2013 Winners

North Bay | Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Katie Bevan

Katie Bevan

Katie Bevan has brought a new retail experience to North Bay's downtown. As owner and operator of the FARM (fashion and art retail market), she offers shoppers the chance to buy something unique and handmade, while offering local artists a venue to sell their wares.

"I started the FARM in September of 2010 and it is the result of a lot of brainstorming," she said.

The store features fashion and lifestyle products that are locally made, Canadian made or eco-friendly. It offers a retail and studio space that members of the FARM can utilize. In return, members take turns working at the store.

Bevan has a degree in fine arts and a degree in fashion design. She left North Bay after high school to pursue her studies and ended up in Vancouver where she started her clothing line, Elliotts Closet, and began working out of her home. After returning to North Bay, she wanted to continue her line of work.

"I needed a space that had studio access and also a store, so it started out more for practical reasons," Bevan said. "Then I started talking about it and my sister was a huge part of the concept and helped me figure it out. Things expanded and other people got involved, and from there, things just grew."

She found there was a demand for unique handmade items in North Bay and she thought her concept could work. Her fear was of having to work every day and not have any time to make clothing.

"I knew there would be a five-year adjustment period, since I kept hearing that, so I am not panicking now. I don't have time right now to make my clothing, but I am trying to get the store running smoothly before I really venture into what I do."

She is also involved in the community, and sits on a variety of boards and committees.

"That's my choice, and I still do fashion designing, like a wedding dress here and there," Bevan said.

More than 70 per cent of the products in the FARM are locally made, but she also has items by designers from across Canada. Shoppers can find products such as clothing, jewelry, pottery, artwork, purses and a skin-care line made locally.

"North Bay needed this. I was a bit nervous in the beginning because of the price point, but if you are going to spend the money somewhere else, why not spend it here?" she said.

"Before I opened the store, I did a trade show in Toronto and on the same day my friends were working one for me in North Bay. The North Bay one far exceeded the Toronto one financially, so that is when I realized I should be in my own backyard."

She would not have started her store anywhere else in the city but downtown. She believes it needs new blood, and sees new businesses opening up in the city's core.

"I am seeing more younger people, and they are buying buildings downtown and restoring them. It's picking up more each year," Bevan said.

It wasn't hard finding artists and designers to support her concept, since she had made many connections in the local arts community.

"So I started with my little FARM family and it has grown from there," she said.

She plans to build more on her designing, and also to offer more workshops. With a large space in the back of the store, she can open it up to those who want to teach.

"There are different concepts I want to develop and I am putting a plan in place. I might hire someone to manage the shop so I can concentrate on what I am doing," Bevan said.

"You can't be scared, like I was in the beginning. If you don't have that fear, then you won't have the drive and push to succeed."

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