Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Haley Besworth, Owner of Cedar Planters, located in Oakville, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Here at Cedar Planters, we have a love for gardening, plants, flowers, and healthy eating. We took our passion, as well as the recent focus on supporting small businesses, sustainability, and prioritizing health & wellness, and created a sustainable and accessible product that gives people the chance to “go green” with their very own home gardens. We created a raised garden bed and planter box in a variety of sizes, and we are slowly adding more gardening products to our e-commerce store. When our customers purchase our raised gardens and planter boxes, they are purchasing a one-time-buy, sustainable product. We wanted to create a gardening option that is instant and suitable for all of our customers’ outdoor spaces. Our customers, in addition to sustainable products, are looking for a product that creates a controlled gardening environment. This means our customers can enjoy easy gardening in smaller spaces, with added protection for plants and a longer growing season.
Tell us about yourself
My husband, Jason, and I were living in a condo when the pandemic started. I was a first-year teacher, and he was a marketing account manager. When we moved into our condo, it was not yet finished, and Jason, having learned woodworking from his Grandfather while growing up, took on the project of building us barn doors, bathroom fixtures, and pantry shelving. I was amazed by how beautiful the pieces he had made were, and we posted them on Facebook Marketplace to see if anyone else would agree. We suddenly had orders for various furniture and fixtures but needed more space than our condo could provide in order to build these items. Just down the road was a storage unit company, where we started renting a small storage unit. We used our spare time to turn the storage unit into a fully functional woodworking shop. When spring arrived, we were desperate for some beautiful blooms to brighten our space. Jason designed our now signature raised garden bed so that we could garden on our little condo balcony. Once again curious, we posted this raised garden bed to Facebook Marketplace, and within hours we had orders. We love providing people with the gift of gardening, no matter the size of their outdoor space or their gardening abilities. We wanted to create a DIY product that is easy to assemble and easy maintenance. We also wanted to use only Western Red Cedar, that is sourced from sustainably managed forests. Being able to provide instant gardening with high-quality, sustainable materials is what motivates us each day!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
- At our company, we work hard to create a safe, accessible, and fun work environment for our staff. We are pet friendly, we encourage our employees to grow within the company, and we try to keep all of our departments in-house. We have Fridays off in the summer and plan staff events that promote team building and bonding. We love providing a space for our employees to learn, grow, and genuinely enjoy their work environment.
- We wanted to create a sustainable, affordable, and long-lasting raised garden bed that anyone can use in their outdoor space, whether they have a balcony, patio, or backyard. Our products will not need to be replaced after only a couple of years. We use higher-quality materials but still work hard to competitively price our products against the lower-quality planters out there. We want customers to have a sustainable, higher-quality, and longer-lasting dream garden at an affordable price!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
I am not sure if this will change as the years come and go, but being a new and small business owner means putting one hundred percent of our energy and time into the business. During the pandemic, we spent seven long days a week working and building our business. Jason and I both started in the wood shop, hand-making each item. As the business has grown, so have our responsibilities, and as such, we had to learn to trust and delegate. With our amazing staff in the wood shop and in the office, we have learned how important it is to lean on your employees and step back so they can do what they do best. The hard part is stepping away from work and finding a good work/life balance. We both just turned 30 last year, got married this year, and will start thinking about growing our family. I am hoping we can find a perfect balance and be able to take some of our energy from the business and put it into our growing family.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Wake up early! You’d be surprised how important it is to take advantage of your mornings. Whatever time you want to start work in the morning, start work an hour earlier. This business is like your baby, and you need to give it your best hours of the day.
- Be friendly to everyone. It can be easy to get frustrated with customer service reps, suppliers, and customers, but at the end of the day, it is not them that you are frustrated with. Make sure to always be kind, be understanding, and be empathetic to what they are dealing with. We always say, a person will be more willing to go to bat for you if you are kind and you ask them for their help and their expertise.
- Never stay stagnant. It can be really easy to get overwhelmed and want to focus on the problem that is right in front of you - getting orders out, getting products built, etc. BUT if you are only focusing on the problem right in front of you, your business is not growing. On top of dealing with the now, you need to be planning for the future. Who is your next supplier going to be? What location can you expand to start selling next? What product can you add to your collection within the next year? What job position can you hire for next? What machine can you buy that will make your production more efficient? What new platform can I start advertising on? These are the questions you should always be asking yourself in order to continue moving forward.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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