Boreal Workshop is one of North Forge East’s success stories. They are a Manitoba family business that handcrafts jewellery informed by Indigenous and European cultures and traditions of art and craft, and our environment. They have lived and worked in diverse regions of Canada—from the Arctic to the Prairies—and the influences of cultures, traditions, and the beauty of the natural world are intrinsic to their art. In addition to jewellery and personal goods, Boreal Workshop produces artistic objects, vessels and containers suitable for personal and ceremonial use.
The owner of Boreal Workshop, Tanis Thomas, is a member of Ochekwi-Sipi Cree Nation (Fisher River), with Cree and Metis ancestors from the Interlake and Grand Beach regions of Manitoba. After moving to Pinawa in 2016, Thomas contacted North Forge East and has seen been an active member of the their Start Up program
“I worked with [North Forge East president] Shane Li to define my goals and he has provided timely and insightful suggestions relating to the business’ growth,” says Thomas. “Over the last two years I have successfully completed a construction project, secured funding to enhance operations, refined my business plan, reworked my business’ online presence to better utilize e-commerce, developed plans for business-to-business sales and partnerships, incorporated the company, and implemented a marketing plan to increase revenue. In addition, North Forge East provided access to legal and accounting services that my company required.”
North Forge East is helping Boreal Workshop prepare to transition to Shopify as a sales platform and web presence. Boreal Workshop has also recently reached a significant business milestone with the completion of a new workshop, giving the business a dedicated production space that will lower operating costs.
“Product development is a priority this year as target markets have been identified and manufacturing items to meet demands will increase revenue and secure new sales channels,” says Thomas. “By diversifying our product offerings to specific markets, Boreal Workshop will access multiple sources of revenue and refine production periods to match each market’s specific volume needs.”
The company has recently been approached by regional businesses that are interested in buying Boreal Workshop’s work and we are pursuing these leads for B2B sales and tourism/gift focused products. Thomas sees this as an opportunity for the business to give back to the community through opportunities.
“We hope to expand our market presence enough so increased production demands will allow us to expand operations and provide employment and training to people in our region,” says Thomas. “Being able to work and live in Eastern Manitoba while operating a manufacturing facility that supports and enhances the local and regional economies was not one of the goals when Boreal Workshop started up, but since beginning a relationship with North Forge East I am confident this will be the result.”