Culinary Dreams Do Come True: Chef Ami DiPasquale’s Story!

Being a woman in the culinary industry is rough. I wanted to follow in my grandmothers’ footsteps and learn how to cook. So, in 2009, I enrolled in the Culinary Skills / Chef Training program George Brown College. My class had 20 people in it, and I was 1 of 4 women. I was 20, and didn't know how to hold my knife unlike the others who came to school to refine their skills. I had a slow start.  People told me to give it up and go towards a different career, but I didn't listen.  I dealt with down talk, sexual power tripping, sexism, inappropriate behaviour, and disbelief in my skill…but my love for sharing my heart through cooking kept me going.

My first job at Origin Restaurant in Toronto refined my skills and cooking technique. I came to the job as an apprentice without knowing how to work basic equipment and without ever having worked a dinner service, but the chefs were patient with me. I went from being a oyster scrubber to first cook in my 2 years of employment at Origin. I learned discipline and I learned how to be strong and hardworking…skills that would get me noticed in the future.

I knew after I left that it was my sole goal -- and reason for going through everything I had -- to open a restaurant and own my business.  Be my own boss.  After leaving Origin, I worked as a sous chef at Blue Goose Pure Foods / Common Food in the summer container market at Harbourfront Centre. For the first time, I ran a staff of 12 and created my own menu.  I witnessed people eating my food and appreciating my vision.  I loved it!

To save money, I worked full time, 6-7 days a week and 12-hour shifts, as a junior sous chef at a large catering company. If only the people who told me to quit could see me now!   I headed weddings for 200 people with teams of ten under me. I catered private sit-down dinners for 6. Clients requested my services. The urge to open my own restaurant was becoming more and more pressing.  It would be a tapas restaurant named Ragazza with a Italian Fusion menu.  All homemade with love with a fine dining twist…

However, I wanted a business partner, and that's when -- out of nowhere -- I met Steffen Marin, the chef/owner of Heirloom Food Truck

At that point, I had spent two years in an elite position at the Food Dudes and was making good money.  After meeting Steffen, I quit my job and dropped it all to join him in his vision of promoting local and artisanal cuisine from his food truck.  Steffen’s vision soon became my own vision. We worked together to revamp his menu and make a name for the food truck. Together, we were getting attention with our food, and our love and passion for feeding our customers.

In June 2016, my dream finally became a reality.  I became co-owner of Heirloom.  After 6 years of cooking under other chefs, I finally had a chance to show people what I could do!  We've done catering, private events around the city, and we have worked the summer and winter markets. In 2017, we plan to open our first restaurant together, called Heirloom 2.0, promoting our local and sustainable cuisine, an extension of the food truck.  And I know that my dream tapas restaurant has a place in our future.   

Pretty good for a girl who was told she would never make it in this industry! 

Broadcasting All-Star Lands Sports Fan’s Dream Job

By Kyle Rooks

Photo credit: Agnata Lesnik,Fanshawe College

Photo credit: Agnata Lesnik,Fanshawe College

In 2012, Caroline Cameron graduated from Fanshawe’s Broadcast Journalism program on a Friday and started her career at Sportsnet in Toronto the following Monday. It was the start of a meteoric rise that saw her spend two years in Vancouver hosting Sportsnet’s national morning
show and, in 2014, be recognized with a Fanshawe Distinguished Alumni Award. In April 2016, she returned to her hometown (Toronto) to co-anchor the late night/early morning version of Sportsnet Central.

What does your job entail?

On a typical day, I arrive for work at 8:30 p.m., check in with my producer and discuss the show’s rundown alongside my co-anchor. I write my scripts, keep my eye on as many games as possible, spend some time in makeup and wardrobe and prepare to go live at 1 a.m. On a busy night, we do a post-game show out of a live event which is always fun! It keeps me on my toes! I do all my prep at home during the day. That consists of watching TV (tough life, I know), and doing a lot of reading.

