Inspiring Journeys in Entrepreneurship
Three inspiring Moose Jaw business women told inspiring stories about their journey as an entrepreneur to become a business owner. The three were guest speakers at the Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan ‘Sweet Success’ presentation. Emmy Barr, who is known as the Queen of Caramel, has overcome a lot of obstacles in life, and is now doing something she absolutely loves. The happy and outgoing 21 year-old makes caramel treats, with the help of her great-grandmother’s secret recipe, which are popular with everyone. Barr has a genetic condition called Williams Syndrome, which can come with developmental issues, learning disabilities and medical problems. With the help of her family and friends she sells the caramel treats at craft sales, showers & special events. Her friend helps with the caramels, her brother designed her business card and she has a Facebook page. “It’s a huge blessing that I have a job I love. I really like the special events,” says Barr. She likes to go to the sales and adds; “It makes me happy to make caramel.” She took second place in the “Just Watch Me” video contest in February 2015, which was open to those who self-identify with a disability or ongoing health condition. Barr’s mother, Penny, told of the barriers to education and their plans for future years for Emmy. There were collaborative meetings with different people to determine a suitable path, but Emmy found making caramel the most interesting. When Breann Cole couldn’t find any materni- ty clothes shop in town, she made plans to open one. So in 2009 shortly after the birth of twins she opened ‘The Bebe & Bump,’ which is a maternity store with a unique difference: she manufactures the clothes. She takes apart the customer’s favourite clothes and redesigns them into maternity wear. The fabric is good quality so it stretches as the belly grows. She says non-pregnant people will also have her redesign their regular jeans to avoid having the “muffin top” look. Jeans are the most popular, and people from all over will send her their jeans, she redesigns them with the panel and ships them back. “The stats probably weren’t with me, but Women Entrepreneurs helped me with some startup costs,” says Cole. “I didn’t know how to fund it all and wasn’t sure what I was doing. I just knew it was something no one else was doing, and I could also take my kids to work with me.” She admits her ideals in the beginning have been adjusted. “I thought I would be swimming in money, but it’s not like that. At times it’s really a struggle. Some weeks I work for free,” said Cole. Having high energy and determination is needed as she shares her time between operating a business, attending classes, being a single mom, and taking on extra sewing jobs for her mom’s company. Although the struggles have seemed insurmountable at times, Cole said loving what you do can make a difference. “I love going to work every day, and that has carried me along some very hard days.” It was a roller coaster ride for Amy Duzan, and whether or not she would finally realize her dream of opening Elite Hairstyling & Aesthetics Training Centre. “I like making people feel good about themselves,” said Duzan, who has 11 years of experience in hairstyling and aesthetics. “Persistence prevails when all else fails” could refer to Duzan, and her determination to realize her dream. She designed the curriculum and waited for approval. If it wasn’t approved, all her work was for nothing. But the curriculum was approved, so she moved forward to find a building, get approval for it, find students and get ready for a September 2013 opening date. Then another roadblock challenged her when the building where she had her supplies stored went up in flames two days before opening. But Duzan went ahead with what little she had, teaching the small class of students. “My goal was always to give the best education my students can have,” said Duzan. “It has taken a lot of hard work but the business has grown beyond our expectations.” Her advice when someone gets discouraged with the process of entrepreneurship: “Be inspired and just keep going - a new day, a new dream.” The three women gave thanks to the Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan and their partners, for the financial and business support to help them along the road to success. Women Entrepreneurs partners with Community Futures Saskatchewan and the Clarence Campeau Development Fund. Representatives were on hand to showcase the three women, and to encourage others to take advantage of the resources of their companies when stepping into the world of entrepreneurship.