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Made Here

A Walk in Our Clients’ Shoes

We discovered an opportunity that would let us walk in our clients’ shoes and raise money for local children’s charities.

In 2018, we opened our very own retail store called Made Here. In the heart of downtown, Made Here stocks all the best products from Manitoba makers and donates 10% of all proceeds to local children’s charities.

At the end of our first year, we were able to donate a total of $20,000 to four amazing Winnipeg organizations: The Dream Factory, Snowflake Place, Art City, and Junior Achievement.

Vantage founder Donavan Robinson (second from the left) and Made Here’s Creative Consultant Melissa Penner (third from the right) present cheques for $5,000 to each of the four organizations (2019)

On top of allowing us to give back to our community, Made Here presented countless new learning opportunities. Here are a few things we’ve learned:

Take Control

As a B2C agency, running a retail store has helped us better understand the pains our clients face on a daily basis.

At first, the basics of running a retail store were completely new to us.

“We opened Made Here quite quickly, so even simple things were overlooked in the beginning,” says Donavan Robinson, Vantage founder. “We didn’t have a lot of the obvious stuff, like packaging materials.”

While there were roadblocks that were out of our control (shoplifting, flooding, global pandemics), we realized that there’s plenty we can do to control the success and perception of our store’s brand.

Curb appeal, product curation, fresh displays, adapting to changing safety measures, staff training—no touchpoint is too small to make a difference.

Products on display at Made Here. Display tables are updated regularly to grab the attention of Richardson Centre pedestrians.

Why Before What

It’s important that every maker we work with understands the motivation and charitable goals that drive Made Here. By fine-tuning our positioning, and nurturing maker relationships, we were able to attract and maintain the right partnerships.

“Many local makers and artisans are looking to give back to the community,” says Melissa Penner, Made Here’s Creative Consultant. “Participating in Made Here provides them with the opportunity to support these local charities and reach a broader audience. It’s a win-win for everyone!”

Be strategic when choosing who to partner with. Every charity will agree to accept a donation, but a key partner should create a synergy that enhances the whole experience.

Collaborations that increase reach and engagement with new audiences are a great way to activate your partnerships. That said, this will only work well if your purpose and goals have significant overlap.

If you’re looking to define your “why”, check out our Success Stories exercise in our VantagePoint™ Workshop download.

Don’t Shy Away From Change

Never before has change been so fast and continual as it is today. During a global pandemic, those who resisted change in the past were pushed into it whether they liked it or not.

If you want your brand to stick around, you must make change adoption a part of your culture. Don’t wait for a radical shift in the market that forces you to adapt. If you postpone making a change, you’ll miss out on your chance to be a leader.

“Your evolution needs to be based on where your customers’ needs, hopes, wants, and dreams are going, not just where they’re at today,” says Kyle Romaniuk, Vantage CEO.

As Made Here evolved, we shifted from raising funds for four charities to raising funds for one: The Dream Factory. This will allow us to make an even bigger impact on a cause that is incredibly close to our hearts.

“The Dream Factory relies on community support to help make dreams come true for Manitoban kids who are fighting really tough battles. Made Here has been an important part of that support over the last few years,” says Andrew Kussy, Development Manager for The Dream Factory. “What makes the support from Made Here so special is how many people work to make it possible: from the Vantage team, to the makers, to the folks shopping in the store—every part of the process is committed to helping make a dream come true, and that’s really inspiring.”

Banners around the store showcase real Dream Kids and explain how Made Here’s donations are used to make their dreams come true. $20,000 would allow 66 kids to receive a princess makeover at Disney’s Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.

Community Is Key

We’re so glad to be able to share what we’ve learned to help our clients build and strengthen their own customer communities. We hope we’ve inspired you to do the same.

Embrace change, learn from what challenges you, and never doubt your brand’s ability to make a difference.

Never Stop Building.

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