Vaughan’s Art Loft Studio paints broader strokes with data-backed marketing plan
Joseph and Ana Maria Mancuso opened Art Loft Studio in Vaughan eight months into the pandemic. Restrictions had lifted and small, private groups were allowed to gather, which was ideal for the studio which offers art classes, workshops and events for children and adults. But it didn’t last long, says Joseph Mancuso. Restrictions returned and Art Loft Studio had to pivot to online classes. “A lot of people didn’t like it because they prefer the personal, one-to-one experience,” he says. “And it is better because the instructor can better instruct you on how to improve your art piece.”
Numbers dwindled and the Art Loft Studio owners found it challenging to engage their community. “We lost a lot of people,” says Mancuso. “We were really struggling.”
Photo by: David Simon, Sandbox Photovideo
Their website was dated, the storefront lacked impactful signage, and the business wasn’t gaining as much traction as they’d have liked it to on social media. Then they heard about the My Main Street program, which aims to revitalize business communities through hands-on support and is funded with a $23.25-million Government of Canada investment through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and delivered by the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO).
Mancuso says they received a message from the My Main Street Ambassador who had been visiting another business in the plaza. “She sat down with us and helped us tweak our plan,” he says, helping them apply for the $10,000 non-repayable contribution. My Main Street’s in-depth market research on the demographics, interests and social media use in Vaughan showed the business’s target market was interested in the type of services it was offering and spending money in social settings. The studio’s proximity to a residential area also helped guide a more strategic approach to marketing.
They started targeting their marketing based on the research, doing mail drops in the nearby residential area, investing in targeted social media marketing and designing a stronger website.
Ana Maria says they also earmarked funding for proper signage, which had an almost immediate reaction. “Having that sign on the street, people can see that we are here,” she says. “With the sign and advertising, we have been able to get more students and more exposure.”
Photo by: David Simon, Sandbox Photovideo (Ana Maria Mancuso)
She says Art Loft Studio has been offering children’s classes and hosting birthday parties since opening, but they never quite took off. The increased exposure has helped boost numbers. “I’m trying to build on the birthday parties, which is something that will help us immensely with our business as far as profit.”
Joseph says the resources through My Main Street helped them promote their offerings. “The children’s program is doing better than the adult program,” he says. “We get more children returning than adults so we’re trying to focus on that.”
Going forward the Mancusos plan to capitalize on the momentum by adding more classes. Ana Maria has been honing her skills to teach more courses. “The idea is to keep growing and to be able to offer different programs and more classes,” she says. “Keep learning and keep growing.”
Photo by: David Simon, Sandbox Photovideo (Ana Maria Mancuso and Joseph Mancuso)
About My Main Street
My Main Street is a $23.25-million Government of Canada investment through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) to support the recovery and revitalization of main streets and local businesses in southern Ontario. The Canadian Urban Institute and the Economic Developers Council of Ontario have partnered to deliver My Main Street through two program streams. Learn more at www.mymainstreet.ca.
About FedDev Ontario
For 13 years, the Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario, has worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation, growth and job creation in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving productivity, growing revenues, creating jobs, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Learn more about the impacts the Agency is having in southern Ontario by exploring our pivotal projects, our Southern Ontario Spotlight, and FedDev Ontario’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.