Entrepreneur of the Year Nominees

Congratulations to all of the nominees in the Entrepreneur of the Year category.

Acquisti Life
Amethyst
Carousel
Driveway Dave
Rotting Hill Escapes
Taste Blooms
The Crafters Collective Company
The Marketing Station

Acquisti Life
“Debbie has brought to town a business that was much needed for fashion that can’t be found in big box stores. Her selection of vendors is chosen based on the environmental standards and social impact. She leads with Canadian brands and promotes shopping local including promoting many other local businesses in our town. Acquisti Life brings fashion, fun, and fitness full circle as she has an out-of-store experience for her customers that incorporates her passion for cycling and has created a cycling club spoke junkie where her customers can join her in exploring the trails in our beautiful area. She has been a paramedic serving our community while starting this business and creating a space that is inclusive and welcoming. Debbie is a very fitting recipient of this award.”
“This store is constantly seeking to find suppliers that are eco friendly and environmentally sustainable with a focus on Canadian made brands whenever possible”
“Through the pandemic, they did everything they could to support us and make us happy”
“Debbies store is a great place to shop for home decor and fashion. She goes out of her way to serve her customers and community. Through the pandemic, she has even done home drop-off for those that struggled with curb-side pick up. Her fashions are fresh and fun while still being excellent quality.”

We asked Acquisti Life:
1. Tell us about your business (what do you do, how many years, how many staff, what are your products and services, goals and ambitions)

2. Tell us about your clients (who are your clients and why do they use your services, what makes them important/special for your business?)

3. Tell us about your important achievements this year (ie. awards, recognition, new products, job creation, community involvement, keeping your sanity)

4. In your opinion what is exceptional about your business and what do your clients say/tell you about your business? (what makes your business unique, how do you go above and beyond for clients, feedback you get from clients, what motivates you to continue, milestones and achievements)

Amethyst
“Evertime we go in this shop we are welcomed and it’s unique to our downtown. The customer service is top-notch. Always clean, well-stocked many choices for gifts and lifestyle”

We asked Amethyst:
1. Tell us about your business (what do you do, how many years, how many staff, what are your products and services, goals and ambitions)
I run a small spiritual business. I’ve been in business for a little over a year, opened up in February 2020 and the Amethyst grand opening was March 14, 2020, just before the Covid19 lockdown. Amethyst is a spiritual store that offers a range of spiritual healing products and services for the mind, body, and soul. We carry Salt Lamps, Incense, Books, Crystal’s to name a few. I am the sole proprietor. I do, however, have a few Alternative practitioners who work out of my store doing Reiki, Hot Stone Reiki, Readings in an adjacent room. I myself also provide Reiki.
We also run workshops for meditation and psychic development classes.
We are definitely not your run-of-the-mill store.

2. Tell us about your clients (who are your clients and why do they use your services, what makes them important/special for your business?)
My clients vary in age from the very young to those in their 80s. We have a little something that appeals to them all. We receive a diversity of clientele. Each customer that walks into Amethyst is on their own spiritual journey. Amethyst provides a safe space for our customers to talk openly without judgment about their own spiritual experiences and journeys. Each customer that enters our store Is special and unique with their own gifts. Our services also help our clientele with the healing process.
One of Amethyst’s most important achievements is staying open and making it through this pandemic. Learning quickly how to create online accessibility to our products. Amethyst’s grand opening was March 14, 2020, and we went into a state of emergency on March 16, 2020. Amethyst was a brand new business that has been able to keep the doors open throughout the pandemic and is now thriving.

3. Tell us about your important achievements this year (ie. awards, recognition, new products, job creation, community involvement, keeping your sanity)
My mission with the store is to help enlighten people to the various ways they can help themselves to grow, evolve and create peace and calm within.

4. In your opinion what is exceptional about your business and what do your clients say/tell you about your business? (what makes your business unique, how do you go above and beyond for clients, the feedback you get from clients, what motivates you to continue, milestones and achievements)
I keep my sanity by continuing to put my client’s best interests first and what I feel they would look for in Amethyst.
This also motivates me as I put my best foot forward.
The feedback I receive is always positive, in that once people enter the store whether regular or browsers is the calm and zen feeling of the store.

