Building the 'New Economy' business by business in the Annapolis Valley

Wendy Elliott
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The Nova Scotia Commission on Building the New Economy plugged the benefits of attracting small businesses as opposed to large companies. Commission chair Ray Ivany touted the ability of entrepreneurs to create new jobs.

"Twenty-five or 50 jobs would make a significant difference in this community. Do it again six months later and do it again six months later," he said after report was released.

"Call me crazy, but is there any difference between attracting a 200-job business and having 20 businesses add 10 people?"

Here’s a look at two such small businesses trying to make a difference in Kings County.

Delicious dining

The Edible Art Café, which straddles the border between New Minas and Greenwich, is an example of young entrepreneurs putting their stamp on a new business.

Ariell and Jesse Vincent operate a café that is focused on fine food, interesting events and art. Ariell has experience in the culinary field and Jesse likes the café to be busy.

And it’s event lineup is busy. Take Wedensdays, for example.  Musician Brett Pierce plays noon to 2 p.m. followed by prenatal yoga and Soup for the Soul with Jennifer Boutilier at 4:30 p.m.

 Toward the back of the café  is a stage for live music and a retractable 150-inch movie screen, with films scheduled for April 17, Gasland 2,  and  April 24, Garbage Warrior. In early May, live music and salsa dancing will be offered.

Jesse, a Florida native, and Ariell met in Hawaii when the Gaspereau Valley girl was on vacation. He had moved there in 2005, changing venues in the hotel business and seeking bigger waves to surf. He was living on an off-grid farm in the rainforest about a half hour from Waikiki when he met Ariell.

“The smell of her heavenly cooking had lured me in, and the chemistry was instant,” he recalled. 

In 2012 they launched Edible Art Catering and got married, but were seeking a café space. Ariell found a home for their business in what was the old Horton High School band room.  When he rode his motorbike on to the old Horton grounds, Jesse said, “I got that familiar feeling from when I first arrived in Hawaii...The feeling of being home.  Since then, Ariell and I have enjoyed a creative explosion in our lives and in our business.”

They see the business as a direct extension of their personalities. Jesse clearly enjoys making it a creative outlet for local artists, musicians, and other entrepreneurs. Ariell's culinary background allows her to run the kitchen, which supplies three other businesses including EOS, Muddy's, and North Mountain Coffee. 

They do catering for special events, and have popular take-home meals at the café daily, as well as at the Wolfville market every Saturday. The couple hauls in fresh water daily from a well-known spring in Gaspereau to ensure all their drinks are chlorine and fluoride free.

Jesse has arranged for furniture maker Mark Owen of East Coast Live Edge Designs to be on display.  The art includes works by Tracy Cooper, photography be Bruce Dienes, and award-winning fibre art by Kate Madeloso. 

The Vincents employ one other person currently and are seeking another chef as they are expecting their first child. They hope to add an outdoor eating space in the near future and would extend their hours if the right staff comes along.

Edible Art Café on Highway 1 is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

 

Business rolling in

As a writer and playwright, Pamela Delaney is used to wielding a pen, but these days she handles a painter roller more often.

The Wolfville resident started Women in Rollers locally during the summer of 2012, but she gained her expertise while living in Ontario. Working on set designs in school and university also gave her a strong aesthetic sense.

Delaney said she recognized room in the painting and decorating niche and found a way to fill it.

“After years of working for painting contractors and seeing them fail in certain areas of customer service, we realized that what was missing was a combination of commitment to promises and respect for clients’ premises,” she said.

Delaney says turning up when promised, returning phone calls and tidying up afterwards are just as important as creative input and painting skills.

Women in Rollers’ focus is on interior painting work, both commercial and residential, but the company is beginning to do more exterior work.

“We love the comfort and pride of interior decorating, the sense of accomplishment that painting provides, and we know how to treat people.”

Women in Rollers offers free colour consultations and design service.

While painting is a very physical job, Delaney notes techniques like rolling and cutting in women perform well.

 “Detail is a chick thing,” she chuckles.

Two years ago, she had 10 different customers. Last year there were 40. “We’re booked into well into May now,” she said.

With only four staff currently, two men and two women, Delaney will probably be doing some hiring soon. Work ethic is important to Delaney, she said. “You have to think on your feet, work cleanly and clean up at the end of the day.”

She hopes to be able to train some women who have been in crisis as professional painters. Her goal is to work with Chrysalis House to offer a marketable skill and means to support a family.

“We could even expand into Halifax or Yarmouth,” she said.

“We’ve made friends. I feel really good about it,” she said, adding her business allows her to continue to live in Nova Scotia.

Canada’s theme for International Women’s Day this year highlighted the important role women entrepreneurs play in driving growth, creating jobs, and fostering innovation in the economy. According to RBC Economics, women’s businesses contributed an estimated $148 billion dollars to the Canadian economy in 2011. In addition, according to the BMO Financial Group, women-owned businesses currently employ over 1.5 million Canadians.  

 

Local investment

Women in Rollers successfully qualified for a small business loan through the Dandelion Community Investment Co-op.

The low-interest loan program for eastern Valley entrepreneurs was established several years ago. The co-op was designed to strengthen the local economy by providing funding for qualifying applicants, allowing financial investments to stay within the community.

 

Organizations: Nova Scotia Commission on Building, Horton High School, Art Café on Highway 1 Chrysalis House BMO Financial Group Dandelion Community Investment Co-op

Geographic location: Annapolis Valley, Hawaii, Gaspereau Valley Kings New Minas Wolfville Florida Waikiki Ontario Halifax Nova Scotia Canada Eastern Valley

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