Mint & Birch

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Hi! My name is Jessica, and I’m the owner and maker behind Mint & Birch. I started this business as a hobby in 2012 after I had my first baby. As a new stay at home mom, I felt antsy and restless and craved a creative outlet. It all started when I made a few necklaces for Mother’s Day for my family and friends. When I gave away my handcrafted creations, I was blown away at how much something little could evoke such powerful emotion. I wanted to make more.

Six years later, Mint & Birch has turned from a little hobby into a business, a creative outlet and a way for people to celebrate their stories through jewellery. It has become a little community in itself! In my own life, I had always wanted to wish my own story away, but the women that have asked me to create a special piece to celebrate their stories have inspired me to celebrate my own story as well.

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Each and every single piece is handcrafted by me, and I have decided not to outsource any of the hand making process as I’ve come up with a special way to get the necklaces to look just right. I specialize in bar necklaces that have been cut by hand out of sheets of gold-fill and sterling. I work with ethically sourced gold-fill and sterling silver sheets, and everything is created in my home studio with professional equipment, drills, special files, and stamps that have been tooled just for Mint & Birch.

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I take incredible pride in the workmanship of each necklace, not just because of how much goes into each piece but because I feel so honoured to be asked to make such sentimental pieces to celebrate stories! 

Jessica xo

Instagram: @mintandbirch
Facebook: @mint&birch

Website: www.mintandbirch.com

V SHOP by Victoria Senges Design Co.

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Hello! My name is Victoria Senges and I am the owner + designer behind V SHOP by Victoria Senges Design Co. We are the home of stationery, paper products, and custom designs. I am proud to say that all of our products are designed, printed, and distributed in Canada. I have experience in print production and I am happy to be working with a local print shop in Abbotsford, BC and together produce all of V SHOP’s stationery pieces. Each piece is printed, cut, glued, bound, scored, foiled, and packaged by hand. A lot of love goes into the production of each individual piece!

I was so honoured when Erin & Carrie from Shop Sweet reached out to me to write a guest post. I always find it a treat to learn about the makers behind the brand. But let’s be honest here, do we really get to see the most accurate depiction of the makers via Instagram? This perfectly curated platform makes my heart flutter when I see all the pretty pictures… but lately I have been craving a bit more of the behind-the-scenes and real aspects of these businesses. I have made it my goal this year to be one of the ones who hops on board that train of transparency and authenticity within the platform. I am so thankful that the Shop Sweet ladies have started this blog where we can learn all about the passions of other business owners.

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Today, I hope to share with you my story of how V SHOP got started, and why I absolutely love doing what I do. I count it a blessing and a privilege to be able to do something that I love everyday. That’s not to say it doesn’t come with it’s full set of challenges and hurdles. In fact, more often than not I find myself struggling along… but those good moments are SO worth it. They are what push me to keep going.

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Let’s dive right in and start with the nitty gritty of the last seven years of my life. In my final year of high school, I was focusing on graduating and preparing to be a full-time student athlete at Simon Fraser University on a volleyball scholarship. I was focusing on what normal teenagers tend to focus on - myself. However, in December of that year, which was 2010, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Challenges arose when she had multiple surgeries, an intense round of chemotherapy treatments, radiation, and continuous tests. Following that intense journey, two years later, she was diagnosed with kidney cancer. This occurred the summer before I started a graphic design program at BCIT. I made a decision to pursue something that I was always interested in, but never had the time for since I was an athlete. Volleyball was my life for nearly a decade, but I suddenly had a craving to find out who I was and what my other passions were besides volleyball. My mom had surgery to remove her kidney and luckily did not have to proceed with further treatments, she spent the summer recovering. Once my design program was coming to an end, in the spring of 2014, she was diagnosed with bladder cancer. She had surgery that spring, and once again, spent most of the summer recovering. I was fresh out of design school and eager to find a job. While I did find a job, my own creativity was bursting to get out! While I loved designing for others in a fast-paced environment, I knew I still needed to pursue something of my own and create something that reflected my own style. When my mom was diagnosed with her fourth cancer, lung cancer, in the spring of 2015, I knew that I wanted to create a series of prints that reflected her favourite song lyrics and quotes. These lyrics and quotes were instrumental in helping her throughout her journey. I titled these prints, ’The Journey Collection’, and for each print that is purchased, a portion of the proceeds are donated to The Canadian Cancer Society. These proceeds will help fund research on all types of cancer, improve the lives of Canadians living with cancer, and provide information and support services. After launching an online store, and this special collection of prints, I received a great response from my peers. It was then that I decided to expand my collection and create notepads. I remember bringing the completed notepads to my mom in the hospital because I was so excited to show her the new additions to my shop!

