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Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with diver and entrepreneur, Kathy Dowsett, who owns and operates kirkscubagear.com, one of Canada’s top online dive retail sites. “ I was always a waterbaby. I loved going to the St Clair River and swimming as a kid where I lived in Corunna, Ontario. As I got older, I started to swim laps, for fitness and still do to this day. I find the water calming, and I always did my best thinking when I swam laps.”
Her journey to get to where she is now was not an easy one, there were many ups and downs along the way, but after sustaining a few bumps and scratches, she has emerged successful, and is looking forward to a bright future with her online business. “My father died in a swimming accident in Vero Beach Florida in 1990. The rip-tides got the better of him, and with the salt water going into his system, it shut down and he died quickly.” Dowsett was shaken, but didn’t let it stop her from confronting her demons and pursuing scuba, something she always wanted to do, but her checkout dive didn’t go exactly as planned. A leaky masked combined with an improperly fitted BCD caused Dowsett to question her decision to head to the open ocean. “After taking the course, I went to Gilboa, Ohio to take my open water course---I failed. I came home thinking this was not for me. My instructor called me and encouraged me to try it again. With some other divers, I went to the St Clair River to re-take my test. Just as I was about to enter the water, I saw a vision of my father, like a guardian angel over me, and I knew I would pass it this time, and I did.”
After taking a career break from her previous work in dentistry, Dowsett took up the sport and loved it. Of course, being between jobs made accumulating gear a bit of a challenge, but Dowsett is not one to back down from a challenge easily. “As everyone knows dive equipment is expensive, and at the time I was unemployed and could not afford a whole new set of gear, and was renting all the time. I was always interested in starting a business, but of course with raising kids and working, it never came about. I thought why not start an online business selling scuba gear, offering customers good products at a reasonable price. As I am nearing retirement, I figured this would create a bit of an income, and keep me busy.” Dowsett soon learned that setting up an online business is far from a rags to riches Cinderella story. Fortunately for her customers, her tenacity has won out so far, and looks to keep her in business for a long time to come. “The biggest challenge in getting an online business off the ground is getting traffic to your site. I spent the better part of two winters placing ads, writing blogs, sending my site to search engines, and just getting your name out there so people will recognize you and trust you. It takes at least two years to really make some money from a site, and it takes hard work. I don't mind the work, as this is a passion of mine. Anybody that tells you it comes overnight is wrong, it doesn't.”
Dowsett is showing no signs of slowing down, and has several future plans in the works. “I am currently working with a customer of mine, a retired military man, and we are trying to arrange for next year on the July holiday weekend, a dive in the Kingston area for disabled vets. He is working with some military people, and his local dive shop to help with this project. I would be proud to be a part of this event.” Dowsett is hoping that kirkscubagear will be sponsoring dive trips in the future as well. “I named my site and dedicated it to my Father---I think he would be very proud of my accomplishment.”
Thanks for the comment----I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion, I tend to disagree --- my prices are fairly competitive with other online stores. A dive shop in my city has their cheapest BCD's starting at just over $700.00---now I call that expensive!!!!! All depends on what you are looking for and how money you want to spend!!!!
I post other stories about diving and divers eg Freedivers go deep:::iving Gems of Eastern Canada:::isabled Aim High, Dive Deep:::::A Privileged life beneath the Seas::::Ice Diving and will continue to post interesting stories about divers. My blog from my site has many interesting stories, and I will continue to post these to educate the diving community.
With all the comments, I guess my postings are being read!!!!
With all the comments, I guess my postings are being read!!!!
I was immediately turned off by your first post, which was not even thinly disguised as something relevant to this forum. I am Canadian and have no idea who you are or where you do business and was not even moved to find out. The feedback has not been good. You might want to post in the appropriate forum and in an appropriate manner, and people will probably be more receptive.