Futurpreneur invites feedback from local community for action plan

Photo by Shane Marmel

Futurpreneur Manitoba is the national organization’s strongest division per capita. That’s thanks to a lot of creative Manitoban entrepreneurs, and a busy staff which includes director Joelle Foster, who works tirelessly to help jumpstart local businesses.
The support for local entrepreneurs seems to be widespread – a recent Futurpreneur roundtable event, called Action Entrepreneurship, invited input from the business community and was the most attended of any of the other provinces or territories.
The second annual forum was held at The Metropolitan Entertainment Centre with key members of the business community, young entrepreneurs, supporters and government representatives brainstorming ideas for the organization’s action plan. Futurpreneur assists young entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 39 with funding, mentorship and support tools to help them grow successful businesses.
This year’s topic was an item that the organization identified as its biggest challenge last year: supporting young businesses’ growth.
Futurpreneur Canada has been able to champion many successful business launches, to help instill confidence and competence in its entrepreneurs, and to help educate them and arm them with the experience they need to run a business. However, small business growth saw the least progress in all of its identified missions.
The event began with a panel of young entrepreneurs from various sectors: Zach Wolff, co-founder and CEO of Exigence Technologies; Stefan Maynard, co-founder of Bold Innovation Group; and Alex Ethans, co-founder and operator of Eph Apparel.
Growth has different meanings
For each, growth means very different things. Exigence has a specialized technology in the medical field that destroys microbes and prevents infections in healthcare settings; it is planning to add seven members to the company this year. Bold struggles with rapidly outgrowing its office space year after year in opposition to long lease agreements and pricey renovations; the e-commerce specialists continue to add staff, new app developments and large international clients to their docket.
Eph Apparel, the custom suit retailer, just completed its third consecutive year of growing revenue by 100 per cent, and now boasts 23 direct sales reps across Canada which will help it expand into the national market and test out a new retail stream.
Their panel discussion helped set the stage for the first roundtable question: Why is it important for young entrepreneurs to grow their business?
Our table, which featured a student engagement coordinator from a local school division, a Grade 12 student, a representative from Junior Achievement of Manitoba, a woman from the agribusiness field and a young entrepreneur, went to work debunking the question.
What does growth mean for different businesses? What should it look like?
When the results were tabulated on-screen, we learnt that our entrepreneur-of-the-moment, Jen Gower of A Dog’s Reflection, had been the first in any of the national discussions to mention that growth should be organic, and not come at the expense of the quality of any services.
She was proud of the thorough attention and intimacy she offers to pet owners as a trainer and groomer, and didn’t want to sacrifice that at the expense of growth.
So – why is growth important?
Well, we know that many of the helpful services like Futurpreneur and Startup Winnipeg are looking to assist scalable enterprises – businesses that will create jobs and benefit the economy, most importantly. Certainly, the future also depends on young entrepreneurs to drive innovation and become the role models for other entrepreneurs-to-be – and sometimes it’s best to assume the risk while you’re young.
However, attendees also came up with a number of deterrents that might be getting in the way: fear of failure/risk aversion, struggle to build the right relationships, shortage of time or energy, lack of resources, lack of communication and brand recognition in the new market, lack of knowledge of new market opportunities, navigating regulation and red tape, and difficulty finding and retaining the right talent.
All of these astute observations will find their way into Futurpreneur’s action plan, and will help Manitoba’s young entrepreneur community pull itself even further ahead of the herd to stay.

