Beaver Brothers Trading Company
Beaver Brothers Trading Company (BBTC) is a tourism-based attraction located on Prince of Wales Island in Kasaan, Alaska. Kasaan is situated on the east-side of Prince of Wales Island on Kasaan Bay, 30 miles northwest of Ketchikan. As a bit of history, Kasaan was originally Tlingit territory, however, Haida people migrated north from the Queen Charlotte Islands in the early 1700s and established the village now known as “Old Kasaan” just 7 miles south on Skowl Arm. In 1892, the Copper Queen mine, camp, sawmill, post office, and store were built on Kasaan Bay and the Haida people relocated to this new village.
Fast forward 127 years; BBTC opened their doors the summer of 2019, which has provided them with a great working space while allowing them to generate income through their tourism-based activities. BBTC is typically open 5-days-a-week, providing demonstrations of their iron-work in progress and daily immersive tours featuring resident Blacksmith and Tanner from May to September. Additionally, they have handcrafted items for sale in the off-season. The business operates as a blacksmith and a trapping operation and has social goals as well – The company is actively collaborating with local artists to develop and Alaskan Artist’s Network cooperative.
Owners Quinn Aboudara and Edward McCarthy were inspired to start their business as they both have strengths rooted in what they do, with trapping and blacksmithing, and felt that there was a way to provide a service to their communities. As a result, they developed strong partnerships with local artists and people that could benefit from their services – launching their idea and inspiring them to start BBTC.
Quinn and Edward were selected as semi-finalists for the Path 2 Prosperity business competition in 2018 and were struggling to further define the business. During one of the sessions, they had an epiphany and pivoted their direction entirely. The result was a tourism-based business that highlighted their unique skill set and continued to allow them to further practice and grow.
“I believe our favorite aspects of being a small business owner is that we have such direct contact with our customers. We truly enjoy sharing and showcasing our skills to guests and being able to work with
other local artists.”
As many before them understand, starting a business can be a rigorous and challenging experience. Of their journey so far they shared, “A few key takeaways/lessons that we’ve learned along the way would be that as a small business owner one has to be flexible. That may mean that if something isn’t working out the way you want it to, it could mean that you’re approaching things from the wrong angle and you need to change your approach. Also it means that you need to be able to move quickly when opportunities arise, that may mean you have to drive two hours to open the business for a couple of hours to catch a handful of potential customers, or you may have to tighten your belt for a while so that you can purchase some equipment that ultimately improves the quality of your product.”
“Don’t spread yourself too thin, watch for opportunities and be ready to pivot.”
Their commitment and progress had led them to the ability to develop the Alaskan Artist Network with fellow artists. Additionally, they have been able to bring on an apprentice to assist in the smithy with opportunities to grow within the business.
Now that Quinn and Edward have opened the doors in Kasaan, they are planning on their next step: expansion. By the end of the summer, they hope to be able to acquire a piece of property in Kasaan and build a second shop which would give them more space and allow them to continually improve their ability to create high-end products and expand the business in the tourism industry. From there, they have even bigger plans but are humbled by and excited for the opportunity to continue to develop the Alaskan Artist Network while working collaboratively with local artists.
Connect with Quinn and Edward at https://beaverbrotherstrading.company/ and on Facebook and Instagram!