Hamilton Day event supports local businesses in the city.

On Nov. 5, the city held its second annual Hamilton Day event, a one-day vendor event focused on showcasing and supporting local businesses. 

The event was first held in 1931 by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce during the Great Depression in order to help the economy and the city’s people. It has now evolved into a strong symbol of staying strong during hard times.  

After working with the Stoney Creek & Flamborough Chambers and the 13 Business Improvement Areas in 2021, Hamilton Day was even able to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The event supports all types of businesses, from cafes, bars, theatres, retail shops and florists to gym, fitness studios and independent artists and musicians. 

For the special day, many businesses offered specials or collaborated with other businesses to promote local shopping. They also received a free three-month membership to GetintheLoop, Hamilton Day’s official partner, to gain access to various resources and be featured on the online map

Katie Stiel, the project manager at the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, participated in the organization of last year’s Hamilton Day event and was excited to plan it again as there was an overwhelmingly positive response last year.  

“People flocked to [Hamilton Day]. They were so keen to share where they were supporting [and] who people should go check out in the city,” she said. 

“People flocked to [Hamilton Day]. They were so keen to share where they were supporting [and] who people should go check out in the city."

Katie Stiel, project manager Of Hamilton Chamber of Commerce

Business owners also shared it was also one of the busiest days of the year. Many had special promotions for Hamilton Day and worked together with the community to stir up optimism and enthusiasm for local small businesses. 

In addition to showcasing businesses that have permanent locations, the Hamilton Day event wanted to focus on pop-ups or marketplaces that sell to customers. All the different businesses that come out and partnerships with so many industries are all part of what makes this event unique to the city. 

The variety of options and markets part of the event are what makes it different from anything else in Hamilton. From the Ottawa Street Farmers Market to the BIPOC market at Afrolicious, there is bound to be something for everyone on Hamilton Day. 

Stiel explained the event was a great opportunity for McMaster students to explore the city of Hamilton and see everything the city has to offer. The event allows people to see other communities that they may not be normally exposed to and learn about the people who make up the city and its surrounding neighbourhoods.  

“It's a great chance for students to get to know their neighbours, know local businesses, see what's here and see all the amazing things their city has to offer,” Stiel explained. 

In the future, Stiel hopes Hamilton Day will grow and expand into an even bigger venture. By taking feedback from businesses and consumers, the event can improve to create the best possible experience for everyone. 

“It's a great opportunity to for patrons to explore the city. And it's a great opportunity for businesses to raise their hand and use a platform to engage with the community...I would just encourage people to make the day their own,” she stated. 

All the available businesses that participated in the event can be found on the website. Hamilton Day is the perfect choice for a fun outing with friends while still supporting the city at the same time. 

Local clay jewellery business Wiktoria Rey inspires customers to be confident and bold

A Hamilton-based clay earring Etsy shop, Wiktoria Rey aims to demonstrate how fun fashion can be by inspiring their clients not to be afraid to express themselves boldly and confidently. 

Paulina Kalisz, the owner of Wiktoria Rey, grew up in Hamilton and graduated from McMaster University with a sociology degree. Since graduating, she has balanced working as a massage therapist, running her small business and taking care of her infant.  

Kalisz first heard about clay earrings in 2019 from an Australian YouTuber, Flying the Nest. She won a pair of earrings from the YouTuber’s friend, While Hugo Sleeps. She instantly fell in love with then and continued to purchase from her over the next few months. 

“While [COVID-19] was happening, [While Hugo Sleeps’] shipping cost drastically went up and I thought, “Hey, these don’t look too hard to make”. I was out of work for three months and decided to try my hand at clay earrings. I absolutely loved playing around and creating different looks,” said Kalisz in an email statement to the Silhouette.  

Kalisz launched Wiktoria Rey on Etsy in the spring of 2020. Her business' name was inspired by her two favourite style icons, singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey and her great grandmother.  

Since opening, Kalisz’ business has grown and her products are now offered at six retail locations in Ontario in addition to Etsy. She has even created exclusive products to be offered in store versus online. 

Kalisz’ clay earrings are inspired by Australian jewellery styles, which tends to be colourful, vibrant, bold and abstract. This is the opposite of the North American market, which tends to be more neutral, minimalistic and simple. All her earrings are handmade in her spare bedroom and she makes her own clay cutters using a 3D printer, meaning her pieces are all unique. 

