In the Studio

Dried flowers from a bouquet sent to me from friends in Alberta on the occasion of my 20th business anniversary are placed in my old shop shelves to remind me of the milestone. I’ve been dealing with a real inner struggle about whether my 20 years in business is something to celebrate or something to feel really dismal about. I love what I do, what I’ve created here (with the help of lots of other people), and what we offer. But it has not been a financial success by any measure, and it’s still a gut wrenching struggle from day to day, season to season. I know I’m lucky in many ways, but man, would it be nice to not be worried about money! But I’m a risk-taker, and instead of planning to sell my business and take the pressure off, I go back to work on my business plan. Looking for what I’ve done right and what I’ve done wrong and what I can do to overcome all the weaknesses. I have learned a lot in the past 20 years, and hope to put that to good use to make life better. There it is- that’s what the milestone is, learning.

The studio is open for summer hours:

10:00 am – 6:00 pm
10:00 am – 6:00 pm
10:00 am – 6:00 pm
10:00 am – 6:00 pm
10:00 am – 6:00 pm

And now, off to put new stock in the shelves, tidy up my office (a messy office leads to all kinds of bad vibes!) and order up a bite to eat from my favourite restaurant… And after I close up the studio for the day, I’m off to The REACH (my other job) to hang a new exhibition that opens tomorrow! There is an opening reception for Tracy Blackwood’s AMASS at the Art Gallery at The REACH on Canada Day from 3 to 6pm. I hope to see some of my loyal readers there!


Excursions & Decisions

Duke and I had a lovely little getaway night aboard our sailing vessel Virtue which is tied up at Terra Nova National Park’s wharf. Such a beautiful spot! We had a gorgeous moonlit night and spent our morning on a little hike on one of the trails…

Along this boardwalk, we saw gulls, crows, a bald eagle, and some greater yellowlegs bobbing their beaks into the kelp.
And this Spruce Grouse, or Partridge, stood perfectly still as a defence mechanism, which made for an easy photo target! Hunters must have a real easy time with these birds.
The forest is unfamiliar territory for me, who lives on a granite outcropping next to the Atlantic Ocean. The trees were creaking in the little gusts of wind, and as I made my way through the floor of tree roots, I was imagining how spooky the hike would have been in the moonlight last night!

While I enjoyed this little excursion very much, there was the stress of wondering what’s going to happen with our business this coming week always hanging a shadow over me. Last week we saw such a significant dip in business at the studio and café that I had to dip into personal debt in order to pay the weekly bills. I can’t afford to do that much more, and we have four weeks left in the season yet. What to do? Do I risk personal debt in order to keep 8 valued staff-members employed for the next four weeks? Do I disappoint the few customers who have made reservations for special occasions? We really do need to be going full tilt to pay the bills. This week I will keep going, run the risk, and reassess on Saturday. Fingers toes and eyes crossed that I can keep going until Thanksgiving as planned!

The Ups and Downs

After sending out notice to my subscribers last week about having to close down the café sooner than planned, I received quite a few overwhelming emails from people who love what we’re doing there: the food, the decor, the ambiance, the service, etc. My heart was swelling with pride in the gains we’ve made this year, my gorgeous staff and me.

It is one of my favourite restaurants of all time.  So cozy and calm, with a beautiful ocean backdrop.  Wonderful food and staff.  

customer of norton’s cove café

Today, I am working on my accounting, which is looking pretty grim. After making a foolish mistake on September 6th (I deleted some files that I shouldn’t have), I was forced to start re-entering all my accounting journal entries back as far as July 6th. Twenty days later, I’ve put in lots of extra accounting hours, and I have re-entered all revenue, and enough of my expenditures to reconcile my bank account. I have a table full of stacks of receipts left to go, and as I keep entering expenses, with no customers coming in the door, my anxiety levels are raising by the receipt entered.

From my UNDERNEATH series, this piece is starting to take shape.

I am doing what I can, creating new works, building my stock for the Christmas Craft Fair in November, and trying to keep my spirits up to help me deal with the financial stress of being an artist and entrepreneur in outport Newfoundland.

Lily, a new edition of 47 hand coloured linocut prints is waiting for mats and frames to be ready to sell.
Brown Trout, a new linocut print, is ready to be editioned.

Business Pond

After work this evening, Jack & I had enough daylight remaining to get a little walk in at Business Pond. Seems an appropriately named place to go at the end of the business day. Jack has been using the same stick for the last three visits, leaving it by the fence before he hops into the vehicle and picking it up again to carry around the trail and fetch from the pond.

Eastern’s Outback Jack with his wake and a shake!

I’ve been feeling pretty good lately, my depression mostly a thing of the past, but I have to keep reminding myself not to get too caught up with work- I have to take the time to go for walks and enjoy the outdoors in order to stay healthy. I have learned a lot over the last couple of years, and I have to keep using all that new knowledge in order to stay positive. I realize that the path to depression can be a very easy one to slip on when things aren’t going as planned.

