Local Business Feature — Eclipse Awards International is Celebrating 23 Years in Business

The Star Peak Award by Eclipse Awardsc

I first met Toby Barazzuol, Owner and Founder of Eclipse Awards at Tillicum Elementary school in East Vancouver. He was in grade 2 and I was in grade 1. We had a few mutual friends and played on the jungle gyms in our neighbourhood. He moved away and then I didn’t see him again until we were in high school in North Vancouver — We were reacquainted by mutual friends that attended Windsor Secondary with him.

And now he’s running a successful company that is celebrating its 23rd year in business!

M: When did you open Eclipse Awards?

T: We opened the doors for the very first time at Eclipse Awards on April 1, 1998.

M: Did you always want to own your own business?

T: Since I was a kid, I always dreamed of starting some kind of business that would help people. My parents were both teachers with no real interest in business, so I think they sometimes wondered where I came from.

M: Where are you from? If you moved to Vancouver, why did you move here?

T: I was born and raised in Vancouver! In fact, we used to live upstairs of the Stanley Park Teahouse when my parents first started their family (my grandparents ran the restaurant there for many years). At age 5, we moved to the rainforests of North Vancouver, which is where I grew up and currently live. I love it here!

Toby Barrazuol & his children
Toby Barazzuol & his children in North Vancouver, BC

M: What was your inspiration for Eclipse? 

T: I used to work at a small company and my boss had a side business making crystal awards and trophies. So I learned how to design awards, and sandblast them to bring them to life, and found that I really enjoyed using my hands to make things.

But after attending dozens of award ceremonies to watch our awards being presented, I began to notice that most award recipients were overcome with happiness, often crying tears of joy upon being recognized and appreciated. It was always such a positive, powerful and uplifting experience that I decided I wanted to help bring more of that into the world.

Customized Awards by Eclipse Awards Internationals
Eclipse Awards International create beautiful customized awards

M: What did you do prior to opening your business?

T: The small company I used to work for would build log homes and ship them to Japan.  They were almost like puzzles, with each log numbered and reassembled on site overseas.

M: If you were in a different industry, did you enjoy your former career?

T: I enjoyed that earlier role because it taught me the skills to run my own business, but I wasn’t passionate about exporting log homes.

M: What did you study in university?  Which university did you attend?  Would you advise others to pursue a degree before opening their own business?

T: I went to Sauder Business School at UBC and majored in marketing and sociology. If you’re interested in starting your own business, a college or university degree is certainly helpful, though I wouldn’t say it’s required.

In terms of running a business, I don’t think school prepares you with practical knowledge or skills. However, it does teach you how to solve problems, communicate, and work with others, which are all important skills for running a business. You might be successful in starting a business without a degree, but I think your chances improve a lot with some education.

You Are Awesome Award by Eclipse Awards International
You Are Awesome Award by Eclipse Awards

M; What would your advice to future owners with dreams of starting their own business be?

T: Start a business if it’s something you love and believe in, not because you think it will make you rich. You will need to draw on your passion to get you through the challenging times of the first 3-5 years. If you are passionate about your work, do the things you promise to do, and treat people well, then the money will start to flow.

But spoiler alert.. if you think that owning your own business is the path to more free time, it’s actually the opposite.

M: Do you have a philosophy in life or famous quote, you would like to share with everyone?

T: “Energy flows where your attention goes.”

“Recognize. Empower. Repeat.”

We Rise By Lifting Others Quote by Robert Ingersoll
“We Rise By Lifting Others” a quote by Robert Ingersoll that’s very fitting for Eclipse Awards, a business that “Recognizes. Empowers. [and] Repeats”.

MILESTONES

2012: Eclipse Awards is the 8th company in BC to become a Living Wage Employer.

2012/13: Eclipse Awards is recognized as BC’s Best Employer by Small Business BC

2014: Eclipse Awards is recognized as BC’s Best Green Business by Small Business BC

To learn more about Eclipse follow their Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, you can also visit their website, Eclipse Awards – Maker of Fine Awards, Plaques, and Trophies.

Double Business Feature — S’Wich Cafe & BLVD Bistro: Both Celebrate North Shore News Readers Choice Awards!

Reader's Choice Winners

I discovered BLVD Bistro one morning last summer when my BFF and Big Sis, Mona had spent the night and we were craving brunch. I did a Google search and they were one of the first to pop up for North Vancouver.

They provided great customer service and yummy noms. And I found out the Chef and Owner of BLVD also is the man behind the business next door, S’wich Cafe.

I went to work straight away taking photos of our brunch, the decor and featured them on my Instagram page along with local hot sauce, Jumpin’ Johnny’s. And more recently I was able to visit S’Wich Cafe with my Foodie Cohort, Mama Izumi and ordered an El Cubano, Up Your Alley and their Vegan Chilli.

