Find inspiration with these local women entrepreneurs

Collage of women entrepreneurs in Windsor-Essex

Every day at the WindsorEssex Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre, we celebrate the achievements of the small business community. This month is the perfect time to shine a spotlight on some notable women in our community. These women are paving the way for other aspiring entrepreneurs. In the following paragraphs you’ll be introduced to eight incredible women who turned their passions into a working business model that not only sustains them but is beneficial to our community. 

Leslie Meloche – The Walnut Grove

Nestled on 10 acres of land in Harrow sits a 120-year-old farmhouse that, in December of 2019 was transformed into a beautiful, luxury bed and breakfast.  

Leslie Meloche is co-owner of The Walnut Grove along with her husband. Her skills as a chef pair neatly with his skills as a handy man. They have been able to provide deluxe accommodations and delicious, locally sourced food. 

Meloche and her husband shared a dream of one day owning their very own bed and breakfast after years of travel. Leslie states that “someday is not on the calendar” so they decided to not wait for “someday” and made the move from the city into the heart of the county. 

 “Don’t be afraid of hard work and of making mistakes. That’s part of the growing process…Be the best you can be, be real, and follow your heart.”  

Lastly, Meloche adds: “Know your competition and find your niche to stand out, not blend in!” 

Sarah Jacobs – Jacobs Dispute Resolution

In 2022, Sarah Jacobs launched Jacobs Dispute Resolution (JDR). It is known as Ontario’s first exclusively online dispute resolution service for land-related disputes. JDR provides fair, efficient, and cost-effective dispute resolution that is environmentally responsible. 

The initial inspiration for Jacob’s venture was her desire to help others avoid the stress, time, and expense of litigation. She saw a need for her service in the private sector and knew that providing the service in an online format would be cost effective and flexible. 

Jacobs notes that owning her own business allows her to indulge in her creative side. “Whether it’s working on marketing, writing an article, or developing my services, I get to enjoy my daily work and be creative.” 

Jacob’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is two-fold: (1) “Before you launch a new business, make sure you have good daily strategies in place to take care of yourself. Stick to those routines to help cope with the stress of owning a business.” (2) Prepare a business plan to help you plan for the financial impact of starting a new business. Think of the plan as a living document: update it along the way and remember that milestones and successes often take longer than you initially expected.” 

Erika Gertz – Ravel Insights

Ravel Insights is a developer of data-driven solutions for their clients. They help to uncover key insights by sourcing, visualizing and automating complex data. Products include dashboards, reports, web apps and custom software solutions. 

It began in 2017 when Erika Gertz’s interest in data analysis began to cross over with her husband’s love of technology and problem solving. Gertz began to think “we should do this data visualization thing as a business.”  

Fast forward three years later, the opportunity presented itself. Her husband, Julian was working on a project for a client in Australia that required data visualization and Gertz was nearing the end of her maternity leave. She decided to quit her job and dive into entrepreneurship full time. 

Gertz notes that she loves the autonomy and freedom of running her own business. “As a mom of two young kids, I also like that I have the flexibility to work during times that suit my schedule and workflow.” She adds, “I love the strategy and discipline that goes into being an entrepreneur. You are constantly innovating and adjusting things as you go, trying to figure out what’s working and what’s not, and then seeing the results.” 

Gertz’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is this; “you have to be persistent and consistent, but at the same time, humble enough to change course when you see something isn’t working.”  

AK Jasper – LitRosi Day Spa

LitRosi Day Spa has the distinction of being conveniently located in downtown Windsor right along the waterfront. AK Jasper officially launched LitRosi Day Spa in November of 2022. 

Now that pandemic restrictions have lifted, many providers of personal services have found a welcoming and enthusiastic audience. LitRosi is a full-service day spa that caters to wellness via Halotherapy (salt cave) and massage therapy. You can also access nail services, esthetics, and laser hair removal, just to mention a few offerings. 

Jasper found her inspiration “from a place of knowing that most women have the caregiver syndrome, whereby they care for everybody else, but themselves. I started this spa to encourage women to exercise the freedom to be themselves, by taking care of themselves.” 

One of the most enjoyable aspects of being an entrepreneur, according to Jasper “is my ability to impact and mentor younger women.” 

Jasper adds her advice: “turn your passion into earnings, it doesn’t matter how many times you fail, try again!” 

Stacey Coene – Bloom Child & Youth Counselling

Stacey Coene has worked as a Social Worker in the public sector for 18 years before launching her counselling clinic in 2022. Based on her experience, she felt the effects of only being able to provide ‘band aid’ solutions. Funding was not adequate for social workers, like herself to proactively help children and teens establish good mental health before they were in crisis. 

