Artists included. That welcoming message convinced hip hop artist Vivek Mehmi to apply for the ShopHERE program offered through the Mississauga Business Enterprise Centre (MBEC).
“I probably wouldn’t have applied if they hadn’t said the program was open to artists,” Mehmi explains. “A lot of artists don’t see themselves as business people, but during COIVID, everyone is going through a hard time and people are turning to art and to artists to enrich their lives. It’s important to learn to see your art as a means of support, as a business, because it’s part of seeing yourself as relevant to the cultural fabric.”
It was not a revelation that came easily. Mehmi’s entire strategy for connecting his music with his fans and growing his audience had to change.
“Prior to COVID, I was gearing up for an events-based business this year. I had planned live appearances at festivals and scheduled other performances,” Mehmi remembers. “When everything had to change, my idea of just how to do it was fragmented. Before the ShopHERE program, I wasn’t sure how to generate any income at all.”
Digital Main Street’s ShopHERE Program powered by Google provides independent small businesses and artists with a quick, easy and no-cost way to get selling online. Access free one-to-one support from ecommerce experts to help you sell your work or services online. Funded by the Federal Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, Province of Ontario and key corporate partners.
Through his involvement in the ShopHERE program, Mehmi received hands-on help to build and launch a Shopify store to monetize his web site at www.vivekmehmi.com Mehmi’s line of t-shirts, tank tops and buttons that reflect his brand are now available through the e-commerce platform.
ShopHERE is just one of the programs Mehmi discovered through his initial contact with the Mississauga Arts Council.
“There are a wealth of services available to artist-entrepreneurs here,” Mehmi says. “They are all very intertwined and help clients efficiently navigate the system and introduce you to each other’s opportunities. When you start to become aware of one Mississauga-based service, it opens you up to seeing more and you can just jump in.”
Mehmi has also attended Digital Marketing 101 for Musicians, a webinar designed specifically for musicians who need to consider new ways to reach new audiences. He’s also leveraged the opportunity to have a one-on-one digital marketing consultation and now, Mehmi is part of the Starter Company Plus program for musicians. Information about these programs can be found through the Mississauga Business Enterprise Centre Small Business web site – mississauga.ca/mbec
Now that his Shopify store is up and running, Mehmi continues to flesh out his business plan, expand the shop, and develop marketing and outreach strategies. With the support he received through MBEC, Mehmi received essential business concepts and skills. MBEC will continue to be available to support Mehmi as he goes through his entrepreneurial journey as a musician.
“In September alone I started learning about analytics, had my first experience with drop shipping and started selling world-wide,” Mehmi says. “The sessions I’ve been doing with MBEC have taught me that we all need help, no one is an expert in everything. I feel like I have both sides now, the art side and the business side. MBEC really helped to close the gap for me.”
Closing that gap between the creative and the business sides of life is hugely worthwhile, Mehmi thinks. His message to other artists is one of encouragement.
“Be willing to try new things because there is support,” he says. “People want to help you and they want to see artists succeed.”
To learn more about the ShopHERE program, click here > ShopHERE in Mississauga
The Mississauga Business Enterprise Centre (MBEC) is a business unit of the City of Mississauga’s Economic Development Office. MBEC is your central source for business information, resources and guidance. For information and guidance, our team is currently available to serve you remotely. Please contact us by phone or email.