Boss Babe Feature: Chandra Kremski & Charla Smeall
The women of this week’s blog post feature have succeeded in creating and hosting Winnipeg’s largest urban market, Third + Bird. This market is home to local vendors, giving them the opportunity to sell their product and promote their unique businesses. This market is unlike any other. Mixing fun, philanthropy, and sustainability to create an atmosphere that allows locals vendors to thrive. Chandra Kremski and Charla Smeall are the creative and operational forces behind Third + Bird. We had the pleasure of interviewing them on their triumphs in business, and the lessons they learned along the way.
How long have you been in business?
We hosted our very first Christmas craft market in 2008! We ran the market for 6 years as a fundraiser, giving all profits back to the arts community and the Nepali Women’s Co-op. After 6 years, we decided that we had an incredible thing going. The community was growing at a rapid rate, and that’s when Third + Bird (spaces between + and Third/Bird) was born!
What made you decide to get into the world of markets?
Chandra had an idea to create a Christmas craft sale, showcasing the best makers in Winnipeg. Being an artist herself she wanted to create an event that gave creatives a place to sell/ showcase their work, while donating all admission to local art programs hosted through the Winnipeg Centre Vineyard and to give back globally, by supporting women in the Nepali Women’s Co-op.
What resources did you use to help you get started?
If you want to go WAY back, we literally used Kijiji, posters and word of mouth to attract vendors. We then began using platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to let shoppers know about upcoming markets.
What challenges or difficulties have you faced, and how have you overcome them?
We have been very lucky to have a business that grows each year. Our main challenge has been expansion and how to accommodate more vendors and shoppers. It has been a challenge to find a venue that has the large sq footage we need, but also allow us to create a very unique space with speciality services. We really had to look + think outside of the box for venues. That was when we approached the Bay and created a unique partnership of “retail within retail”.
What have been some of your biggest accomplishments in business?
Finding our “home” in the basement of the Hudson’s Bay Downtown. Hosting markets twice a year that bring in over $2 million in vendor revenue and see over 20,000 local shoppers through the doors.
Being nominated and winning the Tourism Manitoba Innovation award
Expanding and partnering with some major venues such as: Clear Lake / Riding Mt National Park, The Forks, ManyFest, Canada Games (more to come but we can tell yet ;) )
Expanding to Saskatoon
What are 3 things/lessons you've learned about being a business owner?
1 )There is no “magic formula”, it just takes hard work and attention to detail.
2) There are no days off. That switch is always on, but luckily most days, you can decide how that looks hour to hour.
3) Customer service is so important. Making your clients feel heard and validated, even if it’s a problem you may not be able to fix.
Big dreams = hard work! Putting in the sweat equity is part of the process. But the pay off is worth it!
Be a woman of your word, follow thru on commitments / timeline and deliverables. Don’t give excuses, get the job done. This will translate to having an amazing reputation.
Give back… you never lose when you give (give without expectation of getting something back). Remember where you started /came from. Give your time, advice, mentorship, just as those before you did the same, to help get you where you are today!
What's your core platform for engagement?
Are you launching anything new this year that you can tell us about?
We are thrilled to announce a long time dream of expansion. We will be hosting our first out of province market in Saskatoon this fall.
Do you have any tips for others in your industry?
There are many markets and pop ups out there. Our biggest advice is to make it your own. Think outside the box, don’t copy what others are doing but make it your own unique experience. Take what you love and evolve it to something no one else has seen or done.
What does "supporting local" mean to you? And why is it important?
Supporting local means allowing a business owner to grow their dream + fulfill their passion. Supporting local means generating + putting funds back into our local economy. There is something so satisfying about supporting a local artisan, placing your money into a local product + meeting your maker! In turn those funds help that artist grow a business here in our own back yard. It has a full circle effect that can only continue to grow a strong community.
These two lady bosses have inspired us with their consistency, passion, and care for Winnipeg and the many makers within it. Thank you Charla and Chandra for giving us the opportunity to share your knowledge and journey with our community. Can’t get enough of these boss babes? Join us at our Boss Babe Pyjama Party on April 27th, 2019 and listen to Chandra and Charla share more of their stories as our guest speakers. Click here to purchase your tickets!