This Spotlight article was written by Adam Burton.
Margaret Niemczyk’s retail business grew out of a flair for fashion that started young — Catholic School uniforms became her canvas as she altered them to express her unique vision. That early passion only intensified over the years, driving her to pursue a formal education in fashion school in Toronto. Returning to Sudbury, she established her own business - Eddie Mira, a fashion and clothing brand operating out of a storefront in the downtown core.
Niemczyk is a well-respected pioneer in the local fashion and artistic movement but has discovered that competing with Big E-commerce was not something she was prepared for. The accelerated trend towards buying from big box stores and multinational online retailers has made it difficult for local businesses like hers to keep their doors open. Niemczyk hopes that people will take more ownership of their consumer decisions and learn to feel good about buying local.
“There needs to be a culture of mutual understanding that if people support local, it’s not just a financial exchange, it’s more than that,” said Niemczyk. “Supporting local contributes to a chain of events. You support my business as much as possible and then I support local businesses as much as possible [...] If somebody is supporting me, I’m also returning that support by supporting others. I think we all need to think about the pay-it-forward model that exists within small business.”
To combat the rising competition from these big box stores and online retailers, Niemcyzk has doubled down on her commitment to providing personalized service and quality custom goods that only she can provide. In addition to her lookbook selection, Niemczyk leverages her expertise to guide customers to design their own garments that she ultimately fabricates for them, from top to bottom, right in her store.
“Getting a garment made just for you is such a unique experience,” said Niemczyk. “For many people, when they see something go from a drawing to fabric, to a complete piece — it’s a very different experience.”
Niemczyk is not alone in her mission to offer quality goods to a local market, though — she recently partnered with One Red Maple, an online retail platform in Kingston, North Bay, and Sudbury, that helps consumers discover products and locally owned stores in their community.
Since Niemczyk started her business, her biggest challenge has been gaining visibility. One Red Maple’s technology gives her the technological power of big e-commerce and makes it possible for her to get her products on people's phones and laptops when they’re shopping from home, something she didn’t think was possible until recently.
“One Red Maple promises to give me and other small retailers the tools that have only been accessible to Big Retail until now,” said Niemczyk. “It's exciting to think about how their technology can make it easier for consumers to shop like they usually do, from any Big Brand website anywhere in the world, and discover my products and my store with very little effort.”
This newfound reach is made possible by One Red Maple’s browser extension and app, which use a ground-breaking algorithm that searches through the multitudes of products your community has to offer and brings the one you’re looking for to the top of the list.
Starting a new business and getting widely discovered has been challenging but rewarding for Niemczyk. Watching her business grow from her own two hands, serving her community, and creating sustainable products has been an empowering experience. In her years in Sudbury, Niemczyk has enjoyed running a woman-owned business for a clientele of mostly women.
“I work in an industry that is trending towards fast fashion and hasn’t paid women enough for their labour and I’m trying to correct for that,” said Niemczyk. “I think that it’s important as a woman to lead for others and show them that you can create things, sell them, and earn a living. We need more women to support each other in that right.”
Only One Red Maple turns online shopping into an engine for local community prosperity.
Download the mobile app and browser extension to easily find the great brands and products you want today, while buying from locally owned stores near you.
Visit oneredmaple.com to start flexing your superhero shopping muscles.