Live Your Passion was the theme at the 9th annual West Prince forum for youth, who heard how some international and local companies got their start. The forum was arranged by CBDC West Prince Ventures Ltd. and there were many community partnerships for funding and support.
Anyone looking to start a business is encouraged to contact CBDC West Prince Ventures Ltd. for support in assisting them to achieve their dreams. Call 902-853-3636.
Dream, create, take risks, be inspired, and be rewarded were the key words used by motivational guest speaker, Orlando Bowen, facilitator Patrick Ledwell, and other business owners as they talked about the journey to where they are today.
Orlando Bowen is a former CFL linebacker. He offered a message of hope to the youth. He is a speaker, trainer, founder, and Executive Director of One Voice One Team, a youth leadership organization in Toronto.
He shared his gripping life story of being beaten, charged unlawfully, and fighting for his freedom, which led to forgiving those who nearly took his life. He talked about life lessons and mottos that got him through, such as:
- Raise the floor, not just the bar.
- You can’t go through this journey on your own. We need each other.
- Be that one who makes a difference in someone else’s life.
He also talked about the importance of letting go of things in life that are not serving us well and having faith and trust to get to where we are meant to go.
For more information, visit www.onevoiceoneteam.org.
Local business owners talk about how they got their start
Ruby Lubigan, Owner of Sari Sari Store, Bloomfield
“In 2011, we came here from the Philippines. I started a home-based business selling products and produce from the Philippines. This business is my dream and it’s doing well because a number of Filipinos live in this part of the Island, and they appreciate having access to food they are accustomed to.
“There are many siblings in my family, and we all had to work hard from a young age. I learned to grab opportunities and use them to the best of my ability. Hard work opened doors to support my family and my business. I worked at a local fish plant when I first came to PEI, and now I also work at Westisle School after becoming a permanent resident.
“All the steps I took led me to another opportunity, which I am thankful for. There is a lot to do with working full time and running a business, but I am fortunate that my daughter helps me with the business and I also try to manage my time well.”
For more about Sari Sari Store, search Facebook.
Island Stoneware, Summerside
Island Stoneware manufactures and wholesales handmade pottery across the country and into the United States. After living in many other locations and settling on PEI, opening a business seemed to be the next best step.
“After much research on what type of business to open, we settled on handmade pottery” says Jamie Niessen. People in my family worked with pottery, but it certainly was not part of my skill set. However, I have a passion for the product.
“With self-employment, no one is directing you. You will have down days, and that is OK. Every day I try to make the best work environment for my team as possible. I have been a boss and in middle management jobs. Being an entrepreneur gives me the control that I never had before, but it also comes with new responsibilities. So far, it has been very rewarding.”
For more information about Island Stoneware, visit www.islandstoneware.ca.
Jeff Ellsworth, Exit Speed Swing, Charlottetown
Born in O’Leary, Jeff Ellsworth is a professional baseball player with an outstanding list of accomplishments, including starting a business. “This business came to be by accident. It started in 2007 when I played professional ball in an international event with Team Canada. We lost in the finals, and I remember my coach saying to some of us rookies, if you guys can’t figure out how to hit a faster pitch, don’t come back. I went home and engineered a system from some items I found in my parents’ house.
“During the next season, I performed so much better, and I realized I had something that could benefit others. I ran clinics all over North America and used the same device, but the kids said although they were improving, the product looked too red-neck. Fifty-two prototypes and five years later, I was working in my buddy’s shop when we came up with the final product: EXIT SPEED. It is available in three sizes to suit different training levels.
“Exit speed describes how fast a ball comes off the bat when it is hit. It trains athletes to hit the ball harder and further. We had a great experience on Dragons’ Den, which opened a lot of doors. It has been great and I am still learning. Each mistake is a learning opportunity.”
Kelly Wilson, Up West Fire Fries, West Prince
“We moved to PEI from Ontario to retire. I wanted to share the beauty of the property with others, so this seasonal food truck business was born.
“I am a cook by trade and my husband is a firefighter, so that is where the name came from. Even though there didn’t seem to be much of a market for my product where we are, I took the risk and now I am going into my second year. It is important for me to love what I am doing and have a passion for the work. I love my community and put it first when it comes to the business.
“Before coming to PEI, I worked 16-hour days cooking, and when I came here I decided I was not going to work for someone else. I am going to start my own business.”
For more about Up West Fire Fries, visit www.facebook.com/upwestfirefries.
A panel of local business owners was asked how high school students can prepare for self-empoyment if that is the path they want to take.
One business owner said that education in business or in a specific interest or trade is very important. “Education gives us more experiences that help form our career decisions.
“Working gives us experience to see how things are done and how mistakes are dealt with, which is a great foundation for being in business.
“Volunteering helps to be more involved in our community and helps to build skills that are important for our future. Also, it is important to learn about what resources in your community can help you make career decisions. We all need this support. Keep open to opportunities, say yes, and see where it will take you.”
One business owner said she decided to try self employment at 50 years of age. She said at some point you have to take the chance, give it a try, and be prepared to work hard.
Musician for 19 years and full-time Paramedic for nine years
Winning the national 2018 CCMA Spotlight Performance Contest was one of the highlights of his music career, and encouraged him to continue to pursue a career as a country recording artist.
“I come from a small province, and maybe I was an underdog, but I would say never give up and take the best from each experience.
“After years in this industry, I now approach my music as a business, which was not the case when I was younger – it was a party. Now I have a family, and it is totally a business and about building a team. As your business starts to grow, you need a team behind you that knows what they are doing and believes in the business.
“Relationships are the key. Build trust and have a great relationship with the people around you: your staff, your community, and your customers.”
For more information, visit www.corygallantmusic.com or check Facebook.