Kailey Lefko – Still Cove Yoga

Kailey Lefko - Still Cove YogaKailey Lefko is an entrepreneur from Lac Du Bonnet, Manitoba. She has started her business called “Still Cove Yoga” from the supports she received from Community Futures’ ELEVATE program.

In Kailey’s words: “I am a school teacher that saw the need for wellness education in schools.

After developing daily mindfulness practices in my classroom and seeing the amazing benefits these simple habits had on my students I knew I had to share these curriculum-based lessons in a big way.

I completed my yoga teacher training in February 2015 and now I empower and assist teachers in cultivating mindful school communities.

I offer workshops for teachers and students in French and English as well as ready to use lessons for the classroom to facilitate a daily mindfulness practice that is incredibly easy to follow and integrate into the classroom routine. I also teach yoga classes in my community.”

When asked why she has chosen the entrepreneurial path, Kailey’s response is: “Because I have a vision for the future of education that I can dedicate myself to best as a business owner.”

The ELEVATE program has helped Kailey with training and mentoring that gave her the knowledge and support she needed to survive her first year in business.

Her advice to other new entrepreneurs with disabilities is: “Know that the money doesn’t come in very fast in the beginning and it is important to have additional financial support to be able to keep up with the costs that come with having a disability.”

Julie Pasescnikoff – Bee Boyzz Flavored Honey

Julie Pasescnikoff - Bee Boyzz Flavored HoneyJulie Pasescnikoff owns Bee Boyzz Flavored Honey in Oak Bluff, Manitoba and has used the supports from the ELEVATE program to help her out.

Bee Boyzz Flavored Honey produces a variety of flavored honey for local markets and was previously using a third party to flavour their product. However, with training and support received from ELEVATE, Julie was able to bring this process in-house.

Being an entrepreneur with a disability has created some hurdles for her such as financial planning, marketing, government regulations, and supply sourcing.

Overall, though, she says that the experience has been a positive learning and growth experience.

When asked what advice she would give to other entrepreneurs with disabilities, Julie says “Push yourself and with hard work and dedication you can achieve.”

Julie’s 5-year plan is to “Grow our product to expand provincially and out of province and possibly to US markets.”

Jeff Stoneham – Jeff Stoneham’s Creative Planters

Jeff StonehamJeff Stoneham is a Manitoba ELEVATE client and his business is called “Jeff Stoneham’s Creative Planters”.

He creates unique letterbox planters with live or synthetic succulents. As well, he is now making chalkboard bottles that can be used as vases.

With Jeff’s natural creativity and artistic talent, his business is doing very well and he is now also participating in craft shows.

This public participation comes from tools he has been able to develop as a direct result from the supports he received from ELEVATE.

Jeff once had a fear of public speaking, even on a one-on-one basis, but ELEVATE has built Jeff’s capacity to be able to overcome this limitation by using his newfound skill. 

Jeff has taken advantage of the mentoring, marketing training and bookkeeping training supports offered by the ELEVATE program and he reports that he has really gained confidence in these areas now.

His future goals are to keep developing new product lines for exhibition at the craft shows.

Jeff Benson – JBs Small Engine Repair

J.Bs Small Engine RepairJeff Benson, with a little help from his family, owns and operates J.B.’s Small Engine Repair in Stonewall, Manitoba.

With support from the Community Futures’ ELEVATE program, his business now provides maintenance, repair and overhaul of small engine machinery. 

Jeff reports that “ELEVATE was able to take the pressure off my personal life so I could focus on starting my business. I had a great relationship with Community Futures. They offered personal and business advice and support without criticism.”

When asked what other advice Jeff would give to other entrepreneurs with disabilities who are in the process of launching their business idea, Jeff responds: “pick a niche that you are passionate about, work hard, and never let an obstacle stop you, find a way to succeed.”

Jeff has very definitive plans for the futures: “in years 2 through 5 we will be cultivating a relationship we’ve started with a large manufacturer in our business sector and will add a retail component to our list of services.”

Gwen Dreikluft – Studio South

Gwen DreikluftGwen Dreikluft is the owner of “Studio South”, a Manitoba business.

Gwen became an ELEVATE to assist with her business. Studio South offers engraving and candle making both at the retail level and through workshops.

