Growing City Startups: A Chat with Annie Parent of habitat etc.

Written by Hannah Cochran

Tucked away in the historic McKenney building on the corner of 104 St. and 101 Ave, you'll find habitat etc. The small shop specializes in home and personal goods, with an emphasis on merchandise created by local artists and Canadian companies. It is a curated and conscientious source for products  that impact the local economy and environment. NextGen got the chance to meet with Annie Parent, owner of habitat etc, to chat about the advantages of starting a business in Edmonton.

Annie Parent began habitat etc. as a creative outlet from her day job. What started as an idea to balance her creative interests with her passion for business became a stand at the City Market Downtown where she sold terrariums. It was an alternative to a storefront while she was growing her idea. "The concept," she says " is local, small batch, artisanal brands and supporting local makers."

The new store is a stone's throw away from the old stand on the growing commercial block of 104th St. Parent says, "I was originally looking elsewhere in the city, and then this became available. It was right by the market which I was so used to going to, so it was perfect." Now that she has expanded to the permanent space, she teaches terrarium workshops and hosts events like weaving classes and a shoe shining and boot care social. 

When asked about starting a business in the Edmonton marketplace, Parent said that both the city and her neighboring businesses on 104th St. have been very supportive. "I remember going to Startup Edmonton events and feeling very encouraged about my idea. Those resources are really easily found in Edmonton. I am from Ontario originally, and I find that it is not as easy to navigate there. Once I established my business on 104th St. I was so welcomed into this community. I would say that is unique, how right away I was a part of it and supported. The tweets that went out and the social media response from the other stores on the street went way above what I expected." 

Annie Parent's advise to the budding Edmonton entrepreneur? She says, "I went over idea after idea after idea but nothing really stuck. And finally there was that one idea that I couldn't get out of my head and couldn't find reasons why not to do it, so I worked away at it. I remember telling friends that 'I never think it's not going to happen.' Once you find that idea that stays with you, that's the one to just go after."