Gathering Place Trading is a family business founded on Cortes Island. Lovena and Ryan Harvey founded the business with a mission in mind – to promote fair trade. They only source products from farms that align with sustainable business practices. The special relationship they have with their partners ensures consistent, high-quality products. Lovena and Ryan also source Canadian whenever possible, specializing in Canadian-grown organic herbs, artisan sea salts, teas, and dried fruit.

Gathering Place Trading has been a staple source of nourishing food products in their community for over 17 years. In that timeframe, the company has expanded to a team of 8 employees. They also added a packaging facility and warehouse in Campbell River. However, beyond this growth, there were still other markets that they could potentially thrive in.

Lovena & Ryan

Tapping into new markets

“We’ve had interest in our products from customers in the US, Japan, and Australia. However, we felt overwhelmed by the whole exporting process,” says Lovena. “We didn’t have time to look into it because the day-to-day activities of running the company was already time consuming enough.”

Then, the perfect opportunity came. In November 2019, Lovena attended the Rural Islands Economic Forum and learned about the Export Navigator program. She immediately contacted Brady, the Vancouver Island export advisor. After further discussion with Brady and learning how Export Navigator could help, Lovena decided to pursue exporting.

“I knew that the program was exactly what I needed,” recalls Lovena. “After reaching out to my export advisor, the whole exporting process became demystified. He was great at explaining and breaking concepts down into achievable steps.”

Not only did she learn exactly how to reach her goal of exporting, Lovena was also connected with experts who helped her immensely. She was able to get additional support from the government, Export Development Canada (EDC), and customs brokers through her export advisor. This adequately prepared her business to expand into new markets.

Achieving business success

Although this is just the beginning of Lovena and Harvey’s export journey, they’ve already experienced their first taste of success. “Export Navigator helped me become more confident in dealing with customers from different markets. I had my first US customer reach out with a substantial order and I embraced the opportunity, rather than shy away from it,” acknowledges Lovena.

Lovena and Harvey have made huge strides in their business. Since joining Export Navigator, they have earned $26,000 in export sales from shipping their first batch of product to the US. They enlisted the help of a local co-packer to fulfill this big order and look forward to more exporting opportunities down the road.

Brady Calancie