In December 2019, the ThriveNorth program successfully completed its five-year mandate. Managed by Futurpreneur Canada, the program helped young entrepreneurs in Northern B.C. launch and grow their businesses by connecting them with resources, financing and mentorship.
Nathan Gifford was 15 when he got his first hive. From that point onward, he was hooked on harvesting honey.
“That was when I knew this was my business,” says Nathan. “But I never got it going until after high school.”
That was when he travelled to Australia to work as a beekeeper. When he returned to Canada, he knew it was time to turn his hobby into a full-fledged company.
To help get his business off the ground, he worked as a garage door technician while running his honey farm on the side.
While his days as a side hustling entrepreneur were tough, they paid off in spades. Today, his business is buzzing and he now works full-time as the owner of Cecil Lake Honey.
Located in the Fort St. John area of Northern BC, Cecil Lake Honey produces 100% pure honey, pollen and honey-based products like lip balm, skin cream, soap and candles.
“Our sales are from a few local stores that carry our product, as well as the farmers market and other craft sales,” says Nathan.
While his decision to start his business in Northern BC was due more to his family’s location than his own preference, the region turned out to be a great place to harvest honey.
“The Peace Region has a very strong and abundant honey yield,” explains Nathan, who adds that he can thank the area’s long summer days and vast fields for his flourishing honey farm.
He can also thank ThriveNorth for supporting his business’ development with resources, financing and mentorship.
“I know how to keep bees but business was never really taught to me,” says Nathan. He says that ThriveNorth was the first organization that helped him along his business journey.
“ThriveNorth has helped me get my business on track and is continuing to help [it grow] into a more structured and prosperous business,” says Nathan.
As a young entrepreneur, it can be tough to start a business when you feel like you don’t have all the tools or skills. However, Nathan is proof that if you have the passion and ambition, you can beat the odds and make your business dreams come true.
“My piece of advice to other young entrepreneurs would be to never stop learning to better yourself and the business you have created. No matter what your business is there will be trial and error. I have done this many times; I never took any business classes or schooling this was and still is my weakness so when I can learn about it, I jump right on it.”