OOAK Maker Spotlight: Smells Like Canada
Canada's largest handmade show is just around the corner and we're getting super excited to meet the makers and browse all the unique goods! This year, Toronto's One of a Kind Christmas Show (OOAK) features the work of 800+ Canadian vendors - many travelling from all corners of the country to be part of the fun!
In anticipation of the show opening next week, we've teamed up with OOAK to present the OOAK Maker Spotlight series - a glimpse at the story, process and preparation of 7 select participating vendors. Take a peek inside the creative life of Natalie Gluic, owner of Smells Like Canada.
Thanks for chatting with us Natalie! Really looking forward to smelling all of your candles at the upcoming show, haha. Tell us a little bit about the founding of your line, Smells Like Canada.
To me, scent is a huge trigger for memory. I wanted to somehow capture the emotional connection I have between scent and memory and link it the wild and magical place where I live. Canada is full of unique places - cities and towns that have a character all their own. We are fortunate to have it all here... prairies full of level horizons and ripe wheat; dense deep forests with lush green canopies, huge sprawling cities that compete with the worlds' best... and although Canadians are polite, I think we need to toot our horn a bit more.
The idea for Smells Like Canada came when I realized how emotionally connected Canadians can be to their hometown. In Toronto, where I live, we have a true tapestry of backgrounds, and I found that people from across the country were nostalgic for the wet rainy forests of BC, or the sweet air of Nova Scotia. So I thought I could help forge that connection through a line of products themed after the very towns that shape our Canadian landscape, and select the scent to represent that location - from the earthy airy smell of a field of wheat for Saskatchewan; the sharp and intense smell of pine in a wet forest for British Columbia.
We’d love to learn more about your creative process. Where do you pull inspiration, and how do you translate that into scents?
I love that the concept of Smells Like Canada is rich for ideas and options, but also has some constraints built into it - I personally think that is where the best ideas are born. Instead of simply thinking of scents without a clear direction, I need to create them within a brand identity that is tied to Canada, which makes the creative process much more challenging and interesting... I can't just create a "vanilla" candle... It has to be something that really connects to Canada and makes sense to people who live here.
Inspiration can come from anywhere; sometimes it's a place whose scent I'm eager to capture (I'm currently working on a Prince Edward County scent), or it's a piece of nature that I've found that I feel really personifies Canada, and I want to work into an item. I have also gotten some amazing ideas and inspiration from my customers who are passionate about Canada and want to see their slice of it translated into a scent. For example, I knew I wanted to find a scent to personify Winnipeg, but had some trouble finding the right approach... a customer from Winnipeg struck a conversation with me and talked about "The windiest corner in Canada" at Portage and Main in Winnipeg, and the Winnipeg Winds candle was born.
How do you prepare for a show of this scale? Walk us through a bit of the prep work you’ve been doing for OOAK.
Well, it is intense, let's just say that. I have a full time job in addition to running Smells Like Canada, which means all of my evenings and weekends are entirely dedicated to production for the show, and I create daily production quotas for myself to keep things on track. This will be my third full show, so I have the advantage of data from previous years to help me really focus on producing the right items for my customers so that I use my time efficiently leading up to the event. The marketing and booth creation are also a huge undertaking, but thankfully, I really enjoy the challenge of creating great visual content, so it's fun to spend time on that.
Why is shopping small important to you?
We are surrounded by huge organizations that are selling us junk at an inflated price - and often that bloated profit goes to a handful of people who don't really need it instead of the people who are really coming up with the ideas and doing the work. Last year, my concept was actually copied by a big box store - they carried my product for a few months to test the market, then ditched me and created an extremely shoddy replica of the concept by their own manufacturers to increase their profit margins. The driving force there was profit... not quality, not care for their customer's best interests, not truly supporting the community in which they operate.
This is why I shop small, because you are sure that your money is going to the people who need it, and you can see the dignity and care that these small makers bring into the market. Many of my friends are business owners and their extreme care for their customers and community makes all of our lives better. That is the world I want to live in, where we are all supporting each other not just by buying from small makers, but through caring about each others' communities and best interests. Can you tell I'm passionate about this one?
For more of Natalie's work: smellslikecanada.com, or meet her in person at the show!
We've got two sets of 2 tickets to give away! Join us Wednesday November 23rd on the @makersmovement Instagram feed for contest details.