Meet Sarah Moleme. She is well known at the downtown Orillia Farmers’ Market for her beautiful gemstone bead work and custom sterling silver pieces. Last November, Sarah opened her very own store in the Peter Street Arts District in Orillia. We sat down with Sarah to talk about her entrepreneurial journey, and what she did to take her business from the Farmers’ Market to a store front location!
It all started with a passion that quickly turned into a business. Sarah tried to find a steady work life balance when working for others, but due to struggles with mental health, was never able to obtain that balance. Sarah founded her business while on the Ontario Disability Support Program. While attending many programs, with both mainstream medicine and alternative treatments, Sarah was able to learn techniques to manage her health and self-care. She felt nourished when creating jewellery, so she began to sell at a few crafts show for some extra income. Sarah found success at those craft shows and then entered the Simcoe Organics Farmers’ Market in Lagoon City in 2012. From there, she decided to build out her skills and take a ring making course at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, with the reputable jeweller Heather Rathbun. It was there she fell in love with creating and designing sterling silver jewellery from start to finish. That following September, she enrolled in Georgian College where she attended the Jewellery and Metal Arts Program. After completing the first of 4 semesters, she made one last attempt at working a ‘regular’ job, but ultimately Sarah turned her attention back to jewellery and asked herself: Could I take it further?
In 2013 Sarah joined the Orillia Farmers’ Market as a guest vendor. Her jewellery was well received so she decided to become a permanent vendor. Her sole-proprietor business, sarahannedipity, took off from there. For the first while, Sarah created pieces using a variety of beads and high-quality fashion jewellery components. As her sales grew, Sarah began to put her skills to the test from Georgian College and created more artistic pieces from sterling silver. She found most success making and selling a combination of quality bead work along with hand-crafted sterling silver pieces. sarahannedipity became a staple at the Orillia Farmers’ Market; she was very successful week after week. Then, in September of 2015, Sarah and her husband were pleasantly surprised to find out Sarah was 8 weeks pregnant. She continued at the Orillia Farmers’ Market until her beautiful baby boy was born. She took some time away from jewellery making to focus on her family: her husband Tshweu, her oldest son Mookodi, and their latest addition Thuto. Once Thuto was 4 months old, Sarah found the itch and the drive to create jewellery again. Sarah started selling at newly launched Harold and Ferne Local Goods Co. in downtown Orillia. Her products were flying off the shelves. Sarah later returned to the farmers’ market and it was even more successful then it was before. In May 2017, Sarah found her sales at the Farmers’ Market at an all time high. So she asked herself: Could I take it even further? Sarah began to look into opening a store front.
“Having a store front has a whole new world of possibilities that your sunroom does not offer.”
Sarah found a location downtown Orillia, in between the new Verona Coffee Co. and the established Shadow Box framing shop and gallery. It was a great location, right in the thriving Peter Street Arts District. Sarah was able to obtain funding from the Community Development Corporation of Orillia (CDC) to assist in opening the store. With that loan and from the help of community friends, Sarah was able to create a space to showcase her talent. Her unique jewellery displays were built in large part by a local carpenter; Dave Giannunzio of Porcupine Studios. She even was offered help from one time stranger, now friend, Jana. On November 3rd, 2017 Sarah opened the doors to her very own shop. By Christmas Sarah hired 5 part time employees, and she nearly tripled her sales.
“The community really just came together.”
As I sat with Sarah, she had numerous customers walk through the doors. She had new customers placing custom orders, and many coming by to say hello and browse the latest jewellery. Sarah has now hired her first full-time employee. Sarah is very excited for this as she can now take the time to grow the business all while still making time to take care of herself. Sarah has put a lot of time into growing her business from the Farmers’ Market to a storefront, all while juggling struggles with mental health and raising a family. She has shown her dedication, passion and perseverance with her work, which has contributed, to her major success in the jewellery industry.
We asked her…
What was the biggest challenge?
“Having to fill the space with inventory, no more week in between markets to prepare.”
What advice would you give someone looking to grow from Farmers’ Markets?
“First, trust your instincts. Obviously look at your books. If you have the right recipe, right location and enough business and a good feeling, then you want to go with that.” “Give yourself time to prepare your store.“
If you’re in the Orillia area, be sure to stop by The Peter Street Arts District to visit Sarah and her beautiful pieces of jewellery.
11 Peter St. S. Orillia, Ontario