by Stacy Dunn
Natalie Haddad was inspired by her life-long interest in event planning, design, and esthetics to start her business, Cordial Picnics.
She creates luxury picnic experiences for couples and groups, from first dates and proposals to bachelorette parties and work gatherings.
“I love to put together bright colours and flowers for the guests, and PEI has so many beautiful locales to set up a picnic,” says Natalie. “Since I started in June, I have been busy almost every day this summer taking bookings. I also received a request to do an indoor picnic for the Christmas season.”
CreativePEI’s HIVE Program helped Natalie transform her ideas into a business plan. The program, offered this past winter and spring, helps aspiring cultural entrepreneurs develop business skills.
In addition to mentoring and support from industry peers and professionals, the program offered a Business of Art Bootcamp. This year, 25 entrepreneurs from the fields of film, theatre, music, design, and visual art, went through the program.
“I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and I am grateful to the HIVE for the opportunity to build the proper foundation to start my business,” says Natalie. “I love the connections I made, especially the one-on-one mentoring.
“They were always there for me when I had a question. My fellow HIVE members gave me helpful advice as well.”
HIVE Community Manager Robyn Gallant says HIVE gave participants confidence and provided a safe space for them to freely express their art, their financial situations, and their challenges. “They learned about start-up business methods. Some of our participants may use the knowledge they gained in the future, and some have launched straight into brand-new businesses.
“I think the HIVE showed participants that starting a business does not need to be intimidating. If you are willing to learn and to improve and have lots of heart, you can achieve it. It is an incredible experience.”
Working though COVID-19
As COVID-19 restrictions ease, Robyn says the creative industries will help people make the genuine connections they have missed since the start of the pandemic.
“I believe art, music, culinary, and storytelling will be a problem-solver for many of the challenges the local business community is facing, such as: How do we begin to ease some of the stress and trauma that we have experienced over the past 18 months? How do we get creative about improving our workforce, inspiring our employees, and gain real relationships with our customers?”
CreativePEI’s Executive Director Mark Sandiford says creative industries had begun to recover this summer. He notes the areas that had been hardest hit, such as live performance, crafts and museums, started picking up with the return of tourists.
“Full recovery will need to wait until 2022, though. While tourism numbers are rebounding nicely, some COVID-19 restrictions are still in place, and most venues did not plan a full season this summer,” Mark says.
“Film, videogames and writing were largely unaffected by the pandemic and continued to do well through the summer.
“The fall should be busy as restrictions are lifted further. It looks like tourism will continue to pick up with a very busy shoulder season. Touring musicians are beginning to get bookings for the fall. Things are looking up.”