Meet the Maker: Happy Thoughts

By Tianna Edwards

When you think of a shop named Happy Thoughts, it might be hard to envision exactly what you can find there. But when you walk into the recently opened shop at the corner of Wellington and Clarence, in downtown Kingston, you immediately get it. Filled with colourful prints, fun jewellery and witty stationery, it is hard to walk in and resist the happy vibes!

When I meet the owner, Tammy, it makes perfect sense. She welcomes me with an ear-to-ear smile, dressed in a very colourful, printed smock, and exudes positivity. Tammy explains the concept behind the curation of her shop, “The idea is that it’s things that I like, so it’s a very personal thing for me […] My friends come in who haven’t seen the store and say, ‘it’s like walking around in your brain!’”

What Tammy has accomplished in the last two years is a testament to what happens when hard work and a supportive community come together. Two years ago she moved from Waterloo with her six-day-old daughter (you read that correctly, six days!) to settle into a new life in Kingston with her husband who works at Queen’s. Soon, she was getting familiar with the locals and looking for storefronts.

“I started going to all of the Kingston markets to meet the makers, see who was doing what, and kind of get a sense of what the scene was like,” Tammy says, describing her first steps in her journey to opening Happy Thoughts. “And just to see if it was possible to do local here. And it is very possible. There is a lot going on in this city, and there are a lot of people making stuff!”

After six months of looking for spaces, Tammy and her husband were going for one of their routine walks downtown when they passed an empty storefront with the classic Kingston aesthetic — exposed limestone walls — that was vacant and up for grabs. They took possession in August of 2018 and opened the doors in September 2018.

It wasn’t long before word got out and the Kingston community started to seek out her cheerful space. Tammy credits local female entrepreneurs for how quickly store traffic picked up.

Tammy joined a lot of Kingston’s networking groups and says, “I was able to get to know other women and other women entrepreneurs who were doing the same things as me. It’s nice for people to say what their issues are, and where their struggles are, so you don’t feel so alone but also to celebrate each other. And Instagram is huge here [in Kingston]. People share so easily and are so supportive.”

In return, Tammy is happy to be able to provide a space for local makers to showcase their work, “I love to support our local makers and have a space where they can sell their work!”

To stay updated on Happy Thoughts, follow the shop on Facebook and Instagram.

Meet Whitney Haynes

No stranger to the journey of moving her family to Kingston to start a new business, Whitney Haynes sells her jewellery and silversmith designs in the city and at pop-up markets and collectives across Ontario.