Welcome to Small Business Spotlight!
Small Business Spotlight is a series that we created to showcase local entrepreneurs who have turned their passions into growing businesses.
And they all have a story to tell. Sometimes their stories will amaze you, sometimes they will be inspiring, sometimes they will make you cry. Some of their stories may even encourage you to start your own small business.
In this segment, we’re featuring local small business owner, Victoria from VShop by Victoria Senges Design Co. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing her and her mom Miriam, for some time now and their story is remarkable.
So many times in our lives, we face what seems like impossible adversity. Yet it’s rare that we find strength and opportunity in that difficulty.
Victoria did just that.
I thank her for sharing her story.
My name is Victoria Senges and I am the owner + designer behind V SHOP by Victoria Senges Design Co.
We are the home of stationery, paper products, and custom designs. Proudly, all of our products are designed, printed, and distributed in Canada. Each piece is printed, cut, glued, bound, scored, foiled, and packaged by hand. A lot of love goes into the production of each individual piece!
I was so honoured when Anna reached out to me to write a guest post. I hope to be able to share a little bit more with you about how my company began.
It is easy to show a clean, crisp, and well-run business on social media. But let’s be honest, that’s not always the case! In fact, the last seven years of my life have been nothing short of a journey. A long journey marked by pain, struggle, adversity and even hope.
In 2010, when I was in my final year of high school, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Amidst the uncertainty of everything, I was focusing on graduating and preparing to be a full-time student athlete at Simon Fraser University on a volleyball scholarship. That year my mom endured multiple surgeries, chemotherapy treatments, radiation, and tests.
Just when things started to get better for my mom, she was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2013. This occurred the summer before I started a graphic design program at BCIT. She had surgery to remove her kidney and luckily did not have to proceed with further treatments.
Once my graphic design program was ending, in the spring of 2014, she was diagnosed with bladder cancer. She had surgery that spring and recovered for most of the summer.
I was fresh out of design school and was eager to find a job. While I did land a job, my creativity was bursting to get out! I loved designing for others, but I knew that I wanted to create something that reflected my own design style.
Then in the spring of 2015, my mom was diagnosed with her fourth cancer, this time lung cancer. I knew that I wanted to create a series of prints that reflected her favourite song lyrics and quotes. These lyrics and quotes were instrumental in helping her throughout her journey.
After launching an online store, and a collection of ten prints titled ‘The Journey Collection’, I received a great response from my peers. It was then that I decided to expand my collection and create notepads. I remember bringing the completed notepads to my mom in the hospital because I was so excited to show her the new additions to my shop!
Once my mom recovered, we found joy in working alongside each other. She is an amazing sales woman and took on that role in my business. She frequently visits the retail stores that carry our products to ensure their stock is up to date. The ladies at Essential Packaging have also gotten to know her as she is typically the one to pick up my items!
She has stepped in to help me more times than I can count. And after such a long journey she has gone through, she has come out on the other end with an amazing story of hope and strength.
My mom recently had the opportunity to speak at the Canadian Cancer Society’s Langley Relay For Life Event and share her story. It was a great time of reflection for us to look back on this crazy journey that has taken place the last seven years. We have experienced the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. Through pain, heartache, and adversity my company was created.
For each print in the Journey Collection that is purchased, a portion of the proceeds are donated to The Canadian Cancer Society. These proceeds will help fund research on all types of cancer, improve the lives of Canadians living with cancer, and provide information and support services.
I am fortunate that both of my parents have a background in business and sales. Because of this, I have received many tips along the way!
One of the biggest challenges I have found in owning my own business is making the leap from being “the designer” to being the sales rep, the businesswoman, the accountant, the marketer and advertiser, the product packager, the quality control person, the problem solver, and the person who needs to know what to reorder and when to order it.
I do have some help from my mom in many of these areas, but at the end of the day, it all falls on me as the head of the company. I am very entrepreneurial, but most of the time I am learning as I go for the things that don’t come as naturally to me as design does.
If you are feeling the same way, I would encourage you to keep seeking helpful resources and learning from others who are great in those particular areas.
We can always be learning something new!
I thank you for taking the time to read a bit about how V SHOP began.
My hope is that at least one person is encouraged to find the light during the dark times, to feel peace during the stressful times, and to find hope amidst fear and adversity.
It’s something we all experience.
Perhaps in varying degrees. In different aspects of our lives.
But it’s something we all have.
It’s a part of being alive.
Sometimes we can overcome on our own. More often than not, it’s the help we receive from friends, family, even strangers that helps us not only overcome but succeed.
Victoria’s story was inspiring to me. I can only imagine how easy it would’ve been to give up hope.
Thankfully she didn’t and neither did her Mom.
- Anna Ludwinowski