Women Entrepreneurship Strategy success story: Blue Heron Gardens Ltd.

"Without the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, I could never be where I am now. It gave us the leg up to expand into new facilities and buy a wax melter, which allowed us to produce our own beeswax and increase our profit margins."

Julie Shirley, Co-founder, Blue Heron Gardens

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Women Entrepreneurship strategy
Success Story - Blue Heron Gardens]

[Interview with Julie Shirley interspersed with clips of Julie and others working in her warehouse and workshop, Beekeeping, various products of beekeeping]

[Text on screen Julie Shirley / Blue Heron Gardens]

My name is Julie Shirley and I own Blue Heron Gardens. We're an apiary. We used to be a market garden, but we put that on hold to narrow our focus and run bees full time. Our product is honey and beeswax. We also have a small Haskap orchard. We sell our honey internationally and locally. Honey is a great product.

Beeswax is a great product. There's hardly any waste. And we are very proud of our business and the byproducts of beekeeping. I launched Blue Heron Gardens in 2014. Initially, it was a very small business. It was a family owned business. As the business grew bigger. We decided to narrow our focus just to honey bees, and we found very good mentors.

So the bees just grew and grew. Originally, it was just going to be two hives, and now it's close to 400. As a small business owner and as a beekeeper, I had to learn the financial and the planning. And we did have mentorship for planning, especially beekeeping, and that that was incredibly helpful. And with this woman's entrepreneurship strategy, I could never be where I am right now because they gave me the leg up to be in this position, in this building.

So that was incredibly amazing for me. And they also helped us buy a wax melter which allowed us to process our own beeswax. So instead of getting $2 a pound for our beeswax, we now sell it for $10 a pound filtered, which is, which is huge for us . Right now my future goals and dreams, especially for the business, we're focused on growth.

I'm always learning. Another thing that keeps me motivated is teaching my employees and teaching other new beekeepers who buy beehives from us. It takes you back to when you first started and how much you enjoy beekeeping. Words of advice or encouragement: just have great mentors. Have fine people who know how to do what you're doing better than you know so that you can do it better.

Another great piece of advice is that help is always out there, so don't be afraid to ask for help.

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Find out how the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy can help you. Visit canada.ca/women-entrepreneurship]
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