6 Questions with April Brown and Sarah Sklash

I met April years ago; she was one of the lovely souls who worked at a PR agency that I had a working relationship with prior to opening my own business. She was sweet, hardworking and always such a joy to deal with. When I learned that she, along with her best friend Sarah, had purchased a Motel in Prince Edward County in Ontario, I was so intrigued. What motivated these two 33 year old city slickers to leave the corporate world for the countryside?   

After seeing what these ladies have created, I wanted get into a car and get to their motel immediately. Forget what you think a motel should look and be like, April and Sarah have thought of every single detail on how to make their property not only visually pleasing but an overall memorable experience in the PEC region.

The ladies now split their time between Prince Edward County, Toronto and whatever sunny destination they can retreat to during the winter…pretty sweet life they’ve created for themselves, right?!

Meet April and Sarah, the coolest moteliers you’ll ever meet:

What do you do and what are some of the current projects you are working on?

Sarah and I (April) own The June Motel, a hip boutique property in Prince Edward County. We purchased the property in 2016, when it was a dingy roadside known as a popular stay for fishermen in the area. Since then, we’ve redesigned the property and reimagined the motel experience – think pink doors, funky neon signs and dreamy palm print wallpaper!

In January we travelled around California to gather inspo and experience the many emerging west-coast trends, so we’re partly excited to bring some of these ideas to The June this year. We’re focused on improving the guest experience by providing more opportunities for guests to customize their stay with us and introducing new programming – live music, food trucks, unique workshops, collaborations with local makers, etc. We’re also rolling out a custom wine label (rose’ of course!), and a breakfast menu that will launch in May! All the while dreaming of building an empire of motels one day soon!

What did you do before co-owning The June?

I (April) was working for a PR & Digital agency in Toronto and Sarah was working for Service Ontario. I think our previous career paths really gave us the professional confidence to create The June. I bring the marketing and creative side, while Sarah is amazing at the numbers and operation of the business.

What prompted you to leave your corporate careers and leap into the Entrepreneurial world?

We were both just tired of the daily grind. Living in Toronto and working in front of a computer screen all day was no longer as thrilling or inspiring as it once was when we moved to the city in our 20s. We’d been craving something creative and entrepreneurial for a long time, and at the beginning of 2016, we sat down and said “this is the year we do it”. A few weeks after that during a brainstorm over wine, the motel merely came up in conversation and we both just looked at each other and said “we should buy that motel”. A few months later we were moving into a dingy roadside motel. Things happened fast!

What’s the best thing about working with your bestie? And what’s the most difficult?

It’s funny, so many people warned us against working with a friend, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Working with someone you know so well, and trust completely means that you have a really strong support system. Owning a business comes with some high highs and low lows, and having a bestie there to celebrate the wins and help get you through the lows is so powerful.

How has social media impacted your business?

It’s been a game changer. When we launched The June in 2017 we really had no idea that it would be such an instant success, but it blew up on Instagram within the first 2 months, and attracted the likes of Vogue, Toronto Life, Travel & Leisure, Enroute and hundreds of bloggers and content creators to come stay with us, and share their experience in the media! I think a large part of the instant success on Instagram is that we developed the property for millennials. Knowing that they’re social media obsessed, we spent a lot of time curating photographable moments and experiences throughout the property. For example, you pull up to the motel and the first thing you see is bright pink doors, in the lobby you’re welcomed with a funky pink neon sign and a glass of rose’ and when you arrive to your room there’s a statement wallpaper behind the bed just begging for you to take a photo.

What are your three fave apps that you can’t live without and why?

  1. Spotify – Because there’s a playlist for everything we do, every day. Music is life!
  2. Hopper – You can keep an eye on flights and hopper will alert you when it’s the best time to book. We both LOVE to travel, and are trying to create a lifestyle where we can be working from anywhere at certain times, like during winter when we’re closed.
  3. Pinterest – It’s basically a digital brainstorm for us. Sarah and I are collaborating on about 20 different secret boards for The Motel (seriously!). It’s a platform for us to share design concepts and inspiration for our business!

Totally ready to book a room at The June? I don’t blame you! You can book a room here and follow the entrepreneurial adventures of these two entrepreneurs on their beautifully curated Instagram feed here.

Bisous,

Winy

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