Faire Child wins Canada’s first-ever FedEx Small Business Grant Contest

Birch Hill Studio

Birch Hill Studio

Vernon, British Columbia
2018 Bronze Prize Winner

 

 

 

Vernon, British Columbia
2018 Bronze Prize Winner

 

 

 

Customer connections and Canadian pride land Birch Hill Studio a bronze in the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest

When it was time for Sierra Harris to return back to work from maternity leave, she knew she didn’t want to go back to her job in real estate. She wanted a job that she could be passionate about, so she created her own.

“What’s the point of going to work every day if you’re not having a great time?” she asked herself.

Harris found her passion with Birch Hill Studio, a boutique in Vernon, B.C. selling solely Canadian-made or designed products. Her products include pieces from local markets and artisans, as well as bigger Canadian companies, and range from traditional Canadiana-themed items to Canadian-made clothing basics to regional favourites, such as Okanagan-branded gear.

“I love so much that I am Canadian, and that we only carry creations made or designed by fellow Canadians,” she said.

Harris doesn’t just sell Canadian products – she produces them, too. Her Haus of Birch collection includes Canadian-themed clothing like a sweatshirt that says “Sing Like a Gent” with the last names of some of Canada’s greatest male singers, Cohen, Young, Adams and Downie, listed below. The “Sing Like a Girl” version includes Morissette, McLachlan, Arden and Mitchell. Others in the series include great Canadian authors, thinkers, and sports heroes.

“I’d love for other businesses to carry our line and for it to become a Canada-wide brand,” Harris said. “That would be an incredible feat for me.”

Harris’ Birch Hill Studio collection also produces sweatshirts that give back. Sales of #beabirch hoodies generate $10.00 donations each to Hoof Prints Barnyard and Cici Farm Sanctuary. Harris has plans for another line with proceeds going to Bell Let’s Talk for mental health awareness.

Birch Hill Studio

Her inspiration behind this initiative began with her husband, himself a small business owner, who has always invested outwards into the community.

“I wanted to give my community back as much as they’ve given me in terms of support,” she said.

Harris plans to use the $5,000 winnings she received from her bronze place finish in the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest towards her next run of #beabirch sweaters, which will lead to more donations and elevate awareness for the charities that she’s trying to help.

Canada’s first FedEx Small Business Grant Contest is a great way to shine a light on the small business community, Harris said. She has already made new connections and friends with other entrants, and became acquainted with other businesses she didn’t know existed through the contest.

“Small business in Canada is having a moment right now, and I hope it doesn’t go away. I’m proud to be a part of it,” she said.

But perhaps her most important reason for achieving success as an entrepreneur is Harris’ six-year-old daughter.

“I want to lead by example. I want her to be proud of me and the business I’ve built, and understand that when doors in front of her close, she can open her own door and build her own future. She can do whatever she wants.”

LEARNINGS

Besides Harris’ cardinal rule of having a great time at work every day, she’s amassed some other advice for fellow entrepreneurs. Here are a few of her top tips:
 

  1. Go with your gut

    In her experience, Harris has found the times when she’s had a misstep in her business are those times when she hasn’t listened to her gut.

    "Sometimes there have been outside voices pressuring me to carry a product, and even though something told me it wasn’t right for us, I’ve gone against my gut and it hasn’t gone well,” she said. “Stay true to yourself and listen to your gut. It’s your vision – stick with it.”

  2. Stay authentic

    Harris has worked hard to build a strong online social presence for her brand, and believes that her success comes with authenticity.

    "One of the driving forces for us when it comes to Instagram is to be true to who we are and always be authentic,” she said. “We’re sometimes ridiculous and silly and not always classy ladies, but we’re always authentic and real, which has carried over into online sales.”

  3. Provide a great customer experience

    Harris believes that making strong customer connections builds loyalty and helps improve the business overall.

    "I’m always driven to find the next thing our customers will love, because I really get to know them,” she said. “Making these amazing customer connections makes a big difference – like a woman in Texas who started following us on Instagram, loved our stuff, and became a regular customer. People feel like we’re friends with them, and we are. We’ve cultivated this new family through the business."