Blue River, Thompson-Okanagan
Jak. Natural Designs
Blue River, Thompson-Okanagan
Built on the love for creating, a desire for sustainability and a need for purposeful, beautiful products made with care in British Columbia - Jak. Natural Designs specializes in one of a kind wooden wares. High quality and made from sustainably sourced wood, Jak. Natural Designs takes raw salvaged materials and highlights the organic features - making unique, functional and gorgeous pieces for your home that already have a story, just like the people in it.
In Business Since 2020
What motivated you to start your business? What challenges did you overcome as a Solopreneur?
I first began woodturning in the summer of 2018. I originally started it as a creative outlet that I was drawn to because it's similar to a pottery wheel - but I was inspired by the fact that I could use materials that I'm able to naturally find around me. When I first started imagining Jak. Natural Designs, I dreamt of a woman-owned and operated retail business focusing intensively on sustainably sourced products where the environment was considered not only throughout the production of the finished piece but in every aspect of the company. I live in Blue River, BC, a remote town 2.5 hours North of Kamloops. With the limited three-four industries this town has to offer, you have to get a little creative with your employment. I decided to leap into entrepreneurship when I began the Community Futures Self - Employment program at the start of 2020. Not only was the entire skill set required to run a business new to me, I was also only beginning to learn the craft of the items I would be selling. Working with natural materials such as wood is beautiful and it is rewarding but it can also be extremely difficult. While working with factors such as dryness, hardness and unexpected properties of the organic material, every single piece that I make is different in some way. This is amazing in the aspect of creativity but certainly not for the speed of production. As much as I can try to replicate products, working with raw salvaged materials will always produce design and production curveballs, sometimes at the worst of times. Being a one - woman show, I can really only create as much as I can create. Being in the workshop producing products is a full time job in itself and to be frank, the only time I am giving myself a chance to earn an income and for my business to survive. Trying to find the balance between working in your business and working on your business, all the while learning your craft at the same time and trying to be constantly creative has been my biggest challenge this year. An equally large challenge is the absence of a permanent, heated woodworking shop. We all know Canadian winters can be brutal, and I can say there is no amount of layers or space heaters that make working in an unheated shop in the winter enjoyable, but there are times when it is almost unmanageable. At the time of writing this, I have worked in three different workshops since opening my business and have yet to secure a permanent workspace.
Why do you deserve to win the Best Solopreneur award?
I would consider myself an extremely adaptable, persevering and conscientious person. I am tireless in pursuing alternatives and doing whatever I can to make things work. I have the ability to exhaust all my options before admitting failure. You can knock me down, but I will get back up again. I have and continue to pour my heart and soul into this business. The level of quality of my products is something I have built my brand on and something that I strive my business to be recognized for. Therefore, every piece that leaves my shop, has the Jak. Natural Designs approved standard of quality. I consistently strive to provide the best experience in every area of my business. Whether it's in my physical products, my marketing and brand presence, my environmental shipping methods, retail relationships and my interactions with clients, other businesses and people in general. I have a dream of being the very best business woman I can be and building a business that is recognized for quality, class, determination and perseverance. I dream of inspiring other women and artists to follow their dreams and pursue their purpose, no matter how daunting it may seem. When you are a solopreneur, you are every employee in every department. While I am my own biggest critic, it’s fair to say I can also be my own biggest fan. Nothing feels more rewarding than accomplishing business goals you set for yourself, getting yourself out of sticky situations or problem solving. There have definitely been dark times this past year where the future of Jak. Natural Designs looked grim but being the resilient, hard-working and passionate person that I am, there was no way I was going to accept defeat this early in surely what is meant to be my life’s path. There’s nothing I could imagine myself doing and enjoying more than owning and operating Jak. Natural Designs. This is why I believe I am deserving of the Best Solopreneur Award. At the beginning of 2020, I had signed up for three markets and was unsure of what the future held. At the beginning of 2021, Jak. Natural Designs is stocked in three retail stores in Kamloops, one retail store in Kelowna, one retail store in Vancouver, with products available on my online store and a strong social media presence and following. I am still unsure of what the future holds, as is everyone, but I am incredibly excited to see what there is to come.
