For Perth’s Where Dragons Fly being adaptive means being online
Nancy Lanouette spent thirty years as a project manager at a major telecommunications company before moving to Perth and opening Where Dragons Fly, an essential oils and supply shop for DIY health, beauty and home care. She’d loved her career and chasing her passion surrounding DIY was the perfect comedown from the high intensity and demanding business she’d worked in. But it also wasn’t the end of her relationship with the world of IT.
Where Dragons Fly started small, says Lanouette. “I’m so sensitive to everything now, so I had to make my own care products.” She knew there were other people like her and it just spiralled from there. “We had a shop, it was like 300 square-feet and we grew into a self-care, personal wellness business,” says the shop owner. She started bringing in adaptive clothing for people in wheelchairs and with unique needs.
Eventually, the business outgrew the space, moving into a new one this past February. But the digital element hovered over her.
On the one hand, Lanouette knew she needed to bolster her online presence. She’d already hired a consultant who had told her social media was where to focus. But her instincts told her there was more to it. She wanted a website to sell online and some sort of solution to tie the sales in her shop and online together. She knew there were lots of options for building her own site and online store but she just wasn’t sure where to begin.
“I'm an ex-IT person but I mean… I'm out of my element here,” says the Where Dragons Fly owner. She heard about Digital Main Street, a program that combines grants and one-to-one support from the Province of Ontario and the Ontario BIA Association to help main street businesses strengthen their online capabilities, through the Downtown Heritage Perth BIA.
“I was of a ‘bricks and mortar’ mindset, you know? A little boutique where people come in and we offer special things,” she says, “But the more people you talk to and do your research, you realize that's where we are today – I was so out of touch.”
Through Digital Main Street, Where Dragons Fly was able to apply for and receive a $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant. The funds have given her a little extra support as she’s started digging in on how to make her online store, website and point-of-sale talk to one another. With the shutdown of non-essential businesses surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Lanouette has devoted her time to ironing out some of those challenges for her website.
“To me, it's a necessity and not just because of this situation that we're in right now, but one we’re leaning towards within the next 10 years,” she says. “I still believe in bricks and mortar, but being an adaptive environment here (at the shop), you have to give everybody options.”
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, and Yellow Pages.
This case study was completed during a prior expansion of DMS in partnership with the Province of Ontario and Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
In June 2020, a $42.5-million investment from FedDev Ontario and an additional $7.45 million from the Government of 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.