Carousel
“Nicole from Carousel is the epitome of the word entrepreneur. She has put her heart and soul into her business and has grown it into one of the key businesses in downtown Carleton Place attracting local customers and those from nearby towns and cities. Carousel’s business model caters to all, being sustainable from its great quality and brand name consignment to new products and local handmade products supporting other local artisans. Nicole did not miss a beat during Covid, she was in the store every day working hard to shift her inventory, including thousands of consignment items that were made available online. Nicole utilizes all platforms of Social Media to promote her business, her brands, and those local brands. Her hard work and success story have been featured by other organizations as inspiration for women and other small businesses. I could go on and on about Nicole and her passion for her business and her willingness to support her fellow business owners. Such a humble business owner she asks for no recognition however very much deserves some.

We asked Carousel:
1. Tell us about your business (what do you do, how many years, how many staff, what are your products and services, goals and ambitions)
Carousel is a shabby chic children’s boutique in Downtown Carleton Place. We are a family-owned & operated business since 2015. We work hard to stock our store with brands families love & trust….like Melissa & Doug, Little Buck, Jellycat, Calikids, Sunbum, and the list goes on!
We are huge supporters of Local makers which we feature in our Shop. It gives makers a retail setting to display all their unique and amazing items which our customers love, we love and are proud to promote!
Carousel also has a large Consignment Boutique. We only offer the highest quality of previously loved clothing from Newborn-12Y, Ladies & Maternity.
All the brands you love for Less! Our consignment is looked through to ensure the highest quality, tagged, pictures taken, posted to our online shop, then put on the racks in the store.
https://www.carouselcp.ca/
We would love for you to visit us In-Store Monday-Saturday 10-5 pm or Shop Online carouselcp.ca

2. Tell us about your clients (who are your clients and why do they use your services, what makes them important/special for your business?)
We truly have the best customers! They have supported us from the very beginning, through all the Covid lockdowns, shopping online, buying gift cards and now more than ever showing us so much love & support that we are back OPEN for in-store shopping!
Customers are THE most important key to a successful business. How you nurture & treat them is vital in the growth of your business! We go above & beyond to make sure every interaction is one our customers will remember and tell their family & friends about!
Our customers are all so special to us and we are grateful for them all

3. Tell us about your important achievements this year (ie. awards, recognition, new products, job creation, community involvement, keeping your sanity)
This year was definitely more of a challenging year with Covid-19, lockdown after lockdown, new protocols to follow….we really had to adapt & adjust our life to accommodate these changes! I’ll be honest, we had good & sad days just trying to keep our family business going! My passion & determination made me work that much harder to make sure Carousel was still here for all my amazing supportive customers to Shop!
Carousel is what it is today because of our customers who have become friends and a dedicated family supporting my dream!
Some fun things that came out of this year…
Carousel was featured in a commercial organized by the Small Business Advisory Centre Smith Falls, Digital Main St. supported by the Government of Canada. You can find it on https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=259979875830962
So much fun creating this video with Ben, the producer…just being myself sharing a few of my favorite things from Carousel.
We were also featured on the OV Boss Babes Podcast. This was an amazing experience to share my story and to inspire other woman entrepreneurs!
Another way we helped right here in our community…a fellow business owner was diagnosed with cancer. We wanted to help! We contacted one of our suppliers who graciously donated an item we were able to raffle off. 100% of the proceeds went to help him & his family to help with the costs of treatment, gas, meals, etc.
We all need to be there and support each other!

4. In your opinion what is exceptional about your business and what do your clients say/tell you about your business? (what makes your business unique, how do you go above and beyond for clients, the feedback you get from clients, what motivates you to continue, milestones and achievements)
Carousel is a destination and an experience! Service and the rapport we have with our customers set us apart from the rest!
We love getting feedback and hearing all the positive comments.
Carousel is a Family Business, so hearing how amazing my own children are at helping customers warms my heart. Being able to share my passion with my kids and teach them so many valuable life skills along the way is truly a blessing. All of our google reviews, Facebook reviews, personal messages & cards from customers truly show our hard works pays off!
Here is just one of many examples of our customer service…
A customer came in needing a “Big Sister” onesie made to announce she was pregnant with baby #2. She needed it by the next morning before 9 am. We know how important these moments are and made it happen…we even dropped them off at her home by 8:00 am!
Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference in someone’s day.
As a Small Business, we pride ourselves in offering personal service, going above & beyond for our customers!
Carousel has grown so much and is the Shabby Chic Children’s Boutique everyone loves because of all the love and support from our customers, our community, and Family XO
We cant wait to grow our brand and continue our story with you all.

