Aja Horsley, owner of Drizzle in Calgary
Aja Horsley, owner of Drizzle, fulfilled an unmet need in the market for genuinely bee-friendly products. Her business took off but was grounded when Alberta enforced social distance measures. With her retail revenue severely impacted, she diversified her sales model to reach new customers and inadvertently discovered more opportunities.
“The online marketplace has taken an enormous jump. This has changed our industry because typically we would rely on in-store sales, but now we have to try to bring people to our website to purchase.” – Aja Horsley, owner of Drizzle.
There’s nothing sweeter than discovering a product offering that’s good for you and the environment. That’s why Aja Horsley founded Drizzle, a company that sells completely raw, bee-friendly honey filled with superfoods. It all started when she was an urban agriculture researcher in Calgary who led sustainable rooftop beekeeping projects for culinary honey. Once she mastered the process and surveyed the market, she realized there was an opportunity to sell top-notch honey exclusively made by Canadian beekeepers. Beyond the market, she believed she could bring innovation, female leadership, and a millennial spin to this old-school industry.
After a lot of hard work, long nights, and an investment from Dragons’ Den Investor Arlene Dickinson, Drizzle found success. Its products were being sold in retail stores across Canada and then COVID-19 struck. Retail was upended and Horsley was forced to adjust her business model to be more competitive. Instead of relying solely on in-store sales, she adopted multiple online sales channels and began to sell bulk product to food services. “This experience has taught us that we need to be flexible with our business model, and not rely too much on one sales channel.” The online expansion has opened up entirely new markets for Drizzle that Horsley didn’t expect to have an interest in her pro-health honey.
With so much at stake right now, Canadian consumers are increasingly opting for environmentally friendly homegrown products. This trend has been a boon for companies like Drizzle. Horsley says, “I am so proud of how consumers have changed the way they spend their money in support of small business. Instead of buying huge brands, they are looking to purchase from smaller companies, and always looking to spend on Canadian made product.”
Horsley set out to shift the honey industry, but never thought she’d have to shift her business model so drastically. Looking to the future, she knows it’ll probably happen again. “This won’t be the last time your business has to face adversity or go through a time when sales are unpredictable. Persevere, be flexible and try to take things one day at a time.”
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