We can’t wait to introduce you to Rachel Brouwer this weekend!
Three amazing young women have established businesses with purpose and passion. They will join us at Sweet Brier Boutique Saturday, August 13 from 10 am to 5 pm for our first-ever Girl Power Pop-Up Event!
We’ll be highlighting them this week so you can get to know them before you drop by to meet them in person (cuz we know you’ll feel compelled to!)
We’d like to start this week with Rachel Brouwer. She is 14 years old and from Bedford, NS. She has been making pure organic skin care products for three years now. She started her company as a fundraiser for the IWK Health Centre. At age 11 Rachel invented a water pasteurisation system for use in Third World Countries. Her system has won several medals at the National level and recently placed second in the world at the recent INTEL International Science Engineering Fair! Rachel now sells her natural skincare products to raise money for her patent. At our Girl Power Pop-Up Rachel will be selling all natural organic lip gloss, lip balm, goat’s milk soap, moisturizing body bars, inspiring necklaces and hand made pencil wraps. Rachel’s products are known for their creative flare, decorative containers and quality. Rachel has been selling her full line of products at the Sweet Brier Boutique on the Hammonds Plains Road since shortly after we opened for business!
Both Rachel and the entire Sweet Brier Boutique look forward to seeing you this weekend!
On the weekend of August 13/14 Sweet Brier Boutique in Hammonds Plains will host a Girl Power Pop-up Shop for these amazing female entrepreneurs.
Kayley Reed and the Wear Your Label team will travel from Fredericton to be in the house with their Bracelet Project and line of clothing.
Kyle MacNevin and Kayley Reed are the two young entrepreneurs behind Wear Your Label. Kyle lives with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Kayley is recovering from Anorexia Nervosa. But these are just labels. “Our struggles with mental illness, and our experience volunteering with non-profits, are what inspired us to start the brand.” Kyle and Kayley and their team are inspiring a movement with more than 19000 Instagram followers and have been participating in the innovative Joe Fresh Fashion Incubator in Toronto.
Next up is Daneka Sharpe of Morning Star Couture, a 14 year old from Amherst Nova Scotia who started a line of T-shirts when she was 13. She supports the IWK Health Centre with a percentage of her sales. She has a terrific Shopify site and her products are now sold in retail shops across the Maritimes!
Then we have Rachel Brouwer and her line of inspired necklaces and goats milk soap. Rachel is a serial entrepreneur and is 14 years old. When she was 11 years old she invented a water treatment system to help third world countries access clean water. I purchase her products and proceeds of the sales are helping to fund a $10,000 patent required for her to be able to make her system available to countries who want it. Pakistan, Uganda and others have expressed an interest. Rachel just placed second in the world at Intel’s International Science Competition in Arizona.
This will be the first time these young CEOs will meet each other.
And then we will celebrate the arrival of the inspirational journals and illustrations of Rose Hill Designs by Heather Stillufsen. My friend Shani told me about Heather’s work a couple of years ago. I’ve drawn strength and inspiration from her daily messages and I am honoured that her journals and prints will now be available at Sweet Brier.
I hope you’ll all be able to pop by the store for our Girl Power Weekend! More details to follow as we get closer!
Daddy’s little girl never really grows up. She may get married, have children and move away but a daughter’s love for her dad remains her first love.
Father’s Day is a celebration of the men in our lives who have supported our dreams, held our hand throughout the tough times, and helped us make the hard decisions that life can throw our way. They taught us how to ride a bike or drive a car or maybe even a tractor! Our dads encouraged us to take a risk, make a plan, or follow a chosen path. Often our fathers take on the role of both parents or become grandparents to our children (and four-legged family members too).
Borrowing from Reader’s Digest online, we share an inspirational story that speaks to the mentoring, coaching, and wisdom our fathers often share with us. Treasure each moment with your dad, not only on Sunday June 19th but each day you have a chance to share time with the first love of your life!
“TALKING IS LIKE KETCHUP” by Carmen Mariano, Braintree, Massachusetts
I sat in my dad’s living room reading one night while he watched television. An hour passed before I realized it, and I felt bad for not speaking during that time. I asked if he was OK, and he said yes. Then I apologized for not talking more. “Carmen,” Dad replied. “Talking is like ketchup. If you like the meat enough, you don’t need the ketchup—and if you like the company enough, you don’t need the conversation.” My dad never earned a college degree, but he was the smartest person I ever knew.
To celebrate Father’s Day we have inspirational, creative, funny and locally sourced gifts in the store to help you to express your appreciation on Sunday June 19th.
