2016 IW Winners

Young Entrepreneur of the Year - North Bay

Kristin Lowe

Kristin Lowe

Kristin Lowe is a self-described “hostess with the mostess” and foodie who is lucky enough to spend most of her time in kitchens.

If she’s not cooking up a storm in her own kitchen, you’ll find the owner of North Bay’s Kitchen Gallery in the shop surrounded by kitchen supplies, or in one of the spaces she’s designing.

Lowe opened the Kitchen Gallery when she was 26. It will be celebrating its 10th anniversary next year. Running the business has allowed the energetic entrepreneur to stay busy and engaged.

“I’m a restless person and I get bored easily, and what I love about kitchen renos, is it’s a great amount of time, not too short, not too long,” said Lowe. “I can sink my teeth in creatively, but it never goes on too long.”

Kitchen Gallery has become a household name since opening in 2007, although Lowe said it wasn’t always that way.

“When I first opened, I was a young woman in a predominately older male-dominated field, so I had to fight against a lack of credibility and a lack of experience, and now I generally feel none of that,” said Lowe.

“Right around 2012, we’d been open three or four years, when I found there was this shift, where we were sort of the nomenclature of who people called, and it was a nice rewarding moment.”

That same year, Lowe started a design web series called the Lowedown that’s allowed her to tap even further into her creativity and reach a bigger audience.

“I wanted to be a thought leader, and it gave me an opportunity to share design ideas — and so I filmed this series of webisodes on all the different facets of design. I loved it, because I got to share general tips for anyone considering it,” said Lowe. “Later people would say, ‘I saw your videos and I learned a lot!’”

Lowe takes great pride in being an entrepreneur and said that an entrepreneurial spirit has gotten her through economic shifts and kept her afloat in the tough Northern economy.

“I wasn’t immediately successful, but I think the spirit of it is this grit deep down inside. When things are really tough and you’re not doing as well as you envisioned, and it could be quite easy to stop and walk away, an entrepreneur digs in and works harder,” said Lowe.

Lowe, who was born and raised in North Bay, left briefly to obtain a degree in English at Western University. While she was away, Lowe’s parents moved to Oakville to open a kitchen store. Upon graduation, Lowe started working at her parents’ store and discovered a love of interior design and enrolled in Sheridan College’s interior design program.

“I found a completely untapped creativity,” laughed Lowe.

Lowe didn’t stay in the south long, and after only six years away moved back to North Bay. “My husband brought me back. We started dating when I was in design school,” said Lowe. “My parents didn’t imagine that any of us would move here.” She credits her parents’ example for inspiring her entrepreneurial drive.

“I’m lucky that I have mentors in my parents. I think it was nurtured in me, because my parents have always been self-employed,” said Lowe.

Several years in and Lowe said that she, and the business, are now at a place where she feels comfortable growing, with the recent addition of a bathroom design business.

“The learning experiences have been very rewarding. What I like about it is that the buck stops with me; if something doesn’t work or a plan, it’s on me, and I think that’s best and I can live with that,” said Lowe.

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