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Gabrielle Krake
Founder and Owner, Bee Wise Goods
Boise, Idaho

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“Ultimately, history repeats itself over and over and I find that is what I am trying to instill in my own daughters is that flexibility and grace are a woman’s ultimate tool.”


Firstly, let me write… I have always been an entrepreneur, ALWAYS! As a small child I took my artwork to my mom and dad’s places of work and sold it to their coworkers (they bought not because the art was amazing or anything, but the people appreciated my verve) I had lemonade stands constantly, sold do-dads in front of our house, had yard sales etc. Then in my teens I had become a very proficient seamstress. I made most of my clothing and soon was doing it for friends or teaching them to sew. My mom had an outdoor outfitter company making custom clothing for dog mushers, and I soon found myself designing and making items for Iditarod mushers. My specialty was harnesses and dog booties for every condition of snow and ice. I made thousands upon thousands of them and had quite the living as a junior and senior in high school.

Once in college I floundered from biology to writing and from college sports to finally deciding that I was an artist at my core, so why fight it… I set out to get a BFA in sculpture. After finishing my four years, I was on my way to get a Masters in Industrial Design but let life sidetrack me with travel and a husband. It was the best distraction I could have ever been given!

Presently I own and operate Bee Wise Goods. In its infancy it was my own small company making and selling items of my invention through etsy, my website and several local boutiques and a few in California. The line grew to over 65 handmade items and the patterns of most of my original designs for the DIY customer as well. In 2010 my mom added her line of altered books to the mix and we decided to open a small shop featuring our own goods as well as over 30 other artisans and finders of cool stuff. It adjoins my other shop The Soda Works that offers over 200 small batch sodas in glass bottles. Our criteria for what we sell is that it contains 5 or less ingredients, sweetened naturally and has a nostalgic flair. Within the Soda Works we have a food co-op of about 50 families buying their groceries, personal care and nutritional supplements through a natural foods distributor. In the fall we will be opening a small bakery called Just Baked. My oldest daughter is spearheading this endeavor. We will offer rustic baked goods, drip coffee and tea.

What inspires you? What doesn’t? I’m definitely an overachiever and probably need to be uninspired sometimes. But I am drawn to the 40’s and 50’s in design, clothing, colors and the pace they lived. When conceiving a product I want it to have form and function.

Do you have a favorite quote? I have thousands for sure, but I love this one, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” GBS

What are the most pressing issues facing women today? As the mother of two young ladies and the daughter of one of the few women who broke the glass ceiling in her time, I feel that historically the issues are always the same. When my mother’s generation freed the next generation from certain constraints it only created another form of bondage. How I define this new bondage for my own generation X is that we were to take our mother’s hard societal changes and run with them to some unknowable end. My own mother was a teen parent who finished high school, put herself through college while working three jobs, all the while raising me alone. Once into to her career as an electrical designer, she moved to Alaska where she worked in “man” camps 2 weeks on and two weeks off. When at home she ran a small outfitter company that I helped with during high school. I had such a rich and educational home life but I saw the toll it took on my mother. When she was young all she wanted to be was a wife and mother, circumstances changed that desire and she did an incredible job turning the oil industry on its ear while raising me to be very inventive, industrious and well rounded. I came out of my teens knowing so deeply what I wanted and who I was going to be. I was stomping in my mother’s footsteps toward a feminist end that I really couldn’t see very clearly. As I worked all over N. America I wondered if anything had really changed. Women still made less money; I was overlooked for promotions in favor of male prospects. I was actually told by a VP (a woman, no less) that they were going to go with someone else because although I thought I wasn’t going to have children, she felt that I would change my mind at some point and then she would have find someone new to replace me while I was out on maternity leave. WHAT??!! Come on this is the 90‘s right? I thought we were past this. I believe the quote I typed, because I just keep creating myself and my dreams, goals and prospects. Ultimately, history repeats itself over and over and I find that is what I am trying to instill in my own daughters is that flexibility and grace are a woman’s ultimate tool. Flexibility in the way we learn, how we problem solve and how we debate with society about it. Grace in how we treat one another, if we have walked a few steps in our oppositions shoes and although nothing is ever fair, we always have the choice to see every circumstance with perspective.

