With the increasing number of job losses and uncertainties in the job market due to the pandemic, many Montrealers have been putting on their entrepreneurial hats and are setting up small businesses.
From candles to skin care to hand-made dolls, the number of businesses is increasing in number and diversity.
However, the common thread for these businesses is that they were not getting as much traction and visibility despite their unique offerings.
Oluwanifemi Fagbohun also known as NIfemi, noticed this gap and decided to create the Montreal Vendors network which also holds the Montreal Vendors Business Expo an annual Event bringing brand development resources to vendors within the province of Quebec and connecting consumers with business services.
NIfemi is a Chemical and Polymer Engineer by training and a health and beauty mogul. She is the founder of Niffy Signature Beauty Brand and Accessories by Niffy, the best-selling Author of Your Beauty Police.
As an owner of multiple small businesses, she also wanted to expand her reach and give support to fellow small businesses owners and she launched the network during the pandemic as an annual Event bringing brand development resources to vendors within the province of Quebec and connecting consumers with business services.
“Montreal vendors is a platform set-up for small business owners,” she explains to the CONTACT. “I noticed that a lot of businesses were coming up during the pandemic (2020) and they are really fighting to be seen to be heard and to get more visibility. So we came up with the idea of trying to have programs like the business Expo, with Latoya who has been a great help.
To encourage them to network and connect with other fellow business owners and also a place to sell their products.”
Her partner is fellow Montrealer Latoya Belfon, a three times best-selling author, publisher at Labworks Publishing, motivational speaker and teacher with the English Montreal School Board. She is also a small business owner, and she is equally as passionate about providing support to small business owners so that they can grow. They recently concluded the Business Excellence Awards where they appreciated businesses in the community doing well.
“There are a lot of pop-up shops happening over the summer as people move from an online business to in-person business,”
“We were aware of the challenges such as having a speedy communication. Or knowing how your brand should be represented in person, a brand may already have set-up everything on line, but then when it comes to one-on-one connection with the customer, client, or connecting and collaborating with other businesses, they have a hard time with those in-person communications and connections.
So the first step for sort of movement online business mindset to an impressive business mindset was first showcasing the vendors through the Business Excellence Awards, highlighting them without charging them too much to be a part of it.”
They both note that small businesses are edged out of similar platforms because the financial obligation is too high for a small business to manage. And the other things is some of the other requirements to either get grants is that the duration for the business to have been operational is far too long bearing in mind most of these businesses cropped up during the pandemic.
“The Montreal Vendors Platform, gives them (small businesses) that alternative. We’ve selected brand experts, financial experts, that teach how to budget and investing your money as a small business owner. And the last vendor spotlight is sort of an elevator pitch idea, which we encourage them to learn. How to sell your product in less than a minute; if you had to get someone to invest in it with only one minute would you be able to sell your idea?” Latoya adds.
In the end, Nifemi says, it will be a paid platform but even then, she will be price it at something comfortable for the small business owner to pay without feeling financially stretched. For now the event is free and open to all kinds of business owners across Montreal and so far 25 businesses have registered to showcase and sell their wares at the expo.
The expo will be happening on Saturday July 30 at 998 Rue Notre Dame, 998 Rue Notre-Dame.
Small businesses can register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and while the event is free those who want to attend can reserve their tickets online at www.montrealvendors.ca