Starbuck’s Toni Dent views her business, Prairie Chi, as continually evolving.
She sells her handcrafted crystal and gemstone jewelry and natural beauty products through her website, at home parties and craft sales.
She established the business shortly after she, husband Calvin and their two sons moved from Winnipeg to Starbuck to realize their dream of country living. But she traces her passion for designing and making jewelry back to her wedding, when she created some unique items for her wedding party.
"I was pretty much self-taught," she said.
She specializes in using crystals and gemstones, that are thought to possess specific meanings and qualities, to match the wearer’s needs. For example, as well as being the birthstone for February, amethyst is purported to be a meditative and calming stone that’s beneficial for those suffering from headaches and insomnia.
Dent said she finds that a person often gravitates to the stone that best addresses their current physical and emotional conditions without their realizing it.
At home parties and craft sales, she encourages customers to choose with their hearts, not their heads.
"I encourage them to go with their gut feeling," she said.
She offers a wide variety of earrings, bracelets, necklaces and pendants on her website, but will fashion custom pieces.
"That’s my favourite part — to be able to custom design," she said.
With a degree in biology and biochemistry, Dent decided to add a line of beauty products made from natural ingredients. She carries Manitoba-made Pure Anada makeup and body products that are free of synthetic preservatives, dyes, fragrances and flavors. A variety of scented handmade soaps come from a supplier in Alberta.
Through experimenting, she developed a formula for an all-natural hair oil and 10 different bath salts that she sells under the Prairie Chi label.
"I wanted to expand Prairie Chi outside of the jewelry," she said.
When she was first setting up her business during a maternity leave, she estimates that she spent almost 10 hours a day on it. Now she works full-time in Winnipeg, but gives up some of her spare time to attend craft shows in Headingley, Starbuck and Winnipeg in addition to home parties.
She hopes to expand the home party aspect of her business, and offers incentives for anyone willing to host a party.
She is also excited about teaming up with Winnipeg spiritualist Julie Kennish-Thompson this fall, and offering tarot card reading and crystal sessions for groups upon request.
For a full list of Prairie Chi products, see www.prairiechi.com