Throughout the pandemic, many people have found time to rediscover old hobbies or pick up new ones. For Sammi Brisebois and Maddy Hennessey, a newfound hobby has turned into their own small business. The two started making jewelry during the lockdowns and are now running their own Etsy store and even partnering with other Valley businesses.
About a year ago, Brisebois started making jewelry for fun. “I wanted rings for myself, and I saw that you could buy them online. But I thought I could make them, or at least try to.” She succeeded, and her friends encouraged her to sell what she made; soon, she started doing just that.
At the time, Brisebois and Hennessey were not living together, but occasionally they would get together and work on different orders. Once they moved in together, the amount of time they worked together grew. Hennessey says, “We talked about doing the business together, because we wanted it to grow a little more.” With plans to expand the variety of products, it made sense to expand the team.
Brisebois and Hennessey’s goal is to make items that are both of good quality and affordable. “Sometimes, when you look online to get affordable jewelry that you want to wear for everyday use, it can be quite expensive. We wanted to make something that’s more cost-friendly for everyone,” Hennessey says.
They sell rings and earrings, and necklaces are coming soon. Currently they are in the process of switching how they source their materials to a new online vendor and are trying to work with Canadian suppliers as much as possible.
Core values: support local
Supporting and encouraging Canadian and local businesses are core values for Sammi Grace Rings. “I love local businesses; my mom has had a small business practically my whole life, so it’s been embedded in me that we should be supporting local businesses as much as possible – especially in the past two years,” explains Brisebois.
Besides the direct impact on the local economy and people, Brisebois is also focused on the environmental side of shopping locally. As small businesses generally have a smaller carbon footprint than major corporations, she says, “Smaller-scale items are usually better for the environment, so that’s good for me as well.”
Recently, Sammi Grace Rings started a partnership with The Little White Buffalo, an online clothing store run by Valley resident Brianna Rember. Hennessey says, “I really like the style of [Rember’s] shop … She approached us with the idea, and we were more than happy.” Besides getting to work with another local business, the partnership is beneficial because “It gives us more exposure,” as Rember has almost 8000 “follows” on her shop’s account.
Brisebois adds that “We’re not working with anyone else right now. But we’re looking into selling our rings at a shop in Ormstown [Marché Artisanal d’Ormstown].” The two don’t have any plans to set up a storefront of their own, but the Etsy shop gives them a platform to market their jewelry to anyone online.
Half the profits
Along with working with other businesses, they are also hoping to support members of the community. Brisebois mentions that they have started dedicating different months to different charities or causes. At the end of the month, they donate half of their profits to that cause. “This isn’t our full-time job, so we don’t need the money. To do something good with it is always what I want to do,” she says.
Jewelry by Sammi Grace Rings can be found on online on the Facebook page, Instagram, and the Etsy shop. The talented pair is excited to continue to build this business and continue to expand.
Besides their jewelry, Brisebois and Hennessey work together as musicians; they met while studying music in college. Because of the pandemic, the last few years have made it difficult to perform live. The pair recently played their first performance of 2022. Hennessey says, “It’s been a little hard to play because everything shut down. But honestly, anything we can get to play [makes us] so happy.” After their first performance back, Brisebois says “It feels so great! Playing live is my passion and I missed it so much!”
The pair will be playing music together at the Ormstown Fair alongside Tyler MacDonell, Alex Holzgang, and Fred Chartrand Reid. Brisebois says you can expect “a lot of fun country songs.” Of course, the Ormstown Fair will also be featuring other local talent – such as Fieldstone Reverie, Sounds of the Valley, and Rachel Kapasi. Brisebois and Hennessey’s music account can be found on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube under the name Sammi Grace Music.