ThankU.ca: Building gratitude

FROM WOODSHED TO WEBSITE

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

Martin Byers, owner of ThankU.caThat’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.

Home page of ThankU.ca website

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.

“Martin’s website uses a lot of images and his gallery is heavily code dependent, as it’s built to be both mobile friendly and interactive,” Kelly says. “When I redesigned the website, I knew I’d be incorporating hundreds of images as well as building it using HTML5, jQuery, JavaScript, CSS3 and responsive code. I had no hesitation throwing whatever code and content I needed to use at the GoDaddy server. The speed at which the host serves up the content to viewers is consistently fast.”

From woodshed to website

Custom desk created by Martin Byers of ThankU.ca

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.”

thankuca-instagramWith 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.”

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Chris Rogers
Chris Rogers is a writer, web designer and public relations consultant with a fascination of all things digital. He helps businesses and individuals create powerful (and fun!) homes for their stories online. He is an admirer of simple solutions to big problems and takes his inspiration from good books, beautiful code and fast cars.