To design each piece, she starts with a colour palette or inspiration in mind. Then she mixes the colours and rolls out the clay using a pasta machine. Afterwards a slab, similar to a colourful pizza, is made and she uses her clay cutters to cut out the pieces before they go into the oven to harden. 

“My brand is for those who love to add colour to their wardrobe. Someone who isn’t afraid to show off their personality on their ears,” said Kalisz in an email statement. 

Earlier this year, Kalisz did a series of three collections with Canadian actress and comic Ann Pornel called the Electric Floral. This collection features big, bold statement earrings in unique shapes and sizes, inspired by floral designs. 

Kalisz hopes that her clients will not be afraid to express themselves boldly by wearing her vibrant, unique clay earrings. She believes that accessories should instill us with confidence. 

“Fashion is meant to be expressive, and I want my wearers to be able to express themselves with my jewelry, feel confident and not be afraid to stand out. My motto is: Be bold. Be REY-diant. Be you,” said Kalisz in an email statement. 

“Fashion is meant to be expressive, and I want my wearers to be able to express themselves with my jewelry, feel confident and not be afraid to stand out. My motto is: Be bold. Be REY-diant. Be you.”

Paulina Kalisz, founder of Wiktoria Rey

Overall, Kalisz hopes to continue growing her business to make her earrings full-time. In the future, she would like to showcase her jewellery at a fashion show soon and do more collaborative projects like Electric Floral. 

C/O Rosanna Ciulla

How the Glass Jar Refillery is giving used containers and bottles a new life to foster sustainability

By: Emma Shemko, contributor

In elementary school, most of us were taught the three Rs of solid waste management: reduce, reuse and recycle. However, this list is missing a crucial fourth R: refill.  

What does it mean to 'refill'? In terms of waste management, refilling is the act of replenishing old bottles of common household and hygiene products rather than purchasing new ones. Refilling your old containers and bottles helps to keep single-use plastics out of landfills and to prevent our oceans from being further polluted.   

Refilling your old containers and bottles helps to keep single-use plastics out of landfills and to prevent our oceans from being further polluted.   

Rosanna Ciulla is the owner of The Glass Jar Refillery, located at 544 Concession Street. Inspired by the Bulk Barn model, she wanted to expand the concept to include everyday household and personal care products as well. Now, Ciulla's products include laundry detergent, dental floss and hair and beard oil among many others.  

Ciulla partnered with several ethical businesses to ensure everyone can find the perfect product in her store. Most of the companies she has partnered with are also local or at least based in Ontario, such as The Bare Home, Earthology and Pink Posh Fox. These companies and The Glass Jar Refillery share common values and a common mission in helping to create cleaner environments at the local community level.  

C/O Rosanna Ciulla

However, the COVID-19 pandemic brough many challenges for Ciulla and her business. She was forced to change the location of her store, delay her grand opening and limit in-store hours and ultimately had to start as an online store. Ciulla was disappointed to miss out on in person interactions with her customers as she loves interacting with and learning from them, believing  these interactions are an important part of creating a physical space where people can become more environmentally mindful.  

There is so much pressure to be the perfect waste-free consumer, but a finite number of resources are available to help us do so.  

The Glass Jar Refillery strives to make this shift easy and accessible, offering consumers more choices and options. With 24/7 online shopping, local delivery, access to in-store refillery services and a 10% discount for students, The Glass Jar is readily available to support the Hamilton community.  

Switching to sustainable and plastic-free alternatives can be daunting at first glance, but it's not as challenging as it seems. There are three main steps which fall under what Ciulla calls environmental mindfulness that can help simply this transition.  

"We have to be cautious and we have to be aware of how precarious our situation is. We take [living on this Earth] for granted. And our actions speak louder than words. We need to be very careful. When they say, "practice mindfulness," I think mindfulness can also be applied to Mother Earth," explained Ciulla.  

"We have to be cautious and we have to be aware of how precarious our situation is. We take [living on this Earth] for granted. And our actions speak louder than words. We need to be very careful. When they say, "practice mindfulness," I think mindfulness can also be applied to Mother Earth."

