Roaming the Yukon forests and the poplar stands of her grandmother’s Peace River farm as a young girl inspired artist Nevada Christianson to launch ChicaDee Hats in 2018, a snapback, adjustable “trucker” hat business, based in Whistler, B.C. Her hats, sold online and through select retailers, feature stylized graphic renditions of the province’s creatures and iconic landscapes she loves.
“I wanted to create ChicaDee Hats as a kind of moving canvas that would allow both adults and children to connect with local and endangered animals, plants and iconic landscape features in British Columbia,” says Christianson.
Setting Growth Goals
Christianson and her partner, Trevor Hunt, have their sights set on creating a thriving online business, selling hats direct to consumers in Canada, the US and Australia with revenue in excess of $200,000 net per year.
But that is not all they hope to accomplish. Christianson is quick to admit her ulterior motive. Ultimately, she wants to develop an influential philanthropic arm of the business that will support local conservation-based NGOs and other projects to positively impact the land and local communities.
Christianson knew she needed outside expertise in order to expand ChicaDee Designs and to start exporting. Discovering Export Navigator and being connected with an advisor brought her a huge sense relief.
“It is a great comfort to know I have an advisor as a sounding board,” says Christianson. “She helps me to manage the overwhelm of running a small business. She really meets me where I am at each week and is good at pivoting to address issues as they arise.”
Online Start-Up Challenges
ChicaDee Designs faced many of the same growth challenges other online start-ups encounter. Christianson and Hunt were coming up short on market research when trying to select their target export locations. They needed an online marketing plan, social media engagement strategy, website optimization and the funding to support it. With the expansion into exporting, they also had questions about international commerce laws and incorporating the proprietorship to increase potential for financial support.
“My export advisor helps me in a number of ways,” says Christianson. “We have regular meetings where we set goals for the weeks ahead and strategize on how to reach those goals. She is a wealth of information, connecting me with professionals, courses and workshops. She advises me on what I should focus on and what sequence I should follow. We discuss any problems I am having, and she provides potential solutions or steps I can take to resolve difficulties. The strategies encompass all aspects of my business.”
The result? Christianson and Hunt have seen increased online sales and recently received funding that allows them to substantially develop their brand and reach a larger audience through online marketing. They are cultivating strategic relationships with knowledgeable professionals. Perhaps best of all, though, is the peace of mind and clarity that comes from having short and long-term goals.
“Having a business advisor through Export Navigator is an excellent support system that allows you to avoid costly mistakes, set intelligent, achievable goals and receive the support, information and education to reach those goals,” says Christianson. “You will develop tremendously as a business person by working through problems effectively and systematically. Having an advisor helps build confidence and provides the foundational support needed to steadily move forward.”