This is the latest entry in a series called Who Owns That? We ask readers on our LinkedIn group to identify their favourite small businesses from across Canada, and we track down the owners so they can tell us their stories.
Introducing Camelia Nicoara, the owner of Art. 27, an organic bath and beauty boutique located in Toronto.
1. Let's start with the basics. Can you briefly describe your business, including when it was founded, what it does, and where you operate?
Founded in 2010, Art. 27 is a modern lifestyle concept store that focuses on wellness and respect for the consumer. The ever-evolving collection is a unique and exclusive assortment of products from Europe and Japan that brings together responsible fashion, innovative certified organic personal care products and unique bath essentials that are free of controversial ingredients, allergens, heavy metals and contaminants. All products are well-crafted, artisan-made and are produced by organizations that are committed to meeting strict industry certifications that guarantee product purity, sustainability, traceability and transparency at all stages of manufacturing.
Currently, there is just the one shop located at 899 Queen West, Toronto, directly across from Trinity Bellwoods Park. For customers who live outside the city, there is also an e-boutique (Art27.ca) where a limited selection of in-store products is currently available and where all in-store products will be added in the near future.
2. What inspired you to be an entrepreneur and to branch out on your own with this idea?
Over the years working as a product and design director, I have had the opportunity to travel extensively to various trade and trend shows and to use my background in fashion design and visual communication to critically research international markets. With exposure to such a variety of venues and an inspirational assortment of products, I have always believed that I would not be alone in my appreciation of the level of refinement and respect put into developing products while respecting workers' rights and environmental health. Fair trade, sustainability, renewable resources, respect towards farmers and artisans–all of these can be achieved while at the same time creating effective, refined, beautiful products.
3. Who are your typical customers, and how do they find you?
They are highly-educated, well-travelled, independent thinkers, with artistic inclination, sophisticated taste and great appreciation for well-designed, unique items. Most customers discovered Art. 27 by simply walking in, by word of mouth, or by searching on the Internet for specific, hard-to-find products. Some customers also discovered the store from reading articles written about Art. 27 in various media channels.
4. What are the roles of you and your co-founder in the business? Do you have any employees?
I am the sole founder and currently have no employees. From merchandising and marketing to maintaining close relationships to my vendors and taking care of day-to-day operations, I am solely responsible for all roles in the business.
5. You've been identified by one of our readers as a standout business. What do you consider the key element of your success?
I believe the key element of success is offering well-curated and refined daily essentials that provide meaningful value to the customer.