What's the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is I get to sit and watch sports for a living! It’s really fun working with other sports fans. We watch the games justike one would at home, or out with friends. We cheer, debate and laugh along the way. The only difference is we’re doing it for work. It’s pretty cool!

 Is it safe to say this is your dream job?

 Absolutely! If you had told 13-year-old me, that this is what I’d be doing, I wouldn’t have believed you. I first set my sights on being a sports broadcaster early in high school. I loved playing and watching all kinds of sports, but I also grew up in a family that consumed news; putting the two together seemed like the perfect match. Now that I’ve gotten to where I am, I can’t help but think: what’s next? But your guess is as good as mine. We don’t know what TV will look like in 5 – 10 years, just like we didn’t know what it would look like 5 – 10 years ago. I’m just along for the ride!

What's your favourite sport?

Despite having two older brothers, I was the jock of the family growing up. As the little sister, I was always trying to catch up with them – whether it was playing catch in the backyard, kicking a ball around, or shooting hoops on the driveway. I played basketball and softball in high school, but, the sport I gravitated to the most was tennis. From a young age I played with my Dad. At 15, I volunteered to be a ball kid during the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Being on the court with some of the greatest players in the world grew my love of the game even more. I’ve met some of my best friends through the sport and still play a couple times a week.

What's been the highlight of your career so far?

Tough to say. I consider a highlight to be any moment I catch myself thinking “the little kid in me would be freaking out if she knew what’s happening right now!” I remember the first time I was in the Toronto Blue Jays dugout at the Rogers Centre - that was pretty surreal. Most recently, covering Milos Raonic’s run to the finals of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships, was a huge honour. As a fan of the sport, it was incredible to see him beat Roger Federer in the semi-finals. It was a great feeling to know that I was covering an important moment in Canadian sports history. Iwanted to do the story justice.

How did Fanshawe prepare you for your career?

 By the time I graduated, I already had the structure and skills to move forward. I knew how to speak to people, conduct interviews and craft a story. When I arrived for my first day at Sportsnet, as a deer caught in headlights – I quickly settled down because the surroundings and what was expected of me didn’t seem foreign. To this day, when I write scripts for the show, I still think back to the writing rules and lessons I learned from Jim Van Horne and other faculty at Fanshawe.

Reprinted with permission from Fanshawe College Alumni News. All rights reserved. 

Painting the Town Red: Carly’s Work Story

By Abigayle Walker, WorkStory Ambassador at University of Ottawa

We last saw Carly Silberstein in her first WorkStory back in 2012, when the Western University grad was working as a corporate event coordinator at KCI Management. Now, Carly comes back to share her journey on becoming a successful entrepreneur. She is the CEO and cofounder of a startup company, based in Toronto, called Redstone Agency . Being active members of industry associations, Carly and her business partner noticed that there was a gap in the market – younger generations were just not being represented or engaged by these types of organizations.

Redstone–  the youngest-run association management company in Canada– was created to fill this void.  

The agency provides its clientele with a well-rounded assortment of services that include event and association management, digital and technology solutions, and consultations. The business works with organizations such as TalentEgg, the Women’s Business Network, Women in Nuclear Canada and the Planning Standards Board to name a few.

Carly is truly passionate about her career and company! She especially loves the team that she works with and interacting with clients. Since Redstone represents a wide array of companies in different fields, Carly has the opportunity to wear many different hats and is required to perform a wide variety of tasks. She enjoys that every day is new and exciting.

The team at Redstone is constantly hard at work. Some days, they work on client events while other days are spent in the office, brainstorming and strategizing. Being a startup company, the Redstone team works vigorously to increase professional development and acquiring networking opportunities. The priority, however, is always to serve the client.

The success of Carly’s business is dependent not only on the hard work the team does, but also their ability to build and foster relationships. They always make a conscious effort to stay up-to-date on the constant pulse of the trade. The team also contributes to the field by volunteering, writing in industry publications, and participating in industry and non-industry events.