Driveway Dave
“Opened his own business to help people find their dream vehicle – locally owned and operated after leaving a negative professional experience. Already successful and fun after such a short time out on his own!”
“A young man, from our town who goes above and beyond to help his customers obtain their dreams. Honest, reliable, and super friendly. He has been outstanding at promoting and supporting local charities and continues to do so now having taken the leap to be an independent businessman. Dave is followed on his new adventure by multitudes of past clients, all of whom trust and support him as he ventures into his new business. A true service orientated young Carleton Place businessman who provides personal attention and service to past and future customers, all while supporting many local charities and promoting our town in the most positive light.”

We asked Driveway Dave:
1. Tell us about your business (what do you do, how many years, how many staff, what are your products and services, goals and ambitions)
I am an independent automotive sales representative. I have over 9 years of experience in the automotive business. I currently have a staff of 1 (me) I sell the vehicle, provide warranty and financing options. I use other local repair shops (NV Automotive, Rick’s Glass Medic) to recondition vehicles and support local. I can also work remotely and bring the vehicle right to your location! I would love to grow to have a staff of salespeople in the next few years.

2. Tell us about your clients (who are your clients and why do they use your services, what makes them important/special for your business?)
My clients are amazing! They have supported me for over 8 years while I worked at a local dealership and many have followed me on my new adventure. I’ve been told they use my services because I am straightforward, honest and always go over and above. Any new clients can look forward to a one-stop-shop experience when buying a vehicle from me.

3. Tell us about your important achievements this year (ie. awards, recognition, new products, job creation, community involvement, keeping your sanity)
In 2020 I started working with Lanark County Food Bank and raised over $5,000 and filled 2 cube vans worth of food. I look forward to continuing my support of the Food Bank.

4. In your opinion what is exceptional about your business and what do your clients say/tell you about your business? (what makes your business unique, how do you go above and beyond for clients, the feedback you get from clients, what motivates you to continue, milestones and achievements)
I am locally raised and love being able to live and work in the town I grew up in. I have wonderful reviews from my clients on my Facebook page. My business is unique because I’m not like a typical dealership that hands you from the salesperson to the manager to the Finance Manager. You deal with me throughout the entire process. I can also bring the vehicle to you at your convenience once we have determined it is right for you by using photos, Zoom video, or other forms of social media. I’m motivated to grow because I truly love what I do and my clients over the years have become friends. I am so honored to be nominated for Entrepreneur of the Year!

Rotting Hill Escapes
“Well, we started our business during COVID, which was no easy task. Our model was to provide escape rooms that you could do at your house, a kind of break from the lockdown. We did extremely well and the letters of thanks were overwhelming. People enjoyed the family time.”

We asked Rotting Hill Escapes:
1. Tell us about your business (what do you do, how many years, how many staff, what are your products and services, goals and ambitions)

2. Tell us about your clients (who are your clients and why do they use your services, what makes them important/special for your business?)

3. Tell us about your important achievements this year (ie. awards, recognition, new products, job creation, community involvement, keeping your sanity)

4. In your opinion what is exceptional about your business and what do your clients say/tell you about your business? (what makes your business unique, how do you go above and beyond for clients, the feedback you get from clients, what motivates you to continue, milestones and achievements)

Taste Blooms
“The service and products produced at Taste Blooms are top-notch.”
“Great products and amazing customer service.”
“Lovely friendly and helpful people that truly want to participate in our community. And the food, especially the desserts are simply amazing. Have tried many of the keto treats which are out of this world and the peanut stew is also a favourite. We love Taste Blooms.”

We asked Taste Blooms:
1. Tell us about your business (what do you do, how many years, how many staff, what are your products and services, goals and ambitions)
The Pastry Shop & Eatery was opened during COVID on June 11, 2020 (the business came into existence in 2017, catering, Farmer’s Markets, teaching, and working with individual clients. I have always been a “foodie” (trying most foods, at least once) and like the idea of having a small business in a community that offers delicious, quality, and varied items. Our products reflect my “foodie” nature, a Le Cordon Bleu education, and nostalgia items from a variety of contributors.
Our shop is staffed by me and Mark (husband), and we have had an amazing team over the short while that we have been open (Cassidy, Shelley, Madison, Shayla, Morgan, and Deb). Our staff numbers will increase or decrease depending on supply and demand.

