Featurepreneur: ‘Mazel’ Follow Your Dreams
By Genevieve Allen Hearn
Ross Palmer is a Valley native who has worked in the special needs community for a number of years. Wanting to make his mark on the community, he decided to pursue his dreams of running a business in Wolfville. He recently opened Grandma Mazel’s Cellar Academy in the former United Church in Wolfville – a celestial setting for a business that endorses an artisanal lifestyle.
The Grapevine (GV): What is a Cellar Academy?
Ross: For me, the Cellar Academy is a state of mind and a trademark. It’s the understanding and celebration of the experiences of generations past. This state of mind is evident in crafting iron, wood, wool, leather, art, wine, beer, cider, and spirits. For my guests, the experience focuses on an on-site ferment service where I aid in the production of high-quality wine in a very economical and convenient manner. I was very diligent in choosing equipment, products, and setting up a system that compliments the world-class wine and blossoming wineries that we are privileged to be near – including using tested artesian spring water. I also have locally-made artwork, wood, and iron products for sale, with wool and leather products coming soon.
GV: Seems like there’s a story in your name. What is the significance of Grandma Mazel?
Ross: I am going to sound like a broken record here, but Mazel is also a state of mind and also trademarked. In local dialect, the word “mazel” can often be heard as an abbreviation of the words ‘may as well’. Traditionally, the spelling of the word is Yiddish and means ‘good’ in regards to ‘good luck’ or ‘good fortune’ from a past event (or a current event in Hebrew). I’m also a huge fan of matriarchy and Grandmas, having known many great women in my life. So the marriage of both concepts developed seamlessly.
GV: What (or who) inspired you to start a Cellar Academy?
Ross: I enjoy ideas and inventions and am always trying to come up with ingenuities. I watched my friend Tiago Voss revamp the shop The Market and do an incredible job. I also watched as my good friends Wes Booth and Jessy Gervais were going out and doing awesome stuff that I felt had value to both them and the community. I witnessed this “giver” “mazel do it” attitude built out of goodness and it completely changed my perspective on business. After some heart-to-hearts, I decided the shoddy piece of cardboard that had my ideas written on it was worth pursuing.
GV: What advice would you give to others thinking about starting a business of their own?
Ross: The big things for me are vision, research, planning, patience, persistence, consistency, flexibility, and resiliency. Figure out what works best for you and how you work best and be a creature of those habits. For people with no collateral, security, or a mortgage, the above two sentences are even more important. Jump all in and surround yourself with positivity and like-minded people with like-minded goals. Read business philosophy. My favourite is Jim Rohn’s *The Five Major Pieces to the Life Puzzle*. This book literally saved my life a few years ago. Og Mandino, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Tony Robbins are good authors and orators as well. Lastly but most importantly, is gratitude. Above all, be grateful and you will be great-ful.
Grandma Mazel’s Cellar Academy is open Wednesday to Sunday, 11am-5:30pm
(2 for 1 Ferment Service fee for the month of March – save $57.50!)
327 Main Street, Wolfville, NS