Still North Design Co. Courtney Vreeman and employees Heather Judd and Devon Elliott are busy trying to keep up with the growth of the local company. Angie Mindus photo

Still North Design Co. Courtney Vreeman and employees Heather Judd and Devon Elliott are busy trying to keep up with the growth of the local company. Angie Mindus photo

Williams Lake’s Still North Design Co. strikes a chord with Canadian consumers

Founder Courtney Vreeman is thrilled with business’s success

Still North Design Co. is a small business success story in Williams Lake that’s barely past its first chapter, and growing by the minute.

“It’s been a weird journey,” said Still North Design Co. founder, 29-year-old Courtney Vreeman, smiling and shaking her head in amazement as she presses one of her wildly popular designs on a hoodie in her retail shop on North Broadway Avenue. “It was a side hobby that turned good.”

Vreeman grew up in Abbotsford but always had a family connection in Williams Lake, and even attended school here for a few years in grades 3 and 4. As a high school graduate and young adult Vreeman moved to back to Cariboo in 2012 at age 22 to “try to small-town life.”

Vreeman worked in retail in the lakecity and met her partner, Clay Bremner, and the couple had two children together, Cache, 5, and Charlie, 4.

“I was a stay at home mom and I was bored so I decided to start a small business.”

READ MORE: New business brewing on Oliver Street

Vreeman launched a home-based crafting business in 2016 named Creatively Courtney, printing designs onto wine glasses and decorative boards, when customers started requesting designs on T-shirts.

Armed with just a vinyl printer and computer in her home, Vreeman was quickly becoming a self-taught designer when the 2017 wildfires hit. It was then that the community-minded Vreeman jumped into action, starting a local T-shirt fundraiser with the design #bcstrong that ended up raising $3,300 for a Williams Lake family and $1,000 for a Riske Creek family who lost their homes in the fires.

After that fundraiser was over, Vreeman found herself missing the process of clothing production and set about rebranding her business and giving it a completely new focus creating her own designs for a line of T-shirts and hoodies and a new name, Still North Design Co.

“I wanted to make what I wanted and not what others wanted me to make.”

Vreeman launched her new business in November of 2017 from her home and within 30 days sold enough product to be able to secure her 1,400-square-foot retail space along Highway 97 on the main corridor through Williams Lake.

Since then, Vreeman, working 16 to 17 hours per day, has grown her business to a staff of four women, is quickly outgrowing her retail space, has surpassed 50,000 likes on Facebook and is shipping her product literally across Canada and around the world.

Not only does Vreeman create her own designs, which are proving very popular with outdoor enthusiasts, she has also created her own website and Facebook page, manages all her own marketing and marketing strategies and finds models who fit her look and photographs them herself at outdoor locations in the Cariboo.

“It’s pretty surreal,” she said of Still North Design Co.’s growth, noting she can’t say exactly why people love her designs so much.

“I’m not sure to be honest – we live in such a beautiful part of B.C. – I just wanted designs that would speak to people who enjoy the beauty of the outdoors,” she said. “I [also] think people love to support local small business and that plays a big role into my journey.”

Customers — and big business — are definitely taking notice.

This summer Vreeman was contacted by Below the Belt and the company has already placed their second order for Still North Design Co. hoodies and T-shirts.

“They e-mailed me and I started to cry,” she said.

All told, Vreeman said her products are being sold in 36 businesses across Canada and they have customers stopping in at their Williams Lake store just to see it in person. She said she and her staff can hardly keep up with shipments.

“Everything is flying off the shelves. I can’t take anything more right now. We’re already pushed to the max.”

Vreeman and her staff print and hand-press each design onto their clothing and personally package and ship each order.

“Every single shirt gets handmade by us. That’s why our orders take a little longer.”

READ MORE: Celebrating small business in B.C.

Employee Heather Judd takes care of all the growing wholesale orders, while Devon Elliott tries to keep up with individual orders and retail demands.

“She’s just such an inspiration because she’s local and this never happens to someone you know,” Elliott said of Vreeman and her success. The close-knit staff all work together filling orders and sometimes watching Vreeman’s youngest Charlie in the store while his brother Cache is starting Kindergarten.

“It’s going to go crazy. I can see [Still North Design Co.] is going to go really far.”

Vreeman said she was always naturally drawn to the thought of one day owning her own business and working with staff, she just wasn’t sure what business that would be. As for a mentor, Vreeman said she draws inspiration from “a collection of people.”

“My grandfather was an entrepreneur – my dad is an entrepreneur. My sister-in-law and brother are local entrepreneurs and I am surrounded by friends who are, as well. When I look for inspiration I don’t have to look far.”

When asked about the key to her success, Vreeman said persistence and hard work.

“Don’t take no for an answer. Learn from your mistakes, and don’t quit.”

Now that she’s been successful in moving her business out of her home, Vreeman is dreaming of building her own warehouse which will consist of 80 per cent manufacturing and 20 per cent retail and storefront.

“I want to grow.”


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Still North Design Co. founder Courtney Vreeman is thrilled her business has now surpassed 50,000 Facebook likes, growing from 49, 561 to 51,084 likes in just seven days. Her new goal is 75,000 likes. Angie Mindus photo

Still North Design Co. founder Courtney Vreeman is thrilled her business has now surpassed 50,000 Facebook likes, growing from 49, 561 to 51,084 likes in just seven days. Her new goal is 75,000 likes. Angie Mindus photo

Just Posted

Joyce Cooper (left) said she had to set an example for Tsilhqot’in communities by sharing her COVID-19 positive results. (Photo submitted)
Tsideldel off-reserve member documents experience of COVID-19

We should all be supporting one another and not judging each other, says Joyce Cooper

Do you have a Roses and Raspberries? Email editor@wltribune.com. Angie Mindus photo
ROSE: Thanks to all for assistance after fall

Thank you to the staff who responded quickly and kindly

Do you have a Roses and Raspberries? Email editor@wltribune.com. Angie Mindus photo
ROSES AND RASPBERRIES: ‘Mistleroses’ for Santa-sized bags of gifts at Seniors Village

It was as wonderful as discovering unexpected gifts under a real tree!

Williams Lake and the Chilcotin is part of a community cluster declared by Interior Health Jan. 20, 2021. (Angie Mindus file photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
53 more COVID-19 cases linked to ‘social gatherings’ in Williams Lake: Interior Health

Cariboo Chilcotin schools have seen a surge in COVID-19 exposures

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Most Read