Women get down to business at entrepreneurial showcase
Sarah Powell envisions a day when harried parents can drop by her shop to pick up a bag lunch for their child on the way to school.
She’s launched The Healthy Lunch Bag, which cooks and packages healthy meals for corporate meetings, special events and daycares.
Powell was one of the featured businesses at a sold-out entrepreneurial showcase Thursday aimed at women dubbed Success in the City. The feminine touch was everywhere, from the tagline on the poster (Pastels beat a power tie), to the babies bouncing on knees to the take-home cupcakes for each attendee.
The inaugural event, organized by the city’s economic development department, was aimed to coincide with International Women’s Day. It featured a range of speakers, plenty of advice and attracted a mix of people, from university students to business veterans to those pondering a move to entrepreneurship.
“This is long overdue,” said Kristin Huigenbos, co-ordinator of the city’s Small Business Enterprise Centre.
“We needed to take the opportunity to connect our women entrepreneurs and identify their needs, challenges and struggles.”
Powell said the experience of other women shared at the event convinced her that she can’t do everything by herself.
“I need to get help with my business plan. Actually, I don’t even have a business plan that’s written down.”
She also learned that it’s normal to doubt yourself and your idea early on.
“That’s what happens when you try to do it all.”
Powell provides three- and four-piece lunches for $10 and $13. All the food comes from local farmers’ markets. After leasing a commercial kitchen, Powell is turning her attention to marketing her business. Her goal is a storefront location and a presence in local schools.
Powell, who has a diploma in holistic nutrition, got the idea for a business while staying at home with her young daughter.
“I figured there had to be market for lunch time corporate catering that’s not pizza or unhealthy stuff.”
One of the success stories of the day was Momstown, an 18-chapter nationwide organization that connects mothers of children under five. Momstown hosts an online community for moms but also organizes events, play groups and programming in the arts, math, fitness, nutrition, play and literacy.
“Some of our moms are new to Hamilton but a lot are career women who had a social network but are now on maternity leave and craving that social construct,” said Andrea Kovacs, owner of the Hamilton chapter of Momstown.
The company makes money through linking advertisers with the lucrative and powerful mommy demographic who will be loyal to companies which serve their needs, says Kovacs. Moms then share that information with each other.
“We call it the word of mom,” says Kovacs.
Jennifer Blakeley, founder of Alphabet Photography was the keynote speaker. She shared her tales of leveraging celebrity endorsements and innovative marketing stunts, along with her mistakes and stumbles in building her Niagara photography company.
Her advice included: get a good lawyer to look over every deal; think bigger than yourself; risk rejection in seeking partnerships; and embrace social media.
“When people feel like they know you, they feel they can trust you and they will spend their money with you.”
Click here to read the full story from the Hamilton Spectator. Photo credit: Barry Gray, Hamilton Spectator.
Michael Marini with CHML – March 6, 2012
Michael Marini, Marketing Coordinator with Hamilton Economic Development joined CHML’s Scott Thompson to chat about recent Hamilton investment stories.
Click here to listen.
Where local eats meet
Papa Leo’s cooks up fresh new partnerships.
Leo Santos brings another dimension to the term “eat local.”
Not only does his Hamilton restaurant serve locally raised food whenever possible, it also focuses on other homegrown businesses as suppliers.
Santos opened Papa Leo’s, on Concession Street just a block west of Juravinski Hospital, some 18 months ago with the idea that he would have it reflect the city and its agriculture.
“It came from me being here and wanting to open a place based on what is available locally,” Santos says.
That means he does his own sourcing and shopping — no wholesalers, thank you — and his menu offers “what I can get locally when I can get it.” So the coffee is a special roast from Red Hill Coffee Trade on Lancing Drive on the east Mountain, the bacon is cured by Super Sausage on Stone Church Road, the baked goods are fresh from the ovens of Cake & Loaf on Dundurn Street, the custom-made chourico sausage arrives from Alves Meats on MacNab Street North and every drop of dairy hails from Hewitt’s in Hagersville. All that local food is cooked by Chanta Hack, a graduate of Hamilton’s Liaison College. Even the décor of Papa Leo’s shouts Hamilton, thanks to local multimedia artist Amanda McIntyre.
“Once the local farmers’ markets open, I’m there,” Santos says, adding he frequents the ones where he deals directly with the farmers themselves, especially the Hamilton Mountain Farmers’ Market across the street on Viewpoint Avenue.
