January 2020 - Nadine Kelly 

Meet Nadine Kelly, Founder/CEO of the fast growing meal service business Breakfast Lunch & Deener and Co-Founder of The Cook Nook.

Nadine moved to Thunder Bay in 2015 after completing her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology at the University of Guelph. Nadine came to Thunder Bay to help her mom and after some research decided to start a personal training business. As her business grew larger, she realized the lack of services available to help busy people with their nutrition, beyond just advisory services. Nadine was, and still is a firm believer that nutrition is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle, and grew increasingly frustrated as clients struggled with nutrition, simply because they just didn’t have the time or the desire to cook. Breakfast Lunch & Deener was established in May 2016 as Thunder Bay’s premier prepared meal service. It is intended for individuals who are busy and would rather not spend their valuable time grocery shopping, cooking, and doing dishes. Breakfast Lunch & Deener is designed for individuals who value nutrient-dense, minimally-processed, whole foods. In early 2019, Breakfast Lunch & Deener started re-positioning itself in the market: They are no longer just a meal service, they are now your one-stop-shop for Everything #MealPrep.

"We are establishing ourselves as the premier healthy prepared-meal manufacturer in the region, with a production team of 8 individuals, and an additional 3 jobs coming in 2020." Says Nadine, "At Breakfast Lunch & Deener, we strive to support the local economy by purchasing ingredients and materials from local businesses as much as possible. We believe whole foods are the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. We pride ourselves in using simple and pure ingredients, avoiding processed and preserved foods. Our meals are created from scratch: we peel carrots, chop onions, roll meatballs, mix salad dressings, etc.! Our unique distribution model promotes the local economy by driving additional foot traffic and awareness into their establishments."

Nadine most recently helped establish The Cook Nook in partnership with the Nor'Wester Maple Company. Businesses in the food manufacturing and processing industry are often faced with the challenge of growth between starting-up and scaling. Breakfast Lunch & Deener and Nor’Wester Maple Company both rented shared kitchen space locally, designed to help start-up companies. It was a great temporary solution for their part-time space needs. By 2018 both businesses reached production capacity at these rental facilities and therefore were faced with a tough decision: Allow the business to plateau or take the leap to grow by moving into their facility.

Sean and Nadine connected in late 2018 at events hosted by the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre and the Community Economic Development Commission, and decided to explore the option of partnering to establish a shared production facility. This would allow for a permanent home for both businesses, allowing for the cost of this type of expansion to be shared.

In March 2019, renovations started for The Cook Nook. The Cook Nook is designed to house a small number of proven businesses looking to expand, but who do not require a brick-and-mortar location of their own. The Cook Nook is the new home for Breakfast Lunch & Deener, Nor’Wester Maple Company, and Canada West Maple Products as anchor-tenants. The fully-licensed and A-rated facility will be available for rent to other proven businesses over the next few months. The Cook Nook offers a unique long-term solution to a part-time space need and will help grow and sustain the food manufacturing sector in the Thunder Bay area.


Q & A with Nadine:


1. What drew you to entrepreneurship?
I started my first business because I wanted to work for myself, without the commitment of working
specific hours or days. I wanted to be able to spend time with my mom, whenever she needed me. I
just wanted the freedom to work for myself.
But now, almost 5 years later, it’s become so much more than that.
On a personal level, my businesses allow me to live my day-to-day life in a way that I genuinely
enjoy. I really value personal growth and development, and being an Entrepreneur allows you to
develop yourself almost daily. I love creating some kind of structure out of chaos, solving problems,
and being able to truly see the effects my efforts have on my businesses. Most days, I don’t feel like
I’m working. I feel excited to seize the opportunities that I’m presented with, and I love knowing that I
am building something from what used to be nothing.

2. What is your most memorable moment being an entrepreneur?
When I moved to Thunder Bay, I knew less than a handful of people. I found it extremely challenging
to build a service-based business, in a local economy that was heavily based on who you know. I
think my most memorable moment would have to be winning the Chamber of Commerce Young
Entrepreneur of the Year Award. It felt like a full-circle moment, going from knowing almost no one
and struggling to get the business off the ground, to standing in front of a room full of Thunder Bay’s
business community recognized for my efforts.