For aspiring event planners and entrepreneurs, Carly strongly recommends joining professional associations to create professional ties. She also stresses the importance of volunteering and internships/co-op, which she says are crucial because the experience gained is invaluable. Volunteering one’s time is a great opportunity to learn from others in the business. Carly’s closing remark was to always say “yes”…you won’t know what you’re going to love until you try it!

Life as a Corporate Recruiter: Q & A with Robert Pitman

Robert Pitman is a Corporate Recruiter at Robarts Clinical Trials in London, Canada and is responsible for overseeing all recruitment activities for the London, San Diego, and Amsterdam offices.  Below he shares info about what he does, what he loves about it, and the path he took to get there…and some pro tips!

What’s great about my work?  Being a Recruiter allows me to have conversations with new people every day. From every interview or pre-screen I learn something about other jobs, companies, and so on. Also, being a Recruiter allows me to use my observational and active listening skills to make an assessment of whether an individual will be a good fit for the job and the organization. I feel very lucky to be in a position to help people realize their potential.

A typical day?  Lots happens!  Gathering and sharing information, screening applications received over the last 24 hours.  For the long-listed candidates, pre-screen phone interviews are scheduled.  Usually, I conduct 1-3 interviews a day either in person or via Skype.  I send pre-screen interview notes to hiring managers for review, book corresponding future interviews, share job postings on LinkedIn, conduct headhunting activities using LinkedIn and over the phone.  I check industry news sites for any happenings in the world of CROs (Contract Research Organizations). I update recruitment metrics, review the status of current initiatives and perform “after care” – checking in on new employees that recently started in their positions.  And I create a plan for the next day…

An unusual day?   Unusual days might involve one (or several!) of the following:  brainstorming new recruitment initiatives, scouting pipeline candidates for future opportunities, conducting benchmarking or searching for information about competitors, attending a networking event, reviewing employee selection interventions, researching new talent acquisition tactics….there is always something new to learn!

Coolest thing about my job?  Currently, I am responsible for all of our vacancies which span Canada, the US, and the Netherlands. Having global responsibility is quite exciting as it has added a new layer of complexity to the recruitment process. There are nuances to each market and candidates often have different experiences and values. Another great aspect of my role is that I get the opportunities to hear other peoples’ “work stories”!

How did I get here?  During my first year at Western University, I applied for a summer job through the Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEPRP).  I was lucky enough to be selected for a position with Human Resources & Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and I held this position for 3 years, including during the school year. I had various mandates but the general mission involved helping youth (age 15-30) to find employment.  I really enjoyed this and ended up taking a number of classes related to Industrial/ Organizational Psychology at Western. I found Dr. Allen’s class one of the most interesting and practical in my time at Western.

One of the employees I managed while at HRSDC turned out to be a networking guru. We kept in touch over the years and he introduced me to the internal recruiter at Hays Specialist Recruitment in Toronto. I went through a number of interviews- including an Assessment Centre -  and was selected to become an agency Recruitment Consultant for the pharmaceutical industry. Agency recruitment definitely had its challenges, but I managed to build a solid base of clients and worked for three years with Hays, placing over 40 candidates and billing over $650,000.  Contingency recruitment – as this is called – can be very unpredictable.  In addition, as a consultant you can feel like the work is quite transactional.   

So, after three years, I decided to return to school to complete my Human Resources (HR) Certificate in pursuit of the Canadian Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation.  After that decision, it made sense to look for opportunities on the corporate side. I am originally from Windsor and have family in London, so when the position with Robarts presented itself, I jumped on it right away. It was definitely the right decision.  I could not be happier!

Some info & advice   Becoming a recruiter typically requires a college or university degree and coursework specialization in HR is helpful.  Increasingly, the CHRP designation is expected and the Certified Recruiter designation is also recognized.  To become a Corporate Recruiter it helps to have prior agency recruitment experience.    