Spring cleaning: 5 things to remove from your life

Note to Self - Faye Armstrong
Note to Self – Faye Armstrong

There’s a sense of hope and renewal in the air when the season shifts to spring. Think of the words we associate with spring: fresh, blossoming, awakening, growth.
As you continue to move forward with plans, goals and projects, take some time to do some spring cleaning in your life. Clear out what no longer serves you so that you can make room for all of the positive things that are coming into your life. Here are a few things to throw out with last year’s boots.
Excuses
There’s two parts to this. First is to ask yourself if the reason you’re making excuses or procrastinating is simply because the task at hand just isn’t as appealing as watching Netflix with your cat, or if it’s because the task is not truly necessary or tied to something you are passionate about.
If the task isn’t a required part of life, and it doesn’t align with a goal that is meaningful to you, you may want to reevaluate why you feel the need to do that task in the first place.
But be honest with yourself here. If you do truly see the value in completing whatever it is that you’re putting off, shake off those excuses and get on it. You’ll thank yourself when you’re done.
Physical clutter
When your home/vehicle/workspace/etc. is cluttered, it can be hard to focus. We all have a different threshold for how much of a mess we can tolerate (I personally can’t handle doing anything after dinner until the dishes are done), but if you’ve reached yours, tackling the physical clutter can go a long way in clearing the clutter in your mind. Clean all the things!
Guilt-driven commitments
Sometimes you’re going to agree to do something you don’t really feel like doing because it’s the nice thing to do (you’re such a sweetheart). That’s awesome! But if you are finding yourself saying yes to every opportunity, commitment, and invitation that comes your way, you may not be leaving a lot of room for the things that you do want in your life.
It can be tempting to take on as many opportunities as you get offered, or difficult to say no to an invitation from a friend, but when it comes to what you allow in your life, think quality over quantity.
Negativity
This is probably an obvious one, but worth talking about nonetheless. I’m not talking about ignoring your sadness/anger/frustration/whatever has you feeling crappy and slapping on a smiley face.
I’m talking about examining those feelings, maybe even trying to make friends with them (or at least acknowledging their existence), getting to the bottom of where they’re coming from, and then, little by little, taking back the power that they have over you. Negativity may be a part of life, but only you decide what you do with it and how much it dictates your life.
Self-shaming
You know that golden rule “do unto others as you wish to have done unto you?” Here’s another one: do unto yourself as you would do unto others. Would you talk to your friends the way you talk to yourself in front of the mirror? Would you hold a grudge against someone for a simple mistake the same way that you haven’t forgiven yourself for that slipup you had last year?
Be kind and compassionate to your beautiful self! You are growing – be gentle and let yourself bloom.
Faye Armstrong is a life coach based in Winnipeg who is passionate about living life to the fullest and helping others do the same. For a little motivation or to learn more about personal coaching, visit http://www.fayeaarmstrong.com.

Drink your way to healthy skin

Before you break out your shakers and olives, let me briefly serve as the bearer of bad news. When I say drinking, what I’m referring to is indeed H2O. Because, sorry, although martinis may make you feel younger and sexier, they aren’t going to solve your life problems (or your skin’s anyway).
With that being said, you probably won’t catch me going too far without my trusty purple Lululemon water bottle safely stowed away in my purse. And it’s not because I’m out-of-this-world thirsty or because I have some undisclosed health issue – and it’s certainly not because I have a particular love for going to the bathroom every 30 minutes.
It’s because of its plentiful array of health and beauty benefits. Depending on my activity level, I drink between three to four litres of water per day.
At first glance, and especially if you’re accustomed to downing much less of the bland beverage, this looks like an ungodly amount of sipping – but rest assured, you can easily do it, and your bladder will adjust. And it will pay off.
Not only do I now get headachy and groggy if I’m not consistently sipping, but because my body has learned to expect a certain level of hydration, other consequences of thirst bear extra weight for me. Irritability, mistaken pangs of hunger-for-thirst, and sallow skin are all common side effects of dehydration one might experience if your water intake doesn’t measure up.
And it probably doesn’t. Of most personal training clients I’ve worked with, most don’t even come near to where they should be when it comes to daily water intake.
Water is one of the most underrated beauty products out there, and the easiest health goal to hit if you’re striving to meet one.
Still not convinced? Here’s some of my favourite benefits of toting a (spill-proof, stainless steel) water bottle around at all times, and I promise it’s worth the nerdiness you may get called out on:
-You’ll develop clearer, more radiant skin
-You’ll achieve deeper, better quality sleeps
-You’ll experience less urges to snack when you’re not actually hungry
-Your mood and brain power will be boosted
-Your body will be more efficient at flushing out toxins like uric and lactic acid, and you’ll lessen the burden on your kidneys
-You’ll be able to prevent and combat colds and flus more efficiently
-You’ll lose weight more easily (and be more suc cessful in keeping it off!)
Although it’s difficult for experts to agree on exactly how much water a person needs, I can almost guarantee you aren’t getting enough. And although it’s technically possible to drink too much water, most of the population veers toward, yes – dehydration – as drastic as it seems.
If you suffer from back pain, stomach pains, or extreme fatigue, you could very well be experiencing a version of dehydration, and it’s time to take the reins and start chugging. If you find the challenge daunting, I’d recommend making a goal for yourself to start off by downing one litre by noon, and another two litres by the time you go to bed.
Every single day.
Your skin and what’s inside will thank you.
Tannis Miller is a personal trainer and business owner at Twistmetoned.com, and an experienced self-taught makeup artist and beauty guru. Tannis’ work has been published in and on the covers of It’s Love Winnipeg, Status Fitness Magazine, and Inside Fitness magazines.

