Digital and Tech Stories of Economic Growth on Vancouver Island

Carolyn Kvajic – Salt Spring Island & Victoria – Retail Products

~DER3 Program: Businesses Benefit from Getting Digital on Vancouver Island ~

Find out how Innovation Island, as the region’s technology accelerator, with decades of experience in the tech sector on Vancouver Island, and a deep understanding of tech, innovation and digital ecosystems, embraced the call to help the mounting challenges that faced small-medium sized businesses due to the COVID crisis. Supporting over 500 businesses and moving the economic dial and future economic growth on Vancouver Island.

Since the DER3 Program launched in April 2020, with support from Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) and additional support from Western Economic Development Canada, the program has now engaged with over 500 businesses. From web and IT/tech support, to digital marketing, tech and business model innovation, or overall strategy and pivots, we are thrilled to help businesses move the economic dial on Vancouver Island. We would love to share some amazing stories of clients who have benefited from this no cost program.

#getdigital #supportlocalvi #der3

DER3 Client: Business Summary

Carolyn is the co-owner along with her husband, Philippe, who is from the South of France and they have owned their company since 2014. Salt Spring Sea Salt is a retailer of the finest gourmet Fleur de Sel. Naturally combining French tradition with West Coast resources, their sea salt represents BC and Canada and is made by hand.

Carolyn currently does her own PR and has been very successful in getting exposure in the news: Wall Street Journal and Toronto Star and on TV: CTV News, Food Network – Chuck and Danny’s Road Trip. Salt Spring Sea Salt was a “Speed Bump Challenge” on the Amazing Race Canada Season 4. Their revenues, however, saw a sharp decline in the spring of 2020 as they have always greatly depended upon tourism, outdoor markets and gift/food markets. 

Getting Digital: Needs Expressed

Carolyn sought out the DER3 Program with her main objective to receive assistance in online/digital marketing strategies and to understand how to get the most out of social media (mainly Instagram). They felt like they had a decent website so had a great starting point, they had an existing online and offline loyal and passionate customer following, and a large mailing list they knew they needed to capitalize on to grow their revenue. Given they were unable to sell their products at farmer’s markets and shows, they recognized the need to pivot and focus their efforts on selling online. Their existing website was built in WordPress and they were looking to enhance their WooCommerce eCommerce platform.  They were also interested in funding options and discussing comarketing opportunities. Carolyn reengaged with the program in August 2021 looking for support to improve website functionality and social media outreach – specifically pinterest.

How DER3 helped the Business

An Immediate Action Plan (IAP) was created with recommendations including:clarifying their branding around how their product was unique vs. their competitors. In addition, the DER3 Team helped by: 

  • creating target customer profiles (personas) to inform digital marketing strategy and content,
  • determining where their customers are located,
  • creating a more engaging Google My Business page, 
  • creating short, punchy videos to use on social media,
  • making sense of the various social media selling platforms and which ones to use
  • assisted in setting up Instagram and Facebook shoppable posts
  • created a Pinterest Page and a strategy including 4 boards – and connected this to her website

DER3 provided the client with resources and templates to increase her knowledge of how to create great social media marketing incorporating the above elements. Salt Spring Sea Salt had a marketing budget and was provided with Digital Service Provider (DSP) recommendations to assist with designing and implementing a social media marketing strategy (she is working with one of those recommended DSPs now). DER3 provided guidance and coaching on local marketing, co-marketing opportunities and other regional marketing programs (e.g. Island Good). DER3 also referred the client to Export Development Canada to discuss opportunities about bringing their artisan salt products into Latin America. DER3 presented information on two funding opportunities: Post Media Digital Marketing Grant and the Launch Online Grant Funding Program.

DER3 Impact, Results, Outcome

While working with the DER3 Program, Salt Spring Sea Salt expanded their online sales and started selling on social media channels including Instagram and Facebook Shops/shoppable posts. She has a new Pinterest account with multiple boards and a strategy to target clients with this platform and drive new traffic and sales to their website. They secured grant funding to support some digital marketing efforts. DER3 was able to help Carolyn build confidence that she was on the right track doing the right things in the right order. The connection to Island Good resulted in a radio broadcast story with product placement on a Canadawide cooking show on Radio Canada. They have pivoted to doing significantly more direct-to-consumer online business. Within the first few months of the program her online sales increased significantly and saw a substantial ROI on their digital marketing investment. They have doubled their production since 2020. Over the course of the DER3 Program, their revenue has increased 16-30% (Way to go Salt Spring Sea Salt)!

Additional NewsSalt Spring Sea Salt also has connected with another service provider: Export Navigator – watch their story here and features in Chatelaine magazine the October/November Issue.

You guys are the best! This program needs to be extended forever.


Innovation Island has been supporting technology companies to “build, grow and stay” and has fostered local digital ecosystems (and on Vancouver Island for over 20 years. We love to connect with businesses and tech entrepreneurs who are interested in starting a technology business on Vancouver Island, or connecting to other tech and innovative companies with industry resources and expert advice. If you are looking for Startup assistance, support on commercializing your product, or if you have an innovation or invention you would like to launch or looking for general information on technology on Vancouver Island. Connect with us and we would love to hear from you.

We are proud to serve a region encompassing all communities outside of Victoria, including ~ The Cowichan Valley, Duncan, Ladysmith, Nanaimo, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Port Alberni, Ucluelet, Tofino, Cumberland, Courtenay, Comox, Campbell River, Port Hardy, Port McNeill, the (Southern and Northern) Gulf Islands & the Sunshine Coast. 

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