By FELICITY DARVILLE
Businesses that have not learned to adapt to the new normal of a pandemic by implementing digital aspects to their operations are getting left behind. Some businesses have closed their doors for good in light of restrictions, a change in the economy and an inability to adjust and adapt. Kim Wallace refused to let that happen to her. As the owner of Template, a company with “very different invitations, programmes and favours,” she could have very well been closing her doors. Gatherings were restricted to ten - so all of the birthday bashes, extravaganzas and weddings nearly came to a halt.
In April of 2020, when many were still trying to wrap their heads around the economic effects of the pandemic, Kim acted swiftly and moved her business online. She knew nothing would keep Bahamians from finding ways to make their special events personal and memorable.
“We began our online store with Mother’s Day, which allowed customers to shop safely from their devices,” Kim recalls.
“We offered curbside and delivery. It was indeed a success as we were one of the first to implement a local gift shop online store in a short time during a pandemic. We then continued with Father’s Day and Christmas.
“Today our online store is still thriving as we now offer an entire section called ‘My Gifting’ where you can build and customize your gifts 24/7. We have all the favourites, including gifts for the bridal party, books, local teas, wine and sauces from our own Naturally Bahamian, Mama Sassy’s Gourmet and Believe Wines companies. We also offer indulgences like Bath & Body Works and have introduced local authors in our book section such as life coach Anastarcia Palacious and young and talented writer Tomia Shearer.”
There are so many unique items to be found at Template. The store was a regular go-to for me when I planned my wedding. It was so important to be able to have a place to go to where I could personalise items for the wedding, and make things look and feel like my own. I met Kim in the store back then, and she graciously assisted me.
For her, this is a labour of love that started 26 years ago. She said: “Back then, I bought a Hallmark Card CD, which allowed me to make beautiful personalized greeting cards for my family and friends.
“They were so well received because of the customization and because they expressed exactly what you wanted to say. I began being paid to make them. Eventually I got many other requests to make birthday invitations and then wedding stationery.
“My wedding invitations were very special to me. I created them using whatever I had left from other invitations for clients. Hence they were very different and unique. In my mind, it was like taking the best from all that I had designed and making a masterpiece.”
This month, Template celebrates its 16th anniversary as a storefront business, located on Jerome Avenue above Classy Kids boutique. To celebrate, the entire on-line and in-store line of products is 16 percent off.
“Surely it is the year of 16 for us,” Kim said.
“My marriage to my amazing partner for life turned 16 in April. Our storefront business celebrates 16 years this month and, of course, we know what happened on September 16th. How funny is that. One can only chuckle, stay humble and be thankful.”
Kim is supported by her husband, Mark Wallace who is very involved in the business. From time to time, they allow their children Adam and Ava to be involved too, so that they can get a sense of ownership and responsibility. Kim grew up in a family business and she found it very instrumental in shaping her ability to manage and maintain a small business.
She is the eighth child out of nine born in Nassau to Bishop Karl and Mary Dawkins. They were the owners of the well-known neighbourhood grocery store Dawkins Meat Market. So, Kim always felt that entrepreneurship was in her DNA.
“Being a small business owner is not easy in The Bahamas,” she said.
“Having a wedding business is even more challenging due to the pandemic. It takes a special type of mindset and determination with the right amount of business sense and creativity to stay in the game productively.”
Kim has worked extensively in setting the standards for quality stationery that is Bahamian designed and produced. Template is also possibly the only brick and mortar in the country where you can purchase unique and custom wedding stationery, accessories and other gift items in one location.
Why would invitations make much of a difference for any event?
“Invitations set the tone for your event by giving guests the first insight of what is to come,” Kim explained.
“Your vision is seen and sets the precedence, preparing guests for the occasion. Our goal is to get clients to know, like and trust us. We in turn assist, create and design stationery that inspires guests to feel what the couple feels – the importance of their occasion, their joy, love and intimacy.
The invitation should evoke for the guest the honour of their presence and how special they are to have been invited.”
As times have changed, so has the way we live and experience occasions. Kim had to figure out how to advise her customers to safely celebrate during a pandemic. She has partnered with friend and colleague, Donnette Sands to form a company called Pink Sands Events that specializes in ceremonies and intimate events, making them safe and stress free. Kim also has partnerships with Windermere Day Spa & Salon, and Naturally Bahamian.
These new ventures forged new relationships and opportunities. Clients enjoyed seeing the versatility and appreciated their ability to stay focused and redirect new avenues of trade.
As Template is niche business, it would be challenging to locate many items found at the store locally or even abroad because of the many unique services and products offered.
As a hands-on stationer, Kim has been intricately involved with promoting and participating in the Annual Bahamas Bridal Show. Each year, her company introduces new ideas and trends that many thought were only available internationally.
Kim’s early career began at The Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas as a video news editor. She then moved to Cable Bahamas Limited as a Pay Per View assistant where she was instrumental in the early set up days of the Pay Per View Department.
Her sales and marketing skills then led her to Shell Bahamas Limited (now Sun Oil Limited) where she managed many major commercial accounts across the Bahamas.
Kim is an alumna of the University of Miami (MBA), has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Communication from Barry University in Miami, Florida and an Associate of Arts degree in Journalism with a minor in Mass Communications from the College of The Bahamas (now University of The Bahamas).
Her greatest role and most proud achievement is her family. She is happily married to Mark a Christian Education Teacher at Kingsway Academy. They have two primary school aged children.
Kim attributes her success of balancing a career and family to God’s grace and obedience to His will and purpose for her life. To learn more about Template, visit www.templatebahamas.com.