In Summerland, BeadTrails is providing a fun and adventurous way to discover new places, hidden gems and unique businesses across BC through their technology-driven platform. By visiting destinations on their online interactive map, travellers can collect unique beads that represent the story of the destination. By the end of their journey, travellers are left with a charming memory bracelet and a story to share.
We caught up with BeadTrails’ founder, Karen Griggs, to learn more about their experience building a business in Summerland, how she leveraged tech and what advice she’d share with entrepreneurs also looking to start a business in the area.
What makes Summerland the right place for BeadTrails?
Summerland is where it all started. The community has been very supportive, everyone shows up to support local businesses. In particular, the Summerland Arts Council, Chamber of Commerce and many local business owners have supported the BeadTrails program since we launched 12 years ago. Between the COVID-19 and BC’s climate emergencies, the last three years have been challenging for tourism businesses but recovery is happening and the year ahead is looking promising.
What advice would you share with someone opening a business in Summerland?
- Never assume. Do your research before starting up a tourism/retail business in the area—especially with all the uncertainty and unpredictability in the world. Summerland is a semi-rural seasonal town with an older demographic, so keep that in mind when organizing your business plan.
- Seek out support from local organizations like Community Futures and TOTA who have helped support entrepreneurs like myself.
- Invest in a good team of people that can help grow your business. Getting support from friends, family and the local community can be a great recipe for success.
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Have you made any changes in your business after participating in Advisor Access?
The expertise and insights I gained from Accelerate Okanagan’s Advisor Access program have helped my business grow in many ways. From developing my website, improving my digital presence, and updating my business model, AO’s advisors heard and supported my concerns as a business owner. They steered me towards the resources and financial opportunities I needed.
We recently received the Level Up Local Grant to support our summer marketing campaign which highlights our new services and experiences. The grant dollars will also allow us to invest in tracking the performance of our marketing strategies and connect with a much wider audience. I am sure the work will have a lasting impact on BeadTrails and, by extension, the businesses we promote through the experience we offer.
What do you see in Summerland’s future?
I see opportunity and optimism in Summerland’s future. There are new businesses starting up and tourism numbers are increasing. It seems that a lot of people want to live here, too, which is just another sign that Summerland is the place to be.
And as Summerland continues to grow, so does BeadTrails both online and in-person. We’re introducing new and improved services to our members, followers and customers. We’ve also started expanding our space rental and creative workshops with our sister company ArtVine Creative Spaces.