A Conversation With...Jill Zdunich of Shop Take Care

I've met so many amazing people throughout my journey with Farmer's Son Co. What started as business transactions and stockists calls have turned into friendships with some of the greatest people that you'll ever meet.

In this new series, that we're calling 'A Conversation With...' I'm going to introduce you to some of the people that have come into my life and give them a chance to tell you more about their journeys as shop owners, makers, lovers of small business and indie goods.

For this first installment, I sat down with Jill Zdunich, owner of Shop Take Care located in Winnipeg's Osborne Village.

Enjoy our conversation below!

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Let's start with a little bit about you - 

My name is Jill Zdunich and I’m the owner of Shop Take Care in the Osborne Village neighbourhood of Winnipeg. The shop just turned one years old, yippee!

What’s the biggest sacrifice you've made in order to start the business? How has it paid off?

The biggest sacrifice I’ve made is my sanity. For sure. Ha! And financial stability. But the lack of both mental and financial stability are all part of the process with being an Entrepreneur (or so I tell myself…)

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Do you have a favorite motivational quote that keeps you grounded?

“Never say whoa in a horse race!” My dad always would say this. To me it means: don’t slow down. Keep heading forward and just keep going, no matter what. Either that or I’m supposed to be a jockey and, if that’s the case, I’ve really diverged from my calling in life. 

What do you want customers to remember when they leave the shop?  

I want every customer to leave the shop feeling like they’ve been treated with kindness and openness. The shop’s mandate is built on creating a safe space for humans of all gender expressions to feel welcome, be treated fairly and with respect. I want customers to feel special. Like they’re part of the family.

How do you find products to stock on your shelves?

For the most part, I look for local content first. I absolutely love supporting small business endeavours and Winnipeg is packed with amazing designers and artists. I also look for more Canadian-wide talent, and carry a few small brands from the US as well. I look for products that are made ethically and sustainably, when possible. 

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Before opening the shop, what were you doing and how did you make it all happen?

Ha! Oh boy. Well I was working in wealth management for National Bank Financial, to be honest. Such a far cry from being a retail shop owner. I absolutely hated my job and the core principles of the banking industry and got tired of the greed, the paperwork and the mundane life I was leading. I knew it was time for a change. And a big one. I knew I needed to strike out on my own, or I never would. 

What are your hobbies? How do they inspire / relate to what you do at Shop Take Care?

Do cats count as hobbies? Just kidding. I love to learn, if you can count learning as a hobby. I have a diverse post-secondary education that includes both primate studies and archaeology, and I’m still fascinated with those fields of academia. In the summer months, I love to bike and jog, garden and be out in the fresh air. In the winter, I hibernate. With my cats and my partner. Again, not sure if those are hobbies but…I also am the co-founder of Minipeg, which is a bi-annual charitable art show, and it’s going into its second year this year so there are lots of exciting things to look forward to with that. And I love wine. I have my WSET Level 3 accreditation so I love to explore and taste new wines, especially interesting natural wines, whenever I can. 

Three things you're super interested in lately:

Fermented foods, anything to do with the British monarchy (no idea why), and DIY home renovations. 

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Why did you decide to make Farmer’s Son Co. part of your shop?

I decided to make Farmer's Son Co. a part of the shop because of the honest, well developed products that you make. Your passion for what you do radiates in your products and I’m proud to carry them, as a result of that. It’s also a really beautiful process to watch your company grow and change and adapt to all of the new stockists and products you’re developing. 

Do you have a favorite scent? Where does it take you back to?

My favourite scent is grapefruit. And I’m really not even a big citrus person. But I love how happy it smells, if that makes sense. When I light that candle in the shop, people are immediately asking which one it is and I think it makes everyone’s mood a little better. 

What new fun are you working on for spring?

Well, aside from some on-going painting projects and mini renovation ideas, I’m really putting all of my energy into developing a better, cleaner more sophisticated online shop for the shop as a way to boost our online selling game. I should be ready to roll with the new website really soon!

Lastly, what’s one thing you wish your customers knew? (This can be about you, the shop, life, how not to be an idiot, etc.)

That behind every small business there is a human, or maybe two or more, but humans, none the less. With feelings, fears, sensitivities and real lives just like everyone else. I think it’s easy for people to assume that the people behind any business, no matter the size, are faceless robots. But that is so not the case with small business. Small businesses are intimate projects that require constant nurturing and amending and adaptation to growth, change, adversity, fluctuations in supply and demand, the economical climate, etc. Support your small businesses! 

You can find Jill at Shop Take Care located at 109 Osborne Street in Winnipeg, MB

A huge thanks goes out to Jill for talking with us! You can support the shop and its list of artisan vendors here, and see what new things Jill's working on by checking out Shop Take Care's Instagram here.

Hello my name is Winter Collection.

It’s hard to believe that it’s November. This year has flown by and it feels like summer was just last week. To that point, it was just this past week that I finally cleaned out the last couple of pairs of swim trunks and flipflops from my wheels. Is anyone else guilty of that, or just me?

On the plus-side, November means that we’re inching that much closer to one of my favourite times of the year – winter and the start of the holiday season! As much as I love those endless summer days, I’m absolutely loving these first few days of snow, the pretty-much automatic flip to everything winter and Christmas related! From the lights, sounds and sights, to all the amazing food & drink. I could write a post on the food alone…but let’s save that for another day. Plus, this is the time of year when I try to catch up and enjoy time with friends and loved ones alike. It’s kind of the best.

I knew from the get-go that I wanted to create a winter collection for Farmer’s Son Co. After our initial launch this past winter, I knew that I couldn’t rush it and that if I were going to create a winter collection that I wanted to take our time to get it right. So, with that, I knew that we’d have to get to work on it.

In June.

Which is just what I did.

