Who says you can’t do it here
At Confound Films’ office, atop Receiver Coffee on Charlottetown’s historic Victoria Row, there is a unique piece of furniture.
It’s a coffee table made from the trunk of a 100-year-old maple tree that filmmaker Kyle Simpson remembers playing under in his grandparent’s Walthen Drive home.
It's a beautiful slice of Simpson family history, finished smooth as glass by local furniture maker Brodye Chappell, who happens to be one of the subjects of a new Confound Films video - Do it Here - by Simpson and his partner Joel MacDonald.
Watch the video on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOT-eOltb1U
The documentary features three young Islanders taking a modern twist on traditional businesses. The three entrepreneurs, like Simpson and MacDonald, are putting roots down on PEI.
“This table is a perfect example. I could buy something like this at a chain store, but this is now a family heirloom, and my daughter will have this someday,” Simpson explained.
Chappell, of Brodye Chappell Builds, Chef/Owner Sarah Bennetto O'Brien of The Handpie Company and Humble Barber owner Sean Aylward were the subjects of Confound Film’s new documentary, which was produced with the support of the Prince Edward Island government.
“All three of these business people are fairly young, use a myriad of marketing techniques and are experiencing sizeable growth and making a good living here,” MacDonald explains.
“We really wanted to show the cool stuff that is happening here and these people are doing traditional business with physical locations but are offering unique experiences in their own ways.”
Simpson says they appreciated government support and encouragement, which enabled the young filmmakers tell the stories they wanted to tell.
“We were passionate about this and excited to get these stories out there for people to see. We want to foster creativity in a different way,” he said. “Having some time to work on the project was key. We didn’t feel rushed. We wanted to show people what can be done here.”
Aylward was in law school when he decided to open the now very popular Humble Barber. Bennetto O'Brien was bouncing around in her career when she decided to start out on her own hand pie business and Chappell’s Dad told him he was going to starve going out on his own. But all three have experienced great success.
Simpson was shooting weddings every summer and wanted a change; MacDonald says hated every minute of computer programming. That's when they decided to take the leap and start their own business.
“These stories mirrored our own experience and gave us a refreshing sense of pride,” Simpson said. “We were both told we couldn't do it here in a roundabout way, or directly.”
Business has been good at Confound Films (their third partner is Nathan Sizemore in Toronto) and they’ve been continually reinvesting in the business to acquire new gear and equipment that wasn't readily available on the island in previous years. The growth has allowed them to become more competitive with larger production houses in larger provinces.
“We feel fortunate to be able to have made successful careers for ourselves where we can stay on the island, support our families, and enjoy the unique quality of life that the island offers.”