Bright Side General
If you’re looking to treat yourself or somebody else, check out Bright Side General. Formerly Corktown Soap, Bright Side has a sweet selection of handmade body care products, crochet bags, ceramic accessories, and home goods.
Tell us about yourself and your business.
My name is Laura Smith and I am the founder for Bright Side General based in Hamilton, ON. My background is in retail merchandising and visual art. I currently run Bright Side General full time and work part time as a graphic designer and illustrator.
At Bright Side General we offer a range of handcrafted goods from Vegan Bodycare to Ceramics to Crocheted Accessories. I make all these products by hand at our studio. The vibe is colourful, fun and upbeat, and I create products that hopefully make every day a little bit brighter!
You came to Hamilton via Toronto, why did you make the move?
My partner and I moved in 2018 after living for over a decade in Downtown Toronto. Cost of living was a huge motivation, the rents in our old neighborhood were skyrocketing and the artist loft we lived in was slowly changing from creative artists and designers to commercial spaces for tech development. We were looking for a new space that could allow us to continue to grow our artistic practice and small businesses and Hamilton was a great fit!
You have recently rebranded and expanded your product line – tell us more about what inspired the change.
This past spring, we rebranded our previous bodycare company, Corktown Soap into our new brand, Bright Side General. The change was initially sparked by our move from the Corktown Neighborhood in Toronto to our new neighborhood in Hamilton – Crown Point. We kept the name for a few years, but it was becoming confusing for our customers, especially since there is a Corktown in Hamilton too!
The name change became a moment to re-evaluate what we were offering as well as a change to update our branding to something a little more bright, colourful and fun for the post-COVID times. After such a tough few years, I was feeling ready to bring the mood into a more vibrant space.
You started off making soaps and that is still a big piece of your business – what do you love about handmade soaps?
The soaps are still a core part of our business and I am so happy that we can continue to offer our vegan bodycare products to our returning customers. I fell in love with handmade soaps after an apprenticeship I did back in 2015 with a soapmaker in Toronto. I had already become passionate about all natural ingredients and eco-friendly product swaps, so making all natural soap was a natural progression. Soapmaking is a tricky process and definitely something to learn from an experienced craftsperson, Youtube may not be your friend on this one!
You named your business after Hamilton’s lost Brightside neighbourhood, what excites you most about the future of this area?
The name Bright Side jumped out to me when I read about the new park being built in our neighborhood, Brightside Park. After learning about it’s namesake, the Brightside Neighborhood, I was so excited about the interesting history of this “ghost neighborhood” and the exciting redevelopment plans to create a beautiful new greenspace in our community. While the name Bright Side still brings good vibes to people unfamiliar with Hamilton history, I hope we can add our creative energy to the new growth and development in our community.
Any advice to small business owners wanting to open up shop in Hamilton?
Starting a small business is incredibly challenging even under regular circumstances, but the post COVID world brings even more instability and unpredictability. My biggest piece of advice would be… PIVOT! (Flashback to Ross moving the couch up the stairs on Friends) But seriously, being flexible and shifting your plans constantly is essential to surviving these hard times. The way things used to be done no longer serves us in this environment so we’re building everything from scratch as we go and taking it day by day.
Besides yourselves, who are some of your other favourite makers in the city?
Hamilton is home to the most vibrant, creative and inspiring community. When we first moved here, we didn’t know anyone! In the last few years, we have been incredibly fortunate to meet so many friends through the maker community. I can’t name everyone but the highlight reel includes…