Winner of North Shore News Reader's Choice Awards - BLVD Bistro Brunch
Winner of North Shore News Readers Choice Awards – BLVD Bistro Favourite Weekend Brunch & Favourite Breakfast Restaurant

I had the privilege of interviewing Chef Erik Juarez and thoroughly enjoyed our Q & A session:

M: When did you open S’wich Cafe and Blvd Bistro?

C: S’wich Cafe was opened August 1, 2011 (OMG) and BLVD BISTRO opened April 20, 2016.

M: Did you plan from the beginning to open two businesses side by side?

C: I didn’t plan on it at all! I thought I was going to live simply. Sling coffees, a few sandwiches and not do anything more in the hospitality business ever again.

BLVD Bistro's Standard Issue Benedict
BLVD Bistro’s Standard Issue Benedict

M: Where are you from? If you moved to Vancouver, why did you move here?

C: I was born and raised in North Vancouver. It is my home and always will be. I’ve moved around a bunch in my youth, Mexico, Spain, Kelowna, and the Salmon Arm.

M: What was your inspiration for your businesses?

C: Truthfully, I never meant to open a business. I was a dedicated Chef that fell into the same trap as so many others before me.

Find a decent job and work your ass off for some owners that would probably replace you tomorrow if you dropped dead. That’s what happened. I was working 16 hour days with no days off in sight for people I feel, couldn’t care less about me.

I was stressed, sick, fat and unhappy. At that time my grandmother passed away and I inherited 33 thousand dollars from a life insurance policy. The shop you know as S’wich Cafe was originally a neighbourhood coffee shop that wasn’t doing so hot.

One day the owner asked me jokingly if I wanted to buy a cafe. I said, “Yes, I DO!” So with that inheritance and some help from my Mom I bought that business (paid too much) but now I have something that is mine. A little tiny piece of a hospitality business and a chance to do it differently.

M: Did you always know that you wanted to be a chef?

C: I did not know but I was about 16 when I found out. I worked at EARLS like a lot of North Vancouver men and women have. I worked my way through the ranks, learned to communicate, learned to flirt.

Most importantly, I learned that I had a deep love for cooking, the push, the lifestyle and the art. However, somewhere in my limited experience I knew there was more art and skill to uncover.

Chef Erik Juarez
Chef Erik Juarez & his dry cured Spanish Chorizo

M: Did you always know that you wanted to be a restaurant owner?

C: I think every aspiring Chef dreams of opening his or her own place. But Ownership was never really a specific goal I had in mind.

My career has just organically led me to these places. Basically, life presents doors and pathways and I hope that by now — I have the life experience and instinct to walk through the right doors and tread down the correct paths. Trust me when I say, I haven’t always.

M: Where did you study the art of culinary?

C: I had been working for a few years in fine dining kitchens by my early 20’s. I had some amazing mentors and some horrible ones.

I remember the day I told one of my chefs that I was going to go to culinary school. He said, “Erik, you can go to school, spend 10 thousand dollars on a fancy diploma and you can hang it on the bathroom wall. The only thing it will be good for is to wipe your ass when you run out of toilet paper.”

I will never forget that. He was kinda right. I staged and worked in every kitchen I could. Every place in town with the word “Le” before the name I worked there.

I read culinary text books like novels and tried the recipes that interested me. I found my resources and my style and have evolved it over 20 years of learning. I still use my online subscription to “ Cook’s Illustrated” daily and have been collecting those magazines for 20 years.

M: What would your advice to future chefs with dreams of owning their own restaurant be?

C: RUN! RUN away fast!!! Hahaha. Joking…

I have a ton of advice. Firstly, be equal to your concept and your staff. Put in the work and do what it takes to make it mesh. There a lot of very long difficult days ahead but I promise once you’re on the other side of it… It’s worth it.

Be there for your staff, know them and care about them.

S'Wich Cafe
S’Wich Cafe’s lovely Tina helped me order from the many yummy sandwich options

Back up your weaknesses, If cooking dope food is your thing but numbers aren’t, make sure you budget and be able to afford someone that has your bottom line in mind at all times.

DM me or Follow me for more advice. Hahahahaha…

Chef Erik Juarez’s IG

M: Do you have a philosophy in life or favourite quote(s) that you would like to share with everyone?

C: I also have a bunch of them.

‘How you do one thing is how you do everything’

‘Perfection is the little things done well. Everyone else sees the big things’

My new FAVOURITE:

BE THE BEST. WORK HARD- WORK FAST-WORK CLEANLY. EVERY INGREDIENT WE USE HAS TO BE THE BEST WE CAN AFFORD.

SEASONS HAVE TO RULE THE KITCHEN. ONLY ALLOW MINIMAL MANIPULATION OF INGREDIENTS WHEN NECESSARY. ELEVATE FLAVOURS THRU UNDERSTANDING.

COOK AS IF YOU ARE EATING. WASTE IS POOR WORKMANSHIP. EXTRACTION OF FLAVOUR IS OUR ROLE IN LIFE AS COOKS.

