As part of an ongoing series highlighting small businesses, we chat with Wendy Perry from New Country Spirit.
1. How long have you been in business?
Launched in 2015 – we started out with a few handpicked items and now we offer over 260 products.
2. What does New Country Spirit do?
We are curators of finely crafted, artisan-made belt buckles, jewelery, leather goods, scarves and so much more - all inspired by country.
Country is in our heart and soul. It's our stories – life by the water, life on the road, love of the land, the independent spirit, pride in our country and triumphs and tragedies that are part of all our lives. It can remind us of simpler times and ‘back in the day’ when things we bought were proudly handcrafted and made with passion. It’s about hope, faith, love, family and friends.
Our artists blend 'days of old' techniques - like hand forging iron, carving wood, beading by hand, weaving, braiding, sewing or hand tooling leather - with new processes. The result: beautiful, unique accessories with a new interpretation of the heart and soul of country.
3. What inspired you to start New Country Spirit?
I wanted a business to complement my consulting career and wanted it to be about the country lifestyle…so there were a few requirements.
Reflect the country spirit
At New Country Spirit we believe that the country lifestyle means different things to different people…It could mean everything from going to country music concerts/festivals to sitting by a bonfire; from line dancing to rodeo; from life on the farm and horseback riding to exploring the most spectacular views of the countryside. No matter what it means to each of us, we believe there is a little bit of the country spirit in all of us – it’s in our heart and soul.
Blend new processes with craftsman techniques
Country lifestyle also brings to mind values of hard work, perseverance, pride in workmanship, creativity, as well as a respect for how things were made ‘back in the day’. We wanted a down-to-earth, spirited collection of country lifestyle pieces that reflect these values, so our artists blend new processes with traditional craftsmanship like hand forging iron, carving wood, beading by hand, weaving, knitting, braiding, sewing and hand tooling leather.
Support Canadian artists
New Country Spirit is honoured to work with artists who proudly handcraft high quality items with creativity and passion. All our items are inspired by people, places, music and nature's elements. We are just as proud of our collaborations with country music artists. I love country music and whether classic or new, there is a heart and soul...a spirit, to country music that is universal. It tells a story. It tells our stories.
Give back to the community
Whenever we can, we try to choose shows, festivals, events, etc. that in some way benefit the community. We have been honoured to be part of the Mississauga-Dixie Rotary Line Dancing fundraiser, Scarborough Hospital Sip, Shop & Celebrate Women, and Dancin’ for Miracles hospice fundraiser in Collingwood.
4. What advice to you have for other entrepreneurs/new business owners?
I’ve got 5 pieces of advice:
- One person, one event and one like, follow, share at a time, we are becoming the go to place for country-inspired accessories and it’s because we love what we do. So be passionate, have fun and be kind & generous – it’s contagious.
- Be smart – Set goals, plan, look at the numbers and then get at it; try new things - learn what works, what doesn’t.
- Surround yourself with people who support/encourage and don’t be the smartest person in the room – people have so much experience and knowledge to share – so ask questions and don’t afraid to reach out and ask for help.
- Work hard and be determined: One of our country music brand Ambassadors, Riki Knox, said it all when she congratulated Brett Kissel on making his dreams come true. “Dreams work when you do.”
- Help people that you meet and give back to your community whenever you can.
5. What can customers look forward to in 2017 from you?
The word is out there about the uniqueness and the high quality of our items and we are thrilled (and so are our artists) with how well all our items are selling. We’re launching our Spring Collection that will include an amazing Canadian made belt, more belt & boot accessories – hint – it’s all about fringe! We are also working on the development of an organic boot conditioner – so stay tuned!
Last month we launched The Barn which features seasonal items and our Barn Finds – unique, high quality vintage and new pieces that we find in our travels. We are also thrilled to be launching our On Stage section of The Barn that will feature Canadian country music artists.
We're excited to be expanding our new country music Ambassador brand team, with an announcement coming in March.
For upcoming events, we're looking forward to Trackside Music Festival in London, our favourites like Port Credit Farmers’ Market, Mississauga Waterfront Festival and Dancin’ for Miracles - a hospice fundraiser in Collingwood. This year we’ll also be at Lake Rousseau Farmers’ Market.
6. What's been the biggest challenge you've overcome with New Country Spirit?
When we first opened, the biggest challenge was the time it took to find artists, and now we have artists approaching us! As my brother would say, “A good problem to have.”