and giveaways from us. Our hats have always been one of our most popular items and we’ve just launched a new custom snapback. We are also excited to be rolling out some new product over the next few months. Stay up to date with us on our Facebook, Instagram or blog!
Leah and Kelsey, Co-owners
To see more of Kootz Rootz make sure to follow them below:
Photos by @justinecelina