BALANCE OF MENU IS OUR OBLIGATION TO OUR GUESTS. HEALTH IS CRUCIAL IN MENU PLANNING.

SEASONING IS A TRUE SKILL. SO TASTE, TASTE AND TASTE AGAIN. OUR GOAL IS TO BE THE BEST. SO WE MUST ACT THE BEST.

Winner of North Shore News Reader's Choice Awards - S'Wich Cafe Favourite Caterer
Winner of North Shore News Reader’s Choice Awards – S’Wich Cafe Favourite Caterer

MILESTONES

The meaning of milestones has changed for me. I used to think it was winning awards and competitions. But I couldn’t be more wrong.

Milestones for me are when employees leave you to pursue their own life goals, when great things happen to the team, and when people tell you they love a component or multiple components of your business.

One of my greatest achievements is finding a way to pay a living wage to my staff and provide meaningful benefits to my whole team. Not having to hire and retrain constantly because people feel appreciated and included. It’s built into our company’s culture of genuineness and inclusivity.

Accolades are nice, Reader’s Choice Awards, Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, recognition from our peers. It all feels amazing but I’d have to say, surviving a pandemic, coming out stronger and better has been our greatest achievement to date. I will never forget the strength it took our team to weather the storm.

I am grateful to my staff that stayed with me and came back. We have never been better and that is my greatest achievement to date.

To learn more about BLVD Bistro please visit their website and follow their Instagram as well as S’Wich Cafe’s (right next door) website and IG Page.

Local Business Feature – Little Pink Door Boutique Celebrates 5 Year Anniversary

Little Pink Door Boutique

I discovered Little Pink Door Boutique (LPD) 3 years ago when I was on my lunch break at Northwoods Village, in North Vancouver, BC. I noticed their mannequins outside their store and they were having a sale.

I went in planning on just trying on a white off-the-shoulder blouse that I found on one of their mannequins but about 15 minutes later I walked out with the aforementioned blouse, white Joseph Ribkoff capris with pom-poms, sandals with bling AND a matching bracelet! I was preparing for the following year’s Le Diner en Blanc (i had just attended the exclusive event).

I met Deb that day and had a great time chatting with her. I thought she was the Owner of LPD but she said no, that would be her best friend, Colette Bennett.

M: When did you open Little PInk Door Boutique?

C: I opened Little Pink Door on March 1st, 2016!  So this month actually marks our 5th Year Anniversary!  Usually we do a big birthday celebration with an in-store event with live music, appys, and wine.

In the past, we have seen up to 90 women in attendance at our event.  This year with the pandemic we won’t be able to do that!  However it’s a big milestone for us as it is not only our 5th Birthday but also it’s the 5th year in a row that we have won Favourite Boutique on the North Shore with Reader’s Choice! 

We are planning a Facebook Live Event on Thursday, March 25th from 7-8pm.  We will do a fashion show, have tons of giveaways, announce our donation to Sage Transition.  Still working out the details but want to make this a fun, engaging and memorable event!

M: Did you always want to own a clothing boutique?

C: So, I’ve always LOVED clothes and the Fashion World!  I remember spending all my allowance on Fashion Magazines and would go through them page by page.  However, I really hated the experience of shopping: finding unique items, the service and the overall process. 

Back in 2011, I started to turn my dream into a reality and developed a business plan to open up a clothing boutique. I already knew I would name it Little Pink Door!  I’ve had the domain for more than a decade and back then used the website to showcase my photographs. I have a huge passion photographing doors. And of course, PINK is my favourite colour hence — Little Pink Door!

Colette Bennett Owner of Little Pink Door Boutique
Colette Bennett Owner of Little Pink Door Boutique

M: Where are you from? If you moved to Vancouver, why did you move here?

C: I was born and raised in North Vancouver and have lived here my entire life. I absolutely LOVE the North Shore and can’t think of a better place to live!

M: What was your inspiration for your business?

C: Well, my inspiration was to create a retail space that was completely unique to what was currently out there!  My vision is to be a leading go to boutique destination for women by providing them with the perfect blend of product, customer focused experience in an in store environment that fosters friendship, trust and loyalty!

The inspiration for the store design was to make it feel like a beautiful dream walk-in closet filled with so many wonderful and beautiful things!

M: A little bird told me that you used to be in marketing. Did you enjoy your former career?

Yes, I was. And I still am!  Marketing Little Pink Door is my passion! Back at LPD’s inception I developed the brand strategy, brand personality and  logo.  Today I look after all the marketing efforts including developing unique promotions, social media, and CRM (Customer Relationship Management).

M: What did you do prior to opening Little Pink Door?

C: Before opening Little Pink Door I worked in the Corporate world in Marketing for 25 years!  I worked for some fabulous companies and some not so fabulous.

The one fabulous company I worked for was Starbucks for 10 years and was their Marketing Manager for Western Canada.  It was at Starbucks where I learned and developed skills in brand marketing and understanding the importance of marketing an experience over simply a product or service. 