2. Tell us about your clients (who are your clients and why do they use your services, what makes them important/special for your business?)
Our clients are everyone who accesses our shop; they are the cornerstone of our business, and they are all important to us. They range from a coffee/treat on your way to work, lunch on the go/meeting a friend, meals for lunch/dinner, cupcakes/cakes/specialty items for gifts, birthdays, no reason, showers, weddings, COVID events, or just a chance to get a moment to themselves. They are important to us because they are people (ok, well some are dogs…we love dogs! but unless they are service dogs, we do ask them to wait outside).

3. Tell us about your important achievements this year (ie. awards, recognition, new products, job creation, community involvement, keeping your sanity)
This year, we won the Reader’s Choice Platinum Award in two categories (Best Cakes/Cupcakes and Best Bakery) and have been nominated for Entrepreneur of the Year and People’s Choice Awards (we are so appreciative of all this support!). Our other super important achievements are that we are still in business (amidst the craziness of COVID and building a house since May 2021) and supporting the community where possible (Annie Ferguson, James Patchell, local hospitals (staff appreciation), Cookies for Johnny (with Country Ridge), Gift Certificates – charitable events, Cupcakes for LAWS on National Cupcake Day, Hanging Coffee Program, Carleton Place Youth Centre, The Hunger Stop).

4. In your opinion what is exceptional about your business and what do your clients say/tell you about your business? (what makes your business unique, how do you go above and beyond for clients, the feedback you get from clients, what motivates you to continue, milestones and achievements)
What motivates us is that get-togethers, holidays, celebrations, special events keep life in balance – they require us to socialize, to celebrate and appreciate life, and to create memories for ourselves and others, and food is often a big component of that. We have been overwhelmed with (mostly) amazing feedback…ranging from how we saved someone’s wedding event (the previous caterer is no longer in business) to gratitude for a last-minute cake for a gentleman’s wife, who is now in care. Enough said! Good food is important!

The Crafters Collective Company
“The Crafters Collective Company has a vast array of local handmade crafts in Carleton Place She opened up during a pandemic to help LOCAL makers due to the pandemic there was not any crafts shows or markets The Crafters Collective helped.them by not taking a.commission or charging any rent during the holiday season 100 percent went directly to the makers to help during the pandemic That deserves my vote”
“This cool , trendy, collective store offers everything different and locally made to residents near and far. I enjoy their pop up Christmas event.”
“The owner’s name is Jennifer Lang. I have personally watched her build this business and put her all into it. She is an incredibly hard worker and always puts everyone’s needs first – including have proceeds donated off her new line. She would be the perfect candidate for this award.”

We asked The Crafters Collective Company:
1. Tell us about your business (what do you do, how many years, how many staff, what are your products and services, goals and ambitions)
The Crafters Collective Company began as A Holiday POP UP SHOP last November. We spotted this little space for rent on Bridge St, and decided to rent it and set start- up a little holiday shop to support Local Crafters and Mompreneurs as the pandemic had cancelled all handmade markets and craft fairs. We volunteered our time for six weeks and had so much fun meeting and greeting so many lovely people. What started as a way to give back to our community and support local makers by giving them 100% of the money made on their sales during a very difficult year in business. Has emerged into fun, friendship and the true spirit of kindness and community. We met so many amazing, talented artists. Had the pleasure of serving many local families and was sad to see it end after Christmas. But then the community spoke and we listened, they wanted us to stay. So The Crafters Collective Company was born.

We sell local handmade goods, apparel, condiments,baking and tea. This fall we are launching our own brand of apparel Hometown Clothing Co, a line of casual apparel representing our home town of Carleton Place and its history. I am a hometown girl, having left Carleton Place for a year to live in the big city. Coming back to my hometown was like a big warm hug. That is the feeling that you get wearing our high quality Hometown apparel. My goal is to become a must stop shop when exploring our downtown and to continue to offer local makers a space to highlight their creations.

2. Tell us about your clients (who are your clients and why do they use your services, what makes them important/special for your business?)
We have the greatest clients at The Crafters Collective Company. We offer both storefront and online shopping, so our customers come from many locations, it is so exciting to ship out a maker’s creations to another town, city or province. We get the warm fuzzies when a client sends feedback about how excited they are to receive their package. It is always nice to have locals pop in to the shop to pick up a gift or restock soap or hot sauce, it always ends up to be a 20 minute chat session. We have the pleasure of spending our days learning about their families, kids, travels, stories and so much more.

