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Eco-Refillary brings old-world apothecary to digital era

by Andrew Seale   |   May 08, 2024   |   Share this:  

Katrina Woods, owner of Eco-Refillary, is on a mission to change the refill shopping process. She received the $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant and used it to strengthen her online presence.

Katrina Wood felt overwhelmed the first time she set foot in a refill shop. “I handed them my jars and they handed them right back to me,” says Wood, founder of Eco-Refillary, a home essentials and beauty refill boutique in Flesherton. She had no idea what she was doing.

“​​I felt like I was in a foreign country… like I didn't belong.” 

It left her feeling disappointed in the process. It was 2019 and Wood had devoted her time during an eight-week recovery from surgery to figuring out how to eliminate plastic in her life, reducing exposure to harmful chemicals and lessening her ecological footprint. But the feeling of rejection after that first experience at a refill shop didn’t last long, Wood was fired up and wanted to create a better experience.  

“I wanted it to be a process that I could walk you through,” she says. “So we could have a conversation about it and I could do the refilling.” 

So in 2019, she launched Eco-Refillary, setting up shop in the St. Jacob’s Market. She was specific with her sourcing, choosing only biodegradable, vegan, gluten-free, and non-animal-tested products. She prioritized local suppliers.  

“As soon as Covid hit and we had to close down our St. Jacob’s spot, I built a website in four days and started delivering,” she says. “I did deliveries four days a week and doubled my sales from the market.” 

Emboldened by the demand, Wood started to look for a new, more permanent brick-and-mortar location. The South Grey Chamber of Commerce connected her with a landlord in Flesherton with a corner shop available and by August 2020, she’d opened her first location. In 2023, she expanded into a space twice the size.

“As soon as we moved over here – big uptick… our numbers are now over double our numbers from last year,” says Wood.  

The new space allows her the opportunity to host workshops, something she always felt would be a natural fit. But to do so, she’s invested in digital marketing and her website to get the word out about the business and the workshops. 

She received a $2,500 grant from Digital Main Street, a program combining grants, digital training and one-to-one support from the Province of Ontario alongside partners to help main street businesses strengthen their online capabilities and plan for the digital future.  

Wood was able to use the funds to buy a laptop for the shop and invest in some high-quality videos for marketing purposes.

“It made it a lot easier for me to access the tools I needed… everything is on the laptop,” says Wood.

She uses it to design her marketing materials through Canva for social media and email marketing.  

“I don't do a ton of online sales, but the website is there and I also use it for workshops,” she says. “People go online to book.” 

It’s a perfect companion to the in-store experience and helps increase Wood’s searchability for the throngs of tourists passing through Flesherton on their way to Lake Huron and Georgian Bay.  

Wood says she’s come a long way from the market stall at St. Jacob’s and feels fortunate to be a part of a community she sees as up-and-coming. She’s recently started an on-demand cleaning service using the natural cleaners she sells in-store and opened a crystal shop with a friend.

“I’ve just planned it so that my businesses reflect what I love in my life.” 

Visit Eco-Refillary, Canada's First Refill Apothecary if you're ever in Flesherton, or check them out online!  (Website, Facebook, Instagram)

Learn more about how Digital Main Street can support your small business here

About Digital Main Street

Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Meta, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, Lightspeed, Ebay and Canada Post.

Continued investment from the Province of Ontario, through the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT) has allowed the ongoing expansion the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses going digital across Ontario.

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