It was the best education I have ever had and I believe what I learned from Howard Schultz (former CEO, Chairman and Founder of Starbucks) has helped define Little Pink Door and the success we’ve had to date.

M: Where did you study marketing or was it a profession you fell into? If you studied it, which institution did you attend?

C: Once I left high school I went to Emily Carr and wanted to become a professional Fashion Photographer.  I finished the first year and got accepted into the photography program but couldn’t afford it! 

From there I accepted an entry level position at a large company.  They were willing to pay for my education part time so I decided that the most creative part of business was marketing so that’s what I decided to pursue.  I went to BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology) and did the Marketing Communications program all part time in the evening.  It took 5 years to complete!  A fabulous program and school!

Little Pink Door's Positive Affirmations
Little Pink Door’s Positive Affirmations on IG

M: What would your advice to future owners with dreams of owning their own boutique be?

C: From an emotional standpoint – don’t let anyone talk you out of your dream.  Surround yourself only with people that help feed your passion and are positive.  Stay the course.

From a business perspective – develop a robust business plan that includes all aspects of your dream business.  Include financial forecasts, SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis, competitive analysis, define your target market, and develop a marketing plan. 

The business plan for LPD took me 2 years to develop and it became the foundation of my business.  And I still do annual business plans that I share with my fabulous team of ladies who work with me so we are all aligned on where we are headed!

M: Do you have a philosophy in life or famous quote you would like to share with everyone?

“Dream more than others think practical. Expect more than others think possible. Care more than others think wise!” — Howard Schultz

MILESTONES

M: Are there any milestones for Little Pink Door that you would like me to mention in the Business Feature?

C: As mentioned earlier, we are celebrating our 5th Year Anniversary with a live Facebook Event on Thursday, March 25th from 7-8pm!  And we are also celebrating that we have won Reader’s Choice Awards for Favourite Local Boutique on the North Shore for the 5th year in a row!

If you would like to learn more about Little Pink Door Boutique visit their website, follow their Instagram, and their Facebook page to join the festivities for their 5th Year Anniversary.

Local Business Feature: Interview with Adam Swanson of QRZones

Adam Sanderson of QR Zones

I met Adam Swanson, Founder of QRZones via Instagram as it has now become the norm — networking business contacts and meeting new friends online. After exchanging several messages with Adam, I interviewed him on Zoom and was delighted with how much we had in common.

He was born and raised in North Vancouver, BC. Adam recently graduated from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops with a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science.

Last summer during the chaos of the pandemic and one of the BLM (Black Lives Matter) marches that he participated in, he was inspired to spread POSITIVITY, to uplift people and build a platform to give back to the community. This is when QRZones was born …

QR Zones Unique Advertising
QRZones Unique Advertising Opportunities

Adam is not motivated by money. He enjoys teaching others and sharing his knowledge of computers. He loved leading a workshop for kindergarten to grade 7 children and developing a curriculum of computer science and coding.

He wants to propel people to open their minds and drive home his message that technology doesn’t have to be hard to learn. Adam uses easy to understand language to make people more comfortable with computers and how they can help us — to show us, laymen that it is a matter of ‘learnability’.

Adam is full of exciting new ideas and opportunities for Small Businesses to grow by saving money and the environment with QR Codes. I have met a kindred spirit who demonstrates my Love of Local! During our meeting we discussed working together to promote and market Local Businesses. Our shared love of building community, spreading positivity, and bringing people up can ONLY grow stronger.

6 Ways QR Codes Can Help Grow Any Business
6 Ways QR Codes Can Help Grow Any Business

This is the core of Adam’s mission, “lifting others up because when we do, we lift ourselves with them.”

To learn more how Adam Swanson and his team at QRZones can expand your business, visit their website and follow their Instagram.

Babes Promoting Babes Interview Series – Cindy Stibbard of StudySpot Vancouver

Cindy Stibbard

MY MISSION:  To motivate and inspire Boss Babes in the making. To uplift, encourage, and promote entrepreneurs, both male & female and to share aspirations, goals and dreams with them, and you, my subscribers.

To provide and build a warm, loving, and supportive community of CREATORS. Creators of a business, art, or a NEW YOU … 

I “met” Cindy Stibbard via Instagram. We started following each other and became a part of each other’s online communities. I have met a few other Local Business Owners this way last year. And especially now during the pandemic, building community and networking has shifted to mostly online interactions.

M: What’s your story?  Where were you born, where were you raised?  What was your childhood, growing up years like?

I was born in Toronto, Ontario but I grew up in Tsawwssen, British Columbia with my parents, two brothers, one sister and a house full of cats and a dog!

I held numerous part-time jobs as a teenager delivering newspapers for the Delta Optimist, working the drive-thru at McDonald’s, a clerk at Phamasave Drugs, a server at a local Chinese Restaurant and a dancer on the BC Lions Pride Dance Team until the Grey Cup in 1994.

