Our Store Spotlight series highlights some of our wonderful retailers worldwide to give a peek behind the curtain of running a retail business.
Running an independent business at any time has its unique challenges. But running a small, independent business through a worldwide pandemic? Melissa Condotta of Sunday's Company has navigated just that. We chatted with her about the start of her shop in Ontario, Canada, how she sources her products, and how she has survived - and thrived - in 2020.
Can you tell us a little bit about the background story of Sunday’s Company? How did it come to be?
In 2011 my partner and I decided to flee city life, and head for a slow and quiet life in the country. After planting our roots, I had to keep my job in the city for a few days a week to help support us financially. My own career was up in the air— I was still unsure of what I wanted for myself full-time.
One day I joined a community herb walk and that was it. I was obsessed with plants and the healing power that lies within them. Again, they taught me to slow down, to let nature take its course. I enrolled in herbalism courses, planted a garden, and immersed myself in all things plant medicine. It hit me then, that this was it— this WAS my calling; to cultivate a community that wanted the same things— a slow, intentional, sustainable life. I would do this by sharing the gifts of Mother Nature and offering plant medicine for the skin and soul.
The good things in life don’t necessarily come easy. I finally understood that, and soon Sunday’s Company was born. I promised myself that I would let this develop as it should— intentionally, gradually, and most importantly it had to come from my heart.
What were you doing before you started Sunday’s Company, and how did it help you in creating your own business?
My pattern was to dabble in everything, but never see it through. I was always looking for something better.
I studied interior design and freelanced for a few years. I also worked with a high-end furniture company, doing sales, consulting, and management.
Both of these helped big time in creating Sunday’s Company. My design training allowed me to bring creativity and fine details that I love so much.
The retail and management experience allowed for the hands-on, customer service, and practical knowledge that is needed when running a business. Both of these experiences were vital in how I currently work.
How has Covid-19 affected you?
Covid-19 was terrifying for me, primarily during the first few weeks. I spent weeks crying and worrying about the unknown. There was a lot of support from the government for almost everyone in Canada, but somehow small, owner-operated businesses were left hanging, with nowhere to turn.
Then all of a sudden, online orders began pouring in. I was baffled, and so grateful. It kept my business alive and allowed me to keep my studio/storefront on Main Street, in my little village. I’ve been able to continue working and producing all throughout the pandemic.
In July, myself and 3 other friends opened a shop, called Field Made Goods, in Prince Edward County— a nearby, very popular, tourist town. This is a shop, run separately from the Sunday’s Company studio shop. We are four makers, sharing a space and work hours, each selling our own wares. It was a huge risk, but we went with it, and so far, it’s been incredibly successful.
When stocking new brands in your store, what do you look out for in terms of company ethos: e.g. sustainability, vegan, etc?
There are a few things that are musts:
- I, myself, need to use it and love it.
- I look for 100% handmade goods, as often as possible. I’m a huge supporter of small businesses
- Sustainable and ethical practices are a must: minimal packaging, environmentally friendly. Where is it made, and by whom? What are your stances on social justice issues? Basically, if you’re not down with standing by and for Racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, or Women’s Rights; Body Positivity, diversity, climate change, then I’m not down with you.
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of business advice, what would it be?
Learn how to say no. You do not have to be all things to all people.
Thank you Melissa for sharing your beautiful shop and ethos with us! We are proud to have our products carried by your business. 💚
And follow Sundays Company on Instagram here.
All photography by Tara McMullen.
All photography by Tara McMullen.