In our 9—5 series, we profile women at the top of their game. By Jennifer Berry July 23, Instagram handles: aprilkbrown and ssklash. Sarah: There have certainly been challenges and tough days with the motel, but when one of us is having a bad day, the other one knows how to cheer the other up.
You get to know and appreciate a friend in a whole new light when you work with them. It was a lot of fun, but in the end I was burnt out and needed a big change in my life. Sarah: I worked for the Ontario Public Service. I enjoyed it, learned a lot that I continue to apply to my work now and I am proud of what I accomplished.
April: Sarah and I were looking for that next chapter in both our careers and personal lives.
The daily grind in Toronto was no longer as fulfilling as it once was when we were in our early 20s. We started to dream about having something of our own and a new creative outlet.
She and her boyfriend had recently bought a cottage in the area, so we had seen first-hand how the area had grown in popularity year-over-year. There was a little fate in how it all worked out as well. Less than six months from that initial conversation, we moved into the dingy roide motel that it once was.
But despite the popularity of the area, everyone seemed to struggle to find a place to stay. We had struggled ourselves on several occasions, so the we knew the demand was there. Buying a vintage roide motel introduced us to a whole new world. We were suddenly challenged in new ways, and we had endless opportunities to be creative in how we transformed not only the look and feel of the place, but the entire experience of staying at a motel.
April: The owners had been operating the motel for 30 years, so it was definitely operational. We took possession on June 1, and operated as the Sportsman Motel until the end of October, and then we closed down.
We closed from November to May We finished the renovations on May 4 and reopened on May 5! Full disclosure: we hired an electrician and called in our friends and family often. Sarah: We had a tight budget that we wanted to stretch far for the renovations. This meant putting in a lot of hard work ourselves.
April: Sarah had renovated her cottage, and we had dabbled in de enough to realize that we loved the idea of transforming a space. This whole thing was about deing experiences and spaces, and we really wanted that creative platform.
I travelled around California last fall and was so inspired by other motel transformations, such as The Goodland in Santa Barbara. Sarah: Between Instagram and Pinterest, we were able to explore and collect so many inspirational photos. I just counted—we have 35 Pinterest boards for the motel! But the broader answer is that motels are a more casual space, as opposed to a formal, five-star hotel. Keeping up with the newest hot spots is part of the job.
It always keeps me on my toes. We deed this place with the millennial traveller in mind. To put in effort.
The of people who have told us that they learned about our business through Instagram is pretty amazing. We truly value the hard work our staff put in that is so essential to ensuring guests of The June have a good experience. April: Just do it. Sarah: As a hospitality business, you are almost definitely part of a larger business community.
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Build those relationships. Support one another. Build upon your open personal experiences and desires and it should work out. April: The best part is creating; creating new des and new experiences. Sarah: I love catching glimpses of guests in the midst of moments that I know will be highlights of their summers.
Travels with friends and family have always been precious to me, and I love now being on the other side.
Life is work and work is life. We both have condos in Toronto, so we typically escape with a little city life.
The drastic change of scenery allows for a real mental break from motelier life. Sarah: Toronto is where we now go to decompress a little bit—which is so ironic—and to eat Thai food.
April: Escaping to the city and seeing my friends is how I unwind… of course all of that with a glass of wine in hand! Sarah: Spending time with my boyfriend at our cottage, biking, kayaking or most luxuriously, watching Netflix with a glass of wine in hand. Photo: Courtesy of The June Motel.