Five things I've learned since opening Health Hut. A note from Tara, HH Founder.
This weekend our College Street location turns two. We're also not that far away from our 10th season at the original hut in Muskoka. And, today is my 35th birthday.
As time seems to be moving faster each day, I wanted to pause and reflect on what has changed since the day I decided to pile a bunch of natural products into an old ice cream hut in 2011 (a lot), what has stayed the same (my love for what I do) and everything I've learned in between.
Five Things I've learned since opening Health Hut.
1. There are few things that bring me as much joy as working with small, independent companies. From our local favourites like Province Apothecary and Wildcraft to my friend Laura of Kitz and Daughters who grows flowers in her Toronto backyard to make our bouquets, I have felt a next-level amount of community and genuine care for each others' successes. When you get to know and love the people and stories behind brands, you no longer feel like you're selling their products, but instead sharing with others your excitement for what they have created, and I really like that.
2. Health includes more than just what we put in and on our bodies. When I started the hut, I was heavily influenced by my nutrition training and the idea that there were "good" and "bad" foods, products, etc. and that this was the only way to offer wellness. Now I feel differently. These things may matter a bit, but I've also learned that health and wellness come from feeling autonomous, kind to yourself, pleasure and joy - and that it looks very different for everyone. My nutrition practice has changed to reflect this and I use the principles of Intuitive Eating and Health At Every Size® to guide both my client conversations as well as our shop culture. I am constantly trying to challenge the language we are using, to take guilt out of the pursuit of health and to offer a warm and inclusive environment safe for everyone.
3. Slow and steady wins the race. Okay, so I'm not saying I have won - or that this is even a race. But, what I have learned is that slow, steady and consistent hard work does pay off. I remember for the first few years of the hut I worked every single day of the summer. My friends were doing regular fun summer stuff and I was melting in a hut, and it's not like my bank account was reflecting this. During the offseason, I was doing pop-ups and lugging products in and out of our third-story walk-up apartment, where every drawer, shelf, and closet was bursting with Health Hut products. Then I signed the lease for my very first store in the city - a 10x10 space with zero storage, zero bathroom, so small I would hit my head on a shelf when I stood up to greet someone - but it was mine and I was thrilled. Moving into our to College Street location was something I had dreamed of, but never thought possible. Another year, another small victory. And even though everyone always seems to be moving faster, or just doing more things (that comparison game, am I right?) I've learned that for me, this pace is just fine.
4. People still like doing things in real life. (And I do, too!) In a time where you can, with one simple click, order whatever your heart desires to your front door step, something within minutes or hours, it's natural to question the old brick and mortar model. But it has been my experience that people, including me, still love being part of a community and crave good conversation face to face. I have met such warm and interesting people over the years, in all of our locations and always look forward to seeing their familiar faces walk through the door. I am grateful for my customers new and old, the opportunity to listen to their stories and unique needs and to play a role (even if tiny) in their lives.
5. I don't know everything and I can't do it alone. I've started to believe you need some sort of weird naive confidence to start a business. I was 26, did not have much to lose, certainly thought I knew everything and if I didn't, I would just figure it out. I fearlessly put it all out there. I realized very fast that I definitely do not know everything (not even close) and that the growth of the hut is a product of so many amazing people. I've learned that everyone has something interesting and unique to offer. I've learned that things get done so much better when we do them together and I've learned that one of my favourite parts of expanding has been the ability to build a team and to be able to continuously learn from them.
Thank you so much for your support and I hope you join us this coming Saturday, October 19th at the College Street location as we celebrate two years being a part of this great neighbourhood. We'll have drinks, snacks, facials, a gift with purchase, a giveaway and if it's like any of our other parties, lots of fun.