Independent Retailers

Independent retailers podcast showcase

October 12, 2021

At Retail Council of Canada, we know that independent retailers and small business owners are the backbone of Canadian retail, creating innovations across all sectors and continuously engineering solutions to modern problems.

To celebrate Small Business Week, RCC has compiled interviews with some of Canada’s most brilliant independent retailers and entrepreneurs to share insights, provide solutions, and help others realize their potential.

Enjoying what you hear? Listen in weekly for new episodes of The Voice of Retail TM podcast.

Cycles of philanthropic retail: The story of Obakki with Founder Treana Peake

As a philanthropist first, and a retailer second, Obakki has become a space for both utilizing and transforming the structures of traditional retail. This online and Vancouver-based brick-and-mortar brand offers homeware products made by artisans all over the world while upholding three principles: sustainability, traceability, and ethical production.

Michael LeBlanc sits down with Treana to talk about the story of Obakki, how she fosters a symbiotic relationship between philanthropy and retail, and how she manages intricate supply chains as an independent retailer in unprecedented times.

Fika Herbal Goods veteran retail COO Christopher Kane preps for geometric growth

The retail cannabis industry in Canada is growing, as they would say, like a weed. This kind of fast paced growth with new companies in the new sector calls for experienced retail operators to help navigate and bring experience and operational expertise to survive and thrive in what is an increasingly crowded competitive market.

Christopher Kane is a savvy retail operator that brings with him decades of experience in grocery, pharma, and category management to his freshly minted role as the Chief Operating Officer at FIKA Herbal Goods. Christopher joins Michael to talk about the origin story of Fika, their store and merchandising strategy, and all about his experience moving to the fast-paced world of retail cannabis.

Lessons in consumer trust, relationship-building and results

From a kitchen lab start-up in a blender to a fully-fledged direct-to-consumer internationally respected beauty brand, Isomers Skin Care is a great example of a resilient and responsive independent brand and DTC retailer.

Manuela and Michael catch up and talk about the origin story and core values of the company, reflects on lessons learned as an entrepreneur and talks about what it’s like for a breakthrough Canadian brand to enter the social media space.

The resale retail market is on the rise

Departing from dusty consignment-style stores, the resale space has a new look and feel. Courtney Watkins, founder of Mine & Yours, talks about riding the rising wave of luxury fashion resale.

Courtney and Michael talk about her unique origin story and how she carved a space for herself in the fashion industry. She shares her insights on navigating e-commerce with fluid and unique stock, engaging with buyers and sellers, and building a strong online and in-person community.

Joy as a career strategy: Alex Waldman, Co-Founder of Universal Standard on conversations with CommerceNext

On this special episode, host Michael LeBlanc shares his interview with Universal Standard co-founder and Canadian retailer, Alexandra Waldman.

Enjoy Michael’s interview with Alex from women’s apparel retailer Universal Standard – who just last week, The Times of London called “the most revolutionary brand in fashion.”

Shining in the sleep industry: An interview with Polysleep’s CEO

Over the last decade, the sleep industry has undergone some serious transformation. Jeremiah Curvers, the co-founder and CEO of Polysleep, believes that the importance of sleep is “the next revelation” on the health front that consumers are going to prioritize.

While technological advancements, such as the machinery responsible for compact mattress packing, have shaken up the otherwise maturing market, there remains a high level of competition.

Retail Cannabis Forum: How COVID-19 impacted the retail cannabis landscape

Hear from cannabis retail experts about the impact and opportunities that came to be in 2020, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this panel, moderator Michael LeBlanc talks with Darren Bondar, President and CEO of Spiritleaf, and Eleanor Lynch, COO of Kiaro. Darren and Eleanor reflect on lessons in perseverance and offer key takeaways for fostering agility and innovation.

Leadership, listening, and the revival of McCarthy Uniforms

With a background in consulting and banking, Vanessa Iarocci, CEO of McCarthy Uniforms, describes what she brought to the table when she became the head of a retail company coming out of insolvency – and what she has learned along the way.

Vanessa tells Michael about adapting to the demands of modern retailing and responding to the challenges and opportunities that COVID-19 has brought to the business.

Clint Seukeran, Owner of Ganjika House

In this special episode, Michael interviews Clint G. Seukeran, the owner of Ganjika House, Brampton, Ontario’s first legal cannabis dispensary.

Clint provides two ‘starts’, and one ‘stop’ that retailers can use, based on what he has learned and experienced over the past year of the COVID-19 era and beyond.

Retailer Emma May with her brand Sophie Grace’s fashions for kick-ass women

Michael is in Calgary meeting indie women’s fashion retailer Emma May, Founder of SophieGrace, featuring elevated mix and match separates that make getting ready in the morning incredibly simple.

Michael speaks to Emma about her rich and diverse background and journey to becoming a retailer in the midst of a pandemic and discovering the excitement and challenge of the retail industry.

Henning takes luxury plus-sized fashions to the streets of New York City

In this episode, Michael meets Lauren Chan, founder and president of women’s wear retailer Henning. A former fashion editor and Ford model, Lauren has gone from small-town Ontario to New York City as the steward of a popular retail brand that is dialled in with a personal and professional connection.

Lauren talks about building a collection of luxury plus-size staples without compromising on quality, craftsmanship, or design.

The future of the beauty industry with Ray Civello

Has the retail salon industry been forever changed by COVID? More than ever, people have taken it upon themselves to cut, style, and dye their hair at home. Hair and beauty is one of the industries hit hardest by the pandemic, so how are retailers adapting to these massive shifts in consumer behaviour?

Michael sits down with serial entrepreneur and industry visionary Ray Civello, CEO at Collective Beauty Brands; we learn about his fascinating path to success, what enabled him to succeed over and over again, and his take on the future of this dynamic sector of the beauty industry.

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