Rosanna Ciulla, Owner of The Glass Jar Refillery

For Ciulla, how we decide to interact with Mother Earth is a form of environmental activism and this type of activism begins with our habits as consumers.  

The first step is to create a collection of items that can be used to refill your essential products. Pickle jars, shampoo or conditioner bottles and empty candles are perfect refilling options.  

The second step is to observe how you live: what products are you continuously buying? What areas of your home use the most plastic? Is it your kitchen? Maybe it's your bathroom?  

The third and final step is to remind yourself that you don't have to make these switches all at once. Start by refilling your dish soap one month and see how it goes. Then try switching to refillable laundry detergent the next month and so on.  

The beauty of Ciulla's store is that you can purchase as much or as little product as needed.  

"If you want to try a new product that you're unsure of, just try three quarters or a quarter of your bottle and then come back and say, "Hey, I want to fill up the rest of it"," explained Ciulla. 

C/O Rosanna Ciulla

Ciulla is looking forward to what the future holds for her store and is hopeful that she will soon have more days throughout the week where customers can shop in-store. She has many plans ahead, including creating a starter kit for students because she knows how busy our schedules can get and wants to help us become conscious and environmentally mindful consumers.  

“I'm just excited about what the glass jar is and will become. I think it's just starting to flourish. I'm excited to see where it goes next and I've got some exciting plans for it," said Ciulla. 

Lindsay Parry shares her love of art and fibres through her blooming small yarn business 

Small businesses were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. They were constantly adapting to new opening plan policies, lockdowns and safety protocols and many were left frustrated with the lack of government support. However, a few industries providing remote, online experiences, services and products flourished and even made record sales.  

One of the industries which thrived during the pandemic was the hobby and arts and craft supply industry. This included Hello Stella, a hand-dyed yarn business specializing in untreated wool, meaning the yarn comes straight from a sheep and without chemical processing.  

“My business actually, I would say, more so blossomed. I think a lot of people found themselves at home with a lot more time and they were interested in picking up a new hobby,” said Lindsay Parry, owner and founder of Hello Stella. 

“My business actually, I would say, more so blossomed. I think a lot of people found themselves at home with a lot more time and they were interested in picking up a new hobby,”

Lindsay Parry, Owner & Founder of Hello Stella
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With increasing time spent at home, many people were seeking new pastime hobbies and there was a surge in people expressing interest in pursuing arts and crafts, including knitting, crocheting and fibre arts.  

Parry herself initially fell in love with fibre arts for its ability to help her relax and relieve stress. Prompted by wanting to make her husband a handmade knit gift for Christmas one year, she first learned to knit 12 years ago.  

“[Knitting] has become a daily thing for me and it helps greatly with stress. It’s just something I find I take a few minutes every day and, it could be something small like a sock, but it kind of grounds me a little bit more,” said Parry.  

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Named after her dog, Hello Stella started in 2017 when Parry became a new mom. She was faced with the choice of returning to her day job or staying home with her son. Ultimately, she decided to leave her job. During this time, she merged her two interests in the arts and fibres through Hello Stella.  

“[Hello Stella] had always been a dream of mine to start and I kind of decided, if not now, then when would I? So I took a chance,” said Parry. 

She always knew she wanted to lead a creative life and her career to reflect her passion. 

This year marks the business’ fifth. It has grown tremendously since it first launched. In the beginning, Parry only sold handmade knit items, such as hats and scarves. She now sells various types of fibres, patterns, tea, stickers and art and her business Instagram page has garnered more than 34 thousand followers.  

Despite all the achievements and successes during the pandemic, Hello Stella could not escape all the negative consequences of the pandemic lockdowns.  

“Peru is one of the major hubs in the world for wool distribution and they closed down for [months], which greatly impacted wool being produced and spun,” explained Parry. 

Peru is home to 87 per cent of the world’s alpaca population, making it a major hub for alpaca wool. In 2018, the country exported 30 tons of alpaca fibre. However, in March 2020, President Martín Vizcarra announced a nation-wide lockdown, affecting business operations and exports. The strict lockdown measures lasted until late June and July of 2020.  

The supply shortage is what forced Hello Stella to explore more domestic, local yarn and shift from chemically treated wool to pure, untreated wool. Last year, Parry introduced domestic wool into a wide range of products and began working with local farms as well.  

