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CCEDA’s Business Mentorship Program: Supporting Cortes Island Small Business

In January, the Cortes Community Economic Development Association, or CCEDA, hired a Business Mentorship Coordinator. In the four months since then Tamlyn Collingwood has worked with a number of Cortes Island’s small businesses, developed procedures to help them and is about to unveil a series of new market opportunities in conjunction with Hollyhock.   

“I was contracted to support small businesses in any areas needed. There’s so many different aspects to business and,  for many folks, they might be good at a few things and they might have a few challenges in some of those areas,” she explained.

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“My job is to help them in the areas I can, either providing one on one direct support or helping connect folks with resources that can help them or with other mentors in the community who can help them.” 

“So far I’ve been working with  over a dozen businesses,  mostly artists and product based businesses. A lot of times folks just need someone to bounce ideas off of or help connect them with resources.  I’ve done a lot of sort of one on one  creating labels, creating logos,  strategizing and business planning.”

Cortes Currents: Is there a charge involved?  

Tamlyn Collingwood: “No, so this is a free service.”

“Besides the one on one business mentorship,  part of my job is trying to create  new opportunities for businesses on Cortes because  we have  a limited market here  So trying to  leverage what we do have going on in the community  another aspect is providing training and workshops So we have a few workshops planned.”

“We had one planned for may but we had to cancel due to so many people being sick or having a cold,  so we decided to reschedule. We’re not sure exactly when we’re going to do it, but probably in the fall. Things are ramping up for summer. People are getting really busy and people are less and less available. The fall seems like a good time to hunker down and learn new skills that are needed for business.” 

“A lot of the feedback that I’ve received is that marketing is one of the areas that people need a lot of help with.  Email marketing, social media,  websites, and sales are some of the  types of help that people need and also with bookkeeping and finance.”

“I’m hoping to put on a bookkeeping workshop in the fall.”   

Cortes Currents: Tell me a little bit about some of the initiatives you’ve got going with Hollyhock. 

Tamlyn Collingwood: “When I was thinking about creating new opportunities or more opportunities for local business, I thought of all the guests that we have coming into Hollyhock in the summer and in the shoulder season. I  wondered how can I create a way to integrate the guests from Hollyhock into our community,  engaging with local business and our local culture.” 

“One of the first ideas I thought of was having guests come to the Friday market.  Having been a vendor at the Friday market for a few years,  I noticed that we do get some Hollyhock guests coming through.  It’s always nice to see fresh faces and to have that exposure to folks who don’t live on Cortes.” 

“Hollyhock happens to have a little shuttle,  and they are going to shuttle guests from Hollyhock to the Friday market. So guests will come to the market and then they’ll head over to the village commons to listen to the music program that starts there at around 1 30.  Then afterwards  they’ll walk up to the Cortes Island Museum.  It’s  a way for folks from Hollyhock to come and learn about the history of Cortes.”

 “Another thing that we’re doing is organizing artists  studio tours. We have about eight different dates where we’re going to have artists studio tours.  We wanted to design it so that folks could walk easily from one studio to the next. They’re mostly going to be in the Smelt Bay and surrounding Hollyhock areas.  Luckily we have some great artists with studios in the area.  Right now I have about four artists  and we’re busy getting them ready. Our first tour is going to be on May 20th, so a week from now. They’re going to be on Monday afternoons. We’re really excited about that and I’m hoping that that’s something that will continue year after year.  I’m just trying to set the stage for the program. What I’m hoping is that  someone continues to do this job. Once that’s running really well,  it could just become its own thing.” 

“The third thing we’re doing is we’re going to have pop up makers markets at Hollyhock on the grounds on Wednesday afternoons. This is going to be open to everyone.  I am going to  advertise this to the wider Cortes community, as well as any  guests that are not at Hollyhock.  It gives them an opportunity to come to Hollyhock, walk through the garden, maybe have lunch, and then check out  some of our local artisans and makers there.”

“We’ve got quite a few dates set for that on Wednesday afternoons between 1:30 and 4:00.  That’s three big projects that we’re doing this year at Hollyhock, and hopefully they’ll just become a thing that we do every year.” 

Cortes Currents: These are some great ideas.  Can I ask, How long is your contract going to be for?

Tamlyn Collingwood: “It’s a one year contract.  It’s probably going to end a little bit before January. So I should be able to provide these services up until late fall.” 

“If anyone needs help, they can easily reach out to me via email and I’m happy to meet with them or provide as any assistance that I can.”  

Cortes Currents: Is there any talk of renewing your contract in January? 

Tamlyn Collingwood: “We’ll have to see if there’s any funding for it.”

“I’ve had a lot of folks reach out to me.  A lot of people need help and some of the initiatives that we’ve gotten going would be good to continue. Whether it be me or someone else who’s able to do the same job, I’m really hoping  that it’s something that’s ongoing.  I’ve really noticed that there is quite a high demand for support with small business, especially for folks who I refer to as solopreneurs.” 

“Many of us are running our businesses on our own,  doing everything ourselves.  I know from personal experience how much work that is.  It’s really nice to have  have someone who can at least coach them or help them strategize or help with one of the aspects of their business that they’re struggling with. It makes a big difference.”

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