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How Two Friends Left Their Careers To Start A Home Goods Empire


Martha Grace McKimm had a fruitful career in public relations, running agencies. Her friend Andrea Hopson was equally successful, working for the luxury retailer, Tiffany & Co.

And so their friends and family members were aghast when they told them they were leaving it all to start their own business.

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“Everyone around us thought we were crazy,” Martha, one of the co-founders of Hopson Grace, a home goods boutique headquartered in Toronto, said. “But we were fuelled by the desire to leave the comfortable corporate lives and do something different that we were passionate about and have some freedom.”

Andrea Hopson (left) and Martha Grace Mckimm (right) inside their retail location of Hopson Grace, surrounded by table linen, serving utensils, and glassware displays.
Martha Grace Mckimm and Andrea Hopson left established careers to start their own business, Hopson Grace.Hopson Grace

Martha and Andrea launched Hopson Grace in 2014. Since then, the duo opened a 2,400-square-foot retail and event space to feature home goods like elegant glassware from Czech Republic, hand painted ceramics from Italy, and fine bone China from England. 

“We risked our financial future starting the business,” Martha said. 

But luckily, their taste for tableware, decor, and design resonated with customers, and their business blossomed in-store and online. 

A collection of mid century cocktail classes displayed on an off-white background.
Taking a big financial risk, Hopson Grace opened with a large retail space to showcase the internationally curated home goods.Hopson Grace

But like many other small business owners, Martha and Andrea were forced to transform Hopson and Grace during the early days of the pandemic. Strict COVID-19 regulations made shipping their product unreliable. Rules against indoor shopping forced them to shut down their physical store . 

“It's hard to get a good margin when your shipping costs double or triple from a sustainability standpoint,” Martha said.

So Martha and Andrea came up with a solution: the creation of Hopson Grace’s own line of products. The pair began to design their own line of glassware, bedding, and utensils and worked directly with manufacturers to bring those ideas to life. 

“Andrea and I have been working on moving more toward our own branded products,” Martha said. “It also is a way of expressing our creativity a lot more.” 

A hand model using a water glass next to a bunch of peonies.
Betting on themselves again, Martha and Andrea moved towards creating their own line of products during COVID-19.Hopson Grace

This investment in their own line paid off and enabled Hopson and Grace to move to its new retail location that’s triple the size. 

“Growing from a square footage perspective is not only to show the breadth of what we can offer,” said Martha. “But it also is to connect with your community and understand the inspiration behind what we do.” 

Betting on themselves is a constant theme within Martha’s and Andrea’s business journey but it’s just one of the tips they shared on the podcast. Tune into the full interview to hear about the way Hopson Grace uses marketing to build a loyal and engaged community and how the duo sources products across the globe. 

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This originally appeared on Shopify and is made available here to cast a wider net of discovery.
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