Recruitment isn’t for everyone. Its most challenging aspects involve time management and communication. You deal with a huge number of stakeholders and candidates and it can be difficult to communicate effectively with everyone and on a timely basis.  However, if you are a social individual who enjoys building relationships, applying your observational skills, and you take an interest in I/O psychology, a career in recruitment could be a great fit!

Alumna Bringing Realism Back To The Art World

By Heather Hughes

Emily Copeland knows your eye better than you do.

A collection by Emily Copeland, BFA’15, for her thesis, titled The Stacks, was recently on display at the Artlab Gallery in the John Labatt Visual Arts Centre. This was Copeland’s first solo exhibit.   Photo by Heather Hughes.

A collection by Emily Copeland, BFA’15, for her thesis, titled The Stacks, was recently on display at the Artlab Gallery in the John Labatt Visual Arts Centre. This was Copeland’s first solo exhibit.   Photo by Heather Hughes.

Copeland, BFA’15, is perfecting the art of realism drawing. Only one year after graduation, the young artist is managed by Bernarducci Meisel Gallery in New York, which focuses on contemporary realist art. Currently, her work is part of the First Look exhibition at the gallery; she is working on completing a 12-piece exhibit for spring 2017.

“I’m now the youngest person in the gallery,” she said with a smile.

While many artists struggle for a few years (typically age 30 is the sweet spot where artists tend to gain notoriety, she said), Copeland was determined to do things differently and create her own opportunities.

She started to “creep” art dealers and galleries on their social media accounts, particularly on Instagram, and through following popular accounts, regular commenting and posting images of her work and process pictures she was able to make some meaningful connections. These efforts proved fruitful, as it connected her to Bernarducci Meisel Gallery and the alumna’s art now garners a price tag of about $10,000 ($7,000-$8,000 U.S.). She recently sold a piece to a collector in Australia.

“You reach more people on Instagram,” she said. “It’s a very modern way of doing things, but it’s the whole reason I have a career right now. I’m proud I’ve done it on my own. You don’t have to follow the typical route. You have to find ways to beat the system.”

 In 2014-15, she worked with piles – or stacks – of poker chips, books, wood, clothing and teacups. These elements were blown up much larger than life size to give it a surreal effect. According to her, this method gives the audience a unique viewpoint that exposes detail they wouldn’t normally see. Each stack was comprised of something different – different materials, textures and colours – causing a variety of different shades and tones. Even though these objects were completely random, she attempted to create a pattern of shapes that change from circular, to rectangular, to triangular, then back to rectangles and circles.

As a result of those efforts, that collection of her thesis work, titled The Stacks, was recently on display at the Artlab Gallery in the John Labatt Visual Arts Centre. This was Copeland’s first solo exhibit.

“I’d never thought I’d have a show here – let alone a solo show,” she said.

The London, Ont.-based artist dedicates about 10 hours a day on her craft. Her technique? She photographs vintage subjects, such as a worn leather baseball glove, a glittery disco ball or a burlap-wrapped spoon and fork. Using Photoshop, she magnifies sections of the image and recreates it in charcoal on Stonehenge paper, working from the top left corner and moving section-by-section. Some of the images can take upwards of 300 hours to complete.

She draws inspiration from Baroque era artists – Caravaggio, La Tour and Velazque – and their focus on mimesis (replicating what they see) and their contrasts with lighting. Her current influences are Jonathan Delafield Cook, C.J. Hendry and DiegoKoi, primarily because they work from photographs to create hyper-realistic works.

“Realism – people don’t do it anymore. They don’t really teach it anymore,” she explained, noting she doesn’t look for deep, contemplative meaning behind her works, instead she likes “creating things that are nice to look at. If I see an object, I think, that would look good in black and white in space. I don’t have a lot of meaning behind my drawings. With realism, I’m focused on the technique.”

