How I Became Demac’s First Merchant in Residence

Finding myself at Demac Media as their first Merchant in Residence, I’ve been reflecting on all the twists and turns that brought me to this unique opportunity.

My Journey to Merchant in Residence

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When I first moved to Toronto almost 6 years ago after growing up in small town Ontario, I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career. My history degree was buried at my parent’s house. I spent five plus years working in a variety of restaurants and a short (but cherished) stint living in the Rocky Mountains. Soon, I was encouraged by concerned members of my family to figure myself out and see what opportunities were available to me. Terrified, I put on my big girl pants packed my bags and set forth on a move to the big city that changed my life.

My first full-time salary job in Toronto was a small agency (read: there was only two of us) that specialized in Social Media Marketing and Community Management services for small to medium-sized businesses. This was during the early days when people were still wrapping their heads around how Facebook marketing was a good investment, and before I even knew what a Twitter was.

My first assignment on the job? Write a business plan to be submitted in a grant competition on behalf of the company .

Let me tell you, nothing will make you feel more like an imposter than the moment you’ve been asked to do something you’ve never done before and having someone totally believing that you can do it. Right away my fight or flight responses were triggered. Thankfully I chose to fight and getting tossed a doozy on my second day was exactly what I needed to find out what I was capable of. Thus began my education at the school of figuring it out. From my first content strategy doc to signing on new clients, the learning curve was steep and exhilarating.

The Thrill of Creating Something From Scratch

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Eventually I moved on from helping build and grow other businesses to experience the thrill of creating something from scratch: two jewelry companies. From making the pieces to crafting the brand to walking to the post office to ship packages to writing content to finding PR opportunities to setting up pop up shops— you name it, we did it. One took off fast and furiously, the other fizzled. Both taught me so much.

Even with my brain’s constant desire to bully me into self doubt, the entrepreneurial experience finally revealed to me what I love doing: putting ideas into motion, igniting loyal communities around great products and feeling directly linked to the success of a business. I learned that to be an entrepreneur was to embrace the discomfort, when to practice consistency and when to break away from the blueprint. Experiment, fail, learn, measure, refine, rinse and repeat.

One of the main reasons I’ve decided to move on from building a business on my own is to fulfill a new desire: surround myself with insanely smart people. My fear, however, was that I had no idea how I was going to transition from doing my own thing for the last 5 years to a more “traditional” role within a company. Where exactly would I fit in?

Lucky for me, a not-so-traditional role I could not have imagined was brewing just up the road from my at-home office. In just one meeting with Matt at Demac Media, I knew that his vision and excitement for the Merchant in Residence program was the perfect opportunity for me. This was my chance to flex my entrepreneurial muscle with an incredible team in my corner.

Helping to grow Pela Case

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I’m absolutely pumped to be leading growth for Pela Case, the first brand in this program. The technology behind Pela’s biodegradable bioplastic is cool and innovative, the products are beautiful and the planet-friendly mission is one I can fully stand behind. I know this is just the beginning of what Pela can be as a company and I hope to continue to share with you what it’s like being the Merchant in Residence powered by Demac Media.

If you’re a fellow merchant building your own brand or just plain curious about this new venture, let’s learn together! Subscribe to our blog (below!) for all the latest updates on our Merchant in Residence program and please feel free to reach out and connect with us: @suntasem and @demacmedia on all major social networks.