Who is Lisa Evans, could you please introduce yourself?
I’m a mama and business owner living in Burlington, Ontario. I hate to cook, but love to bake. I was born and raised in Canada, but I freeze in temperatures below 10 degrees. My favourite place to pass time is in a bookstore or a coffee shop. I’ve been a coffee snob for years, and even travelled to Nicaragua when I was 19 years old to tour coffee farms and learn about the entire process of coffee production; from farm to cup. I’ve now traded in my travel wings for some comfy walking shoes (they’re Joe Fresh but super cozy) and love exploring my local community.
What is your business and when did you start?
Chickadee Family Café opened in March 2019, becoming the first and only play café in Halton region; providing a drop in play space for kids as well as a cozy café for grownups. After covid closed down our business in March 2020, I decided to pivot my business away from the drop in play model and transition to a toy and bookstore. In July 2020 Chickadee Family Café became Chickadee Kids Company, focused on quality toys and books for kids ages 0-6.
What inspired you to start your business?
My business was inspired by my children. Having a kid-focused company allows me to blend both my love of business and my love of being a mom, and the best part is, my kids can always join me at work.
What were the challenges in the initial stages of your business and how did you overcome them?
As a brick and mortar business, the early challenges were around finding the right space and finding funding. I had to get pretty creative on both fronts. My business’ first anniversary was celebrated in the early days of a global pandemic. I was weeks away from bankruptcy and closing the business forever when I decided in order to continue to keep the business alive, I would need to pivot and change my business model. This change was not something I had thought about for months or had ever really considered, but was forced upon me by a global illness. Grieving what was – the previous business model – was tough, but I had to say goodbye to first business in order to make room for another possibility.
What motivates you about your business?
My customers are my ultimate motivation. I love speaking with them and seeing the impact that our business is having on their lives. I love seeing our regular customers say that they feel like Chickadee is their second home. I love seeing them connect with new friends at the café and I love seeing the look of surprise on new customers’ faces when they discover us for the first time.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
If it were easy, everyone would do it. Entrepreneurship is HARD. There are always hurdles. Even when you think you’ve crossed one hurdle, another one pops up. The entrepreneurs who survive are the ones who are able to be creative and find their way through, around, over, under. If you’re expecting an easy ride with a straight line to success, entrepreneurship is not for you.
Interesting fact most of the people do not know about you?
I used to dance salsa! I haven’t danced in years, but every time I hear a latin beat, my hips start to sway.
The best business advice I ever received was …
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap, especially in these days of social media, but your own success will come if you follow your own path, not someone else’s.
My definition of success is …
making a real difference in the lives of others and in my community.
If I could go back in time when I started my business, I would tell myself to …
remember to pay myself too. Remember, your business isn’t a hobby. Yes, it might be fun, but it’s a business too and it need to be able to support you, not consume you. I didn’t pay myself for many months when I started my business then realized that working for free wasn’t doing me, my family or the business any good. I finally set myself up as an employee and treated myself as one; that meant paying myself a small (ok, very small) salary and setting expectations for myself too. I’m literally my own boss and yes, I give myself performance reviews.
Three books I recommend for entrepreneurs are ….
“You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero.
“Reinvention” by Arlene Dickinson.
“Start With Why” by Simon Sinek.