In 1993 I graduated with Honours from South Delta Senior Secondary School. I then attended Simon Fraser University while I worked part-time at Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver during the day, and served at Earls Tin Palace in West Van at night.

M: What did you want to do when you grew up? 

C: Growing up I always wanted to be a TV news anchor. I thought that it would be a fun job and I used to set up mock newsrooms with my siblings. We would pretend we were reporting on the day’s events.

M: What did you study in university? 

C: I really wanted to go to Carlton University or Ryerson because they were known for their broadcasting programs; however, my family’s finances didn’t allow it.

I started out pursuing a Bachelor of Applied Science in Communications at SFU. When I realized that it wasn’t the direction I wanted to go in, I changed my majors to Psychology and Education and followed the path to become a teacher.

Steps for the Successful Completion of Homework
StudySpot Vancouver – Steps for the Successful Completion of Homework

After completing a B.A. in Psychology, I went into the PDP (Profession Development Program) for teachers and completed my B.Ed with specializations in Learning Disabilities and Primary French Language.

M: When did you move to Vancouver?  Why did you move to Vancouver?

C: My family was transferred here about 36 years ago, when I was 8 years old, from Toronto. My dad was in the construction industry and development was thriving in BC, so we settled in Tsawwassen about 40 minutes outside of Vancouver.

 M: When did you start your business?  What was your inspiration?

C: Actually, getting divorced was my inspiration for starting both of my businesses. StudySpot Vancouver came first in 2019 – an Executive Function & Academic Coaching business – spawned out of my decades of experience in the field of Education.

I knew I was going to have to go back to work, after being at home for 11 years raising my kids. I wanted to develop something that would allow me the flexibility to continue to raise my kids, become self sufficient, and at the same time support students in an environment that didn’t confine me to the four walls of a classroom.

Cindy Stibbard with her family
Cindy Stibbard with her children, Photographer – Sarah Jane

While I was going through my divorce, I was faced with many people around me going through a similar experience and I wanted to be able to help them. That’s when I discovered the CDC Intensive Divorce Coaching Training program and dove right in.

It opened up many new doors of opportunity and empowerment for me as I walked the path of entrepreneurship as a newly single mother. Nothing has been more life altering and powerful to me than pursuing my career aspirations during what has been the most difficult transition of my life.

M: What do you love the most about being a Boss Babe?

C: I absolutely LOVE connecting with women who empower other women. There is nothing like the support of women when we truly embrace each other, our strengths, and our bonds.

Through this journey the last 2 1/2 years, I have grown substantially as a person and have made connections all over the world with people who have changed my perspective of myself and who have given me the courage to believe that I can do anything in this life of mine.

StudySpot Vancouver
StudySpot Vancouver – Photographer Sarah Jane

M: What would your advice be for Boss Babes in the making?  If they are contemplating leaving a secure 9-5 job with benefits – what would you say to them? Should they take the leap?

C: START UGLY. I was always the type of person who needed to have all my ducks in a row before beginning anything. Everything had to be in place, I needed to have loose ends, tied and processes followed and systems set up. But what I have discovered in my entrepreneurial journey is that none of that really matters at the beginning.

If you have a dream, or a passion that you are afraid to start, know this – it doesn’t matter how you start, as long as you START! And it’s HARD work, really hard work. It’s many hours of unpaid determination day in and day out, but if you’re in it for the right reasons, if you truly love what you are doing with your soul…  If you are confident with your WHY and your vision is rooted in passion and the genuine desire to make a difference in the lives of others, then success will follow. Start ugly, as long as you start!

M: Any last words? What’s your favourite positive/motivational quote or book?

C: My favorite quote of all time comes from an unknown source but it is one that has resonated deeply with me for quite some time… I have it framed over my bed and I read it every day:

“It’s impossible,” said pride.

“It’s risky,” said experience.

“It’s pointless,” said reason.

“Give it a try,” whispered the heart.

Cindy Stibbard, BA, BEd, CDC, CHCC, ABA of StudySpot Vancouver is a Certified Divorce, Career, & Transition Coach. If you would like to learn more, you can follow her on Instagram.

Mystery Guest Services – NEW to Fashion INVESTIGATOR INC

Mayumi Izumi

I am very excited to announce that Fashion INVESTIGATOR INC has NEW SERVICES to offer you – Mystery Guest services. For those of you, visiting mayumiizumi.com for the first time, this is in addition to the host of other services we provide such as Digital Marketing, Content Creation, Social Media Management, and Public Relations. With the global pandemic not going anywhere, anytime soon, supporting Local Businesses is of utmost importance.

But that also means that Local Business Owners need to ensure their employees’ customer service is up to par. Because if it isn’t — customers will go to another restaurant, clothing or grocery store down the street.

