Jillian Harris. Talk about a name drop. But you probably wouldn’t believe us if we told you she was the name scribbled at the top of our goals list when we daydreamed about where to take our business - because we're still in disbelief. Our story is one of believing in the power of manifestation, good wine, and sisterhood… And we hope it can inspire and empower you to dream big.
Prairie Beach House is our story - and it’s a great story. It’s the tale of two tired moms/sisters who’d been in the trenches of grief and self-doubt for far too long. You see, we were desperately seeking something to call our own - something that fuelled our fire. We’d always dreamed of owning a chic beach boutique full of coastal-inspired decor - you know, the quaint shops you find on vacation where you spend waaaay too much money because you’re enthralled with that feel-good moment.
But reality was (and is) leases in Alberta come at a premium, and while that dream will never die, we needed a baby step. That step was still a giant leap for us, but it led to Prairie Beach House - an online home decor and styling boutique.
We had some early success with the sweet beginnings of our little company. We sold some cute pillows, jewellery, scarves, and the sort - all while offering PBH design services. We always felt we didn’t need to conform to one niche - and we fought against that every day. We had friends and marketing professionals tell us we were unfocused (because who can possibly do home design AND lifestyle?) Every day, we showed up as authentically as possible, consistent with our branding, marketing, and presence. But, still, we had moments of doubt… Are we being true to ourselves, to our company? Are we empowering women to take risks? But we didn't give up. We needed to do more.
Now, this is when the fork in the road happened. It’s that moment you hear about, but wonder whether you’ll really see it when it’s in front of you. It’s was a shiny, big, lightbulb moment we couldn't escape - WOMAN UP.
The moment we heard it, we felt in our bones a collective “eff yeah” we couldn’t shake. To us, WOMAN UP was the epitome of carving your own path and changing the narrative. It was everything we stood for. After all, women empower women - we’ve seen it time and again, and we'd certainly been on the receiving end of that support. We believed so whole-heartedly in those two words, that we immediately applied for an apparel and accessories trademark and branded our own line of clothing. Little did we know, that phrase would change the future of Prairie Beach House.
We can vividly remember the days of struggling at 200 Instagram followers and wondering “what are we doing wrong”. They were long, frustrating days. Our WOMAN UP apparel was getting noticed, but they were small gains. We kept telling ourselves “this takes time,” and tried to give in to due process.
Here’s where manifestation really started to show itself. We don’t know what (some cosmic sh!t or something) led us to Lisa Webb (@canadianexpatmom). We can’t explain it, but our connection to her was immediate. Probably because she has that effect on people. But also because, somehow, she was meant to cross paths with our souls and PBH.
It turns out Lisa was in the midst of taking the country by storm with Wine, Women, & Well-Being - a social networking community for women. We were immediately drawn to her charisma, authenticity, and kindness… But little did we know she would be the catalyst for our business’ biggest breakthrough.
A few months after connecting with Lisa and her tribe, she announced a massive event: Taking Risks with JILLIAN HARRIS (insert massive gasp right here). Was this this for real? This incredible woman we had been talking with nearly daily was HOSTING an event featuring Jillian Harris?
We, along with our dearest friends, scooped up tickets for the event, went out on a limb, and (ahem) begged Lisa for any opportunity to be part of the event - fan-girling like tweens about to meet Billie Eilish. We road-tripped to Calgary with our amazing girlfriends to take-in this full-circle moment of attending a Jillian Harris event. Little did we know, that night would change our perspective and our business in ways we never knew possible.
You see, we like to think we are risk-takers, even change-makers. But that night, we realized we like to play it safe. Maybe it’s the way we were raised, or just our nature, but that night, we got seriously schooled in taking risks. The event was ending, Jillian Harris had retreated to the VIP room where a line-up of special guests was waiting for photo ops. The venue was clearing out, but at a table near us was Melissa Pasutto. Melissa was and is Lisa Webb’s greatest mentor, and in case you aren’t aware - she’s also Jillian’s soon-to-be mother-in-law (see how that manifestation thing works?).
After some not-so-gentle coaxing from our besties, we approached Melissa, who was so absolutely lovely. She remarked how she recognized us from Instagram (we thought that couldn’t be possible, but we tried to play it cool) and we made small talk for a while. Then she pointed at the edge of a round table and remarked, “You’re here, but you need to be here” moving her finger completely off the table to space between us. We needed to stop holding on to the edge, take a leap, take a risk.
“Where’s your product?” Melissa said. We looked at each other dumb-founded. We didn’t bring our product to an event we weren’t sponsoring - simply because we didn’t want to step on toes. Melissa was agape, “How could you come here tonight and not bring your products? Go get your stuff because you’re going to VIP to meet Jill.”
As sisters, we stammered. We locked eyes with each other (sister code for GET THE FREAKING SHIRTS) and Laura Ubered at mock speed to the hotel for our just-in-case-we-get-a-chance package. In minutes, we were face-to-face with the woman who inspired us to take risks and do what we love.
That VIP room was a flurry of WOMAN UP t-shirts, wine, and women. Our excitement was palpable, but Jillian was unabashedly herself, throwing on OUR t-shirt and posing for photos. It felt like a dream sequence. She was kind, funny, down-to-Earth, and real. As corny as that sounds, it was a full-circle moment that felt, and still feels, surreal. The design maven we had long idolized, was eating popcorn and wearing our brand.
We left that night, feeling like nothing could top that high. The following day, we returned home and got together to celebrate. We made a pact when we started our company, that the day Jillian Harris follows us, we stop everything, crack a bottle of wine, and celebrate. Well, since that night, we’ve been on the fortunate receiving end of so much love from Jillian, JH The Brand, and her tribe of amazing women - let's just say we've cracked a few bottles.
Never in our wildest dreams could we imagine we’d be recipients of the so-called Jilly-Effect (sweet mentions on her social media that equal huge sales for little businesses like ours). She has been a gift. It’s a humbling reminder of the power we hold as women - the ability to lift each other up and encourage each other to step outside of our comfort zones, take risks, and dream big.
Dear friends, the journey is long and tough. We have new goals and dreams. But, we promise, if you’re true to yourself, and if you take the risks, the rewards will find you. We are the proud new directors of Wine, Women, Well-Being Edmonton, and we continue to grow our home styling business, in addition to our lifestyle brand, and influencer marketing. Yes, you CAN do it all. WOMAN UP.