(Bee &) Key to Thrifting Success: Rebekah Thibeault
The idea of becoming a business owner always held a bit of romance for Rebekah Thibeault—romance, but no realism.
“I didn’t think I was smart enough,” she says. “And even though there were a million things happening in my brain, who was going to believe in me when a lot of my peers, teachers and so forth, didn’t?”
Rebekah lives with Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Irlen Syndrome, and even though everything told her she couldn’t be her own boss, that romance deep inside still drove her to try.
It was after leaving a career in the funeral industry that she decided to gamble on something she’d been passionate about since childhood: fashion.
More specifically: thrifting.
She found a business partner and set out to open a consignment boutique. After being rejected by the banks, she discovered Rise and applied to the Small Business Lending Program.
More than a loan, Rebekah got the support and mentorship to help her build a solid business plan and eventually launch Bee & Key Boutique.
“I think the people at Rise were the first people to actually believe in me,” Rebekah says. “They broke down so many business things that I didn’t think I could ever understand, and I got to join a community of people just like me, who were experiencing the same troubles.”
And there were troubles.
Within just a couple months of opening their doors, Rebekah and her partner reached a breaking point. Suddenly she faced a major decision: fight to keep her business or quit.
“At one point I thought about giving up,” she says. With her anxiety and depression triggered, she remembers saying to a close friend, “maybe I should just back out before it’s too late.”
Her friend responded, “What do most successful people have? Perseverance. And I know you have that.”
Rebekah decided to fight, and eventually won, taking the company solely in her name.
She says her husband and three kids have been an invaluable support system, and that Rise has helped her understand how to manage it all. Through mentorship she’s learned how to identify and avoid burnout and has also learned to trust her entrepreneurial instincts.
Instincts that have helped her not only survive but thrive during a pandemic.
Once lockdown restrictions were loosened, Rebekah introduced private shopping appointments. As things opened up more, she contracted an in-house stylist to add to the experience and started allowing small group bookings so friends could shop together, complete with wine and charcuterie.
“We created a VIP experience like Gucci. You come in and there’s champagne waiting—but it’s a thrift store and we’re not creating any clothing waste.”
The goal of “wasting not” is central to Rebekah’s ethos. She’s built partnerships with other local boutiques to bring specific items in for her customers, and also to give their unsold merchandise a second chance.
“We’ve built a beautiful little community,” she says. And she extends that community to helping empower other women as entrepreneurs. In July 2020, a Bee & Key Boutique opened in nearby Beaumont, Alberta, but Rebekah doesn’t own it. One of her consignors-turned-franchisee does.
“I want to create a franchise to help women succeed,” Rebekah says. “What Rise did for me was give me a foundation, and the process was so easy. Why not make the process of opening a thrift store easy for someone else? We call it Rebekah’s Recipe to Success. I did all the dirty work so nobody else has to.”
A romantic idea that the unstoppable Rebekah Thibeault is making very real.
Congratulations to Rebekah Thibeault, recipient of the 2021 Dr. Paul Garfinkel Resilience Award.