What does fifteen years of friendship, endless memorable nights filled with music, and a passion for the arts scene bring to life? For Abigail Smith and Sidney Foy, it was the basis for creating Haven Music Hall – a new venue space, bar, and café in the heart of the Saint John Region.
And although they are not musicians themselves, they share how they have always loved being around music, and how it provided them spaces to feel comfortable and at home.
The pair met in Sackville, New Brunswick during high school and it was Abigail who convinced Sidney to move to Saint John after falling in love with the strong music and arts scene.
Living and working together has brought the duo their fair share of challenges, but it was during the dark days of the pandemic that they took a bold leap to follow their dreams.
“In the pandemic we were the opening staff of a new restaurant, and it was a huge challenge, and honestly, I’m really proud of us,” Abigail explained. “We worked really hard, and eventually got laid off, which was kind of jarring. We spent maybe a month being sad.”
Taking a difficult situation and turning it into an opportunity is no small feat, but Abigail and Sidney felt surrounded by a community that would make their dream a reality.
“We knew about supports like Envision Saint John’s Impact Loan and the Tool Library, and it dawned on us that we could actually do this.”
Abigail and Sidney had freelanced on projects in the industry and were exposed to different aspects of the business – but they knew they needed to learn some of the groundwork and decided to enroll in an entrepreneurship development program at ConnexionWorks.
“Unsurprisingly, making a business plan is very hard,” Sidney said. “We worked on it for quite a few months and learned a lot through the ConnexionWorks program. We’re pretty proud of that work.”
They reflect on where the past year has brought them and they both express how the overwhelming guidance from everyone they connected with on the project is what kept pushing it through.
“The biggest piece for sure is that we’ve been asking for help and getting it in spades,” Abigail said.
“Going through the process of receiving the Impact Loan gave us so much confidence. Beyond the financial support, working with organizations like Envision Saint John and ConnexionWorks provided a boost to drive the project forward.”
Abigail and Sidney have learned the true meaning of blood, sweat and tears as they work to open the doors of Haven Music Hall. The entrepreneurs have discovered skills they never imagined they would have in their toolbox – including crack filling – thanks to lessons from their friends at the Tool Library.
As they work to put the final touches on Haven Music Hall, they share what people can expect from this unique addition to the region.
“It will provide a place for people to read in the afternoon, but also shift and carry that comfort over to the night for shows as well. We want to cater to the music and service industry,” Abigail said. “We will be a spot where you can grab coffee or wine at six in the evening.”
Haven Music Hall is focused on local bands and providing a stage for those bands to share their craft.
To learn more about the venue and stay up to date on its grand opening, visit, https://www.havenmusichall.com/ .