I am always inspired by local women who build thriving businesses that are supported by the community. I am a big supporter of small business, and love seeing what creative spirits people have that live in my own city.
I have always dreamed of owning a business with my very creative mom, who is always making beautiful crochet gifts and giving them away to people. I think we would make a great team, but alas, things have not quite worked out for us - yet!
Earlier this week I had a chance to talk to Emily Nijenhuis, a local mom of two boys ages one and three. Emily owns Foxberry Sign and Stocking Co. with her mom Kim Kampen. Nijenuis lives in Guelph and Kampen lives in Rockwood.
Kim is a retired teacher and in November 2015, the mother-daughter duo decided to start selling handmade wooden signs and hand sewn custom stockings. Eric Kampen, Kim’s husband and Emily’s father, does all of the woodworking for the signs.
“It started when I was living on a farm at the time. We were in the middle of nowhere, my oldest had just turned one and I wanted to do something different. We decided to combine our talents and skills,” said Emily.
One of the things I have always feared about owning a business with a close relative or friend is that it can cause division within a very special relationship.
Emily said that her relationship with her mom is strong and unaffected by the business, perhaps because their roles have always been divided from the beginning.
Kim is in charge of the wooden signs, which can be premade or custom made for gifts, baby showers, and weddings.
Emily sews all of the Christmas stockings and customizes them with a name tag that is hand painted, she also designs the signs and takes care of online orders and social media.
Christmas is especially busy for the duo, this year Emily sewed 350 custom stockings. The year prior, Emily had just had her second son in November and still managed to deliver about 150 stockings.
“It’s grown beyond what we could have expected,” said Emily, who added that they have had a lot of support locally, and also through their Etsy shop where they ship items worldwide.
“It’s been really nice having a business with my mom. We have a close relationship and we tend to agree on things. She’s always been one of my best friends,” shared Emily.
Foxberry Signs and Stockings Co. also offers workshops for groups who want to create their own custom sign. Groups can be hosted at Emily’s home for three to four people, and if someone wants to have the workshop in their home they can accommodate up to three to eight people.