What are the biggest keys to your success? Mistakes, lots of mistakes! My oldest teenager was melting down the other night about not being prepared for life and how he could never live up to what I or my husband has accomplished and I had to stop and see how he saw things at that moment. When he had calmed down I reminded him that if you really looked at our lives or anyone else for that matter, that we have failed far more than not. This quote comes to mind. “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing” GBS or “There’s a way of playing safe, there’s a way of using tricks and there’s the way I like to play which is dangerously where you’re going to take a chance on making mistakes in order to create something you haven’t created before.” Dave Brubeck.

What are the biggest keys to the advancement or success of women? Honestly, I don’t know. The game is changing to rapidly, the stakes are so high and I don’t know if we are actually making a lot of progress. I am not usually a pessimist. I answered someone once when they asked me what type of person I was, I said, “I am an optimist, masked as a realist who really wants to be a pragmatist but deep down reigns as a romantic.” When I help creative people further their small businesses (those actually wanting to advance and own a successful business) I try to offer three insights (keys)

Are you a business person or a hobbyist? (even someone in the work force can be a hobbyist, they are bidding their time for some hidden desire, like marriage, children, another job that they think will fulfill them; I gently remind people that all of this is a state of mind and a way of life, there are no permanent changes that will make their lives perfect)

Do you have a clear view of what your business looks like today, next year etc? Is it brand-able, do you have marketing ideas, who is your competition? As your business changes or becomes stagnant do you have the clarity to see it rationally and be flexible with the change.

I believe that women will only advance successfully when we stop comparing, squabbling and move forward with integrity and a strong work ethic. I watched my mom work in a field where there was 1 in 5000 women to men, she advanced in triumph and also struggled in the trials of her field but she remained stalwart and also retained her joy as a woman. She chose after 20 years to leave her field and got into children’s ministry (big change) but everything she had learned and was taught as a women in the workforce translated into her new field. She continues to help women and share her perspective, some listen and some don’t but I believe that women can make the world a better place just by being exactly who they are and having the desire to serve (not doormat servitude) other women by exemplifying a strong gracious spirit.

Where did the inspiration for your business come from? Absolute necessity! In 2007 my health was compromised and I was told to rest for 6 months. During this time of inactivity I started a blog when I wasn’t sleeping. It was just a personal journal, really. But then I started doing crafty things again and thought I would blog about it. By 2008 my husband’s income had been reduced by almost 50% and our financial situation was terrifying. Inspiration struck. I grabbed a paper bag and the next 5 hours was designing and making myself some really cute grocery bags. As I was leaving, one of my best friends stopped by, she saw the bags and screamed, “Where did you get those???” She had just returned from So CAL where she bought an oil cloth lunch sack and she wanted my bags…etc.

I informed her I made them… the next 5 hours was convincing me to sell them and go into business. Nine days later our business was up and running, with orders from 5 boutiques (one in San Fran), a website and all the other details. It was crazy!!!! Simply a miracle.

Find a need and fill it…

If it were not for my two outgoing sales minded best friends it would have never left my blog. It would have been a craft that no one saw or commented on. They were the fire and fuel. To this day… my nature is to be the think tank but I have had to market my ideas much more aggressively to potential interest. I have to say it’s credited to my lifelong desire to live outside of any parameters or negativity. Don’t get me wrong when I see an idea that I was sure was my original effort already in a book or magazine, I get discouraged but I have to keep pushing because it’s what I would do whether I was making money or not.

Where is your product sold (if applicable)? Etsy, my website, YCMT, my own shop, Indie Made, Sesquishop.

What advice do you have for a woman who is considering starting a business? Read about business, talk to business people, join networking groups, but in the end you have to try to know if you are a business person, if you don’t give it a shot, you’ll always wonder. I have truly “failed” more than I have ever succeeded, I have lost a lot of money in my endeavors and I have never regretted any of it!

What are the biggest hurdles you have faced in starting or growing your business? How didyou overcome these? Money is usually the biggest obstacle; you have to have money to spend it and you have to spend it to make it and you have to make it to stay in business. I don’t know that I will ever overcome that obstacle since I try to do most of my efforts out of pocket. I have a small loan from META and have to make a monthly payment but I was raised in business and I’m indoctrinated to believe a low overhead is essential to staying in business. Therefore my budget is down to the penny. I keep extensive spreadsheets to track everything. Book keeping is daunting to most business people and it should be, because without doing the math part of business, your business will not last long. It’s one of the things I tell people considering business, “are you ready to do all the math parts of business, or do you have someone willing to do it for you?” It’s essential.

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