Tiny House Brand Habitat28 Launches 1st Discovery Centre at Toronto Premium Outlets [Interview/Photos]


Share post:

Canadian tiny house brand Habitat28 has launched its first Discovery Centre at the Toronto Premium Outlets Mall in Halton Hills.

Habitat28 was formed by a team of entrepreneurs passionate about housing affordability and sustainability issues and looking to provide an alternative housing solution that is eco-friendly, sustainable, affordable, yet stylish and with the latest technology and comfort features.

Aura Poddar, CEO, and Shailesh Poddar, COO, have been working on the project for a number of years.

The company was incorporated in August 2022 but the Poddars have been working in the background to build up the company to develop the product for about four or five years.

“We started out with the concept of a modern design, different design, a really nice design of a tiny house and we started looking on how to build it out and it took a long time in product development,” said Aura. 

Habitat28 at Toronto Premium Outlets
Habitat28 at Toronto Premium Outlets (Image: Habitat28)

“I am a real estate agent. I have about 10 years of experience in sales and Shailesh has about 25 years of residential construction and commercial as well. We kind of piggy backed and built out on that background and the experience in real estate development and sales and that’s how we started the company.”

Habitat28 has a one-year lease with the mall with the hope that it will continue into the future. The Discovery Centre is about 400 to 500 square feet. Part of the Centre is activation as well.

“It’s a place where people can come in and they can experience the unit, ask us questions. We can create awareness to people about tiny home living, about being able to reduce your footprint, about being able to reduce your impact geographically and environmentally through sustainable living,” said Shailesh.

“It’s a place where people can come in and order. We followed the Tesla model where people would be able to come in and experience the car. With us they experience the unit itself. And they can sit down and talk with us about any of the questions they might have.”

Aura said Habitat28 has partnered with the Simon Property Group, one of the largest real estate companies in North America and owner of the Toronto Premium Outlets Mall.

“From the very beginning they were very on board with our idea. We showed them our unit. They loved the model and we came to them with the very modest idea of just having a pop up to raise brand awareness and in turn raise awareness about tiny home living,” said Aura.

“And after we met with their team, with their marketing and leasing director, it just morphed into having us there all the time. They loved the product. They loved the idea. They do have a very broad reach in terms of people coming to the mall. It’s one of the top malls in Ontario. People come from all over including from up north and other provinces as well as from the U.S. So we felt that instead of just being in a mall that has a very local smaller reach of audience, we wanted to be somewhere where we could reach more people and especially people that come from smaller towns in northern regions.

“This tiny home movement is much more closer to their hearts for them because cities are just getting on board. Smaller municipalities are much more open to it and they are embracing the movement because they do understand that they do need to give people more housing options and they do need to intensify the growth and the residential development. But they don’t want urban sprawl necessarily. They want to save the environment as well as attract new people. That’s why we chose this location.”

Habitat28 at Toronto Premium Outlets (Image: Habitat28)
Habitat28 at Toronto Premium Outlets (Image: Habitat28)

Shailesh said Habitat28 was born to take action on the affordability crisis.

“Our objective is to provide affordable housing solutions and we are trying to put out different models which will suit different needs of people. Habitat28 is largely about being able to give people housing freedom to choose something different – something that a lot of people have considered peripheral but is becoming mainstream now,” he said.

Aura said the number 28 in many cultures is a very lucky number, a wholesome number – adding two plus eight equals 10 and one plus zero is one.

“So that’s like a one, universal wholesome number. So we are standing a lot for the environment, for the planet. One represents we have one planet and we have to take care of it. We have one life. We have to do the best we can with it,” she said.

The first model is S28 which is 28 square metres or 301 square feet. It was built out with the idea that it would look and feel more like a hotel room, a luxury suite, rather than a trailer or some of the negative connotations associated with a tiny house size. The unique design has lots of glass and big windows, feeling open and spacious. 

Image: Habitat28
Image: Habitat28

Shailesh said the company is hoping to expand within Ontario and other provinces as well as moving into the U.S.

The placement of the Discovery Centre is providing Habitat28 with the stepping stone where it can further explore other locations.

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

More From The Author



Subscribe to the Newsletter

Related articles

The New Grocery Code of Conduct Should Benefit Both Canadians and the Food Industry [Op-Ed]

An industry expert provides an overview of what the new code should improve and supply chain management practices as consumers grapple with rapid food inflation.

Columbus Café Expands Rapidly in Canada, Opening 10th Location in Montreal and Announcing First Toronto Location [Interview]

The Parisian chain is looking to grow its presence in Canada significantly with a goal for a significant number of locations, according to its broker.

Swarovski Opens Unique One-of-a-Kind Canadian Concept Store on Bloor Street in Toronto [Photos]

Toronto is one of only a handful of cities globally to feature Swarovski’s new Instant Wonder concept store design. 

Healthy Planet Expands in Southern Ontario with 4 New Locations and Innovative Healthy Planet Kitchen [Interview]

One of Canada's fastest growing health and wellness retail chains is growing its brick-and-mortar presence while launching a new concept, says its GM.

Canadian Restaurants Facing Impending Bankruptcies as CEBA Loan Repayment Deadline Looms [Survey]

Research is showing an increase in bankruptcies with a loan repayment deadline at the end of the year potentially throwing the industry into chaos.

Louis Vuitton Opens Canada’s 2nd Men’s Ready-to-Wear Concession at Holt Renfrew Ogilvy in Montreal [Photos]

The luxury superbrand is growing its ready-to-wear presence in Canada in the country’s second-largest city, which will see even more clothing when a flagship Vuitton opens at Royalmount next year.

The Body Shop North America Appoints New General Manager to Expand Business: Interview with Jordan Searle

Searle discusses plans to upgrade stores with The Body Shop's new Workshop concept as the brand continues to see consumer growth amid competition.

Canadian Consumers will Abandon Checkouts if Preferred Payment Methods Unavailable [Study/Interview]

A new report examines consumer behaviour in Canada, indicating that retailers need to invest in tech to gain shopper loyalty.

Rack Attack Continues Expansion in Canada, Adding Three New Stores and Acquiring Calgary Locations [Interview]

The retailer of car racks, bike racks, rooftop tents, overlanding, and other outdoor gear is growing its operations in Canada with plans for more locations amid consumer demand.

Pilgrim CEO Robert Hayes Discusses the Jeweller’s Expansion Plans in Canada: Video Interview

The discussion includes how Hayes brought the brand into the market, what makes it so popular, wholesale expansion, and what's in store for new locations in Canada including one at CF Toronto Eaton Centre opening in late June.

Fitness Concept elleTO Growing Business with Female-Focus [Interview]

Founder Michelle Epstein discusses the rebrand and location moves which are proving successful for the 12-year old women's gym.

Montreal-Based Gourmet Salad Brand Mandy’s Sets Ambitious Expansion Plans, Eyeing National and International Growth [Interview]

The popular salad restaurant chain is looking at opening a substantial number of locations, given success after a recent expansion.