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Her favourite part of the business is the process of dying the yarn — the most creative aspect of running the shop. She uses her background in colour theory to mix and merge beautiful, unique and captivating colours, such as lilac fields, a dusty mauve purple and Patina, a blend of warm orange and turquoise. 

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Coming up, Hello Stella will participate as a vendor at Hamilton’s Fibre Forge market at The Cotton Factory on Mar. 22. Whether you are a crochet or knitting enthusiast or interested in exploring your fibre options for your next crafting project, the market is the perfect opportunity to touch and see Hello Stella’s fibre products in-person.  

C/O Icarus Apparel

Kiona Harrison shares how she kick-started her handmade apparel and alteration business

Opportunities can strike at the most unexpected times. For Kiona Harrison, the opportunity to open her dream business, Icarus Apparel & Alterations, turned up during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The business started in April 2020 in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic and began by only selling cloth masks. Today, it offers everything from handmade cloth masks, tote bags and scrunchies to various clothing alterations.  

Harrison’s love for sewing and fashion can be traced back to her childhood. She was first introduced to sewing as a child by her grandmother. It wasn’t until she was in grade 12 that she revisited this hobby and expanded on her sewing skills by watching YouTube tutorials. In university, she pursued a bachelor of commerce in fashion management at Humber College to combine her hobby with her interest in business.  

The opportunity to grow her sewing hobby into Icarus Apparel & Alterations slowly grew from the first order of cloth masks Harrison’s aunt had requested her in the beginning of the pandemic. As more and more people requested cloth masks, her dad suggested she turn it into a business. She had been wanting to start her sewing and handmade apparel business for a while but making and selling cloth masks was the kick-start she needed to turn it into a reality.  

The name Icarus was inspired by Greek mythology. It is the name of the son of Daedalus, an accomplished craftsman and creator of the Labyrinth. As the story of Icarus goes, he flew too high and too close to the Sun with his wings made of wax and feathers to escape the Labyrinth and ultimately fell from the sky to his death.  

However, the message from the story Harrison wanted to include in her business name was perseverance and determination. 

“The point I take away from [the story of Icarus] is to always keep on pushing and rising above. You keep going and do the best you can, especially in new situations you don’t know about. Always push yourself to your limit and try your best,” said Harrison. 

"The point I take away from [the story of Icarus] is to always keep on pushing and rising above. You keep going and do the best you can, especially in new situations you don't know about. Always push yourself to the limit and try your best,"

Kiona Harrison, Owner of Icarus Apparel & Alterations

As the sole owner of the shop, Harrison faces many challenges, the most difficult one being marketing. However, she found her audience and support through attending small business markets and pop-ups. Her first market was Black Owned Hamont’s The Durand and BIPOC Pop-up Market in October and since then she has also been part of the organization’s BIPOC Holiday Market in November which attracted over 750 customers to the venue.  

“The markets are really helpful. You just make a bunch of stuff and set up — mind you it’s kind of crazy because you have to do a lot…But they are really fun and you get your name out there way easier than trying to market online,” explained Harrison. 

Harrison notes networking and community building was another great benefit to attending the small business markets. In fact, connecting with other people, whether it be consumers or other small business owners, is one of her favourite parts of directing the shop.  

“Connecting with other people…or even creating stuff for other people who feel they can’t do it themselves are the most amazing parts about [running Icarus],” said Harrison. 

"Connecting with other people...or even creating stuff for other people who feel they can't do it themselves are the most amazing parts about [running Icarus],"

Kiona Harrison, Owner of Icarus Apparel & Alterations

Although it may not have been long since Icarus Apparel & Alteration was launched, Harrison already has big goals and visions for her business. She is interested in venturing into more apparels, finding her own niche product, taking on more creative projects and collaborating with other vendors. Eventually, she would love to open a brick-and-mortar as well.  

In the spring, she is also looking forward to attending more small business markets with Black Owned Hamont.  

To manifest the small window of opportunity into a reality takes hard work, perseverance and commitment — more importantly, it requires those who can rise above. The name of the business may have been inspired by a tragedy, but the story of Icarus Apparel & Alterations is a positive one full of hope, community and passion.

