Although she was born and raised in Abbotsford the owner of Still North Design Co. does not hesitate to call Williams Lake home.
“I love Williams Lake,” said 30-year-old Courtney Vreeman. “It’s got that small town feel — lots of good close-knit community members.”
Williams Lake is a place where people know your name, and when you go into a grocery store, everybody knows everybody, she added.
After moving to the Cariboo in 2013 because of family, it did not take long before Vreeman was keen to start her own business while being a stay-at-home mom with her two young sons Cash and Charlie.
Under the name Creatively Courtney, Vreeman made wood signs and small craft items from her home.
During the 2017 wildfires she designed a #bcstrong T-shirt to raise funds for people who lost their homes. Through Facebook her business grew and within a couple of months she embarked on creating her own designs, something that drew a positive response.
She then ventured into putting her designs on clothing, which she describes as being for outdoor enthusiasts or people who like nature.
On Dec. 20, 2017 she opened a store on Broadway Avenue North and looking back said it was a good move and ‘life changing.’
About 90 per cent of the designs are created by Vreeman and the rest are made by request.
In the fall of 2019 Still North did a ‘support your local logger campaign’ with a T-shirt sale and raised enough money to donate to five families in need, followed up in January 2020 with a T-shirt and wildlife print fundraiser to aid fire-ravaged Australia that raised $13,400.
Vreeman and subsequently Still North Design has received several business excellence awards from the Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce. She won the home-based business category in 2017, the business won for greatest improvement category in 2018 and for production and manufacturing in 2019.
Today Still North Design items are sold across Canada in Below the Belt stores and in other small boutiques or clothing stores.
“We have definitely grown substantially,” she said, nothing a month ago she purchased a larger building on Barnard Street that will double the square footage she has right now. “We are at capacity where we are now. It’s been a great spot for us and really served us well, but we are kind of moving past that.”
The new space will be similar to the Broadway Avenue store, with a store front and retail section, but will have more privacy in the back for production.
Presently she has six people working for her.
Vreeman is expecting a baby girl the first week of June and said the pregnancy is going well so far.
Life will be busy with a growing family and a growing business, she added.
When she isn’t working she loves to fly fish with her partner Zack Nerbas. He was born and raised in Williams Lake and started taking her fishing a year ago.
“We go wherever we can — we do a lot of fly fishing and camping. My sons love it too,” Vreeman said.