We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Bakker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs. Some made a point to make a career out of it, some did it to bring in extra income or to express themselves creatively. My maternal grandmother was a seamstress and I spent much of my childhood in her sewing room. My paternal grandfather kept bees and I liked to watch him make honey. My mother and aunt started their own bridal shop and successfully ran it for two decades.
I started collecting succulents in earnest after my son was born. Our house soon became overrun with plants and grow lights. Knowing I needed an outlet to express myself, my husband suggested I start brainstorming ideas to combine my new hobby with my creative talents. Having attended school for both graphic design and photography, I played around with the idea of designing with succulents and Leaf & Chick was born.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What is special about each product we create is that it is original art, with a succulent theme. The fabric is custom printed from my designs, the jewelry is handset with photography I take. It appeals not only to the succulent lover, but anyone who appreciates pretty things. Succulents are amazing and resilient and I have learned a lot from collecting and growing them. The varieties are vast and the textures and colours are brilliant. It is a never ending subject of limitless design possibilities. An important aspect of our brand values is limiting our environmental impact. This includes the packaging used for mailing and the process used for printing. It took extra time and effort in the planning process to secure local companies for specific packaging and printing that fit our brand values. Thankfully with effort, research, helpful connections and fellow entrepreneurs being willing to give helpful suggestions, anything is possible.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’ve lived in Burlington for the past 14 years. I grew up an hour south in the town of Ingersoll. There are so many great places between here and there. Burlington has fantastic restaurants to eat at. I’d take them downtown to Paradiso, enjoy some gnocchi and wine, and then visit the waterfront and walk it off. The Royal Botanical Gardens is near to us. It would be a great spot to take a visiting friend and enjoy an afternoon tea. Then, I think a tour of the many plant nurseries from here to Niagara would be on the agenda.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I knew what direction I wanted to take Leaf & Chick. Although I spent much of my childhood in a sewing room, I hadn’t paid attention beyond the basics. My younger sister however, attended school for fashion design. My mother and aunt, having owned their own bridal shop, are talented seamstresses in their own right. I knew I would need their expertise to take my designs and fashion them into the products I had envisioned. My sister Emily agreed to jump on board and we work closely on each pattern idea. Leaf & Chick is more than just sewn items, but they are the basis of the offerings and the foundation of the business.
My husband Aaron deserves kudos for being the supportive backer to pursue what makes me happy.