Papa Leo’s is open only for breakfast and lunch, although dinner is in Santos’s business plan for this year. He also does private catering.
The reception to the concept has been very positive, Santos says. “People are ecstatic. This is what people are looking for in my community here on Concession and elsewhere in Hamilton.”
Friendship has a lot to do with how Santos developed his business. He worked as a waiter at the Ancaster Mill along with McIntyre before they pursued their own career paths.
McIntyre’s most visible presence is at Papa Leo’s, where the walls are adorned with four large close-up photos of fruits and vegetables she took at markets in Dundas, Ancaster and on . “Leo has been fantastic. He knew I was an emerging artist and needed exposure,” McIntyre says.
Jason Hofing, who owns Red Hill Coffee Trade, visited Papa Leo’s shortly after it opened to pitch his product and the fit was right. The bonus was that two young Hamilton entrepreneurs were able to team up and support each other.
Hofing and his wife, Rachel, started roasting coffee three years ago, concentrating entirely on fair trade and organic beans. They buy raw beans from all over the world, then roast them fresh in small batches for customers. “Leo gets the freshest possible. I roast his coffee on Wednesday and he gets it Thursday morning,” Hofing says.
Papa Leo’s Restaurant
638 Concession St.
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Red Hill Coffee Trade
75 Lancing Dr.
Hours: Monday to Wednesday, 10.30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, noon to 6.30 p.m.
RHCT also has a coffee bar at the downtown Hamilton Farmers’ Market, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
1151 Stone Church Rd. E.
Hours: Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, 9 a.m. to 7.30 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cake & Loaf Bakery
321 Dundurn St. S.
Hours: Tuesday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Sunday, Monday
157 MacNab St. N.
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Hewitt’s Dairy Bar
4210 Highway 6, Hagersville
Hours: Daily, 9.30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Pitching grants to business is hardball
In the auto parts business shaving a single penny off the cost of production can mean the difference between profits and bankruptcy.
When Guelph’s Linamar Corporation went in search of those savings it found its answer at McMaster University’s engineering department. where Stephen Veldhuis helped the company develop new tooling for its production equipment to make the machines more efficient.
“In a company like that you have millions of dollars invested in machinery, but a $100 tool determines the productivity of the machine,” Velduis said. “There’s not much you can (do) on the machine side, but you can do something with the tooling.”
Veldhuis was among a group of researchers making speed-dating like pitches to an audience of business people and other scientists Thursday at the CanmetMATERIALS lab at the McMaster Innovation Park. The occasion was an event designed to show the range of government funding programs, and university researchers, available to help Canadian industry survive in a tough new world.
Sponsors of the event included the city’s economic development department, National Sciences and Engineering Research Council and McMaster.
Selling business on the benefits of government help isn’t always an easy job, admitted Carolynn Reid, of economic development.
“Government is often seen as difficult so sometimes there’s a reluctance to even ask for help,” she said, adding overcoming that fear may be the key for firms staying in business.
“Everything that government says about growing our economy today is innovate,” she said. “We want to get the message out that we’re here to help.”
On the scientific side, McMaster and Canmet researchers are working on dozens of projects that could aid manufacturers in anything from understanding the mechanical behaviour of steel, to new ways of modelling production processes, to finding the most efficient forms of operating, to finding new ways of forming steel to meet the demand for lighter but stronger metal for fuel efficient auto bodies.
To finance the search for ways to turn that research into new products and processes, the federal government offers a range of programs targeted at small-medium sized companies — usually those with fewer than 500 employees.
The most recent of these programs is Engage, launched in 2010 by NSERC. It provides up to $25,000 for a six month project aimed at moving a new process or tool from the lab bench to the production floor.
Applications under this program can be processed in as little as six week and 87 per cent of applications are approved.
“Look at it this way, that means you have only a one-in-10 chance of not making the grade,” quipped John Jackson of NSERC.
Click here to read the full story from the Hamilton Spectator.
With needle and thread in downtown Hamilton
The just-opened Needlework is a boutique fabric store and sewing room. Like the hip ones on Queen West in Toronto as well as London and New York, Needlework caters to a growing crowd of people who want to make it themselves.
Textile student Kate Hunter and friend Liz Simpson opened the store at 174 James St. N. after a year of planning, and a few “am I crazy?” doubts and worries, according to Hunter.
