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New Strokes for Creative Folks

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Located in the quaint Town of Tecumseh, The Dandelion home décor boutique offers a unique array of furniture, elegant home accessories and of course, the infamous Annie Sloan Chalk Paint line. 

For those who are not familiar with this product, it is a paint that has revolutionized the world of decorative painting. This paint can be used on virtually any material with minimal preparation and can empower the most novice artist to create a masterpiece with ease.   

Whether you are looking for experts to refinish a treasured heirloom or you enjoy do-it-yourself projects, The Dandelion is the place for you.  They offer custom refinishing and restoration and workshops to learn Chalk Paint™ techniques.  They also sell home décor, painted furniture and gifts.

The two owners are Wendy Nantais and Claudia Sylvestre.  Nantais and Sylvestre became business partners in February of this year and moved to their current, larger location at 119 Lesperance Rd. in April.

Nantais purchased the Dandelion in 2016 from her niece after working at home to raise her family. She has a background in management and retail. In 2017, Nantais hired Sylvestre who has a background in education and business. The business partnership in many ways happened by accident when Sylvestre walked into the store and struck up a conversation with Wendy and they chatted about various things including Wendy needing to hire a part-time employee.

“The open mindedness and willingness to take risks and evaluate what the business could become is what led to the business partnership,” said Nantais. “The business partnership is definitely something the two of us would not have anticipated two years ago.” 

Running the business together has been a wonderful experience and success. “We feel very comfortable working together and are able to learn from each other and we realize we have strengths and weaknesses and support each other through our learning experiences,” stated Sylvestre. “This allows us to be creative and happy in our business.”

The path of entrepreneurship hasn’t been without some obstacles, including the decision to move The Dandelion to a new location.

“The renovation of the new location from a bakery to a retail, home decor and workshop in a limited time was quite challenging,” said Nantais. “We had so much support from family and friends and are extremely grateful for their unending support during the renovation.”

Nantais’ strengths lie in her love of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. She’s travelled to New Orleans, Toronto and New York to learn new techniques and to perfect her art.  She knew she wanted to build a business that allowed her to be creative.

On the other hand, creating a storefront that is appealing to the customers is where Sylvestre feels at home.  She always knew after retiring from education she wanted to work in retail but she never thought it would happen so quickly and easily until the opportunity to co-own The Dandelion presented itself.

Together, they enjoy meeting their loyal customers every day. Nantais and Sylvestre love the enthusiasm their clients exude toward painting their next project or to adding a little something extra and unique to their home.

“We love to hear them share their stories of how they transformed a space in their home or a piece of furniture inside or outside their home,” said Nantais.

Sylvestre added, “We were so surprised how everything fell into place with our partnership and new location. The space is perfect for workshops, furniture and gifts. The increased space is so wonderful. We also have plenty of parking for customers who shop or attend workshops.”

The successful duo is always looking at fresh initiatives to expand their services and customer base. They are looking ahead to what future business has in store for them. 

“We are interested in bringing in other artisans to use our space and offer workshops,” said Nantais. “We have a florist who teaches wreath making and are looking for other artisans with unique talents.”

Sylvestre and Nantais also hope to offer group workshops at people’s homes where they will provide the materials and instruction as well as bring creative programs and workshops into elementary schools. 

The owners are WindsorEssex Small Business Centre clients and both took part in the Starter Company Plus grant program. 

“The Starter Company program allowed us to first see how many wonderful ideas people have for entrepreneurship. It also gave us the confidence to realize we can … incorporate the previous knowledge we have and build a successful business partnership.”

Come for a visit and see everything the Dandelion has to offer.  You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Wendy Nantais and Claudia Sylvestre are clients of The WindsorEssex Small Business Centre that received training through the Starter Company program. You, too, can receive support in launching or expanding your small business. Contact the WindsorEssex Small Business Centre for more information.