Ben and Sarah Charlton are kept busy raising a family of four children while operating two home-based businesses in St. Andrews, not far from the village of Mount Stewart.
Bishop’s Rest Bed & Breakfast is steps away from the Confederation Trail, which links the Island end-to-end, and makes it a popular destination for cyclists.
“We opened the B&B in 2010,” says Sarah. “Each year, we’ve been growing the business and seeing repeat customers. We network with other community businesses and they recommend our services.”
Sarah is a high school teacher. Operating the seasonal B&B works well with her teaching duties.
Bishop’s Rest Bakery & Catering, which is attached to the B&B, creates fresh-baked items, from cinnamon rolls to a variety of buns and breads, and offers delivery to retail outlets on a daily basis, year-round.
Ben is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of Canada and is a Red Seal Chef. “After graduation, I considered opening a restaurant but it would have taken too much time away from the family,” says Ben. “I later found employment as a service worker at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
“I began making fresh cinnamon rolls and selling them to retail outlets on the way to work for gas money. Over four years, the orders increased. It reached a point where I decided to give up my main source of income and became self employed working in a field I have training and passion for.”
Steps to self employment
In 2016, Ben and Sarah approached Martina MacDonald, General Manger of the Rural Action Centre (RAC) located on Main Street, Montague, with their expansion plans for the bakery.
Through the Community Business Development Corporation (CBDC) located at the RAC, Ben and Sarah received support to acquire the necessary equipment to expand the bakery, expand the customer base, and become self employed. They also received skills training in accounting.
“We don’t have an accounting background, so the Successful Business Basics program and additional accounting training allows us to monitor the business on an ongoing basis,” says Sarah.
“CBDC took the business one step further, to the point where we could incorporate the business and hire two bakers, two packagers, and a delivery driver,” adds Ben.
“The expansion would not have happened without the assistance the RAC provided. This summer, we are considering adding a storefront or a roadside stand and selling larger quantities, which could result in more hiring.”
The Montague RAC offers:
- Loans and grants for small and medium businesses
- Government programs for community and business development
- Entrepreneur education and management development
- Assistance to business start-ups, support to expand and diversify existing businesses, and tourism product development.
For more information about the Rural Action Centre, visit www.ruralactioncentres.ca or call 1-855-297-9898.
For more information about Community Business Development Corporation, visit www.cbdc.ca.