by Noëlle Smith

We are all in the same storm, but different boats. In an attempt to shine some light on various members of our diocesan family and how they are encountering the Covid-19 pandemic, the editor of the Niagara Anglican asked Noelle Smith, a lifelong member of St. James (Dundas) to share her story.

In 1967 we moved to Dundas so my father, Richard Birney Smith could be the organist of St. James Church. The first house I lived in here was “Father Joe’s house” You may have known, him as The Reverend (later Canon, then bishop) Joe Fricker.

Whilst my father worked at St. James,  my mother Thalia was well known for her skills at cooking, making candles and potpourri from garden flowers for the Church’s annual Holly Fair, as well as putting on silly church plays with Shirley Fricker. She is also known as the founder of the women’s community group “Body and Soul” which still runs today. I learned a lot from my mom and fell in love with the candle making, working with flowers and essential oils, things that were not well known in a small town in the 70s. Through school and college, I made all my own body products, creams and natural perfumes but didn’t realize I could turn my fun hobby into a career. 

In 1994 I opened a business and for the last 25 years I’ve been selling handmade bath, body & hair products in Dundas. A few years ago we added a curly hair salon to our location. 

Yes, I still make candles! You can find me in the building that was formerly the Dundas Post Office. Many clients are old friends from St. James and my days at the Niagara Youth Conference.

These days small business ownership presents unique challenges. Even before the outbreak of Covid-19 and the restrictions and shutdowns we are experiencing currently, keeping clients engaged and excited to shop in small local businesses and avoid big box stores was difficult. Now, my business looks like it’s been turned inside out. Our curly hair salon is closed, all but one of the staff have been laid off, and there are many tasks I haven’t had to do regularly for a long time.

On any given day since March 17, when we shut our doors to foot traffic you’ll, find me wearing many different hats.

On any given day since March 17, when we shut our doors to foot traffic you’ll, find me wearing many different hats. In the morning it’s my correspondence hat:

  • answering client emails about orders (trying to explain why supplies are slow to arrive and why Canada Post is slow to ship)
  • checking suppliers shipping speeds (asking that they, with their own pressures can get our shipments out so I can fulfill orders) 
  • updating the bookkeeper (praying we can sell enough to pay the bills we cannot defer 
  • Watching for news of any government updates about small business support (hoping against hope that enough will come through so we won’t be forced to close for good) 

In the afternoon you’ll find me in the shop, for this I wear my mail room hat and my tasks are: 

  • packing orders 
  • arranging times for curbside pick-ups & deliveries
  • doing the shipping 

In the evening I come home and I put on my mom hat, my self care hat & I pray I’ll be able to find my sleeping cap. Cooking, cleaning and rest are my only tasks for time after work. Now that we are a month or so into this, it feels like routine. The first few weeks were so stressful, I barely slept worrying the business may close, that I couldn’t to pay the mortgage or my son’s tuition. I am thankful for the support of my local customers and the government.

If you knew my mother, you’ll understand when I say, there are lots of hats around here for me to choose from & I’m thankful she taught me how to wear many of them. 

Follow me on facebook @ellenoire and on Instagram @ellenoiredundas