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Passion developed in the North turns into a business back home

After spending five years living in Inuvik, N.W.T., Kelly Kamo McHugh came home and turned her newfound love of arctic plants into a small business she runs from her home. Boot Lake Botanicals is an online Etsy business where McHugh sells giclee prints (a French term meaning “to spray”) from arctic plants she collected and pressed herself during her time up north.

It was through her co-worker and friend that she discovered how much she enjoyed arctic plants, which then lead her to think about business options while she still lived in Inuvik. At that point, she began picking and pressing the plants she found, noting she was by no means an expert on the plants, learning from others along the way.

It was after she started creating the prints for herself that friends would ask her if she wanted to sell them. From there, the idea for Boot Lake Botanicals was born. However, it would not be until last month, amid lockdown, that the business officially kicked off, with McHugh enjoying  sales on the very first day.

Her prints are created by first pressing and then scanning the plants to create her designs. She then uses giclee paper to print her designs for customers.

Prints sell on her Etsy website at $50 for an 8×10 or $100 for an 11×14.

When she started her business, she wanted to focus on two things. The first was ensuring that plants were picked ethically from the land, the second was helping small Canadian businesses as she grows her own.

She says businesses like that of her printer – who she says is very similar to her father Brian at Brian’s Foto Source – works hard on his own and she wants to support people like that, especially during times such as these.

Since launching her business, McHugh says she has received a great amount of support from friends and family, and what she hears from the community reaction is even better.

While her business is just starting, her father Brian has been running his business for many years. She never envisioned following in her father’s footsteps when she was younger, however, she has seen running a business in a whole new light.

“I’ve seen how hard he works and the struggles along the way, and didn’t think I would ever do that when I was younger. Now that I’m older, I appreciate more how hard he works and how much time goes into running a small business and am ready to take on the responsibility of running my own business. My business is different from the photo lab in that it is all online and I run it from my home so there is more freedom/flexibility compared to running a physical store from 9-5 or 8-8.” 

Eventually, McHugh hopes to move back to Inuvik. She wants to get more plants and be back in the place she loves, with the possibility of inspiration striking in the form of expanding her business.

Other plans include potentially moving off of selling on Etsy, creating her own website instead.

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