Alex Moore-Gibson is raising money and awareness for breast cancer through her lifestyle brand

C/O Honey and Glow

When Alex Moore-Gibson opened Honey and Glow to sell her handmade and sustainable bath, body and home products seven years ago, it mainly served as an outlet to unleash her creative energy. Today, it has turned into something greater than just health and beauty. It encompasses messages of women empowerment, community and breast cancer awareness.

Growing up with problematic and sensitive skin, Moore-Gibson had trouble finding products that were both gentle and effective enough to meet her skin’s needs. To address this problem, she began making her own bath and body products using DIY kits her mother bought her. She continued this hobby all throughout high school and university.

After much encouragement from family and friends who received her handmade products as gifts, she opened Honey and Glow as a passion project aside from her regular day job as a teacher. She currently sells lip balm, sugar scrubs, loose-leaf teas and beeswax food wraps.

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In 2019, Moore-Gibson temporarily closed the shop to welcome her second son. As Honey and Glow was growing rapidly, it became overwhelming to balance her day job and raise her two sons all the while maintaining Honey and Glow. During her break, at the age of 34, she was also diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.

Last year, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, she underwent a mastectomy and began chemotherapy and radiation. Although these were some of the most brutal and darkest times, once she regained her energy, she needed Honey and Glow to relieve her suppressed creative spirit and find new direction and purpose as she finished up her treatment journey.

“Once I got through the really dark days and I started to have more energy, I was finding that I had this real energy, creative energy building up inside of me and I didn’t really know how to use it, especially during a pandemic,” said Moore-Gibson. 

Honey and Glow recently reopened and is currently offering curbside pick up, online orders and delivery. 

Moore-Gibson also started to donate a portion of the sales to Rethink Breast Cancer, a Toronto-based foundation focused on empowering women and families living with and affected by breast cancer. The donation is used for breast cancer awareness programs and events, research, resources and community work.

Moore-Gibson chose Rethink Breast Cancer because the stories of other breast cancer patients, survivors and families shared by the foundation served as a source of inspiration and comfort during her most difficult times.

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Integrating her personal story in her work for Honey and Glow became very important for Moore-Gibson. Sharing her breast cancer journey has allowed her to connect with customers and supporters at a deeper level and engage in conversations with others affected by breast cancer.

“Even something as simple as the amount of women that have reached out to me being like, “Today is such a dark day and seeing your face and seeing your hair in a headband is giving me hope” makes it feel so worth it. It makes me want to keep going,” explained Moore-Gibson.

However, sharing her story online wasn’t easy. It took much courage and trust to post her vulnerable side on the internet.

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“I’ve always had a very private social media account . . . so I was worried about being vulnerable. But I would say the response has been nothing but supportive,” said Moore-Gibson. “Sharing my breast cancer story has given me even more courage to share more and be more involved and to just keep going.”

The brand has become more meaningful and healing in ways that she could have never imagined. Her favourite part of running and growing her business has been being empowered and inspired by other young female entrepreneurs and building new friendships. Her love for her local community of supporters and like-minded small business owners has led her to do many collaborations and giveaway events with local makers and artisans.

From seven years of running Honey and Glow, Moore-Gibson has learned to believe in herself and to take a chance. She encourages others who may be hesitant to pursue their dreams to take their leap of faith.

Escarpment Kombucha Co. is hand-crafting small batches of kombucha for the Hamilton community

As the only kombucha brewers local to the Hamilton area, Escarpment Kombucha Co. owners Robyn Starkey and Andrew Ernest are setting a precedent. They started their company in January 2020 and currently operate out of The Kitchen Collective on King Street East to brew and bottle their small-batch kombucha.

Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage. Starkey describes kombucha by noting that it is to tea what wine is to grape juice. Starkey and Ernest’s mixture undergoes two rounds of fermentation before it is strained, carbonated and transferred to a keg for distribution.

Starkey is originally from Mississauga, attended Dalhousie University for creative writing and English, then graduated to become a legal assistant. At the same time, Ernest became the manager of a coffee shop in Halifax. Together, the couple discovered a shared interest in home fermentation as a healthier alternative to sodas and juices.

