ThankU.ca: Building gratitude
Martin Byers knew he wanted his domain name to reflect how he feels about life. As the owner of his own furniture business in Victoria, B.C., Martin personifies the artist’s life that many long for: working long hours in his shop but doing what he loves.
Ever humble, Martin says he chose his domain name before he started his business, and he knew he wanted something that would express gratitude. He says: “In reality, I think I’m lucky to live where I live, and have the opportunities that I have.”
Proud to be .ca
That’s how he came up with ThankU.ca. While passionate and knowledgeable about woodworking and design, he admits his computer skills are fairly basic. So when he told a friend he was thinking about buying the domain name, his friend advised him to buy it right through GoDaddy. “I didn’t know much about the process of buying and registering a domain name, but with GoDaddy, the price was reasonable and everything was easy,” Martin says. “My friend and I handled it while we were out at a restaurant!”
Martin says he wanted a Canadian top-level domain name (.ca) for his business because of what it represents:
“I think Canada has a lot to offer and I think it’s a mark of quality.”
Getting down to business
Martin held on to ThankU.ca for nearly a year before he started his business. He knew he wanted to make furniture, but he decided to expand his knowledge base and hone his skills before going off on his own. “I knew I was going to start my own business. Fortunately, my hometown offers one of the best furniture and joinery courses in Canada, and I was able to join the program.”
He wanted somewhere to showcase his work so he had a friend design a website for him, which was hosted on GoDaddy. Today, the ThankU.ca website has come a long way, and is a stunning piece of art in itself.
In 2014, Martin met Kelly Conlin from Nice Lady Productions and the two embarked on a redesign of the website. Kelly used GoDaddy’s suite of tools for web pros to transform ThankU.ca into a virtual storefront. FTPing content to the server was a seamless experience through GoDaddy.
From woodshed to website
Making fine furniture isn’t always the prettiest process. The workshop where Martin crafts the pieces for ThankU.ca is a true craftsman’s paradise — a place where he can let his creativity loose. But, it’s not necessarily the right environment to show off the beauty of his furniture to customers. That’s where his website takes over.
“When you come to the website, it’s like the front door of my business. It looks professional — it has everything I want you to see and everything I want my business to represent.”
With videos and photos of his work, ThankU.ca also doubles as Martin’s portfolio. He relies on this when he travels to interior design shows, where he meets many of his customers. The website allows potential clients to easily see Martin’s style and previous items he’s built. He’s feels that many of his order inquiries are a direct result of his time spent at shows.
Martin also uses tools like Instagram and the home-design website, Houzz, to market his furniture and find customers. He uses these platforms to drive customers back to his own website, where he can showcase the full breadth of his talents.
A bright future
To date, furniture bearing the ThankU.ca name has been shipped as far as Connecticut, and the business has evolved to include new types of lifestyle pieces, such as charcuterie boards and other restaurant-oriented items.
The website also has grown. Recently, Kelly and Martin collaborated on a video to give an inside look at the process of creating custom furniture.
When it comes to the most common items purchased online by Canadians, a 2014 Ipsos Reid study found that furniture and housewares was one of the categories seeing the most growth. This category was at 23 percent based on the survey, up five percentage points since the previous year. As this number continues to rise, it will only mean greater things for ThankU.ca.
When he first bought ThankU.ca, Martin used GoDaddy because its simplicity allowed him to easily get what he wanted. He has stayed with GoDaddy because he appreciates the ongoing quality of service, and the understanding of his needs as a small business owner.
“GoDaddy has been good for me because I’m such a small business, and my business is furniture — not websites. It’s just me and a dusty shed. By using GoDaddy, I know I have nothing to worry about.”