Ok, it is a bit of a stereotype but most dad’s love to show off around the BBQ so why not have him looking cool while he is at the Q! Add a bottle of Acadian Maple BBQ sauce, created right here in NS, and a chef is born.
Great Apron for the BBQ
Locally sourced sauces
If he is not a morning person our “Not a Morning Person”mug will make sure he has his space with his morning coffee or how about his own an inspirational spoon for his cereal from …and then again.
Fun mugs to make his day
His very own spoon
We are here to help you find that special thing to make his day. Stop in today or last minute – we will wrap it to go.
Ah, the long weekend in May. The beginning of better weather and gardening ideas. A kick-off to outside adventures and road trips to parts unknown. New smells of spring flowers in bloom and, in farm country, freshly turned manure to feed the summer crops. It wakes us Maritimers from our deep winter sleep.
Our two shops are located in rural communities for a reason. We share the old-fashioned values often found in smaller towns like Parrsboro and we like that we are at the forefront of the growth and expansion happening in Hammonds Plains. As visitors from away start to arrive and local people open up their cottage properties, it seems like a ideal time to talk about the local attractions in our communities.
We chose to talk about these two particular destinations because of their ability to brighten our day. Spirit Reins Ranch outside of Parrsboro and Hatfield Farm located in Hammonds Plains are both locally owned businesses that provide a unique experience.
Bay of Fundy beach runs
Stunning horses waiting to greet you at Spirit Reins Ranch
Trails with stunning views at Spirit Reins
Spirit Reins offers personalized service for both the first time horse rider and for more experienced riders. Take advantage of their scenic trail rides with breathtaking views in every direction! Karen Gilbert, the owner, also offers extensive trail riding packages that include more experiential tours like the tidal floor fossil trip or a romantic picnic ride, and a family-friendly Bay of Fundy beach walking tour. While you are in town visiting Sweet Brier you can catch the Parrsboro Citizens Band Spring Concert on all weekend from May 21-23.
New born goats at Hatfield Farm
Heather loves goats
One of the family at Hatfield Farm
An Alpaca waiting for attention
Located just outside of Halifax and a 5-minute drive from Sweet Brier, but with the feeling of being miles away from it all, Hatfield Farm offers a variety of horse adventures. Round up a group of friends to enjoy a trail ride to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. A family outing this long weekend is worth a trip to visit the farm animal petting zoo and meet the baby goats, Alpacas, ponies, chickens, and donkeys.
Sweet Brier is a farm-friendly stop along the way – we really do not mind the barn smell so a visit before or after your farm visit is okay with us. To complement the long weekend road trip we have a few items in the store that you can add to your adventure wardrobe.
Heather, the owner of Sweet Brier Boutique, was thrilled to be invited to host a fashion show for Mamaganza 2016 on Saturday May 7th at the St. John’s Anglican Church on Larry Uteck Boulevard. In its second year, Mamaganza is truly a community affair that helps raise funds to support local community programs and people. This year the event was another sellout with more than 120 people enjoying laughs, friendship and a celebration of women at an indoor market, tea and fashion show.
Prior to the show, Mary Kate and Cindy with the Sweet Brier team worked with eight models who met at the boutique for fittings and styling advice. We loved that these courageous women were open to trying different styles and colours … some of them admittedly a departure from their usual fashion choices.
Shelley, Betty Freda, Natalie, Tasha, Adrianne, Sarah and Wendy modelled a selection of tunics, dresses and yoga wear great for business, day tripping or a special event. They illustrated beautifully that fashion transcends age. Their ensembles were complete with cruelty-free, vegan purses made of cork and scarves, jewelry, mesh shrugs and ponchos in gorgeous hues of turquoise, coral, blue and bright white.
Some of the crowd pleasers were our socially conscious lines – Inner Fire and Wear Your Label – worn by Sarah and Adrianne. As Adrianne walked through the room people reached out to touch the material in the Inner Fire yoga pants made from 100% post-consumer drinking bottles and designed in Canada.
Sarah modelling Inner Fire leggings and Wear Your Label T
Capture your Inner Fire
Socially conscious businesses that make a statement you can wear
Wear Your Label sparked as a small idea with passion and conviction: clothing and bracelets to create conversations about mental health. Two Fredericton youth wanted to encourage individuals to take ownership of their mental health, rather than fear the labels that so often define us. Their project — fashion tackling the stigma of mental health — is now an international success story. These are just two superhero labels we are proud to represent at Sweet Brier Boutique!
