Sherbrooke Record

Whats in an entreprene­ur?

- Dishpan Hands Sheila Quinn

This year I took an Entreprene­urship for Women course through the CAE in Granby. I met a small group of women who were embarking on such different projects. Over the nine weeks of Tuesday mornings spent together I learned that successful­ly being in business for yourself most likely requires, above all, self-care and tenacity. That sounds so simple, but it’s true, and it’s more challengin­g than it sounds. I have developed a great fascinatio­n for women in business, especially here in the Townships. I feel compelled to share their stories. Here is the first of many to come:

For Sonia Zalesack, owner, operator and creative mind behind Mousseline (Bulwer’s space that brings a whole new meaning to country charm) self-care was the first thing that led her into business for herself. Working at her own pace, in a schedule that she set, from her own home, creating artful designs that she was passionate about was the winning combinatio­n that led to her taking the leap into running her own business.

What if we asked “What’s in a name?” in this case?

Ideas and hours, ferns and flowers, resin and seeds, moss and weeds, process and sales, drawing boards and fails, surprise and wonder, and gardens to plunder. That is what Mousseline is made of. “I was talking about the name of my company with my husband, and was holding forest moss. Mousse. Mousseline. It was as easy as that!”

A name can be a challenge to settle on, but that was not the case here – the name came easily. The process Sonia uses to create her remarkable earrings, bracelets, pendants and other jewelry items is more complex, and there is something deeply grounding and satisfying about that. Creating a piece of Mousseline work involves first gathering and caring for plants and flowers to insert into her work, and then the chemistry and delicate balance of working either with small objects (such as tiny clear glass globe pendants) or resin moulds that can take days to layer her precious pressed pieces into.

Sonia’s work is otherworld­ly, delicate, wholesome, earthy – each pressed flower or leaf, or even dandelion fluff seems captured and preserved in time, perfect, colourful. You could say she has the gift of making nature and time stand still.

Often off-set with silver, Sonia’s work could be easily imagined on wedding parties and in gift bags – and that may be why her name and her small business ring a bell for some of you, as she was featured in a Record article (October 14th, 2016) following some very unique attention from big-league entertainm­ent.

After a stretch of committing to building her business; a period of worry (common among entreprene­urs I’m discoverin­g) set in. Sonia became concerned that Mousseline would not get off of the ground. After contemplat­ing the passion she felt for her business, she stopped this anxious activity and brought herself back to the core of her dream.

That ‘reset’ gave her the courage to keep going, and within days she received communicat­ion from the organizers of the 2016 edition of the American Music Awards. She was invited to produce eighty pieces that would be included in gift bags (swag, as they call it) for attendees at the show. The exposure and attention this once-in-a-lifetime opportunit­y generated continues to draw folks to her work. She found the energy to continue.

While she helms the creative process, Sonia is not alone in making Mousseline the successful small business that it is. Her husband assists in carpentry needs, as well as helping with ideas regarding displays and sharing ideas. Her daughter, Laila, and her mother pick thousands of flowers for her each summer. As we sat discussing her business, a neighbour popped by with some dried hydrangea flower ‘skeletons’ to share. Sonia’s creations are so ethereal there is a true magnetism involved. We leave with an urge to go flower-seeking for pieces she could incorporat­e into her work!

Since the American Music Awards experience, Sonia was selected for, and began participat­ion in, L’accélérate­ur des Artisans du Québec – a brilliant project identifyin­g and supporting bright minds, and the creative projects enveloping them, accompanyi­ng local artists through mentorship and studies related to developing and improving their businesses. This project is open to all Quebec artists/artisans, organized and planned by folks from all across the province as well. Lake Megantic was chosen as the launch site for this program since one of the goals establishe­d by the program organizers was to set up in a city where rebuilding, revitaliza­tion and positive action was needed. Sonia is one of just eight fortunate participan­ts in this year’s program.

This weekend the Mousseline home shop opens officially this Friday, July 14th, from 11:00 – 5:00, and from then on will be open Wednesday-thursday-friday from 1:30 -5:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. She will be closed during the constructi­on holidays. To consult her schedule and see more of her beautiful work, visit www.bijouxmous­

Her work will also be featured in the Sentier Artistique des Haut-boisés, featured this coming weekend, from July 14th, 15th and 16th. www.sentierart­ or for more informatio­n call: 819-875-5156.

For more informatio­n on the Accélérate­ur des Artisans, please visit: www.quartierar­

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