 

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Upon settling in Hamilton, Starkey and Ernest decided to turn their passion project of two years into a business. Once a small studio apartment operation consisting of a bookshelf of kombucha for friends and family, the two put pen to paper in order to turn their dreams into a reality. The company’s name pays homage to the geography and wildlife of the Hamilton area by referring to the Hamilton escarpment

“I think that Escarpment Kombucha Co. is trying to take kombucha at the local level and bring it to the city of Hamilton. We're trying to make a product that is as sustainable and delicious as possible without sacrificing on the health benefits. If you think you don't like kombucha or you've never tried it before, this is the kombucha you should try,” said Starkey.

"If you think you don't like kombucha or you've never tried it before, this is the kombucha you should try,” said Starkey

Ingredients for the kombucha are sourced locally wherever possible. They use tea from Toronto-based company Lemon Lily Tea. Fruits are sourced from Boreal Berry Farm in Warren, with seasonal ingredients from local farmers including Sunfire Herbals in Hamilton and Baba Link Farm in Flamborough.

“[Sourcing locally] is really great because if we make relationships with local people, then we get to be harvesting, processing and turning the ingredients into kombucha and selling them. It's a really satisfying part of the process . . . My favourite part of the summer was when I had an entire table of drying sumac and mint that I picked and there [were] hops in the cupboard, waiting to go,” said Starkey.

If you’re looking for a new flavour to pick up, a fan favourite is the raspberry lavender, made with raspberries from Boreal Berry Farms and lavender from Weir’s Lane Lavender in Dundas.

 

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Starkey’s personal favourite experimental flavour is pear hops, a seasonal variation which she described as cidery, with a hint of beer taste. Currently, they are in the process of experimenting with seabuckthorn, a sour berry that Starkey described as the liquid version of sour patch kids candy.

The company’s products are available at 17 retail locations near the Hamilton area and they currently offer free contact-free home delivery, which can be set up on a recurring basis for customers’ weekly, biweekly or monthly fix of kombucha. 

Their kombucha is offered in growlers, a more sustainable option packaged in reusable glass bottles and sold at a discounted price to encourage zero-waste alternatives as the company works towards entirely zero-waste packaging. They currently utilize compostable seals and all of their bottles are returnable or reusable.

“We've only been in business for one year, but I would hope that [students] can see that the process of starting your own business and coming up with a big dream pays off. It’s really just making lists and getting it done and finding people to help you navigate. This is not what I went to school for — I was not a business student — but I really value that I was able to figure out what we were doing,” said Starkey.

“We've only been in business for one year, but I would hope that [students] can see that the process of starting your own business and coming up with a big dream pays off."

Escarpment Kombucha Co. is a testament to the importance of following your passions, which for Starkey and Ernest is brewing one small batch at a time. They have created a tasty and healthy beverage that they hope people in Hamilton and beyond will enjoy.

McMaster graduate’s new business is making jewellery both affordable and fun

Fashion choices, including jewellery, are inherently personal but can also be an accessory to explore and have fun with. However, jewellery especially is often seen as a luxury that is out of reach to students as affordability can often constrict choices. Businesses such as Emily O’Rourke’s No Prob Co are helping to make jewellery both more affordable and fun.

O’Rourke is a recent McMaster graduate and was the Editor-in-Chief of the Silhouette during Volume 89. She is currently working in public relations, but about a year ago when she had some time off during the holidays, she began to explore jewellery making.

A few months later when the pandemic began and she had more time, her hobby snowballed into No Prob Co.

“It's very much a nice passion project. I think I would put it that way. I love doing it and I love having that time to craft or to make things that I like . . . it's more of a fun thing to do instead of something I focused on as a business,” explained O’Rourke.

“It's very much a nice passion project. I think I would put it that way. I love doing it and I love having that time to craft or to make things that I like . . . it's more of a fun thing to do instead of something I focused on as a business,” explained O’Rourke.

O’Rourke mostly makes jewellery and hair accessories, but she has recently branched out into home goods, such as candles. All her products are made by hand and are available through her Etsy store

 

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The reception has been increasingly positive, particularly over these past few months with O’Rourke now receiving orders from across Ontario.

“I really enjoy making things that are fun and exciting and part of my own personal tastes. Like things that I would wear myself or things that I'd buy myself, so I’m glad to know that other people share the same taste as me,” said O’Rourke.

“I really enjoy making things that are fun and exciting and part of my own personal tastes. Like things that I would wear myself or things that I'd buy myself, so I’m glad to know that other people share the same taste as me,” said O’Rourke.

