News Release Archive


Just over a year ago, Sarah MacMillan was one of a growing number
of Nova Scotia-based artists using the Economic Renewal Agency's
Youth Entrepreneurial Skills (YES) loan program as a kick-start
to turning artistic talent into profit. Just one year later, she
has opened the door of her own full-time business.

Sarah came to Nova Scotia from Ontario in 1994, and enrolled at
the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) to complete her
study of ceramics. A year and-a-half later, she was looking for a
summer job.

"I wanted to start my own business after college, so this was a
chance to try it out under the shelter of the art school, to test
the market," she said.

NSCAD allowed Sarah to use space and facilities at the school for
her business. Her YES loan paid for business cards, materials, a
booth at the Halifax Farmers' Market, and professional fees to
gain entry to shows and exhibitions.

The potter steeled herself for the challenge. "I knew it was
going to be tough. It's difficult enough as it is to make a
living as a potter, and May to August was a pretty short time to
do business." she said.

Her biggest problem was making sufficient inventory. "The secret
is to keep producing during the slow times because you will need
stock later," she said. "I'm glad I did it. I didn't make a lot
of cash, but I paid back my loan. It was valuable experience."

Sarah graduated after another semester at NSCAD, and immediately
set to converting her summer YES experience into her own small

She found studio space on Peggy's Cove Road, just 10 minutes from
the world renowned tourist attraction. With lots of drive-by
traffic and being close to the city and arts community, the
location was ideal. Since 600,000 people go to Peggy's Cove every
year, "it seemed like a good spot," said Sarah.

A Community Business Loan from the Nova Scotia Economic Renewal
Agency enabled her to buy a kiln and she spent a few months
renovating her studio and showroom. Her business, Nine of Cups,
opened at the end of August. It was instantly very busy, with
lots of people buying. The name, appropriately enough, was taken
from a Tarot card that means "bringing your dreams to fruition."

"Sarah's dreams are coming true because of her talent and
determination. The YES loan let her test her business skills,"
said Economic Renewal Minister Richie Mann. "Her second loan,
also from the ERA, let Sarah use what she had learned to run a
successful full-time business."

Now Sarah is looking forward to the year ahead and her grand
opening in mid-November. It will be a year of getting to know
what the customers want and what the summer and fall seasons are
like. Then she will spend a "quiet winter" working on new designs
and catching up on existing orders. "Basically .... I'll be
keeping my head above water," she said.

However, there's an air of quiet confidence about Sarah. Her
brightly coloured porcelain dinnerware has already proved to be a
popular purchase.

The YES program was instrumental in her development as a
businesswoman. "It helped me to see what it was going to be like
working by myself, and it helped me to gauge the public's
response to my work and my pricing. It's a great program. It was
an excellent experience," she said.

Information on the YES loan program is available by contacting
the Economic Renewal Agency (toll-free) at 1-800-565-2009.


Contact: Steve Fairbairn  902-424-5836

trp                      Nov. 25, 1996 - 2:55 p.m.