Even though she has spent her whole life in art school in some form, Copeland didn’t always see herself becoming a professional artist.

She attended H.B. Beal Secondary School in London, which has a strong emphasis on the arts. At the time, however, she thought art would always be a hobby. She was pre-accepted into the Ivey Business School, but in second year switched to Visual Arts. Even afterward, she wasn’t committed to art as a career. However, in fourth year, everything changed – she fell back in love with drawing.

“I said, ‘Nope, I’m being an artist.’ Obviously I’m meant to do this. If I have to draw every day of my life, it’s not work,” said Copeland, whose work was recognized through the Undergraduate Awards program.

Her intricate drawings capture the texture and light reflections of an object in an almost photo-realist way. She is particularly attracted to drawing items that aren’t flat and have dimension to them. Currently, she is working on a large-scale vintage bicycle with a flower basket on the front.

She has created a few sport-related images, however she does not want to be pigeonholed into one subject matter. “I have my audience in mind at all times. I like to please different audiences.”

With such early success in her art career, Copeland continues to refine her talents and is always looking for new ways to connect with her audience.

“I’m very proud of myself. I work really hard. I’m very stubborn and when I’m not drawing, I’m researching. I want to prove (the critics) wrong,” she said.

Learn more about Emily Copeland and her work at http://www.emilycopelandartistry.com/ Follow her onInstagram e.copeland

 

 Posted with permission, Western News

 

 

 

Natalie Pecile…Making the world a better place

By Danila Di Croce

Photo by Giulio Muratori

Photo by Giulio Muratori

When Natalie Pecile decided to study science throughout high school, she was planning to follow in her father’s footsteps and become an engineer. However, that all changed when she realized that her extroverted personality was far better suited for the business world. 

Her decision was definitely the right one as this recent alumnus of York University’s Schulich School of Business has flourished with the opportunities her program provided her. At 21, this native of Toronto has already garnered a pretty impressive résumé. She spent a semester abroad in Bangkok, Thailand, developed a literacy program at her old elementary school, competed in Dubai for the Hult Prize, held the title of VP of Operations of Schulich’s Undergraduate Business Society, and she was just recently hired for a full-time position with the Tim Hortons Leadership Development Program. “I’ve always been interested in how to apply myself to benefit society,” she says. “Originally, I specialized in accounting and the non-profit business sector; however, I then switched to focus on marketing and entrepreneurship.”

That switch is what led her to Dubai. In her fourth year at Schulich, Pecile directed her focus on social entrepreneurship and social business. This resulted in her, along with three of her classmates, entering a local competition organized by the Hult Prize Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to launching the world’s next wave of social entrepreneurs. The competition invites students to develop new ideas for sustainable start-up enterprises that will help to solve the planet’s biggest challenges. Although Pecile and her team did not win, she points out that the experience was definitely worthwhile. “It was very empowering; it allowed me to use everything I had learned at school up until that point and apply it to a global challenge that I am really passionate about. It helped me to look at our issues with new perspectives and taught me to be more flexible and open to change, which I think will be very helpful moving forward.”

Pecile’s experience in Bangkok, Thailand, also left her with a positive impression. “Meeting people, discussing career options with them, and observing individuals who were pursing entrepreneurship was a great career influence.”

 Nowadays, Pecile is focusing on her new position at the Tim Hortons Leadership Development Program, which allows individuals to train in different areas of the business before deciding on which sector to commit to. “I am excited about the program as it gives me the opportunity to try out new things; most especially to experience marketing in ‘the real world,’ outside of school.”

When she isn’t busy trying out new ventures in the business world, Pecile occupies her time with organizing and overseeing events at York University. She also devotes time to the arts. As a graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Pecile enjoys playing the piano. When asked how she balances it all, Pecile credits her family for their support. “My parents have always let me make my decisions freely. They have always been supportive and helpful with their advice.”

