Books & Nooks believes in strong community ties and supporting local business and entrepreneurs. Local Spotlight! is a series we run on our MishMash blog. Please message me if you would like to be featured.
Samantha is the maker and designer behind Birch Jewellery. You can often find her at local handmade markets with her big beautiful displays. Like many of our Local Spotlight features; Samantha is a busy entrepreneur who also holds down a full-time job as a social media marketing specialist for a national non-profit while spending the rest of her free time busily working away on Birch. Books & Nooks is proud to partner with a strong local brand like Birch Jewellery. You can find some of Birch's most popular pieces in The Birch Collection
Q: How did you know when you had the right idea?
When I started making jewellery, the pieces I created were very random and lacked cohesiveness The more I grew my skills and eye for it, my products started to feel more like a collection. Finally, I stuck to the theme of nature — something I have deep roots with from growing up in Northern Ontario — and created a brand that had a story people could connect with on many different levels.
Q: What was your mission at the outset?
I never really had a mission early on. As mentioned before, making jewellery was simply a hobby; something to pass the time. As things started to get busier and I decided to officially create a brand, I made a promise to myself that should I start to feel pressure or not enjoy what I was doing, I would stop.
Eight years later, I’m still going strong and truly love what I do. Perhaps it’s something to live by in more ways than one: do what you love, love what you do.
Q: What inspires your pieces and what types of jewellery do you offer?
Each piece in our collection, from our pine cone necklaces to our sparkly gemstone studs, connects back to nature. We have a variety of necklaces that feature statement pendants like real maple leaves dipped in gold, or cheeky acorns that always seem to steal the show. For the minimalist, we also carry smaller necklaces that are great for everyday wear.
Our collection of earrings range from small gold flake studs to large deer antler dangles. We also offer a selection of semi-precious gemstone bracelets that have many healing properties — if you’re into that kind of stuff.
In addition to our regular products, we also offer custom work and have made several unique pieces in the past. Necklaces to complement wedding parties, special gifts for loved ones, custom clip-on or plug earrings. We’ve also provided an entire office with special necklaces for their holiday party — so fun!
Q: How do you plan on growing your business?
My goal this year was to reach out to more shops across Noth America and get my collection onto their shelves (virtual and physical). Not only to grow my business but to make my products more accessible to my customers — after all, without them, Birch wouldn’t be where it is today!
I receive orders from around the globe year-round, and frequently get requests from customers to stock our jewellery in their communities, so I made it our mission to do so! By the end of 2019, Birch Jewellery will be available from coast to coast.
Do what you love, love what you do!
Q: What are some of the challenges you faced and mistakes you wished you avoided?
Not educating myself on taxes as a small business owner! Birch Jewellery started as a late-night hobby in college. I never imagined it would turn into anything other than just that.
In 2017, things started to kick into high gear and my sales were growing quickly. I ended up passing (like really really passing) my sales goal in 2018 and ended up in a sticky situation where I was now required to charge taxes for my products, which I hadn’t been doing up until that point.
It was really stressful and confusing to research all of the rules, registering with the CRA and later owed a ton of money back to the government. I wish I would have educated myself long before I was in that situation, and recommend you add this to your business strategy early on.
Q: If you can provide any kind of advice for a woman who wants to start her own business, what would it be?
Plan, plan, plan. When you think you’ve planned enough, keep planning. Write notes, read blogs, watch videos and network with fellow business owners. Also, accept that no matter how much you plan, things will go wrong and that’s totally okay.
Most importantly, have fun and enjoy what you do. If you are truly passionate about your business, it will shine through your work.