A while back, as I was cruising through Yarmouth County, I was suddenly struck with the awesome realization that the vibe of our area was changing, and for the better.
I’m not sure that I ever felt that my hometown was dull, but I definitely noticed when things started to shift. I noticed there was a difference in thinking and doing, in that people were either leaving their typical 9-5 jobs to start up their own businesses, or they kept their 9-5, but still pursued their side hustle.
It was evident to me that the vibe of the town was much more alive and energetic when I would pop open my Facebook to see people heading to a new brewery for a night out, a group of friends having an exciting new caterer host their dinner party, or other folks having their home furniture designed by original local talent. People seemed more enthusiastic about getting out and supporting local businesses because the young entrepreneurs who were opening them were offering things that everyone in our community was excited about!
I touched base with a handful of these new projects to get their take on their experience as a new business owner. Here’s what they had to say:
Julie Mood – Jenesis Interiors
Hi! I’m Julie, founder and CEO of Jenesis Interiors. This creative, fun, full-time business offers interior design, custom furniture builds and refinishing. If you can dream it, we can build it. My life before entrepreneurship consisted mostly of studying. When the subject of my studies hit too close to home and became too emotional, it was time to do some major life renovations! That’s when I realized, for my entire life, my passion has been everything Jenesis Interiors is and represents. Whether I'm happily cutting, sanding, or staining a piece, sketching new spaces or welding custom legs, I know I'm exactly where I should be. But by far the very best part is seeing the look on a client's face when they see their new space, custom build or revamped gem. It makes my heart smile knowing that I’ve been blessed to be part of the reason behind that smile! I’ve always known I wanted to be a #girlboss. Creating Jenesis Interiors is literally a dream come true and honestly, I couldn’t imagine being happier!
Miguel d’Eon – Saltwreck Inc
My name is Miguel D'Eon and I am the founder of Saltwreck inc. Saltwreck creates artistic maps that tell a Canadian story. Our map prints aim to capture the "spirit of Canada" by highlighting iconic symbols, people, and places. We aim to create meaningful art that Canadians are proud to display on their walls. The prints are sold both online and in retail stores across Canada. The business structure we have allows us to automate much of the tedious tasks. For example, we do not have inventory. This is huge. Our print shop fills orders daily through Shopify or Etsy. They get notified instantly as the orders come in. It works very smooth, and we have a great print shop that is top notch on quality. We never get customer complaints. For these reasons, Saltwreck does not take up a lot of time for me. I am fortunate to be able to continue my career as a paramedic and spend a lot of time with my growing family. Saltwreck started just over two years ago. It has been a great journey so far. Since I was a young boy, I always had an interest in entrepreneurship, but never took the plunge. Finally, I met Mark Dunkley at a family dinner. I asked him what I could do for a side gig on my spare time? Mark had seen hundreds of online stores through his extensive experience working at Shopify in Ottawa. We came up with a plan, he created the online store and the rest is history. Jump right in! I enjoy the challenge and opportunity that come with owning an e-commerce business. There really is no limit to what you can do. There are daily perks as well. It is always a pleasure to hear the individual stories from happy customers. It is what inspires us to keep going. One of my favourite quotes for life and business, "Do the work. Create the spark. Then sit back and see what happens, because it’s not like you can control it. Sit down. Shut up until it’s time to do it again. See where those sparks land." - Gord Downie
Melanie Sweenie – Tusket Falls Brewery
My name is Melanie Sweenie and I own Tusket Falls Brewery. Tusket Falls Brewery is a place for people in our community and travelers to gather and enjoy some local music and awesome craft beer brewed on site! Before the brewery, my husband and I owned and managed a fire and flood restoration company in Alberta. We moved back to the Tusket area in late September of 2017. We spent October and November getting ready to open: finishing the details of the building, furniture, ordering supplies, applying for licenses etc. and of course brewing the beer! We were anxious to move back to our hometown and close to family and friends. We wanted to do something that we both enjoyed and what we thought our community would embrace. Beer was our answer!We opened our doors to the public on December 16, 2017. We’ve enjoyed the independence to create something new; everything from the building and landscape to the logos, designs and the beer itself (though I have to give all of the credit to my husband for that one), the satisfaction that comes with hard work and the appreciation received from the community.
Raegan Stuart – Speak Easy Supper Club
My name is Raegan Stuart and I own Speakeasy Supper Club. Speakeasy Supper Club is the most unique and exclusive private dining service in Southwest Nova Scotia. It allows you to enjoy your guests in the comfort of your own home, while being yourself. Our clients have the opportunity to choose completely customizable menus, which allow them to access flavours of the world.
We strive to be the best by delivering the most interesting, new food trends in the area and catering to our customer’s every need for their special event. Our passion is food, our main ingredient is love, and we love what we do
I’ve been in business for a little over three years now.
Before starting this business, I worked in Toronto as a sommelier, bartender and server, (3 jobs) in fine dining restaurants, mainly Italian. I also worked under a friend of mine who owned and operated a catering business that catered to large events, but also to a lot of couples cooking classes. I also worked for the Rotman School of Business where I was a server/caterer for very large events and a huge student body, serving 200-300 students breakfast, lunch and dinner.
On average you would work 15 to 17 hours with little to no breaks. But, I loved it and it was hard to say no to the good tips!
I decided to start my own business just before moving back to Nova Scotia from Toronto. My company there was called “City Somm” (as in sommelier) as a private wine consultant / caterer. I only really got started when I realized I wanted to be home for my mom (and also maybe a special someone).In Toronto I always felt like there was a piece missing from me, my dad had passed away and I knew my mom needed me closer. They were the reason why I loved entertaining guests and feeding folks good food. So, I moved back, took a job at a new restaurant in town as a front of house supervisor, and quickly realized I was ready for the next step.
So here I am!
Amanda Denton – Flashy Fish Apparel
My name is Amanda Denton and my company is Flashy Fish. I grew up in a fishing community and also currently live in a fishing community. That’s how the name came about. Flashy Fish is a fun clothing line offering shirts, t-shirts and tanks. Our clothing has images and text often to do with current trending topics. Working with Flashy Fish is not a full time job, as my full time job is being a mother to two young children. With Flashy fish, I keep up my social media accounts and shipping orders. I have a business partner and we attend craft shows to connect better with the public. Online shopping has its place, but seeing our customers is always nice as well. I wanted to start a ladies clothing line because I love soft loose fitting shirts that are fun and playful in their design. I wanted to offer clothing I would wear and hope others feel the same way!
The Wrap Up
These are just a handful of some of the young entrepreneurs who have chosen to take a different path than the typical nine to five. While the fantastic products and services they offer may be different, we notice a common theme – they are passionate about their work and the feedback they receive from happy customers is really what makes it all worth it. There are lots of talented, creative folks out there with brilliant ideas and it’s exciting that more and more young people in our area are realizing their dreams through their new small businesses.