Today is Black Friday, which many consider to be the kick-off to the holiday shopping season. Are you heading to the mall? Shopping online? Or maybe you’re checking out some local boutiques!
Personally, I’ll be doing all three over the next few days but my goal this year is to support local business as much as I can.
Why Is Shopping Local Important?
Over the past few years, there’s no question that businesses of all kinds have suffered from loss of revenue. But, the ones who have struggled the most – yet most likely hustled the most – are your local shops, artisans and restaurants. The absolute best way to help these business owners recoup is to shop in their stores.
But really, it’s more than just financial. Shopping local will provide you with unique gift ideas that will add personality and creativity that your loved ones will appreciate. Local business are not trying to sell en-masse but rather offer value and personality.
Canadian Showcase: Lemonberry
I’ve lived in Aurora, Ontario for 16 years having moved here from Ottawa. It’s a vibrant area with lots of green space and a small-community feel. One of our town’s unique features are our local businesses, such as Lemonberry!
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have noticed that I’ve made a few purchases here over the years. I was super excited to do this Q&A with owner Lisa not only because this boutique is one of my favourites, but also because this is the most local of all the local businesses I’ve highlighted! I used to literally live around the corner and am still just a short car ride away (I mean, I could still walk if I wasn’t lazy 😂)
What makes Lemonberry unique is their gorgeous aesthetic as well as their attention to other Canadian brands and sustainable fashion. They also carry beautiful jewelry, accessories, handbags and beauty product. It’s hard to walk in and leave empty handed!
Let’s Meet Lemonberry Owener Lisa Simmons!
Our readers are always interested in the origin story… Tell us a bit about yourself and your business.
I’m a mom of two fantastic kids. Aside from family my two greatest loves are fashion & travel. I opened Lemonberry in February 2004 and we are located in Aurora Ontario in the St. Andrew’s Plaza.
I have always been inspired by NYC street urban looks, and I love to travel to NYC and bring back those looks to Lemonberry.
In 2013 my dad passed away, and that changed my entire philosophy on life. Eventually, I came to the realization that life wasn’t only about working and making money. I became more eco-aware and I saw the destruction that fashion industry (my industry of choice) was doing in the world (It’s the 2nd largest polluting industry in the world). I didn’t want to leave fashion, but I wanted to distance myself from adding to that negative impact.
Lemonberry is now going in the direction of eco-conscious, non-toxic, sustainable & with an emphasis on Canadian products. Most of the store is there, but I have a little way to go, and am always working towards making it better!
I love what I do and I love our customers! They are all so amazing. I love running Lemonberry and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.
This wouldn’t be an interview if we didn’t ask…. Where did the name Lemonberry come from?
Wow, ok this was such a long time ago. I always loved the colours pink and yellow, and wanted to incorporate that into my logo. Simply associating those colours with lemons and berries is how the name came about. My original logo was pink and yellow. I’ve since changed my store colour scheme, but that is how the name originated. Also, we noticed that the loop in the ‘l’ and the loop in the ‘y’, when put together made the Pisces symbol. That’s my zodiac symbol, and we did open Lemonberry on my birthday back in 2004. It’s interesting how things align like that.
What has been your proudest moment during your Lemonberry journey?
My proudest moment has been just the simple fact that I took the leap and opened the store back in 2004. To take a leap from a secure job and risk going out on my own was scary, as it probably is for any entrepreneur. Without doing that Lemonberry couldn’t be, so I’m most proud of that.
What does being a Canadian Brand mean to you?
It is very important to me to buy and represent Canadian brands in the store. I try very hard to get all Canadian brands. It’s not always possible however, but I do strive for it. It’s so important to our economy and community. We make our local businesses, community, and even our country stronger by buying local. It’s also better for the environment as we reduce our carbon footprint.
During the pandemic, how did you manage having a physical store and what helped you get through this challenging time?
I embrace challenges. I already had an online presence, so I put my nose to the grindstone and ramped that presence up. Our sales did go down during the lockdown, but we survived by adapting. Selling online, doing regular local deliveries, lots of video posts and emails etc., kept business flowing. The Lemonberry community is very loyal and supportive. We couldn’t have done it without their support. I love our customers, and I’d like to thank them again!
What would you say sets you apart from others? What are priorities for Lemonberry?
It’s hard for me to say because I don’t focus on others. I have a business model that I kept to, which puts the customer experience first. Being eco-conscious is also very important to us, and I’m not certain there is a lot of that concern out there. It is definitely a priority at Lemonberry. I wish more businesses would make this a priority. I do see it slowly happening but it’s important everyone join forces and push this agenda forward faster.
What’s next for your brand? We’d love to hear about your vision for the future!
I’m going to continue to bring in great brands that are eco-conscious. I’m going to prioritize Canadian brands as well. I want our customers feel confident knowing that I have done a thorough job bringing in the best eco-conscious brands with a focus on the local.
Coming into the holiday season, what are you seeing as the being trends?
Fashion trends that are big this holiday season are vests, straight to wider leg jeans, the shacked (shirt + jacket), holiday print sweaters and combat boots. They seem to be the strongest trends right now.
Gift boxes are a huge trend for the holiday season for gift giving as well. I see them all over the place. Many people don’t have time to put things together or time to figure it all out. If boxes are curated and put together just for them, it’s just so much easier and makes holiday shopping less stressful. That’s what I would like to offer my customers – an easier & less stressful shopping experience.
Check out Lemonberry on Instagram for inspiration and some great gift ideas! Occasionally, Lisa will also share some yummy recipes from cookbooks they carry in store.
As a special treat for my readers, Lemonberry has provided a 15% off code, which you can redeem online at www.lemonberry.ca. Use MARY15 at checkout!
When I create buying guides such as this one for unique gift ideas, I do my best to stay away from “big box” stores. But as Lisa mentioned, realistically not all purchases can be manufactured locally (video games, for example) but you can still show support and try to source those items from a local business.
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s Canadian Showcase and feel inspired to get out and explore stores in your community! In case you missed it, you can also get some great fashion advice from our Influencer Canadian Showcase with @CBstyled.