The Eco Den finds natural success in digital environment
“If I did not have a website, I would've started off the pandemic in a negative place.”
While working as a nurse, Natalie Overholt found her belief structure split down the centre. On the one hand, she wanted to help people but as a new mother, she also was in the midst of shifting her values toward a more ecologically conscious existence. “I would go to work and I would be with public health and the doctor's office doing Western medicine,” says Overholt. “But then I was wanting to use more natural products and natural supplements and stuff like that at home.”
She realized she wanted to do something different with her life. At the same time, she saw an opportunity in the natural health products and lifestyle she was gravitating towards, something bigger than just her own experience. Living in Mount Forest, it was hard to find the products she wanted – the ones available were expensive and if she couldn’t find what she was looking for, she had to drive all over looking for it. “There was nowhere that you could buy chemical-free options.”
So in 2019, Overholt opened The Eco Den, a shop selling made-in-Canada natural personal care, eco-friendly and zero-waste products. “I combined everything into one store,” says Overholt. “We have bottle products, but then we also have the refillery and the zero waste section.”
At first, she was opposed to the idea of a website, but at her business coach's urging, she launched her digital presence in January 2020. “If I did not have a website, I would've started off the pandemic in a negative place.”
She heard about Digital Main Street, a program combining grants 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. Interested in the $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant, she applied for it and received the funding. “When COVID-19 started and I got the first grant, our online presence became huge… we were shipping orders all over Canada,” says Overholt.
She didn’t know where the majority of people ordering were finding out about the business but she knew she had to focus on her social media like Instagram to boost sales. “On top of us trying to get shipping out the door, social media really became the place that we had to constantly answer questions and post products.”
She used the funding to invest in social media management. It was a worthwhile experiment because, in 2022, she applied for her second Digital Transformation Grant, funnelling the funding into more social media management. “At Christmas time it gets so unbelievably busy in here,” explains Overholt. “And I was like, this is where the money has to go because people see everything that we post on the store at this time of year… so it was nice to have somebody else take over and push products and gifts and everything on my social media for two months.”
She says it’s not economical to continually pay for a social media manager, but the grants have allowed her to call on extra help in her busiest moments. It’s critical, Instagram seems to be where her customers are. “It just really took a load off of what I had to do.”
If you’re interested in natural personal care, eco-friendly and zero-waste products, visit the Eco Den here.
To learn more about the Digital Transformation Grant, and how it can help your business visit here.
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.