Elsie Tranmer is a perfect example of Thunder Bay’s entrepreneurial potential.

Elsie Tranmer

The Thunder Bay entrepreneur has founded two businesses in the city: beauty and skin care boutique Ritual Skin Company, and Hail Cosmetics, manufacturer of hand-crafted lipsticks.

Tranmer recently spoke to the CEDC about her businesses, and entrepreneurial journey, for Small Business Week.

  • What started you on the entrepreneurial journey (who/what inspired you?)
    • I've always known it was a direction I've wanted to take. In my early 20's it was so confusing working for other businesses, and really I knew deep down I just wanted my own company, so why am I wasting my - and everyone else's - time? At the time I was also educating myself on natural products and product ingredients. I was a pretty big product nerd. I loved packaging and aesthetics most of all, but it was impossible to find natural products that did look like they were made by a hippy stuck in the 90's. So I started looking for help to develop one.
  • Where did you turn for assistance/mentoring?
    • The CEDC was actually one of the first places I went to. I set up a meeting with Ryan Moore and he gave me great directions to several grants and opportunities. It just so happened to be close to a new round of Starter Company. Once I had received that grant I was immediately launched into my next steps for my company, and it was a huge stepping stone to where I am today owning a retail store. I had also received huge help from the Innovation Centre through the co-starter grant, and everyone there was such a help and really inspired me and pushed me to go further and faster. Paro was later on. I had received an invitation into a friend's circle and I'm still meeting with those ladies regularly for support and still receiving and paying back the circle loans. 
  • What were some of the biggest life lessons you’ve learned along the way?
    • One of the biggest lessons I've learned is to trust your gut. No one is going to see your vision like you do. So at the end of the day, you can receive all the best advice in the world, but you have to be the one putting it into practice. You know yourself and your work ethic so work smarter, work at your pace, and be as realistic as possible. Sometimes, in order to get everything done you just have to do them in a different order. 
  • Why Thunder Bay?
    • I grew up here! My family and friends are here and I just truly and deeply love Thunder Bay and this community. I want to see us grow and become more than just the small town that people see. I feel like a lot of people feel the same way. 
  • What advice would you give to someone who’s just started - or thinking of starting - their entrepreneurial journey?

I would tell them not to be afraid to look into help, or find help in your community. I feel like a lot of people have ideas but they're too scared to share them or think someone is going to steal them. Don't be scared to talk to people. Make it your baby and make it known. You never know where you can start getting capital from until you try. 

Another piece of advice is that you're only going to go as far as you push yourself. Surround yourself with people who support you but I find the best ones are people who work just as hard as you. 

Last thing, don't let people pressure you into quitting other sources of income until you're ready to. In reality your business might not make money for years but don't let that stop you. Keep putting that money back into your business and grow it. 

  • What was something that was unexpected in this journey?
    • I wasn't expecting to feel so unsuccessful but now I see it differently. I see success in longevity and staying in business versus starting one. You can start a business but it doesn't mean it'll go far. Everyone is different though so create your own version of success and strive for that. I now see feeling unsuccessful as a helpful day-to-day motivational tactic. I will continue to battle and push forward to make myself proud. 
  • What was the greatest moment in this journey?
    • My greatest moment I would have to say is opening to doors for the first time at Ritual Skin Co. That had to have been the coolest moment of my life. 
  • If you could be a food, which would it be?
    • I would be a cherry. Small but will still punch you in the face. 
  • What is your business’ short pitch?
    • At Ritual Skin Co. we carry natural, cruelty free, Canadian-made products. We have a deep love for skincare and beauty products but also carry many body, baby, bath and even beard products. We look for other like minded companies so you'll also find many small-batched, women-owned, and vegan companies as well. Before we opened you could only find these products online and we are so happy to finally create a home for them here in Thunder Bay. Our staff is knowledgeable in all our brands and we can do short consults to help you find your best fit. We want sustainable, clean products so we can have a greener future. 

For more information about Ritual Skin Company, visit the store at 8 Court St. S. in Thunder Bay, or ritualskinco.com.

For more information about Hail Cosmetics, visit www.hailcosmetics.com

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