While many of the business members of Business and Arts NL (BANL) are larger companies, small businesses also play an important role, as Whink owner Kim Paddon (BANL’s first small-business member) proves.
In 2010, when she was just 23, Paddon purchased a pre-existing business and created and developed Whink. Having moved back home after working in New Brunswick as a graphic designer, she wasn’t specifically looking to move into retail but jumped at the chance when the opportunity arose. In 2013, Whink moved from its original location on Duckworth to a much larger spot on Water Street. “We grew out of our space,” Paddon explains.
Being both an entrepreneur and artist, Paddon sees her membership in Business and Arts NL as a natural fit. She designs Whink’s DuckStreet Collectable line of products, inspired by local jellybean row houses. Much of the jewellery and decorative accents sold at the store are made by local, small-scale artists, whom Paddon often works with to help sort out the business details or “nitty gritty.”
Paddon sees her membership as a potential platform to mentor local artists hoping to move into the retail market and says there’s a “big gap” in the education that needs to be carried out to help artists learn how to price their products, market themselves and scale up production. She recognizes the potential for local artists to expand beyond the provincial market – something that requires the kind of business know-how that local retailers like her can share with BANL members.
In addition to being an entrepreneur, Paddon is also a director with the St. John’s Board of Trade and sits on the board for downtown development. She believes that Business and Arts NL plays an important role among local groups already working with artists and businesses in the city.
“It’s a great organization,” she says. “It can be really big, and help so many.”