One of our goals as a business at Pineridge Hollow is to source and support as much local talent and product as possible. While there’s no doubt the local recognition is growing, I don’t think the average person may realize how many fantastic products are readily available right here in Manitoba. From farmers who provide us with vegetables, fruits, meats, eggs, oil and pasta to artisans making home décor, jewelry, candles, pottery, and art. In the summer we have the privilege of hosting an even greater number of smaller and up-and-coming vendors at our weekly Farmers’ Market. We wanted to bring some more attention to the vendors you can find here throughout the year with our Local Love Blog Series.
To start off we talked with Kelli of Sugar Blossom. For more than 3 years, Sugar Blossom has been designing and creating vibrant, unique jewelry right here in Manitoba. Read on to learn more about her and her story.
What inspired you to start your business?
I have always loved fashion & jewelry! From a very young age, I would take apart jewelry with pliers and re-create it. I had always dreamed of being a designer. Then I started modeling and would spend my summer holidays in Asia, by the time I was 15 I knew the industry inside and out. I then applied to Ryerson University on a whim and had just a week to get together an entire portfolio, and somehow pulled it off. I spent the next 4 years studying fashion and living in Toronto. During that time I continued to make jewelry as a hobby, but began getting stopped on the street by people asking where I bought the jewelry from and I even had several people ask me if they could buy a bracelet right off my wrist! After graduating from Ryerson I started working at a new PR and modeling agency for a few years, I helped launch the company from the beginning and it taught me so much about running a small business. I still continued to make jewelry as a hobby while I worked there, but slowly my hobby became busier and busier and with the encouragement of my husband and family, finally, I took the leap about 3 years ago to run my business, Sugar Blossom full time!
How many employees did you start with – how many do you have now?
Started with me, and still just me haha (and my mom helps me out tremendously). I have recently started thinking about hiring someone soon and what their job would look like as it is becoming really hard for me to keep up with it all. I do hire out people to do certain jobs for me though, like website development, accounting and designers for my marketing materials.
What is your favourite thing about running your business?
I am a new mom, so I think being able to make my own schedule is the best part of it all. I still work a full day (or more), but I work during the hours that best suit my family, and it gives me more time to spend with my son and my husband. There is something to be said about making your own rules, setting your own goals and the limitless potential that comes with owning your own company.
Were there any platforms (ie social media) that were important to the success of your business?
Yes, Instagram has been so great for me. It has helped me to share my jewelry line with customers all over the world. Customers will write me all the time telling me that they discovered my brand on instagram, just the other day I had someone order something from South Africa that had come across my Instagram account. It’s pretty cool how connected we can all be with a tool like instagram.
What makes the local Manitoba market so unique?
The people in Manitoba are just amazing for starters! The support I’ve received from day one, to my online business today just blows me away. I am so thankful for all the wonderful people (and shops like Pineridge Hollow) in our city that love supporting local designers. I feel like Winnipeg has a small town vibe that you wouldn’t get in other cities.. we all feel connected to each other here and love supporting one another!
What is your favourite item from your line?
I just introduced a lot of new necklaces and my everyday favorite is called Lottie. For going out I love wearing Estelle (it’s a statement necklace).
What things continue to inspire you?
Travel and art are the two biggies for me. I sometimes will look at a piece of art and wish I could wear it, then I try and find a way to incorporate that into my designs whether it be a shape I use in my design or a pop of color. It’s inspiring to be able to make jewelry that people will love!
What’s next for your business?
I’ve been working so hard over the past year to get my business ready to really start selling wholesale globally. I’m just finishing up my first ever printed lookbook that I’ve been working countless hours on with some really incredible ladies (Rosie from Simply Rosie Photography, Ashley Illchuck from Jenna Rae Cakes, Jessie from One + One Design, Angie from the Be.you.tee Factory and some amazing girls at Swish Model Management!). I’m so excited to get this lookbook out and start sharing Sugar Blossom with other cities!
Come see Kelli’s designs in our store along with a number of other local artisans! Stay tuned for more profiles from our favourite local vendors!