The image at the top is Casey the owner of koala bebe Co. and me Mik the owner of Pipers closet. Casey & I talk every single day, we hangout often, and we purchase from each other frequently. Now if you take a look at both of our websites, you will come to find that we are virtually the same business, just with a few different items. We live 5 minutes away from each other, we have basically all the same following on social media & our prices are very comparable. So how did we become so close? Let me take you back to just over a year ago.
Before Piper's Closet, I would buy frequently from small shops (I still do today haha!) I was even a brand rep for a few of them! Koala Bebe co. was one of them because of the close proximity & adorable products. I knew that when I inevitably started my own shop, I wanted to reach out to her & explain and hope she "wouldn't hate me"
You see, I was conditioned to being "annoyed" when people had the same ideas as me, thats just how it was a few short years ago. For those of you who don't know, one of my first successful businesses was actually arm knitting those giant blankets! (Miks Craft Shoppe) I was the first person in Ontario (maybe even Canada) to do them! So obviously when people kept popping up doing the same thing as me it was annoying to say the least. The difference being, those giant knit blankets were all the same, so of course people couldn't really put their own spin on the idea so no matter what, we all looked like the exact same business. I held blanket making work shops & one of the ladies who attended actually looked through my trash to see the receipt of where my yarn wholesaler was from, then she opened up a giant knitting business like mine, stole my pictures, copied me word for word then when I retaliated she said I was harassing her, even her husband threatened my life. So it's quite obvious where my trust issues with similar businesses has come from haha.
The idea of reaching out to a few brands similar to what I wanted Piper's Closet to be, came from that experience of mine. I never wanted a business to feel annoyed or betrayed by me for having a similar idea. Every shop I reached out to was SO grateful that I did. I didn't expect such a positive response to be honest. Casey being the sweetest of them all. She welcomed me into the small shop community with open arms, she offered me advice & guidance. This was so special to me because I knew it could've gone in a negative direction had I just shown up, because we are in such a close proximity we were bound to have 80% of the same followers, she could've felt that I copied her and stole her followers - or poached them as we say in the small business world.
This was the beginning of my experience with community over competition. It made me feel welcome, and really set the tone with how I wanted to be as a small business & how I wanted to treat other small businesses.
To say that it's all been hunky dory & I have no enemies would be a lie. I am blocked by a few businesses & yes I also do have a few blocked myself. Some are warranted where others are businesses who don't understand the concept of community over competition. A few small shops have me blocked for selling some of the same items as them - a whole storefront actually has me blocked (yikes) and a few shops blocked me when they first started their business, I'm not sure why but I truly hope it's not because they thought I would be mad. I welcome new shops with open arms. of course it can be annoying at times but that is life. There is room for all of us, and as long as you aren't copying a business tit-for-tat then it's all good! A couple of my past brand reps went on to start their own children's boutique & in fact I'm doing a giveaway with one of them in the near future! It doesn't have to be all animosity, in fact its just easier to be nice than to hate every similar shop that pops up.
There are exceptions to this obviously. A-lot recently I have had shops who are not from my area (province or even country!) pop up - follow everyone i'm following or who follows me. That is what poaching followers is. It's blatantly poaching your "competitors" customers. The dead giveaway is when they follow my mothers lingerie modelling page LOL. THAT is when I know, because she would not come up in a "suggested" box. Most of the time, I find myself blocked by these pages too... WHY!? To me that is super suspect. Like I said, I am here to help! I do not intentionally think "that's my new enemy" when a new small shop appears, in fact I think "That was me just a year ago, good for them for starting their dream!"
You see, community over competition is a wonderful thing... to an extent. Community over competition is, welcoming the new shop, not telling them who your manufacturer is. Community over competition is, sharing other shops in your stories every once in a while, not 24/7 because that would take away from your business. Community over competition is also knowing when your boundaries have been crossed & knowing it's okay to distance yourself from other shops. Community over competition is sticking up for other shops when another shop is not being nice.
Community over competition is amazing unless it is bringing you or your business down. Root for others, but don't take away from yourself.
Anyways, thank you so much for taking the time to read this!
xoxo Mik !