3. Who was your biggest inspiration/mentor?
My biggest mentor locally has been, without a doubt, Jim Stadey. A friend of mine introduced me to
Jim in May 2016 while I was struggling to figure out what I needed to launch my business. Right
away, Jim agreed to meet with me, and less than a week later Breakfast Lunch & Deener was
officially launched. Jim has been an incredible ally to myself and my business for almost 4 years. If it
wasn’t for Jim, I don’t think I would have overcome some of the major obstacles I’ve been faced with.

4. If you could go back in time what piece of advice would you give yourself?
People matter. The people you meet and the people you choose to bring in to your business can
have a profound impact on the direction the business takes, and the relationships you have with your
customers and your audience as a whole define your brand, and therefore your entire business.
The realization of the profound effect people can have has been challenging to navigate, especially
because I only truly realized this mid-way through 2019… and I can’t really say that I have it figured
out, or that I’ll ever have it figured out, for that matter.

 February 2020 - Natalie Carrier


Meet Natalie Carrier, Owner of Lullaby's.


Natalie is originally from Thunder Bay and when she had the opportunity to open up a baby boutique here in the City, it was a no brainer. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs Natalie had always dreamed of having her own business and after her son was born in 2015, she quickly realized that there was a lack of options in Thunder Bay when it came to baby clothing & accessories. Therefore, when the opportunity to open a baby boutique presented itself, Natalie could not refuse. Lullaby’s was established in March of 2019, opening its storefront a couple months later in July 2019.  Lullaby’s features unique and high quality baby, children and maternity clothing. With a knack for keeping up to date with the latest trends, Natalie prides herself on providing the best of children’s fashion. Natalie also runs an online store where customers can see the latest trends in children’s fashion. Lullaby’s boutique is located at 21 Cumberland st. S and online at lullabysboutique.ca 


Q & A with Natatlie:


1. What drew you to entrepreneurship?

My parents both owned businesses while I was growing up, so entrepreneurship has always been something I was interested in. I've always dreamed of having a business of some kind. When I became pregnant with my son, I realized that my dream of owning a business became a dream of owning a baby boutique. There was one that I often shopped at when I was in the city, and when she decided to close her doors, she offered to sell her inventory to me. Because I had been dreaming of my own baby boutique for nearly four years at that point, it was an offer I couldn't turn down.


2. What is your most memorable moment being an entrepreneur?

My most memorable moment as an entrepreneur was probably the Grand Opening for the storefront. It was an amazing day with lots of positive feedback. I was lucky enough to have my friend, Melissa of Little Dulcina's, join me for a pop up that day with all of her yummy treats.


3. Who was your biggest inspiration/mentor?
My biggest inspiration is my son. I do everything in order to make sure he has the best life and opportunities possible. He inspires me to chase my dreams and follow my heart.


4. If you could go back in time what piece of advice would you give yourself?
If I could go back in time, there is very little I would change, so the advice I would probably give myself would be: everything falls into place in due time. Be patient. Be positive. Focus on relationships (with customers, with distributors, with friends, and with family). Ask for help.

March 2020 - James Young

James Young, Owner of Impact Recreation Inc.

Meet James Young, owner of Impact Recreation Services Inc.


James is originally from Nipigon, Ontario and came to Thunder Bay to study Recreation Therapy at Confederation College. After graduation, James decided to go into business for himself and began his entrepreneurial journey opening Impact Recreation Services Inc. in 2017. 

Impact Recreation Services Inc. is a person-centered mobile recreation therapy and companionship service dedicated solely to improving the quality of life for you or your loved ones. They enable enjoyment of life using the proven benefits of companionship, statistic tracking, and safety-conscious activities to ensure a fully engaged environment for you or a loved one. James and his team will come right to your home, meet you at an event or accompany you with the Lift+ bus system to almost anywhere within Thunder Bay and expanding areas. To find out more information about what Impact Recreation is all about visit: https://www.impactrecreation.com/ 


Q & A with James:


1. What drew you to entrepreneurship?

We began our journey in 2017 as "Impact Recreation" and quickly realized our need to expand into all provinces shortly after as our demand for service is very high. After this realization, we decided to Incorporate and have established ourselves in the Thunder Bay service area. We are a companionship and recreation therapy service providing 1-on-1 support in the five domains of recreation.



