Almost four years ago, Grazielle and Joanes made a bold decision in their lives. Both are lawyers and had been managing their own law offices in Brazil for years, but they felt it was time for a change. Within 6 months, they decided to come to Canada in search of new business opportunities.
The plan had always been to open a business in Canada. It became a reality at the beginning of 2020 when they founded BS Canada Import in Montreal, Quebec. BS Canada Import is an international company that focuses on importing, representing, merchandising, and promoting beverage and home décor Brazilian brands.
How it all started
When the couple noticed that the liquor stores throughout Canada did not offer wines and sparkling wines from Brazil, they spotted their opportunity. Joanes is a wine enthusiast and had connections with a few Brazilian wineries in the south of the country. After some negotiation, Garibaldi and Salton wineries became the first brands in the BS Canada Import portfolio.
The first challenge was to understand how the alcoholic beverage market worked in Canada. The sales of these products are controlled by each province’s government, imposing a few restrictions on the importation and distribution. For this reason, the first beverages to be imported from the wineries were the non-alcoholic ones, like grape juices and teas, which can be found today in many supermarkets around the country and in the company’s e-commerce platform.
“The Covid-19 pandemic started at the very beginning of our business and had a huge impact in our merchandising strategy, which was mainly focused on product tasting for the non-alcoholic products, and also in obtaining the necessary licenses to import alcoholic beverages”, says Grazielle.
However, they overcame the barriers imposed by the pandemic and soon managed to register their alcoholic beverages in liquor stores across Ontario and Prince Edward County. They also saw the pandemic as an opportunity to expand their business to the digital space and other sectors, taking advantage of e-commerce popularity.
By the beginning of 2021, the work they had been doing with the wineries and Oxford Porcelanas ( a brand that offers porcelain and ceramics tabletop products) caught the attention of furniture and home decor companies in Brazil that wanted to sell their products in Canada. They embraced the opportunity, and today BS Canada Import represents 15 Brazilian home decor brands in Canada, promoting Brazilian quality and design. The products can be found at 16 e-commerce platforms, available in the Canadian market and some parts of the USA.
“The market research pointed to the Canadian market as more classical in terms of furniture and home decor, but we wanted to bring unique products that represented the Brazilian design and quality. It worked so well that today almost 70% of our home décor clients are Canadians”, explains Grazielle.
To manage the logistics of ready-to-deliver products, the company has two warehouses, one in Canada and another in California, USA, and it has partnerships with carriers in both countries. It also works with customized Brazilian furniture brands in Canada, handling the entire process for the clients, from quoting to importing.
For now, BS Canada Import plans to stick to the home decor and beverage markets, but its portfolio is in constant expansion. For the next few months, they will be offering a line of self-assembly furniture and an entire line of children’s furniture, such as cribs. In the beverage department, the challenge is to expand their presence to other provinces. They are already in negotiation with British Columbia and New Brunswick liquor stores.
“Opening a business is not easy and requires a lot of financial planning and emotional intelligence, but my advice to those who are planning to start their own business is: if you have an idea and believe in it, just do it, ideas, if not followed by actions, will never become a reality”, says Joanes.
“Canada is a country full of opportunities, but entering the market requires a lot of planning and discipline. If you are planning to import, get to know who your suppliers are, the quality of their products and the desirability of the product in the Canadian market”, adds Grazielle.