Go big or go home — that should be the motto of Jessica Skuk.
The Port Coquitlam woman has just rented a massive 6,000 sq-ft. warehouse off the busy Mary Hill Bypass (7B) in a gritty light industrial area and is turning it into a boutique marketplace for hand-made, sustainable artisan goods.
But Skuk has big plans for the space, including starting a café she hopes will become a community hub for local artists and artisans.
She also plans to rent out the top floor for special events, and is looking for a like-minded tenant to rent a 1,000 sq-ft. office and display space.
Meanwhile, the warehouse is being used for hands-on workshops, such as a cookie decorating class where participants are learning how to make adorable Valentine's Cookies, some of them raunchy.
Gift shop becomes community hub
The class on Saturday (Feb. 11) is taught by Homemade by Harris.
"The idea of co-warehousing is starting to take off," explained Skuk, who has been developing the idea of Industry Haus over the past few months since she rented the space.
Most small businesses don't need 30,000 square feet of space straight off; but they might need a space to work, store or box their goods, shelves to showcase their products and help with advertising.
Industry Haus hopes to offer those services to local businesses while also running a gift shop and online business she started five years ago.
"We're a place for small business to come to solve problems that are holding them back from growing."
From small beginnings out of her home
Skuk knows what it's like to start from nothing.
In 2018, she started her online artisan gift box business From: Us Gifting Company from scratch out of a simple idea: creating gift boxes without plastic, throw-away items and mass-produced food.
From: Us gained an appreciative following for its unique collection of Canadian products, from personal care products to chemical-free, refillable cleaning supplies, paper products, vegan, gluten-free and keto-friendly foods and specialty coffees and teas.
Now it's become a brick-and-mortar store, where people can choose their own gifts or buy a curated box.
From: Us occupies the other half of the showroom of the Kingsway Avenue building.
In a whimsical touch, there are two entrances to the shop, one for From: Us Gifting and the other for Industry Haus.
Canadian artisans sought for spring marketplace
Walk around the shop, and you can see the potential.
There are so many unique gift ideas that it's clear some creative individuals have been outdoing themselves making products for Canadians hungry for something personal, thoughtful and good for the environment.
Skuk said the products on the shelves are all made by Canadian female artisans, crafters and entepreneurs, like herself, and she's excited to take on this new challenge.
Besides her family, including husband, Tony, much of her support comes from other local female entrepreneurs; they egg her on sometimes while also urging caution at others.
"We're a bunch of bad-ass ladies," said Skuk, proudly.
She hopes she can grow her own business while supporting others just getting started, with a spring marketplace accepting new Canadian artisans.
"It's a great way to get exposure to products other than attending markets."
For more information, you can visit the From: Us website.