Six years ago, I started Eight Ounce as something to pass the time while on maternity leave. It ticked all the boxes for me - buying something I knew people would love and selling it on has excited me since my first childhood lemonade stand.
Wes's passion for all things specialty coffee, and my passion for e-commerce and P&L Statements grew into something we could throw ourselves into together. The early days meant lots of cafe visits with our new baby, jumping up and down in celebration every time an online order came in, and taping shut boxes with one hand while talking on the phone to customers in the other. It meant trying to manage emails like a professional business, when you were actually sleep deprived from a newborn, and standing in line at the post office to ship the one (exciting!) order that came in that day. We had to learn very quickly about things we had no experience in - shipping logistics, importing, customs, taxes, exclusivity agreements, trade shows etc.
We hated the thought of buying brand new cardboard boxes to ship orders in, that were only going to be immediately thrown into a recycling bin after one use, so we would drive around searching for bins full of clean, barely used boxes, and use them to ship our orders in. We struck deals with local offices to come and pick up their used shipping boxes, so we could give them another life.
Growth came quickly for us. There was obviously a need for specialty coffee equipment in Canada, and the market itself was growing. We helped so many cafes and roasteries open, and made so many new friends along the way. Customer Service became what we were known for, when really it's as easy as just helping out people you like and enjoying what you do.
We couldn't keep inventory in our basement for very long, and quickly had to move to storage lockers, then a small warehouse, and then the large warehouse, offices and showroom we are based out of today. We initially hired friends to pack orders for us out of our house, then as we grew hired full time people for operations, logistics, sales, marketing, social media, admin, product knowledge and customer service.
Today we were ranked as the #40 fastest-growing company in Canada (#1 in Calgary) by the Growth 500 award. Pretty exciting, and pretty unbelievable when I think about how this all started.
Sometimes I miss the days of just working out from cafes hoping for an order or two to come in. But this incredible company that we started - that's now fuelled by a team of incredible Eight Ounce staff - is something beyond anything we ever dreamed of, and has a ton of growth left in its future!
About the Growth 500
For 30 years, the Growth 500 has been Canada’s most respectable and influential ranking of entrepreneurial achievement. Ranking Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies by five-year revenue growth, the Growth 500 - formerly known as the PROFIT 500 - profiles the country’s most successful growing businesses. The Growth 500 is produced by Canadian Business.
Winners are profiled in a special Growth 500 print issue of Canadian Business (packaged with the October issue of Maclean’s magazine) and online at Growth500.ca and CanadianBusiness.com. For more information on the ranking, visit Growth500.ca.