By Kevin Young
Looks like food, smells like food, not actually food. Please don’t eat the products.
This is Candice Ware’s warning, printed on a sign that lies alongside her handmade goods on top of a whitelaced table cloth embroidered with pink roses.
Ware, a 22-year-old entrepreneur, sat behind her table of deliciously shaped jewelry. Miniature cookies, cupcakes and other sweet treats are on display and ready to buy. Here, not only do the rings, necklaces and phone charms look edible, they smell scrumptious too.
Scented with food oils, Ware’s accessories are a real show stopper. Pendants on Ware’s accessories vary from ice cream cones to pie and even cupcakes on a tray. Customers aren’t aware of this sweet secret until Ware holds up the goods and says, “Smell it!” That’s when she makes a sale.
Ware is at Ryerson’s Young Entrepreneurial Market (RYE Market), a two-day event for Ryerson students and alumni to showcase independent business. The market is organized by StartMeUp Ryerson, an entrepreneurial student and alumni group, and is in its third year.
The market comes at an appropriate time. Historically, entrepreneurial spirit rises during times of economic lows. Statistics Canada reported that the number of self-employed Canadians rose by 75,000 between October 2008 and July 2009. Ware isn’t an unfamiliar face at Ryerson. This is her second time around selling her goods on campus. The Ryerson Student Campus Centre was where Ware first showcased her products. The table she used to sell was then rent-free and she couldn’t resist the chance.
“The table they offered was free,” said Ware.”Why not?”
She made the right move –– Ware was successful enough to turn a profit. Another chance came around at Rye Market and Ware decided to sell her goods, again.
Back at the market Ware sat at her table under a tent, one of many lining Victoria Lane. “It’s a hundred dollars a day to rent this table and I don’t even like [the location],” said Ware, raising her hand to show the semi-deserted area. “Why not Gould Street where there’s a lot of people?”
Despite the low-traffic spot, Ware made $85 her first day, followed by $150 the next. Ware’s pieces ranging from $5 to $18.
Like many new entrepreneurs, she started this self-employed business unexpectedly. She began making jewelry for her own pleasure and unique fashionable taste. But after being complimented one too many times, she started selling her one-of-a-kind accessories to students at her college. She took a bigger leap in her new business when she introduced sweet scents to her line.
“People liked my stuff and even grabbed my hand at one point and smelled it,” said Ware, “that’s when I got the idea to scent them.”
Ware, who studied animation at Seneca College, graduated this past April. Her other creative talents brought her to be part Disney’s new film, The Princess and the Frog, where she painted most of the characters.
A good start in her career, but Ware’s drive to succeed had some roadblocks. She tried selling her goods online at www.etsy.com, a website that allows users to sell all things handmade. But she had little success.
“Selling online is difficult, you fall through the crack,” said Ware, “I like interacting with people better and having them try it on [accessories] for durability and getting feedback.”
As a local artist who uses local products to create her goods from scratch, Ware decided to sell her jewelry in one of her favourite Toronto neighbourhoods, Kensington Market. Currently, Ware rents a spot in The Blue Banana, a popular store that sells goods from local artists, where she showcases her exclusive products.
Towards the end of last day of Rye Market, a customer purchases one of Ware’s cupcake necklaces. Ware thanks her, smiles, and puts away her money in a Cuban cigar box.
“Just making the world sweeter, one cupcake at a time,” she said.