June might seem like a goofy time of year to start working on a winter collection, but coming from a product development and sourcing background, I knew that it would take to not only come up with a theme for the collection, but also to figure out what scent stories I wanted to develop, how and what I was going to package everything in and then secure supplies required and start making them.

So with that, I cranked up the Burl Ives and got to work!

It took me most of the summer, with a lot of testing and playing around with winter scents in a studio that at times felt about 30 °C, but I’m pretty dang pleased with how everything came together.

I figured that it was time for you to really get to know our winter collection!

First up, let’s introduce you to Farmhouse Kitchen.

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Farmhouse Kitchen is the Farmer’s Son Co. take on your family’s house during the holiday season. With it’s classic blend of gingerbread and strong notes of clove and other spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, this takes us back to those cold winter nights in my family’s farmhouse’s kitchen. I come from a family that loves to bake and our house, along with the houses of both of my grandmas were always filled with the spiced notes of freshly baked cookies, cakes and muffins.

I wanted to take you back, but also create something that was different than that usual gingerbread scented candle and we’ve just done that. Pushing that classic scent up with an extra kick of clove. It’s a personal fave and I know you’ll love it!

Up next is Boreal.

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Boreal is everything coniferous that we could pack into Farmer’s Son Co.’s winter collection tins. With a blend of balsam fir, Manitoba jack pine, eastern white cedar and white spruce, Boreal captures the essence of Canada’s northern boreal region perfectly. This takes me back to those childhood memories of days spent hunting for the perfect Christmas tree, tobogganing adventures that involved crashing into a spruce grove with our old tin sled (after using Turtle Wax on it) and snowmobiling treks on back trails. 

We love the reaction that we get anyone opens Mulled for the first time. It’s kind of the best seeing their eyes light up.

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A fragrant and rich blend of your favourite red wines, cranberry, cinnamon and other holiday spice that have been simmering on that old white enamel cookstove for the better part of the day, Mulled is our take boozy take on the holiday season. We’re pretty sure that’s the easiest way to describe it. We’re all grownups. Light a couple of these bad boys up as friends and family gather and you’ll be surprised with how quickly Mulled’s fragrance fills your home.

We love flannel sheets. Plaid print Portuguese flannel sheets if we’re going to get into specifics.

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I wrote down the name of this scent in the middle of the night last spring, knowing that I needed to do something with it. What I wasn’t sure.

It took awhile, but we think that if there was ever going to be a candle with the name Flannel Sheets, that we’ve hit the nail head-on. Flannel Sheets is an intoxicating blend of fresh laundry mixed with balsam fir and Manitoba jack pine. This is like those super soft Portuguese flannel sheets that just get better and better with age. This is for those cold winter winters (and mornings) when you just want to bury yourself under the covers.

Also, as one friend put it, “If you’ve ever wanted to snuggle up to a hot bearded lumberjack, this is the scent for you.”

And last, but not least, we have Juniper + Peppermint.

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When I started to think about some of my favourite winter memories, a lot of them included bundling up to go outside for a long winter walk with my pooch at my side. I love those winter days when it’s cool and crisp outside. Sun shining, a fresh blanket of snow on ground that hasn’t been walked on by anyone. A stillness of sorts.

There’s something rewarding about walking though undisturbed snow before anyone else. Snow crunching underfoot, nose rosy red and a freshness that’s undeniable.

With it’s fragrant blend of fresh, sweet juniper and the minty-fresh & distinctive scent of peppermint, this is that perfect “winter” scent you’ve been looking for.

And there you have it friends, our first winter collection!

All five of the Farmer’s Son Co. winter scents are available in both 4oz. and 8oz. tins which are available today at a number of our stockists throughout Manitoba!

I know you're going to love them and that with that first whiff of each we're going to take you back to a special time and place! I truly believe each scent tells a story - each story unique to your own memories and experiences. I want to know what memories our scents conjure up...let us know on our Facebook or Instagram, or drop us an email with your story!

-Dan

The Next Chapter.

Today marks the beginning of the next chapter for Farmer’s Son Co.; one which I’m really excited about. 
I started this journey a little over a year ago after making candles for myself for a few years. At first, I figured I’d do a market or two in my home town to make a couple of extra bucks to put towards a winter vacation or spend on records. Little did I know where I’d end up a year later. 
After a year of trying to balance an intense corporate role and a growing side hustle, in two very different fields, I’ve decided that it’s the right time to dive in nose first and see just how far I can go (and grow) with Farmer’s Son Co. 
I was sitting at the desk of my corporate gig daydreaming about candles, trying to figure out how I was going to balance both jobs, family, friends and downtime when I really started to think about something my Mom said years back. “Do more of what makes you happy.” She passed away a few years back, at a far too young age and that line has stuck with me. It’s kept me up at night. I’ve written it down on Post-it notes. It’s kind of become a personal mantra. I’ve been discovering that life’s too short to sit in a beige office with no windows glued to a computer if your heart really isn’t in it. You don’t know how much time you have. Money comes and goes. You really won’t know what you’re capable of if you don’t just go out and try it.
So with a gentle nudge from loved ones and the support of friends, I’m making the leap and today’s my first day as a full-time chandler.

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None of which would be possible without your support over the course of this journey together. As stockists, candle lovers, friends and supports from near and far, your purchases, suggestions, ideas, referrals, word of mouth, praise, suggestions for improvement and even your critiques have brought me to this point. 
Farmer’s Son Co. is still a tiny venture. I'm one guy in the corner of a shared studio space. I'm not really sure where I'm going, but doing it all with love & ambition. 
Get ready to see a lot more of me as I pop up at markets & sales, hustling to bring forth some fun new stuff. 
I’m excited (and a little scared) for what’s ahead but am happy that you're on this journey with me.

-Dan