Cait Geddes’ hands-on approach to her business is proof that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.
Geddes is the founder of House & Canvas — an online retailer dedicated to helping crafty customers find the best DIY products. Along with an online store, Geddes has a retail space where she hosts workshops and sells DIY products, including her own line of chalk paint and brushes.
House & Canvas was first conceived back in 2011, when Geddes and her young family made the move to a 100-acre hobby farm in Jarvis, Ont. Geddes spent much of her spare time redecorating her new home, eventually compiling her decorating tips and tricks into an blog titled “My House, My Canvas”.
What began as a fun side project eventually morphed into a full-time job. “I was doing a lot of freelance work, including colour compositions and house flipping,” Geddes explains. “The blog was a place to put my work on paper and share my passion with my friends and family. Before I knew it, I was being contacted for speaking opportunities and guest posts, and it wasn’t just a hobby anymore.”
Entrepreneurship was a natural fit for Geddes. Even prior to “My House, My Canvas”, it wasn’t unusual for her to sell her DIY products. Whether it be sewing tutus for little girls or doing design work with fellow renovators, Geddes was laying the groundwork to start her own business. In keeping with the ethos of the company, Geddes has had a hand in virtually every aspect of her business so far, whether it be website development and graphic design, or accounting and customer service.
Within a few years, Geddes decided to try her hand at store management and merchandising with a retail location in Burlington. The store gave Geddes with a way to showcase her products, but also featured a space large enough for her to host workshops, passing on her love of furniture painting to others.
“I’d like to put a paintbrush in everyone’s hand.”
“When I first opened the store, networking was a huge part of growing my presence in the neighbourhood,” she says. “I spent a lot of time meeting with folks in downtown Burlington and visiting the neighbouring businesses.”
Geddes credits Sheridan’s visual merchandising program with instilling her with the importance of building professional relationships. She recalls her teachers often encouraging her to attend various events and conferences. “Every time I went, I would meet someone, and that one person could make such a difference,” she says. “You carry those relationships throughout your career.”
Looking to give back, Geddes works to make a difference in the lives of others as well. Last year, she established a bursary at Sheridan for current visual merchandising students. She also works actively with the Eagles Nest Association — a not-for-profit that helps families in need.
Geddes has faced her own obstacles in growing her business, often having to fight to be taken seriously as a female entrepreneur specializing in DIY. She recalls times when she had to have her husband make the first point of contact with vendors before she could take over to coordinate selling their products.
Today, Geddes has expanded her business yet again with the launch of her own line of chalk paints and brushes. “I’ve looked at different paint lines over my career, and there’s never been anything I thought was perfect from a price point, colour and quality perspective,” she explains. “It makes me so proud to have my own product designed to my own specifications.”
In the short term, Geddes is hoping to have her products available across North America. The long term? “I’d like to put a paintbrush in everyone’s hand,” says Geddes.