Amanda Bruce and her three business partners are promoting local entrepreneurs and businesses through their gift-giving business Wheat Queens and Prairie Things.
“I realized the importance of supporting local after taking a university class about globalization, it really opened my eyes,” said owner/operator Amanda Bruce.
“We used to trade local goods that we made with our own hands,” said Bruce. “Now factory work has allowed the Amazons, Walmarts and Costcos of the world to use their money for cheap labour, cheap product costs, selling for a cheap margin, while making a considerable profit. It leaves passionate local businesses at a real disadvantage and it inspired me to want to help.”
Wheat Queens sells locally sourced items individually or they combine a variety of items from different businesses in curated wooden crates. Bruce and her business partners Erin Kendal, Danielle Geiger and Aase Marie create and pack the crates themselves.
Bruce’s business became a reality after she lost her job at The Mosaic Company in November due to cutbacks and relocation of her job. Mosaic gave Bruce four months to find another job. In the meantime she earned a business license and started operating Wheat Queens from her home, launching its website Jan. 20.
Wheat Queens currently works with 30 local businesses in Saskatchewan who offer a range of handmade products including food, self-care products, jewelry, candles, pottery and infant items. Two breweries and one distillery have also partnered with Wheat Queens.
“Partnering with Wheat Queens has helped get my products in front of more people which has really helped my small business,” said Elizabeth MacDougall, the owner of Pickle & Bee Natural Products in Regina. “I particularly love when my products are a part of their curated themed crates.”
MacDougall started Pickle & Bee after surviving an aggressive form of breast cancer. After her doctor told her to be careful of the ingredients in her feminine and hygiene products, MacDougall started making her own natural eco-friendly products and she grew it into a business.
“It is important to us that our crates are locally sourced as well, so we partnered with Saskatchewan Abilities,” said Bruce.
Saskatchewan Abilities is an organization providing opportunities to individuals with disabilities. One aspect of the organization is working with construction companies doing small woodworking projects, which provide people with disabilities employment opportunities.
“We wanted to offer something similar giving Sask. Abilities the opportunity to make our crates,” said Bruce. “The partnership has been so excellent.”
This month Wheat Queens gave back to the community in honour of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. From March 4-10 Wheat Queens donated the profit from their jewelry sales to Dress For Success Regina. Dress For Success is an organization to empower women to achieve economic dependence by providing support, professional attire, and development tools to help women thrive in work and life.
“As the business grows, our goal is to also give back to the community in fresh and creative ways,” said Bruce.
“One idea that comes to mind is creating a school supplies crate with locally made items. Many teachers spend a lot of their own money making sure kids have everything they need to learn and we want to help relieve some of their stress.”