Can you imagine running an online business with your sibling?
The founders of SAM & LANCE aren’t just best friends, they’re also sisters. Between the two of them, Veronica and Alora have acquired an MBA and four different undergraduate degrees. They’ve also been to 75 countries and have lived in 3 of them. Inspired by the gorgeous crafts they would come across on their travels, they decided to begin their own online marketplace that would feature products for women, by women around the globe. We spoke with them to learn how the pandemic is changing things (even for an online market-place), and to learn how they are finding hope in their communities.
Tell us in more detail about how COVID-19 has changed your business.
We were already focused on community and philanthropy but this pandemic has really amped that up. After COVID-19, we noticed that people were looking for ways to connect and to give back, so we decided to launch our Care Crates. A Care Crate is a selection of SAM & LANCE’s beautiful self-care products for yourself or as a gift to someone you’re thinking about. For every Care Crate purchased, a second Care Crate is donated to a frontline healthcare worker on your behalf. All the products are locally sourced, sustainable, and from women-owned businesses in Toronto. We are now working on a few more projects aside from our Care Crates to give back to the community and to help our customers do the same.
What has been the best surprise in how people have shown up for you or your business during this time?
We are so excited about the response we have gotten for our Care Crates! People have been so generous wanting to send gifts for their friends and for the healthcare heros. We thought it would be a fun idea but the response has been so overwhelming and wonderful. We felt so helpless and knew others probably felt the same and we wanted to at least feel like we were doing something, no matter how small it may seem it can really make an impact even if it’s just bringing a smile to someone else.
What has been the easiest shift to make?
Working from home and sticking to a routine! With Alora living in Toronto and Veronica living in Singapore, we’re very used to working from co-working spaces, but also from home and connecting with each other and our team online. We feel lucky that having to stay home did not affect our work or our business operations as much as many other businesses.
What about the hardest?
We meet a lot of our suppliers at artisan shows and markets, which of course have all been cancelled. First, we miss meeting them face to face and chatting about their products and getting to know them but also we know a lot of our suppliers rely on those markets for a big chunk of their yearly sales and they’ve been hit really hard. We’re working our hardest to keep promoting their products through our platform so they can get some more sales and support themselves and their loved ones during these tough times.
What have you learned about connecting with your community during this time?
Many of our suppliers are also very small businesses but they are all doing as much as they can to help others, donate to charities and front lines and we are truly so proud to be representing them. We are also so touched at how giving our customers are. Most of their purchases at this time have been sent to their friends or families as lovely ‘thinking of you’ gifts and we love handwriting the notes they request to be included.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself (or your business) in light of what’s happening?
We’ve learned that no matter how small your business may seem, you can still make a difference.
What is the easiest thing people can do to support your business right now?
Connect with us online and say hi or share our story with friends and family! We love sharing inspiring and educational content about living sustainably, shopping consciously, and being true to yourself and your values. We love interacting with our followers so come say hi!
Do you think this is going to change your industry going forward? How?
We think that more people than ever are realizing the importance of supporting small businesses, especially local to their areas. We’ve seen that people who are used to shopping at big box stores have really started to appreciate the effort and importance of small businesses in their communities. We are hoping to make this easier for these types of shoppers by having products tagged by location so people can filter and search for ethically made products local to their area.
To buy a Care Crate for your bestie or the health care providers in your life, or just to check out the artisanal items Veronica and Alora have hand-selected, check out their website, Instagram, or Facebook.