While suggested prices are listed alongside each product, No Prob Co operates on a pay-what-you-can model. Financial accessibility is important to O’Rourke and part of what inspired the name for her business.

“I say no prob and no problem all the time and also I really wanted this to be like an accessible business . . . Accessibility is part of the “no prob” in the name because it's something that I feel I've definitely been relaxed about instead of like “these are my prices, this is what you have to pay”,” explained O’Rourke.

 

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As a recent graduate, she understands that affordability is of particular concern to students when shopping for jewellery, whether it is for themselves or loved ones.

“I think when I was a student, I was very disappointed when I couldn’t find things that I could afford that I liked . . . [but] if somebody else is making it and I can pay what I want, I think that's a lot more accessible and a lot more like inviting for students particularly,” said O’Rourke.

“I think when I was a student, I was very disappointed when I couldn’t find things that I could afford that I liked . . . [but] if somebody else is making it and I can pay what I want, I think that's a lot more accessible and a lot more like inviting for students particularly,” said O’Rourke.

O’Rourke acknowledged that while it might not be the most sustainable business practice, No Prob Co is more of a passion project than a business. She wants it to be something enjoyable not just for her, but for others as well.

“I really want someone to walk away with something they really like and I think at the end of the day that's why I make these things because I really like to make them. So people who maybe like the same things I do can buy them at the rate they want to buy them at and can walk away with something that they can cherish,” explained O’Rourke.

WHAT IS IT

Gold Bars Dessert is a travelling dessert shop that opened in March 2020. From butter tart bars to brownies, the shop specializes in dessert bars. Gold Bars Dessert offers holiday-themed bars and uses seasonal ingredients.

They offered Easter egg brownies around Easter, peach cobbler bars during Ontario’s peach season in August, pumpkin spice bars in October and are currently selling holiday cranberry bars and candy crunch brownies for the holiday season.

Gold Bars Dessert has also partnered with the Hamilton-based specialty coffee company Detour Coffee to offer their whole beans. Gold Bars sells espresso and medium roast, which were handpicked to pair with their dessert bars.

The dessert business combines owner Germaine Collins’ love of adventure with her love of sweets. The adventure lover has created a business that allows her to travel and connect to people through food.

 

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HOW TO GET IT

While the shop doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar location, they frequent farmers’ markets and host pop-up shops. In the summer and early fall of 2020, Gold Bars Desserts was a weekly vendor at Connon Nurseries Fall Farmers’ Market in Waterdown. They also did a Christmas pop-up at Connon Nurseries on Nov. 28. Check their website and social media to find out where they’ll be next.

When they are not at a market, Gold Bars dessert does local doorstep drop-offs. If you’re located in the Greater Hamilton area, Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga or Toronto, you can order online for next-weekend delivery. The delivery days are announced on their website and on their social media.

 

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THE COST

At markets, you can buy individual bars for $3. For doorstep drop-offs, Gold Bars Desserts sells the boxes of bars on their website. A box of nine bars is $20 to $25 depending on the type. Each bar is about the size of a coaster. The delivery is an additional $5.

 

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WHAT TO GET

You really can’t go wrong with any of these dessert bars. They’re all decadent, filling and beautifully decorated. I would definitely recommend the OG brownie if you’re a chocolate fan because even after a couple of days, the brownie is still moist and rich inside. If you’re not a chocolate fan, I’d recommend the blondies or lemon bars.

If there is a seasonal dessert bar when you’re looking to purchase, definitely try that. I tried the cranberry holiday bars and it gave Starbucks’ cranberry bliss bars a run for its money.

 

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WHY IT'S GREAT

Gold Bars Desserts is perfect for the sweet tooth who adores a large, classic brownie or dessert bar. The variety of flavours and the seasonal creations make it an exciting business to visit month after month.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the perfect way to support a small business and satisfy your sweet tooth without having to leave your house. Having Collins visit my house on a Sunday afternoon to deliver me handmade sweets was the highlight of my weekend. With the pretty packaging and Collins’ handwritten notes, Gold Bars Dessert bars make the perfect gift for your loved ones.

 

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Fifth-year men’s basketball player Kwasi Adu-Poku shares how he created his own business to motivate others

As the fall 2020 semester comes to an end, students continue to struggle with finding the balance between work, school and extracurriculars, all the while keeping themselves safe from COVID-19. Fifth-year McMaster University student and men’s basketball player, Kwasi Adu-Poku has been through his fair share of ups and downs this year. From all the experiences he has gathered, he felt that it was a time to give back to the student community.