If you are following my Instagram page, you know that I am always giving positive feedback on customer service. Being a Local Promoter I want to recommend the business to my friends and followers, encourage the restaurant server or retail associate that they’re doing a great job and to keep doing what they’re doing. Business Owners benefit by knowing they have trained their staff properly, their business gets a shout-out, and also featured on my social media platform.

Why is it so important to me that businesses provide good customer service? I have been in the customer service industry for over 20 years and in that time I learned a thing or two about what GOOD customer service is.

When I am out in my community as a customer, I expect to receive a certain level of service. Number 1 – greet your customers and ask them how they’re doing! It will form their first impression of your business and brand.

You would think it’s common sense to do so but many a time, I have walked into establishments where I have been completely ignored. The middle of part of the interaction is vital but MOST IMPORTANT is to thank your customers! That is the last impression you make on your potential loyal customer.

Mystery Guest Photo
Customers deserve and need to be treated well. If not they will take their business elsewhere.

There are businesses out there that don’t thank their customers. The cashier or associate says, “Have a nice day”! Have a nice day doesn’t cut it, honey!

You MUST thank your customers. They are contributing to your bottom line. If there is no customer there is no money.

There are other companies that offer Mystery Shoppers — the difference is EXPERIENCE. There are 12 steps to interacting with customers. I will ensure that we provide a full report showing step by step where the server or associate went above and beyond or didn’t meet expectations and detailed suggestions on what areas they can improve on.

If you are an independent Business Owner and do not have a comprehensive training program developed, I will also provide customer service training to your team.

If you have any questions or would like to use our services go to our contact us page.

Babes Promoting Babes – Kasia of Isabelle’s Bridal

Isabelle's Bridal - Martin Thornburg wedding dress

MY MISSION: To motivate and inspire Boss Babes in the making. To uplift, encourage, and promote male & female entrepreneurs and to share aspirations, goals and dreams with them, and you, my subscribers.

To provide and build a warm, loving, and supportive community of CREATORS. Creators of art, a business, or a NEW YOU …

In the mid 2000’s while I was studying Fashion Merchandising at VCC (Vancouver Community College), I was working part time as a receptionist at Beverly Ball Hair Design on West Esplanade in North Vancouver. It is unfortunately no longer, but when I was working there, and for as long as I can remember, I have admired the stunning dresses on display in the store front windows at Isabelle’s Bridal.

I recently featured their window displays on my Instagram and sought to find out more about the people behind Isabelle’s. The local bridal store is a perfect fit for my Babes Promoting Babes Interview Series. I am very honoured to introduce you to Kasia Bulva, one of the owners of the North Van iconic store.

M: What’s your story?  Where were you born, where were you raised?  What was your childhood, growing up years like? 

K: I was born in Poland and lived there until I was 9 years old. I grew up in a city called Sanok with my twin sister Basia (who also happens to be my business partner). Growing up in Poland was great but it was during Communism when life was quite difficult at times. My parents decided to immigrate our family to Canada to give us an opportunity for a better life. 

Isabelle's Bridal - Wedding Palette
Isabelle’s Bridal – Wedding Palette

M: What did you want to do when you grew up?  

K: I was hoping to get into advertising. I’ve always had a passion for coming up with creative ways to sell and market products. As I grew older, I developed a passion for the art of selling and excellence in customer service.

M: Did you go to college or university? If so, what did you study?

K: I went to college and studied business development. 

M: When did you move to Vancouver?  Why did you move to Vancouver?

K: I moved to Vancouver in 1999. I was living in Toronto at the time and came to visit BC and I was hooked! It wasn’t long after that trip that I made the decision to move here. 

M: When did you start your business?  What was your inspiration?

K: My business was started in 2005 under different ownership. Funny thing is, I actually came in as a bride looking to purchase a veil. The previous owners and I had an instant connection. I felt like they had been my friends for years. After going home I quickly realized I wanted to spend more time with them so I became their first employee! I became the store manager and learned many valuable aspects of the wedding industry over the 10 years spent with them.

Isabelle's Bridal - Sweet flower girl dresses
Isabelle’s Bridal – Sweet flower girl dresses by Ooh La La Boutique

After the fantastic 10 years the previous owners decided to change pace and close the store down which forced me to look for other employment options. Upon my search it quickly became evident that my passion was bridal and that I wanted to continue working in the industry. I then had this “it” moment! I literally sprung out of bed at 3am and said out loud to myself “I’m going to buy the store!” And I have now owned the store for 7 years. 

M: What do you love the most about being a Boss Babe?

K: I love having the freedom of choosing how I spend my time and the ability to make my own business decisions.

M: What would your advice be for Boss Babes in the making?  If they are contemplating leaving a secure 9-5 job with benefits – what would you say to them? Should they take the leap?

K: I would advise future Boss Babes to look within themselves and if what they are planning to do is really their passion. Running a business takes a lot of hard work and dedication. The 9 to 5 workday will not exist anymore and often you will take your work home with you in paper and emotional form.