We enjoyed interacting with the community at the Marketplace that was humming before and after the show. It featured local businesses with apparel, jewelry, art, skin care, gift items – a showcase and celebration of the many entrepreneurs in our community. Heather’s husband Danny and her daughter Sarah greeted visitors to the Sweet Brier display.
Did you know this was not Heather’s first fashion show? She made her fashion debut modelling for Canada’s Centennial celebrations in a little community called Beardmore Ontario where she lived until she was nine! Her mother Zena was gracious enough to supply pictures of her early beauty queen days.
Locally made dress adorned with little roses
Daddy’s little girl getting ready for the show
Beardmore, Ontario Centennial Parade
The community has been woven into the Sweet Brier story since its beginning. We will continue to be part of the social fabric in Hammonds Plains and Parrsboro by adding value to local events or through supporting an important cause like mental health.
We strive to make each trip to Sweet Brier an experience – an adventure that keeps you wanting to come back and explore. Our approach to retail as therapy means that we want you to play while you are here. An opportunity to escape for a moment and focus on YOU.
Our “Spot the Purple Dot” promotion is our version of a Treasure Hunt. Throughout the store, you will find PURPLE dots on price tags and this means you have found a bargain. Each dotted item will be discounted the equivalent of the taxes once you have finished hunting and exploring through the store. Each week the dots move so the treasure is only on the items for one week!
We selected purple for a reason. Purple has been Heather’s favourite colour since childhood. She recounts the following story about her early connection to clothing as therapy and the colour purple.
“When I moved from Ontario to Parrsboro I started school in Grade 4. My two aunts in Toronto used to send me clothes. They were usually second hand but really nice or at least I thought so. They sent me a long faux fur purple coat with a hood trimmed in silver fur. I loved that coat. I looked different than everyone else but I didn’t care. I loved it. It helped me feel better about changing schools and friends. It gave me confidence. I felt like a million bucks in it.”
Even today when you meet Heather in the Hammonds Plains or Parrsboro stores you will notice a streak of purple in her hair. So she chose the purple dot promotion because it:
Calms the mind and nerves
Offers a sense of spirituality
We want to stand for something in our rural communities and we have chosen to be an advocate for Mental Health, which is often associated with the colour purple in advocacy campaigns.
Our popular Wear Your Label line of clothing and jewelry has brought people into the stores because they support ending the stigma often associate with mental health too.
Eating Disorder bracelet
We are carrying a new line of books that feature positive messages for adults, teens, and children alike.
Positive messages for the mind
“How to Live in Flip Flops”
Treasure Hunting is a Nova Scotian tradition. Both of our rural locations have many local treasures to be found so add an adventure or two to your journey.
Whether you are heading to the Fundy Shore for rock hounding or to browse through the shops along Main Street a treasure hunt awaits you in Parrsboro. We hope a stop into the Sweet Brier Boutique is on your list of adventures but we also suggest adding the Amethyst Boutique and the Great Village Antiques Exchange to your treasure hunting road trip.
Come visit Sweet Brier and locate YOUR treasure – Spot the Purple Dot!
At all ages and stages, we come to a realization that our Mom’s have had a profound influence on us. Mother’s Day is a date that the retail world has set aside to tell her that she was right or that we love her like when we were 10 years old.
The Sweet Brier philosophy has an underlying commitment to supporting women EVERY DAY in recognition of their fierceness, bravery, support, love, courage, strength and for the tough decisions they make each day.
We acknowledge that Mom’s deliver on the expectations that come with the label of Mother in society. Expectations like always being there. An expectation to be a flawless caregiver. Sometimes being the sole provider for the family. Often acting in the role of supporter for extended family and aging parents.
We understand the darned if you do and darned if you don’t predicament of working moms versus stay-at-home moms. In our eyes, both are worthy professionals who contribute in ways that are to be celebrated and appreciated.
We recognize that MOM can refer to women holding non-traditional roles in our ever complex society. Grandmothers and Aunts who pitch in to support the family and Sisters who adopt children as their own. Women who act as surrogates because they care.
So yes, both of the Sweet Brier boutiques in Hammonds Plains and Parrsboro offer gifts, women’s fashions, housewares, jewelry, and fashion accessories that any Momma would love to receive on Mother’s Day. What we hope to advocate is the continuation of the recognition and celebration of women EVERY DAY.
From our curated collection of mom-approved items, we want to make choosing the perfect gift easy for you.
After all, mom’s have expectations too!
Here are a few ideas for you to consider.
