Let’s get to know the gorgeous CherryBee Boutique! We had a virtual meeting with Debbee, the creator of the store and of her amazing products and she answered to our interview questions. Read her story here:
What is the story behind your store?
“In Spring of 2012, I was looking for a new outlet for my jewellery. Lying awake one night, unable to get back to sleep, I decided to use the time to daydream. The idea of going on-line and the name came to me – CherryBee Boutique had a nice “bee-boo” ring to it, and I liked that I could open a new retail shop in virtual reality.”
Why did you decide to start your own business? What did you do before you started the shop? Are you doing it full time? If not, what else do you do?
“I started my jewellery business just over 20 years ago, when I first arrived in Canada. Choosing to live rurally, I want to be self-employed. I began by selling my wares at farmers’ markets and craft shows. In 2001, after running our local arts festival for a couple of years, I spearheaded and managed the opening of a retail shop in our small hometown, an outlet for local arts and crafts including my jewellery.
I have been able to make a living at this full-time, with the addition of also having my own small publishing and promotions business – I publish my hometown’s website and monthly community newspaper. I am also a director of the Okanagan Artisans Guild which produces a regional high quality fine arts and crafts show. My duties include doing the publicity for the show.”
How did you come up with this name?
“My business name was inspired by my bee signature, and because I live in a beautiful place called Cherryville.
Bees are such special creatures, tirelessly doing their good work which they share with the world. The meaning of my name, Debra, is bee – hence Debbee. I created my bee signature many years ago, the idea being that I am sharing love as I do my work.
Logo: Recently a talented friend of mine who is a professional artist and graphic designer, embellished my bee to create my new logo and artwork for banners, business cards, etc.”
Where do you find the necessary tools and material that you use for creating your products?
“When I started out, all of my designs were beaded using components that I purchased and collected from beading and crystal retail shops.
In 2004, I attended a silver-smithing workshop. I really enjoyed it and learned so much. It gave me the skills to start making my own findings for my beaded designs, as well creating new designs in silver. I did learn how to set stones, but find my most enjoyment in soldering classic shapes into simple, funky/chic designs.
The cost of the silver-smithing course included an affordable set of starter tools; and instructions for purchasing other items that would be needed for a silversmith’s studio, which I followed. I still buy my silver supplies from the same wholesaler that sold me my tools. I have a massive collection of crystal and glass beads, and two favourite suppliers that I have bought from for many years.”
What inspires you to create your amazing products?
“I am very blessed with a vivid imagination. Many designs have come to me in dreams (as did my bee logo). My first original design was of an anklet with bells. It was very popular at the farmers’ markets and I realized that to make them in every size and colour would turn over more of them, which it did! I just love production work! I find beading for hours on end so relaxing, as it satisfies my need to be productive while doing something that I love – playing with sparkly beads!
My first memory of creating jewellery is making daisy chains, when I was about six years old. I remember sitting in our back garden in London, England, where short daisies grow in the grass, making a slit in a stem and threading it threw with another stem. I now make a range of designs called “Daisy Chains”.
Another practice of mine is to lay a sheet on the carpeted floor and get out all my beads and literally play with them – piling them into colours and groups – then it’s as if the beads tell me who wants to be together/united. Then I work out how to do it.”
Do you have a favourite product at the moment?
“A lot of my new designs feature a tiny faceted glass seed bead which I just love! I have spent hours and hours and hours stringing them into multi-layered designs, achieving super sparkly cascading and clustered effects.”
What were the challenges you had to face in your business’ early phase? What has kept you motivated?
“Learning to live with minimal money, with a “build it and they will come” attitude; growing food, baking bread, living simply. There was no need for motivation as this was the lifestyle I was choosing to live for my health and happiness, after many personal trials and tribulations.
Years later, I am now blessed with the best husband a woman could ever wish for. We have a beautiful home and farm, and live as self-sufficiently as we can. My jewellery business, and publishing business, are perfect for working from home.”
How long did it take before you started having customers? What did you do to acquire and to keep customers?
“I had customers immediately, and find joy in every single sale – no matter how small or large they are all equally significant to me. The customers feel the love.
I am not a salesperson, and have never “sold” a thing in my life. It’s simply my pleasure to be privileged enough to be able to make things that sell, then happily assist a customer when they come to me, giving the best service that I can.
When I was a little girl, I used to love playing shop. Whether it be wrapping an online order or serving a customer at an art show, it gives me the same pure pleasure as it did when I was little.”
If you could go back and change something about your business, what would it be? What were some of the mistakes you have made along the way? Do you ever regret doing your own thing and starting your business?
“The only experience I would refer to as a mistake would be under-valuing myself, and under-pricing my time and my products. I have no regrets though.”
What are your plans for the future? Do you plan on introducing new products?
“My plans for the immediate future are to continue uploading products to my Soldigo shop. I have a huge inventory. I’m using the process to redefine my collection, choosing which designs to continue making and which to let go of. I am constantly coming up with new designs – I could fill every waking hour beading and making jewellery, and I never run out of beads or ideas.”
What do you think of the service that Soldigo offers and what is your general impression of Soldigo? Would you recommend Soldigo to others?
“I LOVE Soldigo!
It’s taken me a few years to get going with my online boutique. I looked at all the ways I could build it, which online providers I could use, and how it would be presented. I didn’t like any that I researched, especially any that would require my customers to be a member.
Then last year, I Googled something like “build online store”. I wanted to find a simple, affordable service that I could use to attach a shop to my own website. I found a story about Shoptsie (now called Soldigo) and its creators, and how they started up. I really liked what I read and checked it out. I could tell very quickly that Soldigo was exactly what I was looking for – simple to use and very flexible, including the ability to sync with my Facebook business page.
I have been particularly impressed with the outstanding level of technical support. While learning the programme it was so handy to get quick answers to my questions, and solutions to any problems. Adding my products to my Soldigo boutique have inspired me to go to the next level in growing my CherryBee business.
I have been recommending Soldigo to my peers ever since.”
Any advice for entrepreneurs that are starting out just now?
“Follow your joy; and everything you do, do it with love! The rest will take care of itself.”