Biologist Leaves Behind Science Career For Her Artistic Passion
The ShopHERE Powered by Google Program has had the pleasure of helping many small businesses over the past challenging and unpredictable year. Many of those businesses are in creative industries, including House of Cassady, created by Robin Cassady-Cain. Robin's small business focuses on creating contemporary art jewelry and traditional handmade Scottish kilts.
From a young age Robin had been interested in jewelry, and began creating her own at age 15. It wasn't until her early 30's however that she began to take up goldsmithing in her spare time, while completing her PhD in Immunology. She had also been sewing on and off throughout her life. After spending 18 years in the U.K., she moved back to Toronto in 2018 and embarked on a more professional artist practice, moving on from her career as a research biologist. She launched her first jewelry collection in early 2019, inspired by her three primary interests, goldsmithing, textiles and biology. She states that her designs are “informed by shape, line and texture” and she works mainly in sterling silver and gold. For her kilt making she runs a bespoke, made to measure service and undertakes alterations and repairs.
Like many small business owners, Robin turned to the ShopHERE Program to help create an online commerce presence for her artistic practices. She enjoyed her experience because getting “help in identifying the best solution for my business [and] the help navigating the different settings made it much easier for me to get the shop set up and ready to operate. The [eCommerce Coordinator] also suggested some small detail features and how to set up the page that I found were helpful and brought some more tailored touches to the shop.” She has also expressed satisfaction in building her site as it was customized, and meets her business needs. Robin also expressed her pleasure in working with her eCommerce Coordinators.
“I had two people, Nabeel, who handled the bulk of it, and Jay, who helped me finish up and get the store live. I found them both enthusiastic, competent and invested in helping me make the most of what I wanted to offer.”
Additionally for other small businesses and artists, she offers this advice: “Seek advice from professionals already in the field that you're trying to move into, spend in the right areas that will deliver you a foreseeable return. Don't make plans that are unchangeable or can't be adapted as the COVID-19 situation changes. Share your expertise with others -you never know when what you know will help somebody else.”
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.