Introduce beauty into her morning coffee or tea routine
Jewelry is always a hit
Spoil her with relaxation complemented with yummy scented products
Bath Soak for Tired Mom’s
Dress her up and take her somewhere nice
Hadley weatherproof jackets
She would never expect cool rain boots and sassy socks
Rain boots with fashion sense
Wellies with horses
Fun socks to line your riding boots
Oonagh is a Mom who loves her Inner Fire yoga wear
Sweet Brier Boutique in Parrsboro and Hammonds Plains is an enterprise owned and managed by a mom, Heather Spidell.
At the Sweet Brier Boutique we celebrate mom, mother, ma, mommy, momma, aha, mama, mutter, ma na, mamma, madre, mueter, mare, me – no matter the culture or language on Mother’s Day we pause to recognize her.
Sure we sell many meaningful products that any MOM would be thrilled to receive and we can help you find that perfect gift. What is also important to us is that we support so many women-owned companies and their products serve a double duty by supporting a woman entrepreneur who may also be a mom.
Many times the story behind the gift can give it more meaning so we want to share a few of the stories of the women behind our products.
Shawna O’Handley is a mom to her four-legged kids and they are the inspiration behind her Crazy Dog dehydrated treat products. Made in her Beaver Bank home she uses locally sourced ingredients that ensure that momma’s fur babies are only eating the best.
“I was on disability because I have an anxiety disorder and I really don’t like going out in public and stuff like that without my dogs,” said O’Handley, who has a handful of precious pups she calls “my children.” But the products are all about dogs and what they need.
Alchemy Fashions was born from a fascination with the culture of India, fashion design, and a love of yoga. Canadian designer Trisha Hinders has been working with the same small family business in India for over a decade.
In 2003 Alchemy settled on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, in a hip little oasis called Roberts Creek. Not long after that Trish met her husband Brett and had a beautiful son named Julian Ananda. They have an amazing beach, creek and rainforest outside their front door, with both the Alchemy Warehouse and Yoga Studio on an incredible ocean-view property. Alchemy has become a real family business, with husband Brett as the anchorman behind all the retail shows and festivals. Her son Julian has a special role – always helping her to balance work with play.
Naturally Sourced Baby Products from Peas in a Pod
New Mother Helpers
Brought to us by All Things Jill from Calgary, AB the baby-friendly line has been serving mums and bums since 2001. Jill Hawker is a mom supporter who has created a brand that will pamper soon-to-be or new mommy’s. Whether expecting a baby, newly postpartum or looking for an escape from the daily demands of a toddler an all-natural product is a thoughtful gift.
Originally from Erin, Ontario, Jill grew up your typical entrepreneur; she was the kid with the lemonade stand in the driveway, always wanted to play “store” and at one point when she was 7 or 8 was going to build her empire via rug hooking. She also began to dabble in soaps and bath salts at a young age, fascinated by how the ingredients would come together to make a certain product.
What do you get when you cross a young fashionista with the business sense of her mother and the creative genius of her grandmother? You get Daneka Sharpe the 14 year old owner of Morning Star Couture.
She is assisted by her mother, Anne Sharpe, a sales rep for a beauty supplies company, who helps with the business, and her grandmother, Beverly Boulter, who brainstorms ideas with Daneka then hand writes every saying. A dollar from every piece of clothing sold goes to the IWK.
“I knew when I started doing this that I wanted to give back to the community,” Daneka explained.
Both the Hammonds Plains and Parrsboro locations will be chock-a-block full of mom-centered gifts so stop in and we can tell you more about the people behind the brands.
The bandit that steals your best night’s sleep has been apprehended at 1421 Hammonds Plains Road
The original crime was brought to our attention by the Cumberland Perfect Sleep Company. As weary-eyed customers flocked into the Sweet Brier Hammonds Plains location to grab their pillows we began to recognize the impact of the crime. After selling over 200 of the soft, bamboo covered, buckwheat filled dreamcatchers since November 2014 we decided to investigate other products that could aid a good night’s sleep.
We have learned that the crime does not seem to have a specific target audience. We have talked to everyone from retired folks to parents of young children to overworked professionals to people suffering from neck or back problems. Our questioning has led to a better understanding about sleep quality and how essential it is to people’s health and wellness. So many of our customers have shared their stories of sleepless nights, sore necks, headaches in the morning and generally not feeling rested. We had no idea how impactful our decision to carry the Cumberland Perfect Sleep products would be for our customers.
So it had us thinking. What else can we do to help our customers experience a peaceful nights sleep? We pulled together our resources and we have a few suggestions that complement the awesomeness of the Cumberland pillows.
Like our soft, relaxing sleep masks handmade by April Cornell. Not only will they darken the room to create a peaceful environment but it is a business with a purpose. Proceeds from each sale support the Giving World Foundation to help those who need a hand up not a hand out in rural India. There is a lot of evidence to support that giving to others is a lasting form of stress relief.
