This story is part of an ongoing series exploring local makers-turned-entrepreneurs in Kawartha Lakes to find out what motivates them.
Stephanie Buckley and Holly Suddick are the two-woman team behind Rustically Signed, a local business providing custom décor and woodworking classes in Lindsay.
After Suddick’s sign-making business grew rapidly, she began to have a hard time keeping up with custom orders. “I was starting to have to tell people ‘no’… so then I reached out to Steph and asked if I could send some of my customers her way,” she says.
What was intended as a quick meeting over coffee to discuss their agreement continued on for several hours. “We got along so well that we decided we would just join forces” says Buckley.
Today, the duo say they are frequently mistaken to have known each other for years, when in reality, it was their business that brought them together just over a year ago. Their partnership is a rather harmonious one, says Buckley, which has continued to thrive through all of the hours they spend together. “I talk to her more than I talk to my husband,” she laughs.
Rustically Signed’s do-it-yourself woodworking classes aim to make working with tools a fun and approachable activity for anyone who may be afraid to teach themselves. When it comes to learning about construction, Suddick and Buckley said they have learned just as much about gender-bias. “It’s intimidating when you ask a man and you have them looking over your shoulder,” says Buckley. The partners also try to use more accessible language for customers who have never tried woodworking before.
Despite owning an established business, the duo say that they continue to face a lot of assumptions about being women in their field.
“Sometimes when you go into a lumberyard trying to buy supplies or replacement parts for your tools, they’ll dumb it down for you and act like you don’t know what you’re talking about, when half of the time we know more than the employees do about this stuff,” explains Buckley.
Rather than being discouraged, the pair continue to find empowerment in their work, especially when it comes to sharing their craft and creating a positive space for others. “A bunch of people will come with their partner or by themselves and by the end of the night everyone is a group, they’re all talking, they’re all friends,” says Suddick.
This sense of community goes beyond customers, as the business also doubles as a market and workshop space for other local makers who do not have access to the same resources.
“We understand their struggles and want to make life easy for them,” says Suddick, whose products also used to be sold in eight different stores.
“We want to be a space where they can come and have that community feeling.”
Suddick’s advice for anyone who has dreamed of starting a small business is to take the plunge and see what lessons one might find along the way. “You’ll make your first product and you’ll be so scared to post it but just do it,” she says.
The two entrepreneurs are not afraid to make mistakes either, from almost running out of screws during a workshop, to locking themselves out of their shop on the first day of classes, they continue to learn from, and laugh about, their failures along the way.
Most of all, the team behind Rustically Signed expresses their passion for empowering women to learn the skills that they are taught to be afraid of. “Don’t be afraid and don’t think you can’t do it just because you’re a girl,” says Suddick.
Both the Rustically Signed workshop and store can be found on the third floor of 8 Cambridge St N, above the Pie Eyed Monk Brewery. Visit their website here.
To read about our last Passion Project business, go here.