It’s been all about travel since Brent MacIsaac and Sara Mills became a couple.
Now, the Truro duo is receiving province-wide attention for their excursions, which they blog about online.
Before their popularity on the web started to grow, MacIsaac was a business student with aspirations of becoming an entrepreneur while Mills says she was practically born an entrepreneur. When the pair united, it opened up doors they never could have imagined.
“I was sitting in a pub one night doing some brainstorming and that’s when everything fell into place on my end,” said MacIsaac, originally from Ontario. “I wanted to start an apparel and accessory company. When I met Sara, we decided to collaborate on a few ideas to see if we could build off one another. In the end, we decided we wanted to build community first and foremost and then the apparel line would be an offshoot of that.”
At the time, Mills was blogging on fitness and then health and wellness. But after their first date, they were bitten by the travel bug.
“We’ve been all about doing things that were unique and not your typical movie or dinner date,” said Mills. “In our first year we went to Greece and that catapulted into a lot of travel.”
Having identified travel as the base for their concept, the couple started to really hone in on what they wanted to accomplish. They came up with the name Dashboard Living and from there, Mills said it didn’t take long to determine the top priority would be inspiring people and serving as a resource for people who were interested in following in their footsteps.
“Getting people to try something different and educating them on something they didn’t know about was exciting for us,” said Mills. “We wanted to come out of the gates strong and show our commitment to the audience. For us, that meant starting in our own backyard right here in Nova Scotia.”
With that, 100 Days of Nova Scotia was born. The pair committed to producing 100 videos in 100 days showcasing what the province had to offer.
The huge undertaking, which started in August 2016, meant they would have to have a loose game plan that was flexible and allow for sudden additions at the same time.
“We did plan some of the activities because they involved travel to different parts of the province, bookings and accommodations,” said MacIsaac. “But a lot of the time, we’d be doing one activity and someone would tell us about something else.”
By the second day, the concept had already started to gain momentum. Mills says they quickly started to build a following that only continued to grow as they did more things.
She remembers being at Fisherman’s Cove in Eastern Passage when “things started to blow up.”
“The first video reached a huge amount of people. What we discovered was all of the businesses we featured were sharing our post, which just drove the number up,” she said.
“It led us to believe that so many people throughout the province were passionate about the little communities they call home,” added MacIsaac. “We can see the passion from the business owners as we talk to them but it goes far beyond them. The employees were getting involved and members of the community were commenting on the video and sharing it. Tatamagouche was another prime example. What an amazing village.”
Understanding time and money are often factors, Mills and MacIsaac did things that featured various price points. Some of the activities didn’t cost a penny.
That included something many people are familiar with and have often wondered about.
“The Wentworth cave,” exclaimed Mills. “How many of us have driven by that time after time. You know it’s coming up and as you went by everyone in the car would always look in. Well Brent and I went in. We actually walked through it and people were just blown away. We’ve been telling everyone since they need to go in. You can walk right through. You have to be careful but you can definitely walk right through.”
Following the 100 Days of Nova Scotia, MacIsaac says they took a few days to simply catch their breath and reflect. Because of the following they had built, he says they both knew it wasn’t the end of their expeditions.
In the end, Mills feels they achieved what they had set out to do from the beginning.
“We wanted to show people that you can have a pretty adventurous life that’s full of fun without having to sell everything you own and quit your job,” said Mills. “When we started this, we were both working full-time and Brent continues to work full time. A lot of the times, we weren’t leaving until Brent got home from work which was after 5 p.m.”
“A lot of it comes from the fact people aren’t open minded enough to try something new,” added MacIsaac. “You have to have the right mindset. Some of the things we did, at first, I wasn’t sure about them. But in saying that, I knew I had to let go and just go with it. You’re not going to enjoy everything but you won’t know until you try. Most of what we did, we ended up really enjoying ourselves.”
Thankfully, followers didn’t have to wait long to see what they had planned next. They’ve launched a winter getaway series underway which is intertwined with a restaurant series.
“The feedback about just being in Nova Scotia told us we needed to do more,” said Mills. “It’s evolved quite quickly. The point of the getaway series is to hopefully get people to use some of their vacation days and dollars right here. We had six scheduled events which we starting releasing on Tuesdays in February. As for the restaurant series, you will see some of the usual suspects but there will also be some spots people have never heard of. We’re foodies so we’re excited about this.”
This summer, they’re also looking at putting a focus on the Canada 150 celebrations. MacIsaac says that will include visiting some Parks Canada sites.
That doesn’t include the fact they want to write a book and they’ve already received their first t-shirt order.
“This started out as an apparel company but it’s quickly evolved into something much more and now the apparel aspect is just an arm of something that’s much larger. I’m just so surprised by the support we’ve received. It’s been an amazing thing for us.”
For those who want to follow along, visit the Dashboard Living page on Facebook. Mills and MacIsaac will also be writing on their experiences. It will appear every second month in the pages of The Light and online at tatamagouchelight.com.
For additional details, visit www.dashboardliving.com.