An age-old remedy is a nice hot bath before hitting the hay. You can feel the relaxing warmth of the water and we have a few natural products that will make it an even more pleasant experience. Barefoot Venus Mango Butter Bath Bliss is one that is carried in the shop. And, yes it is as yummy as it sounds. Sourced from Kelowna, BC these products are sinfully wonderful.
Pearl & Daisy is a natural soap company located in Londonderry, NS. For a soothing soak add a generous amount of the Lime and Basil scented Beach Glass to the tub. The product is made with 100% natural sea salts and minerals. It is guaranteed to have you in dreamland in no time.
A medicinal cup of tea is often prescribed before bedtime. We are fortunate to be carrying a holistic line of herbal teas from Sackville, NS. The organic Sleep-Ease BueTEAful premium tea was created to calm and soothe the nervous system and when taken before bed it helps to promote peaceful dreams.
Creating a good cup of tea can be a bit of a chemistry experiment to get it right so our friends at Grosche have designed brewers that make it easy. Their products are practical, durable, and attractive. The Valencia Brewer was specially designed for gourmet loose teas and the smaller Aspen version creates that one perfect cup made just for you. The company with a heart gives five days of clean drinking water for people in need from each sale of their products.
Our customers have told us that sometimes sleep eludes them when they have so much on their mind that they just can’t seem to shut off at the end of the day. A recent introduction of adult colouring books in the retail market may be just the fix. We have a few versions in the store to choose from to help quiet a busy mind. Get those crayons and markers out and tune out the world.
Hurry in to take advantage of the most recent shipment of Cumberland pillows that just arrived April 1st and grab your personalized snooze pack!
Those post sun-vacation feelings can continue with a smash of Spring colour. Coral is a great transition colour to chase away those blues (although a lovely turquoise works too)!
New styles are arriving daily from great Canadian fashion suppliers like Red Coral and other easy-to-wear designs.
Red Coral first opened for business nearly 30 years ago. It began as (and remains to this day) a family owned business, based out of the town of St. Jacobs, Ontario.
Today, Red Coral continues to work hard to bring a world of fabulous fashions and accessories to your neighbourhood. Our distinct style means that Red Coral appeals to all women, no matter her age or size.
We love supporting Canadian labels and we are pleased to be carrying many locally sourced fashion and accessory lines.
Invest ethically with a Pixie Mood purse made with vegan materials and guaranteed to be cruelty-free. The choices include a variety of wallets and evening clutches that convert to cross straps and the very popular backpack style for those hands-free adventures.
Top it all off with a something interesting at the neckline. These three artisan jewelry designers promise a unique piece that no one else will be wearing at the party.
Orchard Designs are created by an artist living in the beautiful Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. The kiln-formed glass appears to have more than one color at the same time, especially when viewed from different angles. This reflective phenomenon is also why you see swirling rainbow patterns in a soap bubble, floating colors from oil on water and the dramatic colors of dragonfly wings. Mysterious and eye-catching!
Nova Scotian’s are proud of our Maritime history and Aflame Creations has captured that pride in her work. Designing from her Halifax studio, Megan Archer melts coloured glass powders onto copper using a kiln method. This results in an unique piece each time and the colours are outstanding.
The sea glass was handpicked by the artist Jason Ballet off the beaches of Newfoundland. It is weathered by nature and presented in this necklace with a sand dollar charm. The Seaglass Delights line offers a touch of the ocean wrapped in an elegant conversation piece.
Your retail therapy awaits you – if you haven’t stopped into the Hammonds Plains location we would love to see you. This is where #ChicHappens.
Stay tuned for the re-opening of the Parrsboro boutique in late April.
We thought the best way to feature our exciting brands is to show them in action. Our “brand ambassadors” will be putting some of our products to the test. Wearing. Tasting. Smelling. Playing. Experiencing the brands and sharing those moments with us.
Inner Fire is an ethical brand we are proud to support. They create yoga apparel that honours our mother earth. The leggings are locally made from recycled water bottles and are BPA free. Each garment is sweatshop-free and is made in North America (Vancouver to be exact!)
Oonagh Proudfoot and Marki Wong will be wearing the Inner Fire Leggings. Two active women who are thrilled to be adding a pair of these Canadian made beauties to their wardrobes. Follow along on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds as we show them in action. Dancing. Flailing. Walking. Posing. Exploring. Their. Inner Fire.