Best Youth Entrepreneur
What motivated you to start your business and what is your vision for the future of your company?
I have worked in many fields throughout my whole working life such as food and beverage, landscaping, snowboard instructing, tourism and even government administration - but none of these were bringing me the purpose that I really craved. I have always dreamt of working in a profession that feeds my soul and at the same time makes a difference, but I never knew what that looked like. Starting my own business, I realized I was able to combine all of my passions into one. First and foremost, I’m able to bring people joy. Whether it’s the excitement of designing something custom and watching it come to life or the delight of watching a loved one open a gift that you know has been handmade with utmost care, I love that I can bring happiness into people’s lives and people’s homes. I’m able to firsthandly know what my business’ impact on the environment looks like. I’m able to make decisions that directly affect me but they also directly affect the people and planet around me. I can choose to run a business that makes a difference in a beneficial way. I’m able to build a business that reinforces the importance of art. In my opinion, life has gotten so fast paced, busy and comparative. In a world where robots are becoming more and more common, the creative mind is something too incredibly unique and beautiful to replicate. I work a lot with salvaged wood which often has lots of character or what some people might consider 'flaws’. I think it’s important to realize that in such a polished and filtered world, it's our differences and our ‘imperfections’ that are really what make life so beautiful. My vision for the future of my business is to keep creating small batch, functional art intentionally handmade in the mountains. I would like my work and my brand to be recognized by it's quality first. I will continue to focus on the importance of environmental consideration at every aspect and as my business grows, be constantly thinking of ways that I can be better. When my business is operating at a more financial gain, I would like to incorporate charitable raffles of products benefiting charities in need. I love the aspect of taking something that I love doing, making conscious and sustainable choices that will benefit the world around me and making it a little more beautiful at the same time. I love that I can bring joy into people’s lives while feeling purposeful in my own life.
Why do you deserve to win the Best Youth Entrepreneur award?
I have been woodworking and woodturning since the summer of 2018, where shortly after the dream of starting my own business materialized. In 2020, I launched into Solopreneurship and have since given this business everything I have. It was almost as if starting my business fell into my lap at the exact right moment. It was the push I needed the challenge myself, to start a purposeful venture combining many of my passions and to be able to provide for myself while living in a remote town that I had come to love. As a self taught woodworker in my first year of entrepreneurship, I believe that I have come an incredibly long way this year. At the beginning of my business plan, I set ten ‘First Year Goals’, which looking back I have achieved almost all of them exponentially, such as instead of securing 5 custom projects, I was able to secure 30. I always try to keep two things in mind: support other small businesses and environmental sustainability. While these two factors are extremely important to me, in order for me to run a successful business, I also need to consider cost efficiency. These components may not always go hand in hand, but I can proudly say that I have researched high and low and have done my very best to incorporate systems that put other small businesses and the environment first. As my business grows and I am able to amend current crucial pain points such as not owning a permanent, heated workspace, I have so many ideas for how I can continue to incorporate more and more ways of up-leveling Jak. Natural Designs. I’m looking forward to expanding my business even more, through my online store, galleries, more creativity in products and being in a better position to give back to the community and causes that I'm passionate about. Over a decade ago, in high school, I always used to say: ‘I’m not sure what I would like to be yet, but I know I want to do something extraordinary’. I truly feel like solopreneurship has opened up my eyes to the amazing, incredible, wild, crazy and fulfilling world of entrepreneurship and this was the extraordinary I have been searching for all along. I will continue to give this business all I have and I will continue to be the best advocate I can for women, for young entrepreneurs, for artists, for small businesses and for this planet we call home. For this reason, I believe I deserve to win the ‘Best Youth Entrepreneur’.