She also credits her strong family ties for helping shape the person she has become. “We are close; for each special occasion we all gather at my grandparents’ house, and I really appreciate that because I know that not everyone has that.” She acknowledges both sets of grandparents, who hail from the Friuli and Lazio regions of Italy, for helping keep her connected to her Italian roots. “A lot of my Italian influence comes from food and speaking the language. Initially I learned Italian was I was little, and then I switched to English. My grandparents have always shown us traditions such as making sausages, wine and pasta sauce.”

In regards to continuing traditions, Pecile explains, “I definitely want to put more time into the Italian culture and concentrate on it more. I would love to improve in my speaking and continue the language with future generations of my family.”

When asked where she sees herself in the near future, Pecile says, “I want to learn everything about the business and hopefully one day become a successful entrepreneur. Having all parts of your life balanced and working hard at something, while improving the lives of others – that would be ideal.”

Reprinted with permission from Panoram Italia    

 

Unlocking the appeal of the escape room

By Tracy Robinson

Shawn Nagy, BA’14 (Psychology, Western University), and Emily Lyons, owners of Escape Canada on York Street, are working with Ivey Business School professor Ann Frost to use the facility for executive team building.

Adela Talbot, Western News

Adela Talbot, Western News

The teamwork required to work yourself through an ‘escape room’ is providing an alumnus with a growing business opportunity and a professor with a powerful training tool.

“Most people just want to come and have fun and they are buzzing when they leave,” said Shawn Nagy, BA’14 (Psychology), who along with Emily Lyons own Escape Canada on York Street. “But when I talk to teams about how they solved problems, it always comes down to someone on the team having a skill that others didn’t.”

Escape rooms are a physical adventure game where players are ‘locked’ in a room and must use elements in the room to solve a series of puzzles and ‘escape’ within a set time. For more than a decade, escape rooms have grown in popularity with players.

Nagy called escape rooms “a sensory experience of a perceived crisis” best solved with the combined skills of the people who are with you. Every escape room tells a story, an important part of the progress through the room and the enjoyment of solving puzzles.

Teamwork is essential, he stressed.

At Escape Canada, participants are given one hour to get through the storyline. There are generally 10-12 puzzles in a room and two-to-four steps in each puzzle. Solving puzzles can unlock doors, give you new puzzles and sometimes trigger surprise plot twists. Progress is monitored by game marshals via closed-circuit television and you are allowed to ask clues when you are stuck. Asking for clues may get you through the puzzle quicker, but the satisfaction of solving the puzzles usually means that you limit the number of clues that you request.

For inspiration, there is a leader board with time records for each room in the Escape Canada lobby.

“In an age where so much of our entertainment is experienced with our eyes only via screens, the appeal of an escape room comes from the immersive experience,” said Keegan Guidolin, a third-year Medical student, who along with his team holds time records at several escape rooms in London and Toronto.

“Not only are you completely surrounded by the puzzle (a part of the puzzle itself), you have to physically interact with the puzzle. You have to touch it, crawl through it, inspect it, listen to it and in at least one case, taste it. Escape rooms engage all of our senses and couple an immersive experience with challenging puzzles, teamwork and a sense of urgency to give you the rush of adrenaline only experienced with time running out.”

Keegan said teamwork is essential and that high-performance teams have members with diverse skill sets. “These teams understand the importance of humility and that there’s no shame in asking for help from a teammate,” he continued. “Good teams also have good communication and are able to understand the problem facing them and what solution they’re looking for.”

How teams solve problems is also an interest of Ivey Business School professor Ann Frost. She is currently using Escape Canada for executive team building.

“What seems to help are those people who are willing to verbalize. That sounds weird, but if people just start a running commentary on what they are observing they do better,” she explained. “They aren’t necessarily solving a problem, but if members of the team are verbal, it may be at exactly the moment someone with another problem needs what they have.”

Nagy is pleased to be a part of the collaboration with Ivey and believes teams can learn a lot about themselves from the rooms.