Oonagh is a single mom of two teen boys living in Wolfville. She chose the Flora Capri style to test drive during her walks with her puppy Cooper and they may even make an appearance while she is teaching her Physical Active Living class at Acadia University.
In the warmth of the Indian sun, a traditional block printer is at work creating a piece of art. The printer dips the wooden block into the dye then presses it onto the fabric. Just the right amount of pressure is applied to create a beautiful gradient effect. Working in harmony with the tools and fabric, the master artist’s vision comes to life.
With hues of navy, purple and fuchsia, these pretty block-print inspired leggings are sure to add just enough colour and pattern to your wardrobe!
Whether hiking in the Cape Breton Highlands or doing yoga poses on her dirt bike Marki will certainly put her Dusk Capri leggings through a workout. We can expect to see the leggings in many natural settings since Marki enjoys being outside more than inside.
Inner Fire describes the Dusk style as:
That special time of the day when the veil to the spirit world is the thinnest. This is when the magic happens!
We have many more styles and colours in the Hammonds Plains Sweet Brier location. Bring out your “inner fire” this Spring.
Sometimes a product is just so popular it is hard to keep it in stock. This is the (pillow) case with the Cumberland Sleep Company’s buckwheat pillows. We are thrilled to be carrying this local product and we are taking names and filling orders even if our stock is low so let us know if you are looking for one – buy two and receive the lumbar support pillow for free!
Our Buckwheat Hull Pillows are filled with the finest quality buckwheat hulls, grown right here in the Atlantic Provinces, and manufactured next to the famous Joggins Fossil Cliffs, Nova Scotia. Buckwheat hull Pillows have been prescribed by health professionals for centuries for relief of pain and discomfort associated with a poor quality rest due to spinal mis-alignment. Buckwheat Hull Pillows the most anatomically correct support for the head and neck available. Period.
A customer commented that she had been using a buckwheat pillow for 20 years but it had worn out. She had not had a good night sleep in weeks so she was relieved to learn she could purchase a new one close to home. She commented that the bamboo cover and larger size made it even better than her former tried and true sleep companion.
It makes our day to make your day and a good night sleep is a wonderful thing.
Recently a group of friends visited the Sweet Brier Hammonds Plains location. After a yummy lunch at nearby Edible Matters, the group dropped in for some retail therapy.
The house was familiar to Holly, one of the women in the group, and she described her experience during her time in the shop.
“It was like treasure hunting but it also felt homey, like you were trying on things from your sister’s closet who has really cool upscale stuff. There’s something for everyone and it’s like an adventure”.
She went on the describe how it felt to move around the family home and her encounters with other people who were in the store.
“I always remember that house. I would see it every day from the school bus window. It did feel very home-like and comfortable. When I was there I met an old colleague, a lovely woman who now lives in the area. I also met a stranger who ended up being related to me. I told her about our shared, and very interesting heritage. It was more than an adventure. It was like there was a strange (in a good way) “connectedness” there. I can’t explain it”.
The close encounters happen often in the homey spaces in the Sweet Brier Boutiques. Stop into the Hammonds Plains location to discover you own “connected” experience.
Part-Time Sales Associate (June – September 2016) Parrsboro, NS
Sweet Brier Boutique Parrsboro is searching for a part-time sales associate to join our team during the height of tourist season!
The ideal candidate will have previous retail sales experience along with a proven ability to create a strong, professional and engaging on-line presence via Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels.
You are outgoing, respectful, and take initiative. You are flexible and open to work evenings and weekends to ensure the Boutique is accessible to tourists and visitors. You work well with other team members and demonstrate a warm and gentle manner when engaging with customers and your teammates.
Salary: Minimum Wage
To apply, please send a letter outlining your previous retail experience, educational background, number of Instagram and Twitter followers, and the reason why you would like to join the Sweet Brier team to email@example.com. Interviews will be held in April in Parrsboro. Thank you!
When you work in a store that is set in a home built in the late 1800s, you hear all sorts of stories about its history and the people who lived there. It’s magical and fun as they remember their families and traditions and even where the Christmas tree once stood.
On this one evening I heard the sleigh bell ring — it hangs on the front door of the shop — and a woman entered alone. She stopped and stared at the Christmas tree in the front room. I said hello and invited her in to look around. ‘Any questions just let me know,’ I smiled. She continued to quietly take in the store’s many antique displays … china cabinets, a makeup table, old dressers. “My grandmother used to have all of these in her home. I loved them,” she said. “Where are they now?” I asked.”It’s a long story,” she says.