Having said that, it is also very rewarding and exciting. Your business is your baby so you will need to make sure you do whatever it takes to make it run smoothly. Number one advice – get a very good bookkeeper!

M: Any last words? What’s our favourite positive/motivational quote or book?

K Remember to keep it fun. Stay innovative and motivated. There will be great days and there will be not so great days. Always remind yourself that this a journey of your passion, enjoy the ride! My favorite quote is, “if you love your job, you’ll never work another day in your life”.

If you would like to see more of Isabelle’s Bridal’s beautiful wedding dresses follow their Instagram and visit their website to book an in-store or virtual appointment.

Babes Promoting Babes – Shane of Goodlad Clothing

Grandpa Goodlad

I had the pleasure of meeting Shane Meier last year when I walked into Goodlad Clothing and introduced myself.

I chose to visit his store because I wanted to feature their Men’s Clothing in my First Annual Fashion Gala, “For the Love of Local”. And to my delight, Shane agreed on the spot. He was also a gracious host and gave me a tour of his store, barber & coffee shop — All contained in the one location.

Shane told me the reason he named his store Goodlad. It was his grandfather’s last name. Grandpa James Goodlad’s portrait was rendered by an amazing local artist, Kevin Keeler. It is hung in the center of Shane’s store & shown above .

A portion of my fashion show ticket sales will be donated to Not for Profit Organization, Harvest Project. Designer garments from their thrift store, Clothes For Change will be highlighted and 3 suits designed & constructed by VCC (Vancouver Community College) Fashion Design students will be auctioned and all proceeds will be going to help families in the Harvest Project program. Stay tuned, I will be announcing when and where the gala will be taking place when it is deemed safe to do so.

Goodlad Clothing
Goodlad Clothing Store – Men’s Fashion in North Vancouver

MY MISSION:  To motivate and inspire Boss Babes in the making. To uplift, encourage, and promote male & female entreprenuers and to share aspirations, goals and dreams with them.

To provide and build a warm, loving, and supportive community of CREATORS. Creators of art, a business, or a NEW YOU … 

M: What’s your story?  Where were you born, where were you raised?  What was your childhood, growing up years like? 

S: I was born and raised in Saskatoon, Sask (Saskatchewan) but lived most of my life in the Lower Mainland.

Spent about 30 years in the Film/TV Industry both locally and in Los Angeles, as well as across most of Canada.  Currently live in Yaletown but cannot wait to get to the North Shore where my business GOODLAD is located.

M: What did you want to do when you grew up?  

S: I had ZERO clue. Lol … In FACT, I didn’t know what I wanted to do (for the rest of my life) until I was in my late 30’s.

Acting was a hobby and that was it. I was too small to play most sports as a kid so Film/TV performances were a natural fit for me and I was very fortunate to get work steadily as a kid.

M: Did you go to college or university?  If so, what did you study?

S: I did not. I moved to LA when I was 17 and lived there for a year. THAT was my post secondary education.

M: When did you move to Vancouver?  Where in Vancouver did you move to?

S: We moved from Saskatchewan around 1988. I lived and grew up in Coquitlam.

M: When did you start your business?  What was your inspiration?

S: Goodlad was born about 2 years ago. We officially opened for business in August 2018 so we are still new!

Inspiration came just wanting to be a business owner. I’ve always worked for myself my whole life in the Film World.

I wanted to open something special where people would gravitate towards. I wanted each person that comes through the doors to have a great experience.

Goodlad's Coffee Shop
Goodlad’s Coffee Shop – drink coffee & grab a breakfast sandwich or snack

M: What do you love the most about being a Boss Babe?

S: If you ask ANY of my staff I DO NOT use the term BOSS in or around the shop. I am their colleague. Co-worker. Mentor. I just so happen to be the signing officer on their paychecks — That is it. 

I do, however, like being able to do just that. Mentor and point people in the right direction. 

I was once in their shoes. And learning from people with experience only helped push me in the direction I wanted to go. 

M; What would your advice be for Boss Babes in the making?  If they are contemplating leaving a secure 9-5 job with benefits – what would you say to them? Should they take the leap?

S: YES. Take the plunge. Commit. A lot of people get scared and stay in their 9-5’s and are miserable for most of their lives.

Goodlad - Barber Shop
Goodlad Barber Shop – get your hair cut, and a shave while you shop

Being an entrepreneur is one of the most exhilarating  experiences I have ever had. Stressful at times, but once you see what you have created for people, there is no better feeling.

I may have brought this mentality from my performing days…

M: Any last words? What’s our favourite positive/motivational quote or book.

S: Never be afraid. Attack projects with KNOWING that you will succeed. Hard work always pays off in the end.

Motivating books?? Gino Wickman writes a ton of VERY useful books for running anything from 2 to 2000 staff business. Very useful for me when opening Goodlad. 

And you cannot go wrong with Mr. Jordan Peterson’s “12 Rules of Life”. It’s a true game changer!!