3. Tell us about your important achievements this year (ie. awards, recognition, new products, job creation, community involvement, keeping your sanity)
One of our biggest achievements was to open a shop during a pandemic, it had its challenges with shut downs and lack of sales during the shutdowns. However, we did learn how to get our maker’s goods online in a timely manner. An unexpected learning curve of sorts. Financially the first year of business is always a bit of a challenge but the pandemic added to the challenges, but we survived. We were blessed to find the perfect staff at the perfect time. Allowing me to spend some time planning and launching our Hometown Clothing Co brand. Being recognized by our community with the nominations for Entrepreneur of the year and People Choice is the highlight of the year, I am full of gratitude.

4. In your opinion what is exceptional about your business and what do your clients say/tell you about your business? (what makes your business unique, how do you go above and beyond for clients, feedback you get from clients, what motivates you to continue, milestones and achievements)
What is exceptional about our business is the makers and mompreneurs that we have the pleasure of working with every day and supporting them to achieve their goals. We often hear feedback from our customers about the quality and workmanship that our makers put into everything that they create. Our motivation and what makes me excited to come to work everyday is to promote their hard work and to work with our makers to provide a space that they feel supported, promoted and appreciated. One of the greatest strengths of any business is the quality of the goods and the customer service excellence of the staff, creating a shopping experience for our valued customers. We love to chat about how this maker buys old tshirts to create teddy bears and the veggies to make this sauce were grown in Ashton and so many other stories. I think that The Crafters Collective Company is blessed to have both and we are so grateful.

The Marketing Station
“Lisa does so much to promote local events and business. Dispite the pandemic, she was able to keep her business and the businesses she promotes alive and relevant.”

We asked The Marketing Station:
1. Tell us about your business (what do you do, how many years, how many staff, what are your products and services, goals and ambitions)
I am an experienced marketing professional with a passion for helping businesses connect with their customers. I started my company in 2014 after spending 14 years marketing the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club. I am a sole proprietor but often collaborate with my trusted and talented pool of sub-contractors to help complete projects.

The Marketing Station specializes in social media management and marketing consulting. I assist business owners by ensuring that responsibilities related to advertising, promotion, branding, customer relationship management and communications are dealt with effectively so they can concentrate on operating and growing their business.

Building a brand and reputation using social media requires knowing how to build relationships with an audience, targeting those most interested in your service or product, and encouraging engagement with the brand. The Marketing Station has the experience and resources to develop and maintain the presence your business needs and to create a positive and active community for your brand.

My short-term goal is to engage in more local networking events and my long-term goal is to increase my market share in the Lanark County area.

2. Tell us about your clients (who are your clients and why do they use your services, what makes them important/special for your business?)
I continue to grow the popularity of clients like the Waterfront Gastropub, Absolute Comedy, Your Credit Union, Performance Plus Rehabilitative Care Inc., Victory Travel & Events and Tiffany Fisher Real Estate.

Most of my business comes from referrals or word of mouth which is a true compliment to the quality of my work. I take great pride in building relationships with my clients and I am totally committed to helping them achieve their goals.

3. Tell us about your important achievements this year (ie. awards, recognition, new products, job creation, community involvement, keeping your sanity)
The Covid-19 crisis turned our world and work upside down but even with the new frustrations, I managed to survive and thrive during this new normal. I kept to a routine that kept me focused, motivated, and de-stressed. I examined the opportunities available and pivoted my focus, putting more energy into connecting with fellow business owners and digital transformation. I set small, achievable goals at the start of each day, and some long-term goals too, like researching how to adapt and grow my business. I had fun connecting with fellow Carleton Place Chamber members through the 26 coffees program and ultimately kept busy and positive.

4. In your opinion what is exceptional about your business and what do your clients say/tell you about your business? (what makes your business unique, how do you go above and beyond for clients, feedback you get from clients, what motivates you to continue, milestones and achievements)
I take great pride in being resilient, professional and resourceful. I secure mutually beneficial business and personal relationships, understanding that without such arrangements, nothing productive can be achieved over the long term. My business relationship choices are important to me and I make sure to not only meet but exceed client expectations.

My clients have described me as impressive, focused, a great investment for their business, reliable, trustworthy, professional, observant, innovative, creative and a pleasure to work with.