This maximizing of skills within a team is what makes escape rooms such good team-building experiences. Facilitated de-briefing is available for corporate groups to translate the escape room back to the work environment.

“In executive teams, they make connections to other people they didn’t have before and maybe they look at problems in more novel ways and not just from one perspective,” Frost said.

Nagy creates all the puzzles with help from Lyons and then constructs the rooms. To stay a step ahead of the gamers, a new room is installed about every six months. “Crafting the puzzles is my favourite part – but it’s not easy. Construction phases are intense. Sometimes, I will be standing in the shower and suddenly I’m calling to Emily to get me a pen because an idea just came to me.”

The London natives first got the idea for the escape room after visiting a room when they were travelling in Budapest. Building on their success in London, the pair will open another Escape Canada in Hamilton, in the coming months.

Reprinted with permission from Western News.

Sabrina Lemky: A Self-Made Soaper

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Sabrina Lemky is a soap-maker (soaper) extraordinaire and owner of Sab’s Soaps, located inside the Covent Garden Market in London, ON. Lemky says that she loves “everything about making soap and bath products”. Making soap involves shopping for new scents, formulating new soaps, communicating with customers, and more!

Sabrina Lemky Soap1.jpeg

Sabrina described her daily routine as follows: “A typical day [includes]: getting up early, checking emails, printing labels and gathering the products that are going to the shop that day. I open the store and spend the early part of the morning labeling and playing with my displays. Being in Covent Garden Market brings people from everywhere and from all walks of life and I get to meet and talk to lots of them. My husband takes over in the early afternoon so I can get to my soap lab and make a few batches. I am usually still working late into the evening. As we take care of every aspect of our business-- from the ordering, to the sales, to the books-- there is always something that needs doing. ”

Soap-making is a very hands-on process. However, Sabrina began her journey as a soaper in a more digital realm: “I watched hours of videos of other soapers on YouTube. Soon, I felt confident enough to try it myself. I gathered all the tools, the oils and scents, and plunged in. I was immediately hooked!” In addition to YouTube, Sabrina read everything she could get her hands on to learn more about the soap-making process and technique.

As a self-learner, Sabrina did not take any formal classes, but this has not hindered her success. “I keep up with demand by keeping lots and lots of lists! I also have spreadsheets for my spreadsheets.” By keeping current information at her fingertips, Sabrina can determine which supplies are necessary 4-6 weeks in advance. “Mind you, I cannot foresee chance, like if a customer comes in, loves a scent and cleans me out-- but I do my best,” she added.

“I think most people are surprised about the amount of time it takes to cure a batch.  It usually takes 4-6 weeks to cure…. I use a water discount these days, which means I use less water in the soap to start with” she continued. With less water, the evaporation process is quicker and so the soaps are usually ready after about four weeks.

As for her favourite soap, Sabrina Lemky says that they are all her favourite! “You may laugh, but it’s true. I love each and every scent I carry, or I wouldn’t carry it. I understand that some people don't like some scents and love others, but my nose has not let me down yet. ”

“My advice for anyone who wants to start a soap business is this: Take baby steps, start small. Order small amounts of ingredients and grow as your demand grows. This way you can keep more of your cash in your pocket vs. having a load of supplies that you hope to someday be able to justify with sales. Avoid loans if you can. Money woes can bog down a new business fast. When you start small, you keep folding your sales back into more supplies. When you own your business lock, stock and barrel every day is a joy. Because if it is all for you-- all yours-- the sky is the limit! This is a field where you will not see profits for quite a while, so be prepared to keep your day job.”

You can visit Sab’s Soaps at The Covent Garden Market Monday-Saturday 9-6, Friday 9-7:30 and Sunday 11-4 and also online at www.sabssoaps.ca

Canadian Cool: Illbury and Goose putting the hip back in the Great White North

by Jason Winders

Everybody has that story – that time at a cottage, that time at the beach, that time where waves lapped at your toes while a bonfire warmed your back. Meghan Kraft and Daniel Phillips want you to remember those times every time you think of their brand.