Gwen has learned that entrepreneurship “can be hard work but very rewarding, I have learned that I have greater confidence in my own abilities to achieve success.”

When asked what advice Gwen would give to other entrepreneurs with disabilities, Gwen’s response is: “Do not let what others see be an obstacle to hold you back in achieving what you want.”

Gwen participated in the mentorship and training supports offered by Community Futures’ ELEVATE program and says that the program offered her opportunities that would have otherwise not been available to her.

She hopes to be able to continue to strive to be an example for other entrepreneurs with disabilities.

Gail McDonald – Hospitality Plus

Gail McDonald - Hospitality PlusGail McDonald is based in Warren, Manitoba and operates Hospitality Plus, an ELEVATE-supported business.

Hospitality Plus is a consulting business for staff training needs, delivering staff and volunteer tourism training, proposal writing, marketing and event planning.

Gail comments that: “The Elevate Program provided support in the areas required such as financial management and bookkeeping training, ergonomic workspace assessment and equipment purchases to assist in improving my workspace environment.”

When asked what advice Gail would give to other entrepreneurs just starting out, she responded “Go for it! Talk to Community Futures – there are resources out there – some are hard to find.”

Diane LaTourelle – 1 Health Source Inc

Diane LaTourelleDiane LaTourelle operates 1 Health Source Inc., in Niverville, Manitoba.

Her business offers sales and marketing training for pharmaceutical representatives as well as communication and leadership training.

Diane prefers the freedom allowed by being an entrepreneur and she has strong industry experience.

She has learned that perseverance and dedication can overcome negativity and lead to success and, through supports received from ELEVATE she was provided the training and financial aides to structure her business correctly.

When asked what her 5-year plan for the business is, Dianne responds “Grow the training business and create solid customer base for pharmaceutical sales business.”

Her advice to new entrepreneurs with disabilities is “find a niche and something you want to pursue.”

Debbra Brissete – Highland Art Studio

Debbra BrisseteDebbra Brissette is an ELEVATE client from Manitoba who owns and operates “Highland Art Studio”.

She is an artist who offers classes in arts and crafts to youth and adults in rural Manitoba.

When asked why she chose the entrepreneurial path, Debbra responds: “I have creative passion and found art has helped me in dealing with my disability and wanted to share it with others in what I feel is an underserved marketplace.”

Debbra measures success by: “Setting business goals and achieving them. Steadily building my business.

Encouraging people of all ages that they can be artistic. Seeing them succeed despite their skepticism in their own preconceived artistic limitations. Seeing my clients travel from other communities to take part in classes.”

She reports that ELEVATE “provided funding for training and other support items that I have been able to use to assist me. The mentors that have been provided instrumental in building up my business skills in area I needed.”

Debbra describes her experience working with Community Futures as “Excellent. They were a supportive, positive and advocating. My contact has been very approachable.”

Debbra Brissete

Christine Morin – Morin Yoga

Christine MorinMeet Christine Morin, an ELEVATE client from Otterburn, Manitoba. Christine operates Christine Morin Yoga – a yoga instruction company with a focus on Yin and Restorative Yoga.

The ELEVATE program provided Christine with funding for training and other supports as well as much-welcomed encouragement from mentors and Community Futures staff.

Christine found the program experience to be “supportive, positive and advocating.”

When asked what advice she would you give to other people with disabilities interested in starting their own business, Christine responded: “Seek out the assistance organizations such as Community Futures as well be aware that at times there will be a learning curve and you will have to adapt to many different situations.”

Katherine Shupena – Hollistic Aromatherapy Wellness

Katherine Shupena is an ELEVATE participant from Oakbank, Manitoba.

She owns and operates Holistic Aromatherapy Wellness – a retail business that offers aromatherapy products, soy candles, bath bombs and more.

Katherine has a lot of knowledge about natural products as they relate to health care and she feels it is important to share this with her customers.

When asked what advice she would give to other entrepreneurs with disabilities who are starting their own business, Katherine responds: “Don’t turn away, keep trying and remember some day you too will be successful in your own business, your rules, your way, and you decide”.

Community Futures’ ELEVATE program offered Katherine the opportunity to pursue the training she required to operate her business and reach the certificate level that was previously out of her reach.