Creative Islanders dip their toes in the waters of start-up business
Written by Ellen Egan || Photography by Stephen Harris
[Originally published in the November/December 2014 issue of G! Magazine]
REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE A LITTLE KID and you were told you could do anything or be anything you set your mind to? I‘m told I once spent a whole two months obsessed with the idea of being an “ear-piercer” at the tender age of 6-years-old. To this day, I’m still not sure where this ultra-specific aspiration came from (a fateful trip to Claire’s, perhaps?) and whether or not that is indeed a real occupation, but suffice to say I don’t spend my days poking holes in people’s earlobes.
Still waiting on the underlying message for that one, Universe.
At some point along the way, however, many of us tend to lose sight of this wisdom and settle for careers that simply allow us to get by rather than pursuing truly meaningful work.
But a fleet of game changers is making waves across our fair Isle, with many of them harnessing the power of the Internet, hard work and creative intuition to reimagine how we think about start-up businesses. When geographical location is no longer an issue, the possibilities become endless and true magic is allowed to happen.
A prime example of this is a husband and wife duo I recently stumbled upon while perusing—you guessed it—the Internet. Well, Instagram to be exact. Together, they’ve developed a hand-made sunglasses company called Fellow Earthlings tucked away in beautiful Guernsey Cove, Prince Edward Island.
Curious as to how they first dipped their toes into this new business venture, I recently caught up with one half of the power couple, Syndey Jardine, to find out where their inspiration came from and why they dared to take a chance on this start-up brand.
As it turns out, it was after working for a number of years in the eyewear industry internationally and having invaluable mentors that the couple set out to offer a unique product.
“It's little known that Prince Edward Island has a history of eyewear manufacturing and the leather covered RayBan's from Bausch & Lomb coveted today by collectors around the world was made here,” explains Sydney. “It was because of this that we had the great opportunity for Chris to apprentice with an incredible eyewear craftsman on the Island and that made our dream of starting this business possible.
“We really felt like there was very little choice for consumers in the eyewear industry and we feel that people want choice, both in terms of Canadian manufacturing and their own personal style. So we make to-order eyewear and you get to choose your shape, material colour, lens colour, and an optional engraving.”
Sydney says they find great satisfaction in being able to offer a product they’re truly proud of in a place they love. They’re also really inspired by friends who have built an online following for their handmade products in different categories: “With the Internet, you can market and retail directly to your customer and we think this is really exciting for all businesses.”
When it comes to the local market, she says that by nurturing local businesses they can create a rich culture that inspires creativity, right here in our community.
“Seeing new businesses succeeding in such a supportive environment gives you a lot of confidence in launching your own products and services,” she says. “We feel the more we work together and find opportunities for collaboration, the better. By supporting and promoting each other, we grow together as a community. We’re only getting started so we’re excited to see where this adventure takes us.”
To learn more about Fellow Earthlings and make your own a custom order, check out www.fellowearthlings.com.