Coene found inspiration through women mentors she encountered throughout her career. “They showed me that we are all capable of more than we give ourselves credit for. I wouldn’t have started my own practice if it hadn’t been for the confidence I gained through those relationships.” 

Coene is an enthusiastic entrepreneur. She remarked “I love the autonomy of being my own boss! I love the feeling of creating something that is my own and sharing it with others.” 

Her advice to those looking to take the leap: “If you have a great idea, just do it! There may be times where you make mistakes but that is all part of the process of becoming your best self and entrepreneur!” 

Also, it’s important to rely on the support in your community. Coene advises “…make sure you reach out and use your support system. That may be family, friends, other business owners, or resources at the Small Business Centre. I learned a lot by watching other successful businesses and seeing how they do things.” 

Brenell Dean – Dean’s Paralegal Service

Brenell Dean is the name behind the thriving paralegal service which has been serving our area since 2018. Within two years, she was able to expand and create a team of lawyers and paralegals to offer a broader range of services.

Dean’s Paralegal Service was inspired by her desire to see women excel at the highest level in a business platform. “It was my belief that encouragement flows from the top down, and I wanted to establish a reputable company that could offer opportunities to those who may have been overlooked and underrepresented.”

Dean’s education and volunteer experience within the community has given her in-depth, firsthand knowledge of the area’s unique demographic and legal needs.

As for owning her own business, Dean enjoys “seeing the change that I can make in my clients’ lives through dedicated and zealous advocacy and watching junior representatives achieve the same success in my company.”

Her parting advice to enterprising small business owners; “Consider the following: What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? What would be profitable? Once you’ve answered these three questions, create your own opportunity that checks all the boxes, and do not look back.”

Sawyer Telegdy – Shred Shop

Shred Shop Wellness Complex was founded in 2018 and is the only female owned, female operated, functional group training facility and wellness complex in Windsor.  

Sawyer Telegdy found her inspiration after nearly a decade of body building. While training at the gym, she was often approached by women interested in learning about proper form and technique specifically for the female body. Sawyer knows that the journey to fitness is fraught with contradictory and confusing information. “It takes one professional with immense passion, personal experience, and genuine knowledge, to help guide the women who are ready to make positive changes. I wanted to be that woman. That influence.” 

What continues to drive Telegdy on her entrepreneurial journey “besides the obvious answer of impacting people’s lives every day with helping them build confidence and self-love” is engaging with the community and assisting multiple charities each year. Most of which support and empower women. To Telegdy “Community outreach is such an incredible bonus to owning a business. I encourage every business to get involved with giving back. Our members feel great about making an impact and it brings our own personal gym community closer together.” 

Those looking to open their own business should consider two things: (1) “Don’t expect things to be perfect, nor should you assume that every business owner is running things perfectly…Most of us are figuring things out as we go.” 

“Stop talking and start doing. Don’t let the fear of failing stop you from starting something. Don’t talk yourself out of a new project, launching a new promotion-the longer you wait and talk about what you want to do, the sooner someone else is taking your idea and putting it into action.” 

Stacey MacKinnon – Help Her Fly

Help Her Fly supports and empowers girls and young women by providing bursaries, education, and a path so they can succeed. Help Her Fly provides the ability to create meaningful connections, offers financial support to those accessing their program and mentorship. 

Stacey MacKinnon recalls “I’ve always had an innate desire to help others-whether it be through starting community initiatives, becoming a mentor, through my career choice, volunteering, etc.” MacKinnon attributes her personal experiences traveling and her career as a nurse as inspiration. Those life experiences gave her a unique perspective in life. In addition, “my late cousin Casey and her beautiful life story had a huge influence on me wanting to make a greater impact. The pandemic helped me realize the time to start is now-no more waiting, people are in need, and I am enough….to create impact!”  

Being the owner of her own business, MacKinnon revealed “I love the freedom of owning my own business; I create the structure of my day, I create my own hours and I’m not tied down to someone else’s schedule. It allows me to work in alignment and flow instead of pressure.” These reasons, she feels, allows more space for clarity and creativity. 

Her words to those looking to embark on their own entrepreneurial journey: “To survive as an entrepreneur, it’s imperative to develop the ability to trust ourselves, to block out the naysayers and negativity.” She adds, “Hold true to your vision and take one step at a time-you don’t have to have it all figured out, you only need to know the next step. And…don’t give up!” 

Become a client of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre and receive support in launching or expanding your small business, contact us for more information.