Join Yukon Entrepreneur Vanessa Ægirsdóttir owner of V. Ægirsdóttir Artist and partner in Wild Yukon Furs as we reconnect since our first interview that happened near the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.
(1:30) Vanessa shares their first memory of the pandemic. The pandemic started a week after they came home from their honeymoon and several weeks before their birthday. Instead of a time of celebration, they spent their birthday rebuilding their website to adjust to the changes that needed to be made to adapt quickly.
(2:31) Vanessa shares the many things they learned about their business model during the pandemic, most importantly the ability to be agile due to their size and make big decisions quickly. They also express how important it is to have multiple channels for distribution (both bricks & mortar and online) and how storytelling is at the core of how they conduct business which drives all the decisions they make including staying a direct-to-consumer brand.
(5:30) Having done exercises early in the pandemic on discovering more about their core customers and what they are looking for in their business, Vanessa was able to confirm what they already knew. They share a new opportunity on the horizon that had been in the works before the pandemic that has been restarted in opening a retail store in Skagway, Alaska that would service the cruise ship population that docks there.
(7:58) From a leadership perspective, Vanessa shares the importance of consistency, honesty and being transparent. They also discuss leaders bringing a spirit of curiosity, humility, and a willingness to learn, understanding that you don’t know everything, especially during a pandemic when there is so much uncertainty.
(9:29) Vanessa celebrates that they are still here, and they have seen steady growth since they began, not only surviving but thriving during the pandemic as being the adaptation they are most proud of. Last year, they were published in Vogue Magazine which is a big deal for a small designer in the Yukon.
(11:43) The most difficult challenge Vanessa had with the public health measures was when the state of emergency was called in November. With the holiday season making up the bulk of their revenue, and customer traffic was down which resulted in a massive drop in revenue. They also share that the social fatigue that everyone is experiencing with sanitizing, wearing masks, and having to remind people to follow health protocols, and how the best way through is to have as much compassion as possible despite being tired.
(15:28) Thinking about their business differently, and what opportunities they have going forward, Vanessa shares their exploration of potentially opening a retail space in Skagway and that whether it works out or not they have faith that something better will come.
(16:39) To better prepare themselves for the opportunities ahead, Vanessa shares that they have had to learn how to develop a plan and execute on it at an accelerated pace due to space coming up now in Skagway versus their original plan of next summer. They have learned how to prioritize short-term and long-term and how to pace themselves during the process to ensure their plan comes together effectively and sustainably.
(18:30) As Yukon’s economy rebuilds, Vanessa hopes that the Yukon will have a healthy economy that entices people to continue to spend money in the community, keep it recirculating and expand the local wealth as the Yukon has such a vibrant business community.
(19:32) Vanessa’s advice for emerging entrepreneurs? Don’t wait until you’re ready, understand who your target market is, and don’t waste time thinking about what others are saying about your business as it is something you can’t control.
(21:31) Their worldview hasn’t shifted much during the pandemic, but Vanessa emphasizes how humility is critical to growth, and how having an open mind when presented with a challenge has helped them to learn some really incredible stuff as well as become a better person.
(22:57) What wellness practices keep Vanessa grounded? They admit their wellness practice is terrible, however they express the best thing they do is sleep. They protect their bedtime and getting good amounts of sleep help them be productive during the day. Also stay hydrated.
(23:52) Vanessa shares their final closing thoughts. We’re all going to be okay.
Thank you for watching!
To learn more about Vanessa, visit their website at: