Warren Houle – Warren’s Native Designs

Warren HouleWarren Jason Houle is an ELEVATE client from Brandon, Manitoba and his business is called Warren’s Native Designs

Warren creates Indigenous Pow Wow regalia and other traditional items and offers repairs to existing regalia.

Warren has been doing this since the age of 15 and has been getting more and more requests for his designs.

He’s never had the funding to go into business for himself but, with the supports received from the ELEVATE program, Warren has been able to finally realize his dream.

He has been so successful that he has been asked by the Friendship Centre in Brandon to do teachings on the procedures of making regalia.

He plans to continue marketing his business through the trade show booths that are available at Pow Wows and credits the Community Futures ELEVATE program for helping him learn how to be successful in business.

Warren has utilized the disability supports, business plan training, mileage reimbursement and website training supports that were made available to him through ELEVATE.

Taylor Hayward – Spaw Dog

Taylor HaywardTaylor Howard is an ELEVATE client from Manitoba who owns and operates Spaw Dog, an animal grooming service.

Because of the nature of Taylor’s disability, working with animals is therapeutic.

Taylor has learned that the entrepreneurial path is “a lot of hard work. Lots of hours or training and overcoming social phobias.”

Taylor reports that the ELEVATE program “helped to find all supports to accomplish my dream. They found the programs and instruments that would help with my disabilities.”

When asked what advice Taylor would offer to other entrepreneurs with disability, the response was: “You never know until you try. You will only get out what you put into it! Live your dream dare to be different.”

Stacey Gard – Stacey’s Blossom & Boutique

Stacey GardStacey Gard operates Stacey’s Blossom & Boutique, a retail floral and clothing business in Fisher Branch and Teulon, Manitoba, with help she received from the ELEVATE program.

Stacey started this business in her home town, because there were no other businesses offering this particular service so she picked up on the local need for a new shop.

Although she much prefers being her own boss, her advice to new entrepreneurs is to be sure they are prepared for the long hours with very little reward.

She also advises against opening a business in your own community as there is the inherent expectation for provision of free services for friends and that’s not always easy for an entrepreneur in start-up phase.

Stacey reports that the mentorship she received during her participation in the ELEVATE program was “fabulous” and really helped her to get on the right track.

She has hope of expanding her business to a second location within the next five years as well as being able to hire others to help.

Regan Proulx – Stage Coach

Regan ProulxRegan Proulx comes to us from the Westman area of Manitoba and she is another ELEVATE success story!

Regan is the proud owner of “Stage Coach” – a home staging and interior design company.

Because of her natural talent in interior design, Regan has a passion for having an organized living space as she feels that is indicative of an organized mind.

She loves being her own boss, making her own hours and doing something for a living that she doesn’t consider to be work.

When asked if she would do anything differently if she could start over, Regan says “I would change the attitude I had towards myself … I wish I could have seen my potential sooner and I wouldn’t have lived in so much fear of failing”.

“Having a disability does not mean it’s the end of your life. It just means that you have an important lesson to share with others, don’t let the fear of your ailment hold you back!”

Regan offers this advice to other entrepreneurs with disabilities considering starting their own businesses.

Regan credits the ELEVATE program with giving her a great template in which to write her business plan. She reports that ELEVATE helped her to see her own potential.

Michelle Wierda – Real Changes – Curves Gimli

Michelle WierdaMichelle Wierda of Gimli, MB is the owner of “Real Changes – Curves Gimli” – a business that was launched with the help of supports offered to Michelle through the ELEVATE program.

The business offers 30-minute strength training circuits, classes, monthly coaching and sells a variety of health products and clothing.

When asked how she measures success, she says she feels successful when she sees her clients succeeding in reaching their goals. 

When asked what advice she would give to other entrepreneurs with a disability that are considering starting up, Michelle says “go for it.

Find out what is out there: programs, agencies, etc. Be willing to take a leap. You can do it – disability does not prevent you from becoming a successful entrepreneur!

Margo Malabar – More than Pajamas

Margo More Than PyjamasMargo Malabar, owner of “More than Pajamas”, is an ELEVATE participant living in St. Jean, Manitoba.

Her business manufactures adult-sized pyjamas, nightwear and loungewear, including adaptive and custom designs. Margo comes from a family of entrepreneurs.

She says “being an entrepreneur allows me to be creative, and work as hard and long as I want, and strive for excellence.”

When asked to give advice to other entrepreneurs with disability, Margo says “Don’t wait – just move forward and reach out to the support network that Community Futures has to offer”.

The ELEVATE program helped Margo in many ways – she found the Community Futures staff to be very supportive, creative and helpful with good ideas and resources. The financial support for the first few months was paramount, plus the bookkeeping and marketing support.

Margo will continue to build on her original business plan over the next 5 years. This includes fine tuning her supply of garments so that they reflect the market demand, continuing direct sales at farmer’s markets and trade shows.

She plans on possibly setting up a retail store by year 3.

Marcy Harrison – Stonewall Sewing Room

Marcy HarrisonMeet Marcy Harrison, Owner / Operator of The Stonewall Sewing Room in Stonewall, Manitoba.

Marcy’s business offers custom sewing, repair, alterations and dry cleaning. Marcy has always wanted to be self-employed and felt that she brought adequate training to the role.

The ELEVATE program assisted Marcy with bookkeeping and she found this support to be very helpful.

Marcy’s advice to other entrepreneurs is to “believe in yourself and your product and others will catch your passion. Others will believe if you believe.”

Looking toward the future, Marcy’s soon-to-be-realized goals are that she will be moving to a bigger space in July, hiring a seamstress that she has lined up through the Canada Summer Student Grant.

She will also have a Fashion Show / Fundraiser for cancer care for new line of coats, and will be getting weighted blankets made for her tradeshow participation.

Madison Wentz – Mad Tunes Entertainment

Madison WentzMadison Wentz is from Morden, Manitoba and has started “Mad Tunes Entertainment”, a mobile entertainment company that offers MC, DJ, Karaoke, light shows and movie nights in his community.

The ELEVATE program guided Madison through business planning, goal setting and financial projections in order to be able to start his business successfully. He found that working with the Community Futures staff and the ELEVATE program helped his experience go smoothly. “They would give me any guidance they could.”

Madison has always liked mixing and playing music for family functions, as well as taking on requests and stepping up to the microphone. This new business was a natural fit for him!

Madison measures success in relation to goals: “success is setting a goal, planning the steps to achieve it, and effectively implementing the plan.

Once I think I’ve achieved a goal, I’ve succeeded.” Madison also says, “I would tell others that you need to set your mind on something that you are passionate about and keep working at it until you achieve what you are reaching for.”

Loreen Husband – Simple Fare by Loreen

Loreen HusbandLoreen Husband is a Manitoba ELEVATE client and she operates “Simple Fare by Loreen” – a catering business that sells ready-to-eat meals.

Loreen’s business is slowly growing through social media marketing and online sales – skills she has learned while participating in the ELEVATE program.

Loreen has learned that entrepreneurship is hard work and requires a lot of dedication. She wishes she started this business 5 years earlier. Her advice to other entrepreneurs with disabilities is “don’t wait until you are retired to start!”

Loreen utilized the mentorship, living allowance and travel reimbursement supports offered by Community Futures ELEVATE program and hopes to continue working long enough to develop her succession plan.

Laura Patton – Nickels and Dimes Money Mentoring

Laura PattonMeet Laura Patton, an entrepreneur from East St. Paul, Manitoba who has started a business by the name of “Nickels and Dimes Money Mentoring”.

She offers Profitability analyses, Workshops and Bookkeeping/Tax service to small businesses in her community and has done workshops as far away as Fort McMurray Alberta.

Through ELEVATE, Laura has learned that she can overcome anything that comes up in business – and that she is able to do more than she thought she could with her business.

Without the supports she received from ELEVATE, Laura says she would be no further ahead than she was a year ago.

She describes the process of working with Community Futures’ ELEVATE program as “awesome”.

When asked what advice Laura would give to new entrepreneurs with disabilities, her response is “be realistic about how much work it is going to be. You will work harder for your first 5 customers than you will work for the rest of them. You have to keep going.”

Laura’s long-term goal is to finish writing her book and develop her on-line training program. She envisions herself being able to get away from the one-on-one training and becoming more of a leader and workshop developer.