2. What is your most memorable moment being an entrepreneur?

My most memorable moment would have to be when I was recognized in public by the family member of a client. She stopped me and mentioned how happy I made her mother earlier in the day and noted that she couldn't wait to see me again. It warmed my heart.



3. Who was your biggest inspiration/mentor?

For this question, I have two entries. During my education, I had two wonderful college professors who believed in me and opened my eyes to the world of therapeutic recreation. Stephen and Shelley both challenged my thinking and inspired my creativity in ways I didn't think was possible- each in their own way. I was proud to walk across the stage with them nearby.



4. If you could go back in time what piece of advice would you give yourself?

I would give myself the advice to pursue this educational path earlier than I did as it required a bit of soul-searching to stumble across this health sector. Looking back I am just thankful to even have found my dream path as many people do not have this luxury.

April 2020 - Jamie Nichols

Picture of Jamie with a coffee in his hand


Meet Jamie Nichols, Owner/Roastmaster of Rose N Crantz Roasting Co.


Jamie is originally from Thunder Bay and started Rose N Crantz Roasting Co. as a home based business in 2013. He roasted coffee for five years out of his home before moving into a commercial production space. Rose N Crantz coffee selections are sourced from around the world with a focus on single origin varieties and direct trade. They supply freshly roasted retail and wholesale coffee to restaurants, grocery stores, cafes, and shops across northern Ontario. They also operate two coffee shops out of the Thunder Bay Country Market (one on each floor). Company slogan: "love the coffee you drink and drink the coffee you love".


Q & A with Jamie


1. What drew you to entrepreneurship?

Like many entrepreneurs, Jamie's entrepreneurial journey began as a hobby. He developed a passion for specialty coffee while living in the Northwest Territories and after moving back to his home town of Thunder Bay in 2012 he became curious to try roasting his own coffee for personal use. Soon friends and family were asking for freshly roasted coffee and the company was born. 


2. What is your most memorable moment being an entrepreneur?

The first 150 lb green bean (unroasted coffee) purchase was a huge moment. It was terrifying and signified that I was really going to try and make this idea work. At the time it was a large financial risk and involved a long period of debate and doubt.


3. Who was your biggest inspiration/mentor?

Julie Einarson, owner of Sweet Escape Cake Cafe & Bakery provides inspiration, mentorship, and encouragement at every step. Upon hearing that Jamie was considering going into business and learning to roast coffee she signed on as his first commercial contract without any hesitation. Her insight and advice have been an invaluable resource and she shares lessons from her own experience with ease. 


4. If you could go back in time what piece of advice would you give yourself?

While planning for the immediate needs of the company, keep in mind the future needs as well and invest accordingly for everything from equipment to production space to building the strongest team possible. 

 May 2020 - Brittany Corderio

Picture of Jamie with a coffee in his hand


Meet Brittany Corderio, Owner, Thuja Floral Design


After working at a local flower shop for almost a decade, and absolutely loving the creativity and beauty in getting to work with flowers daily, Brittany decided to take the leap and open up her own shop. Wanting to focus on bringing in unique flowers and plants that customers might not be as familiar with, and sourcing Ontario grown products wherever possible. Although her original focus was on the floral side of the business she also brought in a selection of houseplants, which has since grown to a large portion of the business. To find out more information about Thuja Floral Design visit: https://thujafloraldesign.ca/



Q & A with Brittany 


How have you adapted your business in the COVID Crisis?

Thuja Floral Design has implemented social distancing practices, meaning that we now provide curb-side pick up or contactless delivery options for every order. We have always had a website where orders can be placed for delivery or pick up, but have now moved many aspects of business onto social media, especially for selling some of the items that are not usually available on our website such as plants and pots/planters. In place of being able to browse our selection in store customers can now browse our ever changing plant stock on Instagram or Facebook.


