Jarid Taylor founded Brandigenous in 2019, with the goal to elevate the way people buy branded merchandise. His focus is creating unique, quality brand designs for customers across Canada, working mostly with First Nations, Indigenous organizations and any business looking to introduce an Indigenous business into their supply chain.
How is Brandigenous coping right now?
We were in the middle of a big mailout onboarding campaign when the crisis stopped us in our tracks. As this is the new normal for a while, we aren’t trying to rush back into full sales mode as this crisis is still in the important initial stage of just keeping everyone safe. For our operations, we are lucky to work out of the Songhees Innovation Center where the Songhees Nation gracefully decided to not charge us rent until this is over. We also designed our workflow and systems completely in the cloud, so working from home changed nothing, other than we miss our co-working camaraderie (Animikii, Tom Spetter Design, ISPARC, Moose Hide Campaign, Songhees Nation).
How has the crisis affected your business, and how do you anticipate it will continue to affect it?
Traditional sales fell off a cliff once the crisis took hold and we anticipate it will affect us for the next 12 to 16 months. It’s also greatly slowed some of our suppliers’ ability to operate, so some orders are much slower than normal. It’s still early to completely project how life will look after, but we know the traditional event-based product distribution model 80% our customers use will change for the next while, so large event-based orders aren’t to be expected, which is a key component to our sales.
What advice are you giving yourself and your team for riding this out?
This sales drop has happened before; it will happen again and again. Economies are volatile; you need to build your business to be fluid to change with the times. We are embracing the change and figuring out how we can help make our industry better on the other side of this. We are in the solutions business and we have customers who still want to market with branded product when the timing is correct for them.
What is the opportunity in the challenge for you and your business?
The opportunity for us, is that we have access to product, domestically and abroad. We have always focused on useful product, now the use has just changed. Our suppliers are shifting production to work-from-home items, direct mail to our customer clients from mailing lists, branded and unbranded masks, we can import N95’s (though we’ve held off on that as we want to ensure the primary health care workers are getting those supplies first). We have also started running online stores as a much more serious component of our business. We have just completed one for the emergency departments of both VGH and Royal Jubilee where the staff can buy branded clothing.
What advice have you applied or are you applying from previous experiences coping through crises?
The businesses who do good work will make it through. If resilience and quality were in your work before, it will still be there on the other side. Also, don’t be afraid to take some time away from your business. I struggled at the beginning of this crisis with not being busy. I never had enough time to do all the work. Now it’s the opposite, so try to embrace it, finally plant yourself an herb garden, read that book, build a deck (thank You, Home Depot employees!)
What are your resources right now? Do you have a mentor supporting you, peer group, books you read?
I have weekly industry podcasts I listen to for specific up to date needs. Luckily, I’ve invested in going to industry events and trying to surround myself with forward thinkers who I know I can reach out to when I feel a little stuck in the mud. Also, the co-workers from the Songhees Innovation Center are an important support network.
What advice do you have for others experiencing this alongside you?
Be patient, appreciate your health and community. Adapt to the new normal. We will make it through this eventually, things have been much worse, be thankful for what we have.