The woman chooses some items and approaches the cash register. As I wrap her items I ask if she has any special plans for the holidays. “I don’t really celebrate Christmas anymore,” she says. I stop. And for the first time I see her eyes. They are haunted. Sad. “I haven’t seen my kids for a year and a half. There was a divorce. I lost everything.”
There were no words. She talked some more about her family and how she would spend the holidays. I gave her a hug and she left as quietly as she came in.
I have thought about her every day since.
It’s a busy time of year with only a few days left ’til the magic of Christmas Eve and Day descend upon us. In all the hustle and bustle I invite you to pause for just a bit and listen. It may be the greatest gift you can give.
There is this house on Hammonds Plains Road in the burbs of Halifax, Nova Scotia, owned by Cathy and Dan Oulton, that has caught my eye for the 15 plus years we have lived in Hammonds Plains. It’s old. Really old. It’s the kind of house that makes you think it has many stories to tell.
Now the house at 1421 Hammonds Plains Road, has another story to tell. On November 1, Sweet Brier Boutique II moved in. Her friends and family helped. Jim and Donna, Dana and Stephen, Cheryl and John, Danny, Matthew, Sarah and Lindsay helped carry, paint, hang, decorate and unpack. Ashley, Colleen, Crystal and Lisa got her organized. Then the second shift arrived with Charlotte, Mary Kate, Debbie and Matt.
A bit of a fashion hound, Sweet Brier arrived with clothing from Canada, the US and Italy along with jewelry and scarves to fill more than a few closets.
She believes in the power of entrepreneurship to realize your destiny.
So she invited more than 20 artists and artisans into her new home. 95% are women and she loves that. There are soaps, knitted creations, mittens made of treasured sweaters, handcrafted cheese boards, jewelry, dog shampoo and treats, maple syrup, old fashioned sweets, handcrafted cards, journals and candles. There are authors and artists. You’ll get to meet them. Their stories are inspiring.
A believer in community, Sweet Brier Boutique II opened her home to friends, family and neighbours on December 5. It was a wonderful day filled with laughter, tears and stories. A family arrived who once lived in the house and were moved to tears to see it decorated for Christmas once again. ‘You have no idea what it means to be able to come home for Christmas.’
Well maybe we do. Sweet Brier Boutique is blessed to have two homes now. Just in time for Christmas. Come visit and bring a story or two. She’d love that:)
Footnote: Since we posted this blog we had a lovely message from the family who grew up in this home … two sisters, Jill Haverstock and Holly. Here is what they wrote:
My sister and I have been “going home for Christmas” in our imaginations for several years now. To be able to open that same old front door and step into our childhood home which you have so lovingly created into a boutique was simply amazing. I loved every minute of it. Imagine, I even tried on one of your beautiful made in Italy sweaters in my sister’s old bedroom. Heather, I love your vision and your handbags, art, jewelry, soaps and so much more especially since you wrapped them up with the joy and love of Christmas, new and old. From our family to yours, Merry Christmas…from sisters Jill and Holly (ps, I did buy the italian sweater plus a gorgeous handmade wreath – love!)
I’ve had the same body type since I was about 14; average bust, smaller than average waist and larger than average hips, thighs and derriere. I would say I’m somewhere in between an hourglass and a pear shaped figure. Let me also say before I continue that over the years I have grown to love my body, and nothing written below is meant to be insulting towards my figure, it’s just realistic.
My biggest issue is not with my body itself, but with the fact that I have always loved clothing styles that are made for someone with a “boyish” or “petite” figure. I know the general rule for buying women’s dresses with my proportions–go with a fit and flare. The tight waist accentuates my smallest curve while the full skirt hides and minimized my fuller “bottom area.” So almost every dress I own is that style, and that’s perfectly fine–except sometimes I long for something different: a pencil dress. I’ve always admired the classy and classic silhouette. I cannot even count the number of pencil dresses I have tried on in the past 20 years, but I can tell you the results were always the same. If it fit my bottom half, the waist of the dress was baggy around my torso creating a saggy, floppy looking top half. If it fit my waist and bust, it’s a guarantee that it would be straining and pulling inappropriately around the bottom, which would undoubtedly end up in a split seam or some other wardrobe malfunction.
When I began working at Sweet Brier Boutique in Parrsboro, I immediately admired Manager Ashley Ellis, who is very petite and athletic, in a blue polka dotted Emily and Fin pencil dress. I gushed compliments on how perfectly it fit her tiny frame. When it came time to take my employee photo, she asked if I’d like to try it on. I laughed at her foolishness, told her I’d never get my thighs into a dress that looked like it was tailored for her, and grabbed a black and white fit and flare from the rack. The fit and flare looked great, as I knew it would and I shelved any thought about trying to squeeze myself into that exquisite pencil dress I’d admired so much. I looked longingly at it whenever I passed the Emily and Fin rack, and when there was only one dress in my size left, one evening after my last customer left and the door was locked, I took it back to the dressing room–just to see. I fully expected to leave feeling disappointed and dejected. Have you ever read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? It’s a teen novel about four friends with completely different body types who wear the same pair of jeans and magically all look fantastic in them.
