Business Link’s monthly Client Feature allows us to highlight some of the many incredible Alberta entrepreneurs we work with, like Amy Willier and her mother Yvonne Jobin, who opened Moonstone Creation together in 2009. We connected with Amy and asked her a few questions about her entrepreneurial journey, and the impact that COVID-19 has had on their business:
Q. What is your background?
A. We are Cree First Nations from Sucker Creek, AB. We have been Calgarians for 25 years.
Q. Tell us about your business and what it does.
A. Moonstone Creation is a Native Gallery and gifts shop that is both a storefront and a teaching space. We represent over 50 Indigenous Artists from across Canada and make the majority of what we carry ourselves. We are driven to keep traditional artforms alive and teach classes in the gallery.
Q. What motivated you to start your own business?
A. My mother has always been an artist and has created a business from her creative endeavors. When I had a baby in 2009, we decided to open up the gallery so that I could work and raise my son.
Q. What are you most proud of? What is your biggest success?
A. We are so happy to support other artists and to be able to inspire others to create themselves. We have taught so many people from all walks of life and it’s great that traditions are being kept alive and are thriving.
Our biggest success is having our store grow and become a cornerstone for Native Art, and workshops. Mainly, I think it’s that our business is a family first, and we make our customers feel like friends, and our students become friends too. It is truly a welcoming environment and a safe place to find out more about Native culture.
Q. What is your biggest challenge now, in light of COVID-19?
A. Our biggest challenge has been having our physical doors closed for just over a month. We are doing curbside pick up Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between 2 & 4 pm. We shifted gears and have been making fabric masks. They are a rapid seller and we have been working almost nonstop to fulfill orders!
Q. What has this pandemic taught you about you and/or your business?
A. The pandemic has taught us that what we need to do is to be willing to shift gears, and to work for the people. By creating these masks, that are fashionable, we are giving people a way to express themselves and feel safe and to help slow down the spread of the disease.
Q. What advice would you offer other small business owners as they continue to navigate the impacts of COVID-19 on their business?
A. This is a time for shifting gears, for creating new ideas, and to revamp what you can with your business. We are grateful to be able to continue to do what we love, to create as a family, and to have our business survive.
Q. Have you received support from other organizations? If so, which organizations?
A. I have applied for the Emergency Relief Fund with the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada. We are still waiting on that.
Q. What advice would you share with others who want to start or grow their own business?
A. Do what you love—do what inspires your soul.