The first family of Normandy establishes community on Corydon

The Normandy Shoppe family is such a Corydon Avenue staple that it’s hard to believe the men’s fashion and lifestyle shop just celebrated its first year in business.
“It just feels like we’ve been here forever,” confirms Amanda Remond, one-third of the shop’s fixtures, which include her partner Christopher Saniuk and their store greeter, a mini auburn-coated goldendoodle named Norman.

Norman, the handsome store greeter at the shop.
Norman, the handsome store greeter at the shop.

It’s their familiarity that makes them feel like veterans to the scene – a routine of easy conversation follows Norman’s eager welcome. They’ve slipped comfortably into a home that didn’t immediately seem like an obvious fit.
“The entire place was this bubbling white plastic paneling… Chris was like, ‘This is the space.’
“I couldn’t picture it,” says Amanda.
What used to house kitschy shops like Sugar Mountain and Dingo’s Wild & Crazy Dogs, the couple turned into one of the finest displays of reclaimed wood and industrial decor in the city. They spent nearly an entire summer gathering wood for Chris to complete the renovation.

The stunning makeover at the Corydon Avenue shop, made even more beautiful by large windows providing midday light.
The stunning makeover at the Corydon Avenue shop, made even more beautiful by large windows providing midday light.

When it opened in November 2013, the store had so much identity that it quickly cemented its place in Winnipeg’s psyche. Norman’s name was even chosen in homage to the shop, so he could be known as the “Prince of Normandy.”
Time has flown for Winnipeg’s first family of Normandy, witnessing brisk growth in the store’s customer base and interest flourish from brand reps.
Amanda reflects on Normandy’s humble beginnings, back when they had an unfinished store and no business clout to speak of. “We had to go meet (brand reps) just to be like, ‘Hey, we’re normal people. We’re going to represent your brands well.’”
This year, they returned to the annual New York Men’s Market Week, and found that exhibiting brands knew them and actively sought out to work with them. “It was like a 180 – people wanted to meet us,” she says.
Why it works
Many things distinguish Normandy in the local market – while there are places like Old Faithful Shop and Neighbour Shop in Vancouver with heritage-driven decor and a return to old-school fine craftsmanship – the same things firmly plant Normandy in a league of its own here.
The high-end brands chosen are ethically made (mostly in the United States), and are meant to endure. Brands like Filson have been quality assured since 1897, and were previously unavailable in Winnipeg.“It was kind of ‘see a need, fill a need,’” says Amanda. “If your price point is going to be the same as H&M and Zara, they’re just going to shop there because there’s more selection.

Brands are high-quality and meant to endure. Stock is ordered is small batches to ensure the pieces are unique in Winnipeg.
Brands are high-quality and meant to endure. Clothing is ordered is small batches to ensure the pieces are unique in Winnipeg.

“It’s important to us to carry good brands that have a good story and represent good people… And we only do small orders. It keeps it more of a boutique experience.”
Besides answering a need in the market, Normandy goes well beyond the call of duty for a fashion boutique.
They host interesting events – an upcoming touring show will solidify a brand’s motorcycle culture ties with bikes on display and a shot of whiskey administered with T-shirt purchases. (Chris’ pride, a’65 Ducati, is always perched in a focal point in the shop.)

The bike (and Norman).
Chris’ bike (and Norman).