Once my mom recovered, we found joy in working alongside each other. She is an amazing sales woman and took on that role in my business. She frequently visits the retail stores that carry our products in the Lower Mainland to ensure their stock is up to date. She has stepped in to help me more times than I can count. And after such a long journey she has gone through, she has come out on the other end with an amazing story of hope and strength.

The last seven years have been full of immense challenges and hardships. But I often find that within those really difficult times is when you can find who you truly are and what you really love. Over these seven years, our family has come to realize that life is short and there is no sense in wasting the precious time we have here on this earth. Some people might have found myself too young or inexperienced to start a business of my own. However, I can honestly say, that owning a business first hand has taught me more than any classroom lectures ever could. I am a hands-on visual learner and I learn by seeing things and doing things. The classroom has never been my passion, so diving right in and learning the ins and outs of what it means to truly be an entrepreneur has been challenging, gratifying, and rewarding all wrapped into one.

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As a kid I was making cards out of scrapbooking paper, fancy scissors, and stickers. I created a little business, created my own business cards, and had my family come “shop” in my bedroom to purchase a card for every occasion. When I look back to those times, it makes a lot of sense why I am where I am now. It was always a passion deep within me, I just had to find a way to get there on my own by learning the skills and tools to create products that would be well received and on trend. When I transitioned from designing the art prints into the wonderful world of notepads and calendars, I discovered my passion for creating organizational pieces that would help women and families stay on track. I am so looking forward to creating more functional pieces, like our coveted meal planner, that will continue to help others with organization.

Every story is different and every business has different reasons for why they do what they do. I am proud that this is my story and I hope that you enjoyed learning a bit more about me and how I got started! 

Victoria Senges

Instagram: @victoriasenges
Facebook: @victoriasengesdesignco

Website: www.victoriasenges.com

The Cake Mama

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Hi! I’m Izabela, the baker behind The Cake Mama, mom to 3, wife to a very patient husband and quintessential busy bee. Phew- if that first sentence didn’t overwhelm you already, then welcome to my life LOL! I’ve been baking all of my life with my mom and grandma but what really got me interested in turning it into an actual hobby was helping a friend bake wedding cakes for her large Italian family a few times. (Shout out to Sara!) We started a little hobby business together but life got busy for both of us and baking took a back seat for a little while. When my first daughter was born in 2006, I started baking again for family and friends- if only you could see how awful the cakes looked, LOL! I persevered and became known as the “cake mama”- the one always bringing the cakes to special occasions. My preference of cake styles evolved over the years from only ever wanting to decorate a cake with fondant and gum paste figurines to never wanting to touch the stuff and decorate solely with buttercream. It’s been an interesting journey thus far and what is so neat about it is the fact that there's no right way to create anything. I never thought I’d call myself an “artist” but designing desserts truly is an art form.

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The business became an on and off gig for a few years while I struggled to figure out where it was going and how dedicated I wanted to be. In 2010, social media became more of a prominent thing for businesses so I took the plunge and created an Instagram account. Since then it has grown not only to be a place where I share my creations but an incredible source of inspiration and most importantly a network of wonderful fellow mamapreneurs with an insane amount of talent. I would also say it’s a huge source of my business as clients will contact me through the platform to place an order for their special occasion. What a blessing it’s been to be connected to so many people in this way. It is a joy to be chosen for your style of cakes and gain the complete trust of your client because of this. Cue all the feels here!!

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Where is this business going now? Well I’m so proud to say that I stock my sugar cookies at a couple of local shops with goals to expand the number of shops carrying my sweet treats. The big picture is a cake studio- (not a bakery! at least not yet anyways!) to work from and possibly host workshops out of as well. Maybe a baking book?! (just putting that out to the universe, guys!) I believe that opportunities always come when they are meant to, so I’m just steady on my grind until that magical day comes. I’ve been so blessed to work with some incredibly note-worthy people (Monika Hibbs, Jillian Harris - cue the fan-girling here!) and I plan to just keep busting my butt and putting myself out there until I’m satisfied that the world knows who The Cake Mama is - haha!

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To everyone who has supported me along the way, picked me up when I’m down (that would be the hubby right there-he always knows what I need to hear!), referred me to a friend and of course enjoyed one of my many sweet treats, thank you so much, I can’t wait for what is next!

 

Instagram: @the.cake.mama
Facebook: @thecakemama

Website: www.thecakemama.ca