Eclectic mix of antiques and retro furnishings with a sense of community. Meet Clint Moroz, owner of Space Labs in the heart of Chinatown Vancouver  

Name: Clint Moroz

Employees: 6

Since: 2010

When did you start having visions of starting your own business?

I’d been working in construction management for years in Calgary one of my colleagues got fired and after maybe 3 months they hadn’t replaced him and told me I was doing such a good job handling the work load they had no intention of replacing him since I did the work of 2 so well.  It sort of hit me the harder I worked the more money my bosses made.  I sat down with them and asked for half his wage in a raise and they refused so…I felt fuck them. Loyalty is a 2 way street.  Right about that time Ebay had started and a friend of mine was selling stuff on there.  So I used my time on  the road to find things to sell on EBAY.  Plus I started taking construction contracts personally. Doing historic restoration on homes.  I had the contacts and the access to other trades and felt it was a great move. From there the seed germinated to stop working for someone else all together and go solo.

How did you go from the idea, to actually starting the process? What were the first steps?

When I left Calgary I took some time to travel and lived in Australia for a year then New Zealand and Borneo. I left my clients and shuttered my business in Calgary and decided to start fresh in Van once I got the travel bug out of me. First steps were to get my feet under me and get some education once I settled in Vancouver.  I’m a huge fan of learning and education in general but after enrolling in a business education course through the gov of BC and then subsequently being asked to leave the program I realized I was really lacking in some key information.  So first steps were a misstep.

What were your biggest motivations in starting your company?

Tired of using my work ethic and brain to make others money. Plus I had a million ideas that I simply couldn’t execute working for others. Plus I get super bored very quickly.

How did you know you had the right idea and wanted do start?

The right idea keeps evolving and morphing.  I’ve never been married to one concept.   A few of my friends who were entrepreneurial said just open and get going and a lot of the details will  really iron themselves out just get going.  I had a few ideas and I was doing light contracting already so I just took a leap.  No real right idea just a direction.

What are your most valuable skills and how do you apply them to your business?

Getting bored easily and wanting variety.  Plus all the work and education I had i the past exposed me to a wide range of ideas attitudes and varying degrees of ego and ignorance.

What was your biggest ‘A-ha’ moment? Any epiphanies that helped you pivot, succeed, leap over a major hurdles?

My Ah-ha moment was sort of gradual. My epiphanies came from seeing what other people were doing and why they weren’t doing better or doing things differently.  My Ah-Ha is sort of dual. First of all it came from ebay times where I searched for items that were hot and using all the resources around me to explore and expand. Which introduced me to areas I never new existed.  The things that helped me succeed were looking at others mistakes and others successes.   This is a long and more involved answer than  the question implies.

How did you fund the first steps or what creative strategies did you use to execute on minimal cash flow?

Instead of paying people I learned a lot on my own.  I learned how to make business cards and basically waited almost 2 years before I even had a sign on my business and it was made for me by a friend.  I worked 7 days a week for over 2 years and I worked on the side.  Plus I used every free resource out there.  Craigslist, Instagram, facebook and so on.  I defied every rule they taught me in business school. There are other things I did which most every accountant or successful start up does that one should never recommend but I paid the government last. As long as the business could operate and I could grow that’s all I cared about.

How did you develop key partnerships?

By defying the normal mode. I made friends with my competition, I picked the brain of the old timers and made allies of others by engaging them in a professional fashion.  Partnerships came from friendships and the cultivating of those friendships.

Did you have anyone to help you with decisions or a mentor? 

Not directly but I had a good support network who encouraged a lot.

How did you get credibility quickly?

I gained credibility by aligning myself with other established businesses and working with them in a helping each other out way.  I used the Halo effect. Plus I had been learning about the industry for years so my knowledge was solid and my ability to reuse and re-purpose was even more developed from growing up on a farm. 

How did you handle adversity and doubt from yourself and others?

well once you commit you have to succeed doubt is no longer an option.  If you want to pay rent or eat you have to persevere. Most people still don’t understand what I do but they see the results…

What failures (if any) happened along the way and how did you overcome them?

Waiting 8 years to file my taxes and having to spend most my savings but it meant I was able to keep the business going that long!

What drives you to keep going when it’s really tough?

I’ve no other option I’m self employed. Just have to do it because no one else will.  I grew up on a farm. Same thing…

What’s the worst business mistake you ever made?

Not moving to Chinatown sooner.  I could have bought a building with the same rent I pay now. I didn’t look at the way traffic engaged Chinatown and listened to others about how bad the hood was I broke one of my cardinal rules and I didn’t explore and keep an open mind…

What keeps you up at night and how do you tackle this?

I sleep very well and nothing keeps me up at night other than being too drunk! I’ve learned that worry is one of the most destructive and counter productive emotions.  Going to sleep is the best thing to help your state of mind.  You always wake up feeling way better!

What did you do before this?

Anthropology and Art history education, I grew up on a farm and have worked in many fields from Powder Man in a gold mine to concierge for Fairmont hotels.  Legitimately I’ve had piles of jobs.

Who created the Space Lab brand identity? What was the process and did you have a lot of input into it?

Everything is me. Sadly I didn’t give enough attention early on so my identity is more a factor of exterior influence and perception then my curation…It was meant to be a play on home alchemy or a laboratory for your personal space. Some people got that but others…also influenced by stereo lab and the concept that you are mixing elements in your life to make a better space.

How important is social media for your business? 

I couldn’t emphasize  enough how important it was when we started .   Sadly I do next to nothing now but I would not have a business if not for social media.  Conventional advertising is a complete waste of time and money.

How do you create content for social media? Is it a thought out strategy or something more spontaneous?

Used to be very thoughtful but as we gauged the response we went to a more  loose approach.

What parts of the Space Lab experience do you think most resonates with people?

I suspect the lack of selling.  Just look enjoy and hang out if something works for you great if not no worries it will for someone.  Plus we do lots of social things like BBQs handing out beer and wine to customers.  We try to create a sincere and relaxed environment.  Desperation or aggressiveness along with indifference are a turn off. Just like a relationship.  You are wooing people so treat it like a relationship.  You have an objective but they should never feel that way.

What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

I like most aspects of it because the harder I used to work the more money I used to make someone else.  Now my effort goes to me and I like that a lot.

What one piece of advice would you give a young entrepreneur who is about to start their journey and open their own vintage & antiques store?

Well don’t believe you will dictate what people respond to.  Be flexible and nimble plus always keep an eye out for what is going on around you.  Lots of guys close or fail because of myopic vision. 


Space Labs

230 E Pender St, Vancouver