What advice would you give fellow entrepreneurs or business owners?

Find your niche and find ways to best serve “your” customer. You can’t be everything to everyone, so focus on your strengths and your passions, the right customers will appreciate what you do.


When this is all over what is the first thing you are going to do?

I look forward to being able to open the doors to customers again! Doing everything online has added some extra steps to the purchase process, and can sometimes feel impersonal, so it will come as a relief to get back to normal and be able to help customers face to face.


Who has been your biggest inspiration or motivator during this time of uncertainty?

There are so many local businesses who are doing such great things right now! Everyone is trying their best to adapt, and to provide some comfort to city residents through some semblance of normalcy. From the restaurants who continue serving the same great food, the businesses who are offering to drop off orders of their customers’ favourite products, those businesses who are teaming up together to better serve their everyone, and those moving to creating products that are especially useful right now (like hand sanitizers and protective masks)-it’s so inspiring to see!

June 2020 - Creating a New Normal


Cody Ruberto, owner


Tell us about your recent pivot.

We've launched Uride Services, a platform that allows users to order same-day delivery from grocery stores, liquor stores, restaurants, retail stores, etc. We’ll be adding a wide variety of local shops, and we encourage any businesses looking to go online or to tap into a delivery solution to reach out to us.


How do you think this will affect the way of business in the future?

As time goes on, Thunder Bay residents will be able to shop with all their favourite businesses through the Uride app and have items delivered to their doorstep in minutes. Businesses will be able to take their storefronts online with the support of a full delivery solution in less than 24 hours. The Uride network of users, drivers, and businesses will continue to grow, and we’ll continue looking for more problems to solve for the community of Thunder Bay, as well as cities across Canada.


Breakfast Lunch & Deener

Nadine Kelly, owner


Tell us about your recent pivot.

Breakfast Lunch & Deener has always been a prepared-meal manufacturer and e-commerce business, not a traditional restaurant or take-out establishment. Since our production facility is closed to the public and order collection and payment has always been done online, we are set up very well for the current circumstances. We wanted to ensure that we were helping other local businesses as much as possible, so we have opened up our e-commerce platform and distribution model to other local vendors to help them sell their products online without the potential costs of moving to online sales and headaches relating to the logistics of distribution. We have also started offering groceries on our website, to help our customers avoid the grocery stores for longer periods of time.


We have had to pivot our weekly menu and distribution model. Prior to COVID-19, our distribution was primarily through pick-up hubs at local partner businesses. In March we decided to switch to delivery-only, and have since also begun offering contactless pick-up at our production facility. Our menu offerings and product lines have also changed. Prior to COVID-19, we primarily focused on custom meals—a product line we recently decided to remove completely. We have switched to a weekly rotating menu of set meals, as it allows us to be more resilient relating to food availability, which has been one of our biggest challenges for the past two months.


How do you think this will affect the way of business in the future?

I believe we were on track to become less reliant on the brick-and-mortar and traditional business models long before this virus started. I think it has simply forced us to accelerate the evolution of business by many years.


Being online is no longer optional or “recommended,” it is mandatory to stay relevant and profitable. In the future, I think consumers will be looking online more, not just for purchases, but also to research a product or service. If businesses are not online, they are missing a big part of the market and will therefore lose a large portion of customers. I think the value of a business’ authenticity and transparency has been heightened beyond what it was prior to COVID-19, and I think that will continue to increase post-COVID. I also foresee collaborations, partnerships, and affiliations to increase and be more important for businesses in the future.


Consumers are much more focused on shopping locally now, which I think will remain strong post-COVID. This presents a great opportunity for local businesses to capture this newfound interest, but it also creates a huge opportunity for new business startups, especially here in Thunder Bay. I think there are many opportunities for business-minded or solution-oriented individuals to take advantage of the fact that there are many things that don’t exists here yet. For every problem that exists, especially relating to “the new normal,” there likely are a variety of solutions which can be turned into a business.


Outdoor Skills and Thrills

Aric Fishman, owner


Tell us about your pivot.

