Deb Whitfield is an Elite+ Mompreneur member based out of London, Ontario. She is the Owner & Founder of Pretty Smart Inc., creating hypoallergenic, metal-free plastic post and invisible clip-on earrings that are handmade in Canada for metal sensitive and non-pierced ears, with modern, classic and fun earring designs for everyday to special occasions. We’re thrilled to share Deb’s Success Story!
What is your “WHY” behind your business/being an entrepreneur?
Pretty Smart was established in 2013 when I began crafting plastic post earrings for myself and my daughter as a solution to our metal sensitive ears. After many years of not being able to wear earrings without suffering a reaction to the nickel, we comfortably wear our plastic post earrings without irritation. My oldest daughter, who at that time had chosen not to pierce her ears, asked me to make the same earrings for her non-pierced ears. We had tried many clip-on earring designs, but they were always heavy and pinched her ears resulting in her not wearing them for more than a few minutes. I created my clip-on earring line using the most amazing clear ear wires that were light and gentle and my daughter said she could barely tell she had them on! I began selling my earrings on Etsy in 2013 and Handmade at Amazon in 2015 and created my own website in 2018. Now Pretty Smart earring styles from pearls and rhinestones to dangle earrings. They are now also sold in shops worldwide for metal sensitive or non-pierced ears.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Owning my own business is my life’s dream. I’ve owned a few other successful businesses that have brought me to this venture. I was raised by entrepreneurs and worked for several successful local business owners who gave me advice and guidance and inspired me to follow my dreams.
What’s the best part about owning your own business?
Creating a business that I look forward to every day. Knowing that it allows me to say “Yes” to spending time with my family has blessed me with the perfect work-life balance. I have been a successful entrepreneur since our first child was born in 2006 and I decided to pursue my dream of working from home. My girls would ask me when they were younger why I didn’t work outside the home. I’m proud to say that I chose to be with them as babies and toddlers and I continue to choose to be there for them every day. As they grow and our lives change being a business owner allows me to make choices to suit my family’s needs.
What impact did other people/experiences have on you, and how did they help you get to where you are in your business today?
I’ve been inspired by so many business owners. Working for several local family run businesses I was inspired by the owners that lead by example, who rolled up their sleeves and did what ever it took to get the job done. My biggest inspiration being the owner of Kingsmill’s Department store, Fred Kingsmill who was passionate about satisfying his customers to ensure the success of his store. Few people knew that he quietly worked longer and harder than everyone to provide charitable services to anyone in need free of charge. Mr. Kingsmill taught me that if you are helping someone and expecting something in return then you are doing business not kindness. He taught me that true good deeds need not to be talked about at all. He is one of the kindest most generous men I know. I feel not enough people know the true story of the man that inspired me to do more. He truly believes that the customer comes first and that a company with good values and integrity will endure.
I am grateful for the success of my business and love to give back, whether donating my time, money or earrings to a local charity. I teach my girls to give more than expected and to expect only the good feeling it will give you in return.
What values do you believe in and live by, and how do they shine through when it comes to your role as a business owner?
Integrity: I always try to do what I think is right and use my own strong moral principles when conducting business.
Kindness: I like to exceed expectations and I try to always be generous in everything I do.
Gratitude: I am grateful for all the opportunities that have been presented to Pretty Smart. I express my gratitude to those that have supported my business whenever I can. All it takes sometimes is a simple thank you for helping or telling someone how they have inspired me.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your business/being an entrepreneur?
I am proud to make beautiful earrings that customers love and can comfortably wear even with the most sensitive or non-pierced ears. I enjoy the feedback from women who haven’t worn earrings for many years and moms who have tried everything else in their child’s ears thanking me for making a product that is beautiful and the perfect solution to their problem.
What does the future look like for you and your business?
I am continuing to grow my Pretty Smart earring line to offer as many options as possible for metal sensitive and non-pierced ears. I look forward to exploring more opportunities to ensure my earrings are available in shops and growing a team that is excited to build my earring brand. As I head into my 7th year of business I am adding two more to my team this spring making it 7 of us working to create and ship Pretty Smart earrings.
Any tips for women thinking of starting a business?
You will work harder and longer hours in this entrepreneurial journey than any other job. People will say you have to really love what you are doing and have a passion for your business. This is true. However, I say you must also remember to be as equally passionate about your own health and wellbeing as well as your businesses. Also, business is about people. Honesty and integrity in business is a quality that most people will admire more than any other. Acknowledge and grow from your mistakes and always treat others with kindness and respect.