Shane Meier is the Owner of Goodlad Clothing, North Vancouver’s premier Men’s Fashion store, barber & coffee shop all rolled into one. Very unique concept and a triple threat: https://www.goodladclothing.com/ and follow them on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/goodladclothing/

Babes Promoting Babes – Eamonn of Green Coast Rubbish

Eamonn & Brother - BPB Interview Series

MY MISSION:  To motivate and inspire Boss Babes in the making. To uplift, encourage, and promote male & female entrepreneurs and to share aspirations, goals and dreams with them.

To provide and build a warm, loving, and supportive community of male and female CREATORS. Creators of art, a business, or a NEW YOU … 

I had the opportunity to interview our first male Boss Babe this weekend and it was an absolute delightful experience!

I originally met Eamonn Duignan at the Lonsdale Ave Magazine launch party a few months ago and we were introduced by magazine founder, Adrian. It was an intimate gathering of North Shore business owners and fun was had by all.

Eamonn is the Owner & Founder of Green Coast Rubbish and his brother Cein is his partner (he is on the left in the photo). They have been in business since 2006 removing junk, disposing waste, deconstructing and taking care of any demolition needs their clients may have.

The name Green Coast comes from their commitment “to sustainable waste diversion practices and recycle or donate as much as possible of the useable goods they collect, thereby diverting waste from taking up precious space in local landfills.”

M: What’s your story?  Where were you born, where were you raised?  What was your childhood, growing up years like? 

E: What’s my story? Starting with the easy questions!  I’m a Leo (if that means anything), and summer is my favourite season.

I was born in Dublin, Ireland, and moved to Canada when I was young. I was raised mostly in Ontario.  I was always focused on something, had way too much energy and was usually getting into some sort of trouble!

I have lived in North Van (North Vancouver) for the last 22 years or so and have been a part of a sport that has evolved from a few renegades building rogue trails to a legit community with an organized association and a world-respected trail network.

I am living in a place that is my mecca and very appreciative of this fact. I strive to achieve my daily goal of getting out for a ride with a cohort of incredibly talented and inspiring riders.

Eamonn's Mtn Biking Photo-Babes Promoting Babes Interview
Eamonn’s passion — mountain biking in North Vancouver

I have built a bootstrap business that I could never imagine possible; I am surrounded by a team and friends who inspire me professionally, as well as athletically. Basically, I am forging my own path, fumbling plays along the way, while still excited about learning.  

M: What did you want to do when you grew up?  

E: Great question! Honestly, I can’t really answer this question, but I would speculate, a deep-sea diver, race-car driver, professional mountain biker, an educator, and at one point, a geologist. When I grow up, I’ll let you know.

M: Did you go to college or university?  If so, what did you study?

E: I have a degree in Education and Human Kinetics from UBC (Certified Teacher but I have never taught). I also have a Diploma in Forestry and I went to Cap U for 2 years.

When did you move to Vancouver Why did you move to Vancouver?

E: I moved to BC (British Columbia) in ’89 because I wanted something more. At the time I was racing mountain bikes and was somewhat motivated by that. But mostly by the fact that I was at a party, a few evenings before, and promised a friend that I would accompany him on a cross country adventure.

M: When did you start your business?  What was your inspiration?

E: May 6th, 2006 was the day that our doors officially opened! I thank my younger brother, Cein for holding my hand and pushing me to make it happen. He was my sounding board and our founding partner.

My inspiration was simple, I was introduced to a niche industry I knew very little about, and me being me, saw a better way, took the leap, and held fast.

Fourteen years and counting. In short, I would say happenstance and seizing an opportunity. Chance, luck, timing, or just an openness to exploring the unknown — Maybe all of those things, or none of them

M: What do you love the most about being a Boss Babe?  Men can be Babes too… 

E: 100%! Boss and babe aren’t gender-specific!

What I love the most is the learning, the daily challenges, and affecting change in the community I call home, as well as the inspirational team of fantastic individuals who share the same passion for life. 

I also really cherish the creativity and problem-solving I get to practice everyday in my role.

M: What would your advice be for Boss Babes in the making?  If they are contemplating leaving a secure 9-5 job with benefits – what would you say to them? Should they take the leap?

E: My advice — know your numbers, be kind, have a solid purpose, give back when you can, and most importantly, treat your team well.

Don’t be motivated by potential margins, let passion lead, and all else will follow.  Expect to fail, reflect, learn, and move forward.

M: Any last words? What’s our favourite positive/motivational quote or book.

E: Don’t forget to smile and get outside!   

Fave quote = Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving — Albert Einstein

Eamonnn Dunignan is the Founder & Owner of Green Coast Rubbish. Eamonn & his brother, Cein have been in business since 2006. If you would like to learn more about their company or the services they provide, check out their website: https://www.greencoastrubbish.com/ and follow them on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/greencoastrubbish/