My business has a long way to go before I can call it successful. I reopened the café on Mother’s Day, May 12th. I realize now that I should have waited. There has not been enough traffic to warrant being open full-time, and I’m paying for that error in judgment. In the meantime, I have to keep my head up, keep trying to improve our marketing and keep my fingers crossed that it will all work out in the end.

Business Pond Walking Trail, Valleyfield

There are so many small businesses out there like mine, who really depend on our support- I often wonder what kind of stresses the owners are under, and what strategies they might use to keep themselves optimistic. I think I’m just stubborn enough to keep going no matter what, but there is always the fear that I will lose everything if I can’t pay my bills. Such is the life of an entrepreneur!

What are your favorite small businesses?


I’m happy to report that the 2017 staff of Norton’s Cove Studio & Café have been nominated for an award!  I was recently contacted by the municipality of New-Wes-Valley, asking if it would be okay if they nominated us- it sure is okay!

Nortons Cove 2018-8
Norton’s Cove Staff in 2017 included Ted O’Connor, Patsy Best, Fred Kelloway, Gilbert Gordon, Angie Sheppard, Leah Lewis, Leah Perry, Candace Hynes, Jared Attwood, Megan Kelloway, Justin Burtin (pictured), Duke Kelloway, and me, Janet Davis.

The Gander & Area Chamber of Commerce is holding a gala event on November 22nd, in honour of the 18th Annual Joe & Clarice Goodyear Business Achievement Awards at the Quality Inn & Suites at Gander.

We are up for a Customer Service Award, which I’m quite proud of.  Have you visited Norton’s Cove?  What did you think of our customer service this year?  Are we deserving?


Next week this time, I’ll be selling my wares at the 45th Annual Christmas Craft Fair, hosted by the Craft Council of NL (of which I’ve been a member for 28 years!).  It really is the best show of the season, with juried artisans of the best kind.

Until departing for St. John’s on Tuesday, I’ll be busy in my studio, framing up mini-prints and other artwork, and packing up for the road.


My hands are busy, but washing glass isn’t exactly the most interesting of my chores, and I’d love to have some brain exercise too- please stop in for a chat!

Anniversary Sale!

Today marks 16 years since the day I first opened Norton’s Cove Studio for business.  A tiny figure compared to the 128th anniversary of the construction of the historic general store that houses my studio & shop, but significant to me never-the-less!

This picture was taken for the Beacon (if my memory serves me correctly) back in 2002, just before I was ready to open.  I was still setting up new equipment.

To thank you, my faithful customers, friends, neighbours, and family who have supported me through the years, I have a few treats for you here at the studio today:

  • coffee
  • tasty nibbles
  • door prize: $25 gift card
  • 50% off all cards, minis, bookmarks, and framed minis
  • 25% off everything else in the shop
  • door opens at 10am and closes at 6pm

Online customers get a different deal:

  • 40% off all artwork by Janet Davis: use code Anniversary Sale
  • Also use this code if you don’t require shipping: PICKUPINSTORE
  • 6am to 10pm (Newfoundland time!)

Go ahead, make the most of both deals!

To all of you, whether you are a repeat customer with an entire Janet Davis art collection, you stopped in once on a travel trip and bought #justacard, or you love to eat at my restaurant, THANK YOU.  Every purchase counts towards a successful business that is employing several people and I think is doing good things in our tiny community here outport Newfoundland.  I hope this little business keeps growing!

Nortons Cove 2018-7
2018 photo courtesy of Grant Cudmore.

Aunt Virtue Kean She Wrote This Song, Aha Me B’ys…

Virtue & Captain Job Kean moved to Norton’s Cove around 1879.  They had eleven children, and ran a business together for many years.  Virtue had been raised at Middle Bill Cove, a part of Cape Freels, in Bonavista Bay, just a 15-20 minute drive from Norton’s Cove on modern(ish) roads, and met Job on Flower’s Island where she’d held the position of Schoolmarm.

As far as I can tell, Virtue was in charge of the shop where I sit typing this right now.  It’s known as Kean’s General Store by the Heritage Foundation, or Job Kean Shop, and it has J. KEAN in wooden lettering over the door outside.  I’m thinking of changing the J. to a V.  Maybe even V. HANN.

Virtue Maria (nee: Hann) Kean 1858-1929

But keeping the J. Kean outside the door reminds me how far women have come in the world, since Virtue’s beginnings.  What a strong woman she must have been, to run a very successful business and raise a family (with plenty of tragedy- only 45% of her children reached adulthood) with her partner gone to sea for months at a time.  She was a host to doctors who stayed at her home while working at the clinic that had been set up very nearby.  She kept horses, helped to run the telegraph office (where my woodshed is now), taught Sunday school, and played piano.  And she still made time to write silly folk song lyrics to be sung at community concerts and raise money for charity.

Lukey’s boat is painted green, aha me b’ys
Lukey’s boat is painted green, the prettiest John Dominey ever did see
Aha, aha me riddle I day.