Tara MacWhirter of Vankleek Hill began her journey into the world of homemade soap in 2009. Her desire to have access to more natural choices in the realm of skin care and household cleaning products melded with her love of gardening.

Today, Garden Path Home Soap produces more than 50 natural bath, body and cleaning products which include ingredients grown on a five-acre heritage farm. These products are sold through her on-site boutique and at select retail stores.

For years, Tara worked to develop the right marketing and advertising strategy that would draw online visitors, in addition to building Garden Path as an in-person destination. With the pandemic, it became imperative to get this balance right. She set up an e-commerce storefront with Shopify and worked to educate customers about her personal hygiene products.

Still, she remained challenged on the digital side — things like a website that loaded too slowly because of all her rich visuals, or understanding where and how to make more effective use of Instagram and Facebook.

Tara found the help she needed through the grant funding and the free workshops provided through Digital Main Street (DMS). By reshaping her digital presence with this expert support, Tara is starting 2022 with a bang. Her social media activity has jumped significantly during the quiet post-holiday season.

“DMS has definitely given us access to the right help just when we needed it,” Tara said. “It’s all about being open to learning as a business owner and taking advantage of whatever financial assistance you can get.”

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