Community Connection – Jehna Duncan

Upon opening a business, you learn many valuable lessons; some the hard way, some through experience and some you are taught by others throughout your journey. My biggest take away to date is the importance of community and connection. Being from a small town, people generally have a love-hate relationship with the constant chain of connection: everyone-knows-everyone.  Although this can be frustrating when you just want to run to the grocery store in your sweat pants without seeing anyone – it is very valuable as a business owner. You never know how someone you meet can later help you along the way.

I have run into this situation time and time again, it was my connections that started my business in the first place. SimplyWell started as one of my friends (Carly, Owner, LifeYoga) saw the potential in my product and guided me through the beginning stages of a business. One the way’s we took off was by selling juice through local businesses such as hers (LifeYoga), Cher Mere, etc. 

It was a family friend who did the construction on my store and other various friends and family members who got it off the ground. During that time I was approached by my co-workers from a pervious employment and integrated them into the business model. Instant expansion.

I quickly realized how valuable my connections within the community were. The people you know are your first clients/customers. They are the ones who help spread the word. I have booked multiple events and sold juice to plenty of people based off of a mutual friend recommending my business. There is a level of trust that is associated with a review from a friend. 

Even now in my third year with our storefront, I am still surprised by the connections that arise. I have come to learn that my fellow businesses are not my competition, they are some of my biggest supporters. Up-lifting other businesses is mutually beneficial. Your neighbour’s success is going to attract more customers to your area, which in turn leads to more success for your business. Our recent initiatives with Downtown Kingston are different ways we can leverage our supportive business community. Creating new ways to support and promote each other. 

My advice to anyone starting out, is to put your pride aside and ask for help. Let your family and friends know what you’re doing, get their help where you can but don’t rely on it. Don’t be too shy to approach a business owner – no matter how successful they are or may appear – ask them for their advice. Any tips & tricks from people who have experience in your field is going to help you at some point. I pop into the stores around me from time to time and chat with the owners and employees about how their month is going. Are we both having a really busy month? Maybe it’s slow. How can we fix that? How can we collaborate? I’ll take a few photos of my favourite products and post them on our social media. Maybe write a review. Anything that is going to help them or both of us out.

Don’t forget: Kingston is a wonderful place full of immensely supportive people. I always say, I don’t think I could have opened my business anywhere else because we have such a strong sense of community here. We love seeing local business owners succeed, and you’re no exception!

Jehna Duncan

Founder and Owner of SimplyWell Health Hub

SimplyWell started with a simple juicer and a love for healthy eating back in 2014. Since then, Jehna has grown her company into a thriving brand and hot spot for those seeking healthy alternatives in Kingston. Along with her storefront downtown, Jehan just launched her new blog, the SimplyWell Living Plant Based Lifestyle Blog, created to guide readers through recipes, tips & tricks, advice, solutions, and all things “whole-food-plant-based-living’!