Fish & Co. tackles modern approach for modern anglers
Hannah Cowell spent a lot of her youth participating in fishing derbies and tournaments, and a lot of the time that meant hanging out in guy clothes. “Or if it was girls-related, it was like bright, hot pink... there was nothing in between.” Fishing has always been a big part of Cowell’s life, it’s a tradition she’s shared with her dad since she was a child. But it’s also one of those passions where women are underrepresented – at least when it comes to marketing and accessories.
This past summer, she opened Fish and Co. in Madoc to try and do something a little different for people that love fishing but don’t fit the mould. The shop sells a curated collection of high-quality fishing rods, lures, apparel and cottage-style decor. Fish and Co. builds on the work Cowell did with Pretty Li’l Angler – an apparel line she launched in 2019 for women who love to fish.
Cowell built Pretty Li’l Angler while working for the Toronto Blue Jays’ Jays Care Foundation. When the foundation was shut down in March 2020, Cowell was let go and found herself trying to figure out what was next. “I knew I wanted to do something more with (Pretty Li’l Angler) I just didn’t really know what,” says Cowell. By chance, two storefront locations opened up in downtown Madoc. “(I’d) loved them since we got here in 2012,” she says. She found out June 25th she’d be getting the keys on July 1st. “At that point, I still didn’t know what I was going to do with the store.”
By the first week of August, the idea for Fish and Co. had come together and she opened the doors to he new shop. “It was pretty quick,” says Cowell. She brought in decor, knowing she’d need to keep people interested throughout the year when fishing was out of season.
But she had big plans for the brand. This past winter she worked with Digital Main Street, a program combining grants and one-to-one support from the Province of Ontario alongside partners like Google to help main street businesses strengthen their online capabilities and plan for the digital future. Cowell says although she studied marketing at Loyalist College, the training videos she took alongside her $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant gave her a new perspective, especially through the lens of running a main street business.
She used the funding to expand online and upgrade her website, switching from Shopify to Square for her back-end and investing in a new checkout. The rest of the grant was used for her social media advertisement spend. Cowell sees her digital presence playing a big role going forward.
“I would really like to get on where I'm doing more online sales than I am in person,” she says. “In the summer, (Madoc) is really great, and I was busy November, December as well – but I want to use those off months to really push my online sales and help balance things out throughout the year.”
Written by Andrew Seale
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, Microsoft, Facebook, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, Yellow Pages and Lightspeed.
A $42.5-million investment from FedDev Ontario brought together the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Communitech, Invest Ottawa and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association to expand the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses going digital as a response to the impacts of COVID-19 in Southern Ontario.