It’s about that time of year to look back on the year behind me and get excited for the year ahead. Keeping with my yearly recap tradition, I wanted to share The Eco Well’s 2018 recap with all of you. Thank you for an incredible year!!
This year was a busy one! I upped my event schedule and grew across Ontario early in the year - lot’s of learning experiences, especially with respect to the fact that… 4 events in a week spanning from Ottawa to Windsor, maybe a wee bit too many and probably isn’t sustainable for me. I think I’ve now reached a sweet spot, especially now that I’ve started focusing on advanced classes. In September, we launched our first full day, 8 hours, formulating masterclass… A full day of me is a lot, and I wasn’t completely sure if this would be interesting enough to make it work for my students. Astonishingly, we’ve had a great turnout for each of these advanced sessions, which has made me so excited to expand on these in the new year. I’ve got so many ideas that I cannot wait to share through our events.
I had always envisioned The Eco Well as an education platform, but this year, I think this has actually become a reality. You may have noticed that we no longer have our own line of products. Instead, we now exclusively do educational classes and consulting, with a few acceptions for some of our local friends in business. Considering that this is what I love most in the work I do, I’m incredibly grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to grow my business this way. To all my amazing clients, customers and students, it’s because of all of you that I get to do what I love every day and I couldn’t thank you enough for this.
The Eco Market
In the summer of 2017, I got the crazy idea to launch my own conference. Despite the overwhelming opinion that this probably wasn’t a good idea, I decided to just go for it and see what happens. I kept seeing in my own community, the lack of support to non-tech ‘green’ and social enterprises, which seemed especially apparent in the tradeshows we had. For such a large community, why didn’t Kitchener-Waterloo have a ‘green-living’ style show? I spent about a year and a half working on this idea, and ended up launching The Eco Market in April of 2018. I have to admit that this is by far the hardest project I’ve ever taken on, especially in the 2 months leading up to the show… there where many points that I thought that I took on a wee bit too much for what I could handle. I was SO RELIEVED to see that The Eco Market conference was overall a big success. I think I was on edge for the whole month of April, but seeing the huge line at the door 2 hours before the show even started, I feel like that was such a weight off of my shoulders. We ended up having 2000 people through the doors, a full lineup of amazing vendors and speakers, and especially good reviews from my vendors, which to me was the most important. To all the volunteers that helped me out with The Eco Market, I literally could not have done this without your support! Extra big thank you to Jennifer Lyon and Allison Purdy, who went above and beyond helping me make The Eco Market a reality.
Here are a few pictures from the day.
After the show, being the person that I am, I now have a bigger goal for The Eco Market. Instead of just showcasing ‘green’, I want to do my part to support it in my region. Why can’t we have an innovation hub specific to ‘green’ and social innovation? We now have a 5 year strategy in place to get The Eco Market to where I want it to be, but so far, we host monthly networking events, frequent speaker and vendor showcases, have a podcast showcasing Canadian green innovation, and recently launched online forums to act as a tool to connect green and social entrepreneurs across Canada.
Coming up in 2019, we’re launching a pitch competition, happening February 27th in Kitchener (if you’d like to apply, applications are due January 14th), will be hosting the second edition of The Eco Market, happening April 27th at the Waterloo Region Museum, among a few other things. Currently, The Eco Market still falls under the umbrella of The Eco Well, but stay tuned, we’ll be launching it as a separate entity shortly!
There are two big problems that I see right now in my industry, and I don’t know if they’re being well addressed. First, there is an overwhelming amount of misinformation in the cosmetics space. So many wacky ideas, misplaced fear mongering, inaccurate marketing, greenwashing…. It’s really easy to feel discouraged when the people who have influence seemingly don’t have a background in the subject. Second, I find scientists often stay behind closed doors… for many reasons, including I think, the alienation they often feel from consumers. There’s such a divide these days, and I think it’s doing a lot of damage, stunting the industry’s growth to be better and more sustainable, thoroughly confusing consumers, and allowing for unethical practices to sometimes dominate. Now, I do see some scientists coming forward to try to mitigate the problem, including Perry Romanowski from Chemists Corner, who I’ve come to really admire. But I think more of us need to also be doing this. My idea for The Eco Well podcast was to bring scientists out of their closed rooms, to have conversations with them about their expertise. By keeping things free to listen to for anyone anywhere, I hope that I can make accurate content more accessible to anyone interested. While The Eco Well podcast launched its first episode late 2017, I would say it really got its start in 2018.
At this point, I’ve had so many great conversations with so many incredible guests. To everyone who’s been a part of my show, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your time and support. Below are some of my favorite episodes of the year!
2018 has been by far my most challenging year, filled with some of my highest highs and lowest lows. This year, my long-time partner James proposed on my 28th birthday (the day before The Eco Market) - of course, I said yes. He is the reason I had the courage to leave my career in the first place to start The Eco Well, has been my rock all along the way, and has even joined The Eco Well as my main tech guy… also, a big reason that my podcasts were able to get started, as I’m generally tech-illiterate. To add to the highs of 2018, other than business, I also generally take my summers off. I mean, I still work, just at a cottage up north without any obligations for in-person meetings and outings, leaving time to do what I love most, rock climbing. This summer, we also went on a big sailing trip through the North Channel. I can’t say that I was super excited for the long haul to the destination, 30+ hours of sailing through Lake Huron from the Lions Head Marina, with the company of our dog… But it was such an incredible, unique experience that we plan to have for many summers to come.
Photo credit to Michael Narimalla!
We also made this cute little addition to our family :)
For obvious lows, this year has also been by far the most expensive year. Launching new big things takes quite a bit of cash, and among that and incorporating The Eco Well, there were times that I really questioned my decision to have a business. This September though, my business really took a turn for the best, and my faith has been completely renewed. Having a business is A LOT of work and investment, but I’m so happy that we stuck things out to be where we are today and I’m so excited for the future of The Eco Well.
That’s a wrap for 2018! Aside from a bit of consultation work, we’re winding down for the year to spend time with our families and prepare for the year ahead. To everyone who’s supported The Eco Well in any way, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!! Big thank you especially to Mike Jane, Jen Lyon, Allison Purdy, Kate Pearce, and Dayna Stein - each of you has been such a huge support for me throughout the year and I’m so incredibly grateful to have you all in my corner!
Happy holidays and new year!