Our goal for our Shop Talk series is to highlight different makers & crafters, incredible small-shops, inspiring entrepreneurs, and motivational individuals or families!
Supporting local and small shops makes a MASSIVE, positive impact on makers' personal and family lives.
Today we’re welcoming Brittany from Bee’s Inspired Studio to the blog for our Shop Talk Feature! Brittany makes a wide range of products with a special niche in sensory products & pillows for children and also for adults living with Dementia & Alzheimers. Grab a coffee and come hang out with us!
Bee’s Inspired Studio is dedicated to creating fun, high quality, sensory play products for every stage of life. My name is Brittany, and as a wife and mum of two little boys, I understand the importance of having safe, creative play options to keep hands busy and imagination alight! Sharing joy and inspiration through creative play is everything to me!! My shop, Bee’s Inspired Studio is proudly Canadian and our products are lovingly designed and handmade in Brantford, On.
I hope to inspire others with the products I make and give back to families within our community and beyond.
My studio was inspired by our family - originally it was created to help find purpose and cope after a tragic loss in our family. It began as a blog and then grew into what is now our studio!
The inspiration to create our first product came from seeing a need for safe activities for a grandparent living with dementia. From that moment on we devoted our energy into creating products that could help others. Our first products, fidget lap pads and pillows, were designed for those living with Alzheimers, sensory disorders or those living with post-stroke effects.
After the arrival of my boys, I was inspired to expand the sensory products to include options for children as well. I hope we can continue to grow, adapt and expand to meet the needs of our family and the families in our community.
I attended Fanshawe College for Apparel Design & Manufacturing. I have worked in the textile/design/sourcing industries since graduation and am so proud to share my experience with customers. I continue to teach at Fanshawe College within the same program I graduated from, in hopes of helping a new generation of talented designers chase their dreams in a field that continues to inspire me to this day.
In March 2020, our studio adapted in order to help our community during the pandemic. We immediately shifted focus and devoted our studio time to producing high quality cotton masks and lanyards in fun colours and patterns (because we could all use another reason to smile during times like these). We continue to produce our masks and lanyards for our community, country and beyond our borders.
What are some of the challenges you have faced in the last year? What are some of your greatest joys and accomplishments this past year?
Our major struggle was learning how to pivot and adapt throughout the pandemic. Figuring out how to manage a business, produce products at home, set up remote studios, transport supplies and products, while caring for and teaching our boys simultaneously - it was near impossible! Many new products never made it to production, items were slow to be restocked or never were. We worked every available minute, while trying to support our family the best we could. It was a constant struggle, but we love our studio and what it provides - we are not about to give up on it. We love to employ and contract people within our community to help with sewing etc, but with lockdowns and so much uncertainty; hiring, financing and finding help was challenging. We are hopeful that 2022 will bring more stability and that our studio will grow to include new members from our community. We always have our eyes open for amazing people to join our team!
What are some of your dreams for the future of your business?
Our dream is to grow and give back. Brant and Oxford County hold a special place in our heart and we want to grow within them. We want to expand our product line (we have so many ideas) to help families find sensory products that encourage learning and create the joy they deserve. We want to grow so we can hire members of our community and have them join a studio that truly values the amazing people they are. We want to grow so we can give back to our community and country through donations, our time and so much more. If we grow, we can do more, help more people, build a more vibrant community, share more joy and inspire others along the way. What better dream is there?
Another goal is to one day have a studio space outside of our home, where our sensory products are made and sold. We’d love to have a sensory play studio where children or adults could come to explore, play, learn and be inspired. We could create an inclusive environment and offer sensory based workshops and activities. Most importantly we want to create a safe space that encourages learning in an inviting and fun environment. Creativity and imagination come alive through sensory play and a space devoted to just that could benefit our community greatly. There is a rental unit under construction on the outskirts of Brantford, which we pass almost everyday. The bright open space would be an amazing environment to work, learn and play in, and maybe with a little luck and a lot of hard work, one day it will be ours to share with all of you.
How have Cara & Co products been an essential part of your brand and business?
We are always looking for high quality supplies for our products and love to source locally or within Canada whenever possible. We love the versatility of silicone beads; they make fun elements in our sensory bags, are durable enough for accents on teething toys or fidget pads, and even work as decorative items on pillows and lanyards. To say silicone products are essential to our business and our products would be an understatement. The fact that Cara & Co has an incredible selection, are only minutes away from our studio, and have quality standards that align with our studio make them the perfect supplier for us. Quality, durability and safety are of the utmost importance to us. When you’re creating products that are meant to be handled and played with, you need to be confident the supplies you are using are up to the task. We love supporting local and we love that Cara & Co are constantly inspiring us to create new products.
How do you balance personal life and growing your business?
As an entrepreneur, I think true balance can be hard to find. In the beginning, I tried to wear both hats, mom/wife and entrepreneur simultaneously, but I would end up failing at both, feeling defeated, and usually accomplishing nothing. Trying to parent and sew at the same time just doesn’t work. Now, I give all my focus to one thing at a time and be the best at it I can be. I try to do my work during school hours and after the boys are in bed. I do my best work late at night, a trait I get from my mother. I survive on coffee and power naps, and I love it. When my boys are home I give them all my focus. I tried to move away from working on the weekend wherever possible, and that became my family and rest time.
I’ve noticed that my greatest inspiration usually comes from these weekends and the time spent with my family. Without personal time, the inspiration I pour into my business would be lost. The major difference is now I’m patient with myself. I’m not perfect; sometimes work will be required during family time, or my family will need me during work hours. The key is to allow myself time to relax enough that the inspiration keeps coming. I’m still a work in progress and so my husband steps in to remind me to take care of myself when I forget to. My husband and my boys keep me balanced and also inspire me to push on. It’s beautiful, really.
Do you have any inspirations behind your products? Your 'reason why’?
All of our products are inspired by our family, interests and customers. Our goal is and always will be to help others find comfort and joy through our sensory play products. Many of our themed products are inspired by the interests of our family members: our boys, husband, nieces, nephews, parents, grandparents and siblings. We often design and create products, like fidget lap pads, that represent the lives our customers live. We noticed that many products are often lacking intentional design or beautiful styling. A beautiful product takes time and effort to create, but the happiness it provides is endless. Our customers deserve the best in quality and design and we intend to create products that offer them the best of both - while representing who they are and what they love most.
Thank you for allowing me to share a bit about myself and this studio and journey!
I hope you find endless inspiration and comfort & joy with our sensory play products.
We hope you enjoyed reading about Brittany and her studio! We’re so thankful for customers that have so much creativity and vision - it’s such a gift to be inspired by our customers!
- the girls