29, Jan 2023
Handmade jewelry entrepreneur not only survives, but thrives

From opening her first store during the pandemic at Upper Canada Mall, Kimberly Harvey-Chase is now opening her third My Lil Gem location, with big plans for the future

In 2020, Kimberly Harvey-Chase opened her first handmade jewelry store, My Lil Gem, at Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket. In early 2022, she expanded and opened her second store at Barrie’s Georgian Mall.

Now, Harvey-Chase is excited to finally bring his business to his hometown of Bradford West Gwillimbury later this year with the third location opening at 18 Holland St. West.

“I’ve liked this spot in Bradford for years, I’ve wanted it since my son was a baby and he’s eight now,” she said. “It finally came available and because it was that specific location, I decided to nab it. I did a happy dance when it came available. It was really exciting.”

Harvey-Chase also runs events. She organized Bradford’s Spookfest, and plans to use this location as more than a store.

“It’s got separate little rooms so we thought it would be really cool to do artisans in there, as well as my stuff,” she said. “We want to do birthday parties where they can come in and make jewelry with us or make things with other local artisans. It’ll also be a hub for community events because we’re planning to do more than just Spookfest. I really want to be active in the downtown revitalization and get that to become a core area where people come for an experience.”

Harvey-Chase also runs York-Simcoe Events Group, a company that aims to bring businesses and communities together in a fun and unique way, and this third store will combine the two.

“It’s a collaboration of all the different types of things I’m involved in,” she explained. “We’re kind of mashing it all together into a brick-and-mortar location with my jewelry there and it’s being a place where people can sell seven days a week, as well as run events. It’s everything I do squished into one.”

The ability to open up a store in the community she lives in and be able to use it as a way to promote and support others is why Harvey-Chase said this new location was so thrilling.

“This is where we live, this is my community,” she said. “This is home and I’m very much a community person and I want to bring all of that into my business life.”

Opening up her first store during the height of the pandemic was difficult, but something Harvey-Chase knew she had to do to continue growing her business, and making it through the tough times made opening her third store even more special.

“I’m of the mindset that you go the opposite of what everyone else is thinking,” she said. “Once you get through the hard part, you end up finding the really big success.”

Going forward Harvey-Chase has big plans for expansion, including opening multiple locations each year.

“We want to open anywhere from two to four stores per year so that we become a brand,” he said. “The community-based store will be the demo to see if it works, but we know for sure we’ll be doing at least one My Lil Gem store. We want to get established in the southern Ontario area.”

Harvey-Chase makes all the jewelry himself, so when it comes to expansion, he has plans to incorporate those in the community who have an interest in making jewelry.

“I’m very much aware there’s only so many hours in the day,” she said. “We’ve gone to the model of hiring parents who want to make extra cash while working from home. That way we know it’s all been made in Ontario. I got started by making jewelry at home and I wanted to keep true to the original story.”

Those interested in getting involved with Harvey-Chase’s business can reach her by email at [email protected].

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