 “We want to be a Canadian heritage brand, a lifestyle brand meant for every Canadian,” Kraft said. “People want to be proud to be Canadian, but they don’t want a tacky T-shirt to do it in. We have given them that opportunity to be cool and hip and trendy and socially responsible – all things Canadians are.”

Kraft, BSc’14 (Animal Behaviour), along with Phillips, a Fanshawe College graphic design graduate, are the creators of Illbury and Goose, a Canadian clothing and lifestyle company.

Today, the company is gaining attention not only for its style, but for its commitment to produce clothing, accessories and apothecary items for Canadian in Canada, all toward a mission of taking the definition of Canadian beyond “campfires and dogsleds.”

And it all started a handful of years ago with a couple of T-shirts.

In 2012, a gap in the “cool, unique products for guys” space led Phillips to design their first handful of shirts – one design showing a skull among geometric shapes, another bombers dropping wasps from their bays. They were cool, but perhaps not as deep as some thought.

“People thought we were sending this huge, huge political message,” Phillips laughed. “Honestly, we just thought they looked cool. I really just wanted a shirt with a skeleton on it.”

And so did a lot of other people.

The company – then known as dpms (Dan Phillips Media Studio) – was a face-to-face business from the start. It grew thanks to hustle and chutzpa.

Customers connected with them over a rented table at the Western Fair Farmers and Crafts Market or countless summer festivals across the region. Strangers came by the pair’s apartment to pick up orders. They sold beaded bracelets straight off their wrists in bars around town.

“We pretty much traveled anywhere where we could influence people in short time spurts. It was such a cool thing. We got to test market our product in this really organic way,” Kraft said. “We never forced it; there was no plan. We did something, people liked it and we decided to keep doing that.”

As the company grew in popularity, so did the product line – hats, leather goods, even personal care and apothecary items.

The breakthrough came when they were recruited into Biz Inc. (now Propel), Western’s business accelerator, and opened a popup store in the basement of the University Community Centre in November 2012. “That was the most inspirational, most important thing that ever happened to me at Western,” Kraft said.

The following academic year, she deepened her connection to Biz Inc. She lived there in many ways, using the space to study and work on the business. Today, Kraft credits John Pollock, former Director of Biz Inc., for the company’s biggest push.

“Our business would not be the same without him. He really started pushing us to figure out who we were, what we wanted to do,” she said of the man she still calls “one of my greatest mentors.” “We were forced to write our business plan, create some goals and really figure out our company’s values. We didn’t know any of that going in because it was an experiment until then.

“All of the pieces started connecting together at that point.”

In 2014, Kraft and Phillips won the Seed Your Startup competition and used the prize money to incorporate the business. With incorporation came a name change as the dpms name was shared with an American gun manufacturer.

Enter Illbury and Goose, a name honouring businesses run by their grandparents, Illbury Furs in Woodstock, Ont., and The Country Goose in Strathroy, Ont.

“We feel it is a really, strong Canadian heritage name. I feel like it could be comparable to Abercrombie and Fitch. It sounds so Canadian; the history behind the brand is unbelievable. That has led us to what Illbury and Goose is,” Kraft said.

Today, the company continues to sell via its website, illburyandgoose.com, and now boasts two physical locations, one opened at 884 Dundas Street in London in August 2015, a second on Queen Street West in Toronto in August 2016.

The signature product is its logo, a maple leaf fused to the top of an anchor. Not only is it the top-selling item, but it ‘anchors’ the company’s brand story better than any other single item.

“We get to hear these amazing stories from our customers wearing the brand around the world,” Kraft said. “It is absolutely crazy. We were selling T-shirts in a park and from our house, and four years later, we have all this.”

This article appeared in the Fall2016 edition of Western University’s Alumni Gazette. Reprinted with permission.