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HER STORY

Cara Penkett

Founder & Designer, Wishing Charms

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Lianna Harrington

Who is Cara Penkett, could you please introduce yourself?

Hi, I’m Cara Penkett a wife, and mother of two incredible teenage sons (and a crazy puppy).  I currently own Wishing Charms. In my ‘past life’ I was an Environmental Consultant for many years in Asia. I lived overseas for 22 years and worked in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Bali before returning to Ontario in 2017. It is in Bali where I realised my passion for designing silver charms after taking a silversmith course.

What is your business and when did you start?

I design handmade 925 sterling silver charms that are blessed with love in Bali.  Each charm has a different meaning or form of encouragement . For example, the Seed charm is to be given to encourage a new beginning, whereas the Heart of Love charm  is for someone to  know that you’ll always think of them. All Wishing Charms hold similar meaning to the bracelets given at Balinese ceremonies (Benang Tridatu). Blessed by priests, they protect the wearer and are not to be taken off.  The receiver of a Wishing Charm should make a wish and tie the cord around their wrist. The wearer is blessed until the bracelet falls off naturally with time. With returning to Canada and setting-up a household, things were put on-hold for a while. My dreams finally came true in September 2020 when I launched my website.

What inspired you to start your business?

My kids were the inspiration behind Wishing Charms. When we moved our family to Bali in 2016, we were welcomed into the community with a Benang Tridatu ceremony. During the ceremony, they placed flowers on our heads and told us we were one with nature. As an Environmental Consultant, you can imagine how much this meant to me. I wasn’t the only one touched by the ceremony, my children were given bracelets blessed by priests. These bracelets are known as Tridatu. Tridatu are said to bless the wearer as long as they are worn.
I fell in love with the bracelets and their significance so much, I began taking jewelry-making courses with local Balinese artisans. When we moved back to Canada my children were nervous about starting at a new school. On their first day, I gave them the charms that I had designed and made in Bali, knowing the blessing from our Balinese community would go with them, even half a world away.

What were the challenges in the initial stages of your business and how did you overcome them?

Moving back to Canada after being away for over two decades was exciting, daunting and little challenging.  Settling my family into a new community and ensuring their happiness was time well spent – but it took up a lot of time. I would say that time management was by far my biggest obstacle. I have learned to allot specific time for my work and for myself.

What motivates you about your business?

Customer satisfaction motivates me!  There is something very special about giving or receiving a meaningful handcrafted gift.  It shows that someone really cares. Especially when the gift is tailor-made for the situation. Customers tell me stories of how by “gifting” a Wishing Charm to a friend it encouraged them to  start a new job, relationship or move countries. My charms have helped customers’ children through a rough patch, by “wearing something from mom, it felt like she was with me”. I am so fortunate, as I believe that my charms have made many people happy.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

Believe in yourself and in your products. If you love what you do or create it will resonate with your customers and they will love them too.

Interesting fact most of the people do not know about you?

I strive to be on my phone for less than one hour a day.

The best business advice I ever received was…

Don’t sweat the small stuff…

My definition of success is…

to thoroughly enjoy what I do, while bringing happiness to others.

If I could go back in time when I started my business, I would tell myself to…

I would tell myself to make a conscious effort to not become discouraged when I face obstacles. There is always a solution, it may just take a bit of time and curiosity to find it.

Three books I recommend for entrepreneurs are…

I’m a voracious reader and I find that I learn something from almost every book that I consume. I recommend to simply read as much as possible.

My personal tagline is…

Every dream that comes true begins with a simple wish!

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