Well, when I looked in the mirror I was certain that whoever made those jeans must have made this dress as well, because the same dress that looked so amazing on my petite coworker also made me feel like a knockout.
Once the shock and delight wore off, I took a closer look at the dress and realized it wasn’t some sort of sorcery that was making this dress so divine, it was good old fashioned quality craftsmanship.
Both the lining and the dress were made from a high quality cotton and each stitch and seam was sewn with care and attention to detail. The modern, timeless style did not pull or strain–it held my curves in a strong and stable fit that was nothing but flattering from all angles. The pockets were an added bonus! Not that I will be giving up my fit and flares–they suit my body type and will always be a fashion staple for me. But after 20 years of looking for the cloth equivalent to the love of my life, I finally found it in the blue polka dot Robyn Dress, thanks to Emily and Fin.
I am always watching for items to display at the Sweet Brier Boutique or to creatively up-cycle. I admit it is one of my vices! On this day I am picking up a vintage mirror from a gentleman in Parrsboro who has chosen to ‘simplify’ his life and sell many of the items he and his wife Sally acquired over the years.
But as can happen in a small community this was to be much more than a ‘pick up.’
Ron Levy greets me with an invitation to sit in his living room and catch up. He points to some of the beautiful treasures he is selling. His father built the wooden plant stands — solid wood from Lunenburg where he grew up. His wife Sally was a quilter and her quilt racks are over there. She collected those angels too … until her death three years ago.
I have known Ron much of my life. He worked with my father. He is a well-known real estate agent in the community. And I know his children. But what I didn’t know is what brought him to Parrsboro 47 years ago.Ron tells me a story I had never heard before.
He and Sally were living in Ontario. They wanted to move east and had the opportunity to go to other locations including Prince Edward Island. But it was the promise of tidal power that brought them to Parrsboro. ‘There was so much hope and opportunity,’ he says. My jaw drops. Forty-seven years ago?
I ask him what needs to happen to make tidal power more than a hope and a dream. He is firm. “It needs a dedicated team working on it. We need to be proactive. It can be done,” he says.
He reminisces about the days when he and my dad helped bring the hospital to Parrsboro and started Parrsboro Industrial Commission with help from others of course. Volunteering. Community. Action.
“My father would always say: ‘When you make your living in a community, then you need to give back to that community.’ And that’s why I’ve been involved in our town for so many years.”
It’s this spirit of giving back that has Ron volunteering as Captain of a Relay for Life Team called Ground Breakers 2 – Growing the Seeds of Hope. For this year’s project, close to 1,000 books (yes they’re Ron’s) will be for sale in his garage at 96 Jenks Avenue in Parrsboro this Saturday, August 1, between 9 am and 12:30 pm. ALL sales to to the Cancer Society.
After a little tour of his home, Ron shows me the mirror I had come to collect. “Open it,” he says. Inside I discover it’s a lovely jewelry case too … simply perfect for the Sweet Brier Boutique!
As I drive away, I ponder the stories and I think about a little town on the Bay of Fundy still filled with hope and possibility … ready for action.
I think most women have something that makes them feel self conscious when they look in the mirror. For me, it’s always been my dark under eye circles. I have tried everything to minimize their appearance, from more sleep to cucumber slices over my eyes, but the only thing that seems to work is make up. And not just any make up, it has to be high quality otherwise it’s like putting a Band-Aid on a gun shot wound–still very noticeable.
So imagine my delight when Sweet Brier Boutique started carrying da lish Cosmetics. I’d heard of da lish before. A Canadian company, da lish used natural products full of antioxidants such as shea butter and sunflower seed oil, so your skin benefits from long term use of the products. In fact, their products are 75-85% natural–afar cry from some brands which use only 10% natural ingredients.
But one of the lines on the da lish website is, “Foundations that help perfect and even out your complexion without the makeup mask.” I was pretty sure, in order to make any progress in hiding my circles, that I actually needed a mask. But to my delight, when I tried it out, I found out that I didn’t! The da lish line minimized the circles and provided a clean, natural look for the day.
What’s your biggest beauty worry? Leave me a comment and I will try my best to help you find a solution!