Adu-Poku created The Reach Series after coming across an idea from Vince Luciani of Legacy Coaching. From the guidance and mentorship that Luciani gave Adu-Poku, he felt that it was his time to share a message and help uplift individuals. 

“It gave me the confidence to make a business with the goal of empowering people,” said Adu-Poku.

The Reach Series is where Adu-Poku turned his real-life experiences into relatable lessons. From these lessons, he develops motivational workshops. His first goal was to run the workshops for four weeks in two formats: group settings and one-on-ones

A benefit of the group workshops that Adu-Poku realized was that attendees could relate to each other and thus the workshop itself became more interactive. In terms of the one-on-ones, he believed that it would provide individuals with more time and space for reflection, with some personalized guidance. 

“The big thing was that it was a constructive and organized way to uplift people through online workshops,” said Adu-Poku.

“The big thing was that it was a constructive and organized way to uplift people through online workshops,” said Adu-Poku.

Each workshop would be a safe space that was based on an experience of his own life. Although they are somewhat structured, Adu-Poku encourages all discussion within the space. For example, during the third week, his workshop dove into the issue of mental health, where he touched upon some of his own personal struggles during his past couple years of undergrad. 

“It is ok to have these problems and I hope to provide them with various outlets and resources,’’ Adu-Poku emphasized.

As Adu-Poku explained, the premise of The Reach Series is to relate to what is going on in the world and help uplift people to the best of his ability. One such example is a charity drive Adu-Poku co-created, in which they were able to raise $360.

“Why not support these causes but help the world on a larger scale?” said Adu-Poku.

Despite working for his older brother’s business in the past, The Reach Series is the first entrepreneurial endeavour Adu-Poku has embarked on. As a student, he understands the need to manage his time while also staying on top of school responsibilities.

“When I started to make [The Reach Series], it was a four-week blitz before school got heavy. It takes up my time with extracurricular activities and graduate school applications . . . Time and stress management [have] been key,” said Adu-Poku. 

“When I started to make [The Reach Series], it was a four-week blitz before school got heavy. It takes up my time with extracurricular activities and graduate school applications . . . Time and stress management [have] been key,” said Adu-Poku. 

From a business perspective, he has not suffered like many other small businesses have due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since Adu-Poku is a student with career aspirations in the field of economic policy, his business likely will not be his main career when he graduates from McMaster. Yet, he continues The Reach Series in order to continue spreading messages of positivity. 

“Even with the prices I was recommended to charge, I lowered it and made it more affordable for people to [attend] these workshops. From a financial point of view, I charge a bit to value my time but ensure it’s worth it and accessible for [the attendees],” said Adu-Poku. 

“Even with the prices I was recommended to charge, I lowered it and made it more affordable for people to [attend] these workshops. From a financial point of view, I charge a bit to value my time but ensure it’s worth it and accessible for [the attendees],” said Adu-Poku. 

He is currently looking at making his business a non-profit organization.

Despite running the workshops by himself, he has hosted guest speakers in the past. His first guest speaker, Mussa Gikineh, was the 2020 valedictorian for the DeGroote School of Business. They both participated in a panel after which they discussed a possible collaboration that surmounted in the charity drive, which was actually created by both Adu-Poku and Gikineh. 

Just recently, Adu-Poku hosted the Hoopers Talk, an event where they looked at athletes from outside the court. The event acted as a space to support Ontario University Athletics basketball players after the cancellation of their season due to the pandemic. 

As of now, the workshops only run virtually. Despite it being convenient due to no transportation, Adu-Poku says he would like to bring people close in person, but only when it is safe to do so. With that being said, the feedback he received has been exceptional, with attendees feeling a new sense of community.

As Adu-Poku plans to graduate in April 2021, The Reach Series is something he hopes to continue on the side.

“I feel like using this platform to genuinely uplift others and interact with them can not only get me some income but also provide me some sort of fulfillment,” says Adu-Poku.

“I feel like using this platform to genuinely uplift others and interact with them can not only get me some income but also provide me some sort of fulfillment,” says Adu-Poku.

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