And Normandy says “yes” to most community endeavours – hosting wedding photoshoots, music video recordings, pop-up shops, and even an oyster party. “I think the craziest off-brand thing we did was a baby shower,” laughs Amanda.
They welcome their community hangout reputation, recommending nearby restaurants and accepting freshly coiffed visitors for Norman from the next-door Hip Pooch.
“It’s a good little meeting place,” affirms Chris. “Getting the community together keeps people interested, keeps things changing.”
There have also been a few successful local businesses nurtured by Normandy. BeardBrothers Woodworking sold its cutting boards at Normandy, and now counts products at King + Bannatyne and other prosperous contracts to its credit, allowing them to pursue their dream full-time. Matt Jenkins of Cloverdale Forge, a custom blacksmith, approached Normandy to sell his rugged and utilitarian metals.
“This is our livelihood now,” explains Amanda. “We’re not going to say ‘no’ to people to help them do what they want to do.”
When it comes down to it, few things are more inviting than reliable customer service, and since you can go in everyday and find either Chris or Amanda, who’re endlessly knowledgeable about their brands, it’s nice to know you’re in capable hands each visit.
You can even see Amanda’s familiar face on weekends working the coat check at The Good Will Social Club, where the couple also gets their coffee every morning.
“It makes me feel like there’s such an overlap of people that go to the same places,” says Amanda, who is regularly recognized at the bar. Or – we can just call that community.

Creme brulee: the French really got this right

Foodies - Ian Leatt
Foodies – Ian Leatt

The birth of creme brulee all started with a Frenchman, Francois Massialot, and his 1691 recipe book. But a few decades later, in his Cuisinier roïal et bourgeois book, Massialot changed the name of his own recipe from creme brulee to “creme anglaise.” (I guess it didn’t stick.)
In the early 18th century in England, it was sometimes called “burnt cream,” and later labelled “trinity cream.”
Whatever you want to call it, this custard dessert is so light that it could truly be enjoyed at any time of the day – even in the morning, with your regular cafe creme fix. Having been introduced many years ago to this delicate treat, I always hanker for a little of the sweet stuff.
Custard being a makeup of eggs, cream, milk and sugar (or salt), it’s fun to make in all its forms. From apple pie and custard to creme caramel, to simple bread and butter pudding, it is enjoyed in many fashions, though a great number probably don’t realize that it’s custard they’re eating.

Ingredients
2 cups of whipping cream (36%)
½ cup of 3% milk
1 vanilla pod
5 large egg yolks
⅛ cup of fine sugar (confectioner’s), plus extra for topping
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
1 carton fresh, cleaned raspberries

Method
Place the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk for 1 minute or until paler in colour and a bit fluffy. Pour the carton of cream into a non-stick pan with the milk.
Lay the vanilla pod on a chopping board and slice lengthways through the middle with a sharp knife to split it in two. Use the tip of the knife to scrape out all the tiny seeds into the cream mixture. Drop the vanilla pod in, then put the pan with the cream on a burner at medium heat and bring almost to a boil. As soon as bubbles appear around the edge of the pan, remove from the heat.
Pour the hot cream into the beaten egg yolks, mixing with a wire whisk as you pour. Place a sieve over a large wide-mouthed jug or bowl and pour the hot mixture through, straining it. Using a big spoon, scoop off all the pale foam that forms on top of the liquid (this could be several spoonfuls) and discard. Give the mixture a final stir.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Sit four ramekins in a deep roasting tin at least 7.5 cm deep (or a large deep cake tin). The tin must be deep enough to support a baking sheet well above the ramekins when the baking sheet is laid across its top.
Pour in enough hot water (from the tap is fine) into the roasting tin to come almost halfway up the side of the ramekins. Pour the hot cream mixture into the ramekins, filling them to the top.
Put them in the oven and lay a baking sheet over the top of the tin so it sits well above the ramekins but completely covers them. Leave a small gap at one side of the tin to allow air to circulate. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the mixture is softly set.
To check, gently sway the roasting tin. If the creme brulees are ready, they will wobble a bit in the middle like a jelly. Don’t let them get too firm. Remove from the oven.
Lift the ramekins out of the roasting tin with oven gloves and set them on a wire rack to cool for a couple of minutes only, then put in the fridge to cool completely. (This can be done overnight without affecting the texture.)
When ready to serve, add some raspberries to the mixture, wipe around the top edge of the dishes, and sprinkle some fine sugar and mixed spice over each ramekin, spreading it out with the back of a spoon to completely cover. Spray with a little water; use a fine spray to just dampen the sugar, then use a blow torch to caramelize it. Hold the flame just above the sugar and keep moving it round and round until the sugar is caramelized.
Serve when the brulee is firm, within an hour or two. Add some raspberries on top and a sprig or two of mint to finish.

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