Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our Feature Girl Warrior, entrepreneur extraordinaire, Kristy Clark, a deeply compassionate woman of courage and creativity. From small-town roots to big city business, Kristy exemplifies Carpe Diem. With guts and imagination, she fearlessly seized the opportunities that came her way to open, not one, not two, but three successful businesses – Jackalope’s Neighbourhood Dive, Long Live Cats and Dogs, and Black Rider Tattoo.
What makes you a Girl Warrior?
I am really into building and promoting community spaces where everyone feels welcome.
You own three diverse and successful businesses. How did all that come about and why food, animals and ink?
Well, it just kinda happened. A friend and I finally had a chance to hangout but she had to get cat litter, it was 2-bus rides away. We talked about how the neighbourhood needed a pet supply store, so we went for a walk found our location that night (Nov. 28, 2011); two and a half months later we opened Long Live Cats and Dogs (Feb. 2012).
Two years in, our landlord asked us to take over the restaurant space next door, thinking we would expand the pet store, instead we opened Jackalope’s (April 2014), as our neighbourhood was lacking a fun space to hang out with good food, drinks and friendly service.
A year after that friends asked for help opening the tattoo shop and it just happened that LLCD was growing out of the current space so we moved LLCD a block down and opened Black Rider in the former LLCD space (May 2015).
What has been your biggest challenge – personally or professionally?
Navigating the numerous personalities on a daily basis.
What obstacles have you overcome and walls have you broken down?
Where to begin… Everything was pretty much new. My business partner and I had no retail experience prior to LLCD; the first day we opened we didn’t even know how to work the cash register. And we had three drawers for paperwork labeled “most important”, “somewhat important”, “least important”. Hahaha!
It took a while; we learned through trial and error, some things more quickly then others. And if something didn’t work, we would just try a new direction. I just read everything I could and asked as many questions as possible.
What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior?
Stop, take 10 deep breaths and think things over before making any drastic decisions.
What would you say to future Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?
Never give up. Never be afraid to ask questions.
Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s)?
Definitely my mom. She was a young single mom from a rough background. We grew up very poor. She taught me to always stand up for myself and not let anyone or anything hold me back. At the same time, she taught me to love and respect people for who they are, and how forgiveness works.
For the moment I am focusing on sharpening my skills and improving some of my weaknesses. I have always been a very “creative ideas” person but need some work on the financial side of business and improving my communication skills. But that being said, I do have a lot of ideas that I would love to pursue but it has to be the right time and opportunity.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
5 years closer to freedom 45!
Why is freedom so important to you?
Freedom 45 is important to me because my heart is in social work, promoting social change and empowering individuals. From my previous work, I have unfortunately found it both hard to make a huge social change as a front-line worker, as well as, financially it is not viable. With more financial freedom it will provide a lot more opportunity to start a program that can make a bigger difference.
Discover more about Kristy and her successful businesses here:
Here’s the NPO Kristy founded with 4 friends in 2014 to raise funds for rescue & low income spay neuter programs: http://www.neuterhead.com/