I have made drastic changes to my business operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The most devastating (but most important) step was to cancel all Outdoor Skills and Thrills outings for the foreseeable future. This was the most logical way to help slow the spread of the virus in our region. My climbing programs are based in the outdoors and with “stay at home” orders put in place, I needed to pivot and focus my attention towards the digital world. My aim was to keep spirits up within our community and nurture social ties while in isolation. I began hosting video chats, posting trivia that highlights our region, and teaching skills online. Finally, I ventured into a new initiative to upcycle climbing equipment into high quality, handcrafted custom dog leashes and toys. And so, Summit Gear was born! It’s an environmentally friendly initiative with a commitment to reinvesting 50% of the profits back into local climbing development, all while maintaining strict social distancing protocols. Oh, and seeing so many happy dogs and owners is, without a doubt, the cherry on top!


How do you think this will affect the way of business in the future?

Moving forward, Summit Gear will continue to operate via online orders and contactless deliveries. I have even begun accepting donations of used climbing ropes to secure the future of the initiative and limit waste. The future of Outdoor Skills and Thrills will depend on our ever-changing world as well as a commitment to mitigating risk for my customers and our community. Thankfully, as a climbing guide, developing protocols to ensure everyone’s safety is always my number one priority. I am hopeful that I will have the pleasure of sharing my love for this sport and this region once again.

July 2020 Feature - Greg Rondeau


Greg R & his family


Meet Greg Rondeau, Owner, Greenstone-Superior Landscaping

Greg's entrepreneurial spirit started when he was in his youth, mowing lawns with his family. When Greg was attending Lakehead University he started a seasonal landscaping company. In 2013 Greg successfully participated in the Summer Company program and established Greenstone-Superior Landscaping on May 28, 2013. When the company was first established, Greg, only had a grass trimmer, walk-behind mower, and a small handheld blower. Now the company has expanded to a year-round general service and property maintenance company. Greg's primary work area is the township of Geraldton within the Municipality of Greenstone and offers services in both french and english. Now in 2020 Greg is continuing to expand his business and has successfully received the Starter Company Plus grant. For more information about Greenstone-Superior landscaping visit their Facebook page.


Q & A with Greg:


1. What drew you to entrepreneurship?

Many of my family support themselves through entrepreneurship. Self-employment granted me greater flexibility concerning time-management and job selection. Initially, I was also a full-time student as well as a new parent, on top of being recently diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease. With every passing day came the possibility of a new job and new networking opportunities. Entrepreneurship allowed me to build on myself and get me out of my comfort zone. I had more opportunities to take on work that appealed to me, for so many interesting and supportive clients. I loved the idea of creating something beneficial to my family and the community. 


2. What is your most memorable moment being an entrepreneur?

My most memorable moment being an entrepreneur is this particular moment. It's a really big honour to be recognized as the entrepreneur of the month for July 2020. The CEDC has provided me with so many wonderful opportunities to grow my company and to be recognized for it is a great feeling. The first time I put an ad in the paper with the funding from the Summer Company program, I was worried I would fail. It was such a great feeling to bring a plan to life and see it take off and progress beyond everyone's expectations.


3. Who was your biggest inspiration/mentor?

There are so many mentors in my family and friends to draw inspiration from. My son, Lukas, is my biggest fan and my motivation to keep the business going. I owe so much to my Dad, Gilbert, Luka's mom, Jessica, and my mom, Margie, for keeping me on course and motivating me to see value in myself and my vision for the company. I could not have brought the company to where it is today without my best friend Cody or my brother Steven; thank you for being there for me through the hard times and showing me the value of keeping a positive attitude and the merits of hard work and perseverance.


4. If you could go back in time what piece of advice would you give yourself?

I would tell myself to not be afraid to fail and to lose. You can always stand to lose more, so cherish what you have and do not take it for granted. There are so many things to learn from failure; our greatest teacher. Listen to the people who love and support you and to see the very real possibility of succeeding if you try your best. Stay positive and keep an open mind. We are always a work in progress. Use constructive criticism wisely and learn something new whenever you can. 




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