Join Yukon Entrepreneur Myles Hougen, co-founder of Yukon Built, a community-focused, apparel company located in Whitehorse as we catch up and find out what has been happening since our last interview with them the summer of 2020.
(1:14) Myles shares their first memory of the pandemic. Their brother Tanner, co-founder of Yukon Built, was one of the first people in the Yukon to test positive for Covid-19 in March of 2020. Because of having been in contact, Myles had to isolate for 14 days, and as business owners, being out of their business that long put a massive strain on them, especially with so many unknowns at the start of the pandemic.
(2:55) Looking at their business model, having built their brand and business on having an online presence allowed them to continue to be in contact with their customers. Even when businesses had to shut down, they were able to sell product through their website and have curbside pickup. Over the course of the last two years, they were able to expand their online business and due to the amazing support of Yukoners, and even opened a bricks and mortar store in June of 2021.
(5:43) Myles discusses the interruptions they have had in their supply in the last two years and how there has been an interesting evolution of what they have been experiencing through the pandemic. A recent surprise has been receiving their 2021 Christmas inventory restock at the beginning of February 2022, so navigating the challenge of this has been difficult.
(8:17) Talking about their customer base, Myles shares that Yukoners are still their primary customer, however they have been seeing an expansion of their customer base comprising of people who have had a connection to the Yukon, whether having lived here at some point, or visited, and that they’ve identified an opportunity to tap into the storytelling of what the Yukon is through their customers. They have been reaching out to customers that they have shipped to internationally to find out how they came across their company and have been receiving a lot of great feedback they will be able to use in the future.
(10:31) Learning about leadership, Myles considers themselves fairly new as a leader and manager, and shares that a personal challenge of theirs has been pushing themselves outside of their comfort zone of what it means to be a leader, especially during a time when there are so many unknowns and stress levels are high. Focusing on keeping positivity and energy to lead their team has been an incredibly important piece of this journey for them.
(12:12) Myles shares the adaptations in their business they are most proud of. They are really proud of how they’ve navigated the pandemic and continued to be confident about what they’re doing, pushing forward and growing the business into this brand which is something special. On a personal level, they’ve learned the importance of balance, and not being able to travel has helped them to connect further with their Yukon community.
(13:59) Navigating the public health measures, Myles shares that as a retailer, they have felt them to be reasonable to navigate versus the restrictions that restaurants and bars have had to navigate. They feel they have been very fortunate that the public health measures have not affected their ability to run their business too drastically.
(17:07) Regarding new skill development to help position themselves better, Myles considers that their willingness to connect with other people who have the skills they don’t and trying to learn new things through reading books and listening to podcasts has helped to expand their minds and approach to business. Myles attributes some of their success their willingness and openness to work with and connect with people who can help them grow their business based off their skill sets working in conjunction with theirs.
(19:16) As the Yukon economy works to rebuild, Myles discusses the new challenge arising; the cost of living and doing business in the north as well as the challenge of finding commercial space, at least in Whitehorse. They are looking at more cost-effective ways of sourcing product and how to possibly produce more of their products locally to help mitigate the high cost of shipping. Despite these challenges, as restrictions are lessening and lifting, Myles shares they are feeling optimistic of whatever the new normal will be and how they will continue to navigate everything they’ve established over the last two years.
(20:43) Myles advice for emerging entrepreneurs? Now is a good time to dive into things, especially with the amount of content and expertise available online that can be tapped into. There is so much opportunity right now and a lot of barriers of how to get into business have been reduced.
(23:05) Myles shares an ‘aha’ moment for themselves being the importance of work-life balance and how this is something they are still working on. The pandemic has provided constant reminders of this, and realizing there is more to life than just work has helped them focus on their mental health more.
(24:13) What wellness practices keep Myles grounded? Getting outside is the main one for Myles. Going out for a quick ski, walking the trails easily accessible living in the Yukon, and just getting some fresh air and sunlight have been important. Taking breaks has allowed them to reset and be more productive in their work as well.
(25:31) Myles shares some final thoughts about their appreciation for being in the position they are in as a business and that they are thankful they have been able to continue to grow year over year through the challenges the pandemic has brought. They share how excited they are for the next five years to see where they can take it and hope when we connect again, they will be able to update us on more growth that has happened.
Thank you for watching!
To learn more about Myles and their business, visit their website at: https://www.yukonbuilt.com
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