Needlework sells fabric and sewing supplies, including needles, thread, scissors, patterns, zippers and buttons. Since Eaton’s closed 13 years ago, stitchers in the King and James area had to trek to Ottawa Street just for a thimble.What makes Needlework unique is the classes they hold — from basic sewing to more skilled projects such as making shirts and pants. The three-hour sessions on evenings and weekends are $45, plus materials.
Hunter and Simpson will teach some of the basic courses and specialists have been recruited to teach quilting, felting, embroidery, even moccasin making.
Needlework is equipped with five Bernina sewing machines, a large work table, and an ironing station. Sewing machines can also be rented for $6 an hour for individual projects.
Opening Needlework is a leap of faith for the two twentysomethings. Hunter is a few months away from graduating Sheridan College’s textile design course. Simpson is self-taught in sewing and textile crafts.
Though it’s a passion for both women, they’re learning about the financial side of running a business. They received a $10,000 grant from the Canadian Youth Business Foundation.
“We had to make a business plan, and that really forced us to think through our goals and expectations,” says Hunter. A loan from “the bank of my parents” also helped, Hunter adds.
Equipment and furnishings were bought second hand, and the pair worked long hours painting and decorating the attractive space.
“The response has been amazing, especially on social media,” says Simpson. After mentions on Twitter and Facebook, they had a steady stream of visitors during the February Art Crawl.
“We were getting asked if we hemmed pants too. We sent people next door to Olinda’s for that work,” says Simpson.
A mini textile row might be developing on James North, next to Needlework, Olinda’s Fashion Studio does alterations, designs and dressmaking, and further north, Hansen and Lubbers make drapes and furniture coverings.
Fabric at Needlework is cotton, some of it organic with water-based dyes. The selection is a colourful blend of vintage and modern prints. Both women like the work of American textile design Amy Butler, and carry her whimsical fabrics. The average price is $14 a metre.
Visit iloveneedlework.com for a list of sewing classes and other projects.
Click here to read the full story from the Hamilton Spectator.
Columbian Chemicals announces major Hamilton expansion
A major expansion is in store for a Hamilton company.
Columbian Chemicals announced Tuesday it has “entered the initial phase of expansion evaluation” of its local plant as demand for its products rises.
In a news release, the company said major global tire manufacturers have announced significant expansion programs in North America driving expected demand growth for the carbon black made in Hamilton beyond current production capacity.
The company did not reveal the value of the expansion or size of the project.
“Birla Carbon is committed to supporting our customers’ growth plans,” said John Loudermilk, Columbian’s President, North America. “The Hamilton Plant’s outstanding history of producing world class products, the proximity to our customer base, and the excellent talent pool in the Ontario region position us well to provide that support.”
Local plant manager Brian Young added: “This is an exciting opportunity for the Hamilton Plant and a testament to our outstanding workforce and the Hamilton Region.”
Columbian Chemicals is a division of Birla Carbon, the world leading carbon black business of the Adyta Birla Group, a $35B global conglomerate.
The company said it will begin the necessary permitting processes along with front end engineering in the first quarter of 2012 to confirm feasibility of new production capacity along with a state of the art energy center.
Phase 1 of the investment is expected to include an estimated 45,000 tonnes of new carbon black production capacity along with an energy centre designed to leverage efficiencies of the plant to supply electricity for both internal and external uses.
Click here to read the full story from the Hamilton Spectator. Photo: Ron Albertson/The Hamilton Spectator
Celebration of Business Announcement on CHML
Michael Marini, Marketing Coordinator with Hamilton Economic development and David Adames, President and CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce joined Bill Kelly on CHML to discuss a big day in Hamilton – March 26, the Celebration of Business.
Click here to listen.
McMaster University receives $30M Donation
A family foundation is donating $30 million to McMaster University to accelerate innovations in health research, education and patient care.
The donation by the Marta and Owen Boris Foundation was announced Monday at McMaster in Hamilton, where the Boris family lives.
Click here to read the full story.
Hamilton Highlights Newsletter – January 2012
In the January 2012 newsletter of Hamilton Highlights…
- Downtown looking up…again!
- Franchisees Wanted
- BNN Features Clean-Tech Company
- Calling All Good News
City department takes away four economic development awards
Hamilton’s economic development division collected four business development awards at the Economic Developers Council of Ontario annual conference Thursday night.
Click here to read full story.