It can be tough to do a ribbon cutting and official launch when you’re a home-based business. Even tougher to reach out to a wider public audience.
The Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury’s economic development office has found a way to provide support and help launch home-based businesses: by holding group virtual grand openings at the BWG Public Library.
Several home-based businesses are invited to set up information tables and displays. Then the public and local dignitaries, including York-Simcoe MPP Caroline Mulroney and members of Bradford West Gwillimbury council, are invited to come out to meet the owners, and officially cut a ribbon.
This is “to highlight and let everyone know the small businesses we have in our town,” said Mayor Rob Keffer.
He was speaking at the most recent group event, which saw the launch of Elders Home, Bradford Party Rentals, Sumayya & Co, and Personally Yours.
Bradford Party Rentals
Bradford Party Rentals was started by Carlos Valle, as a result of personal frustration, while looking for party supplies.
“It was our son’s first birthday, but we couldn’t find anything in Bradford,” Valle said.
The closest party rental source he could find for tables, chairs, linen covers and canopies was in Mississauga, which meant either a big delivery fee, or an inconvenient trip.
Valle and his wife Giuliana launched Bradford Party Rentals four months ago, to provide tables, chairs, canopies, cutlery, popcorn and cotton candy booths, a photobooth — “everything you need for indoor or outdoor parties, adult parties and kids’ parties,” closer to home, he said.
The delivery fee is affordable, and Bradford Party Rentals is available seven days a week, said Valle.
“Call anytime… Just bring the guests. We take care of the rest.”
At the group opening, each business owner received certificates of achievement, presented by Mulroney, the mayor and members of council and the Bradford Board of Trade.
The event demonstrated “how much Bradford is growing, and attracting incredible entrepreneurs — people who see a need,” Mulroney said. “It’s an honour to be here. I look forward to seeing you all grow and thrive.”
Shazia and Naseer Shafqat also saw a need in the community for a smaller-scale senior care facility, that could provide a caring environment and individualized personal assistance for seniors in a home-like setting.
Shazia, who drives a school bus part time, has been working with adults with special needs through Christian Horizons for the past seven years.
She and her husband — “They call us Shaz and Nas,” she said — have decided to open their family home for senior and respite care, transforming it into Elders Home, and offering “a safe and rewarding lifestyle, beautiful landscape, lounge, dining room, furnished rooms to make your loved ones feel at home.”
“We love people. We love seniors,” said Shazia, noting that three bedrooms are currently occupied, two with resident seniors ages 80 and 94, while a third bedroom is reserved for respite care.
Assisted by their daughter, who is studying neuro and behavioural science at McMaster University, Elders Home offers a range of services and assisted living: companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping, personal care services, weekly outings, and programs tailored to meet the needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
The Shafqats said they work with each family to ensure the care offered will meet all expectations, and they always welcome visits from family members.
“This is your parent’s home. Come 24/7 to see them.”
BWG Coun. Gary Lamb, who first met Shazia through work as a school bus driver, praised her professionalism.
“The need for ongoing care in the community is important,” Lamb said at the grand opening, thanking the couple for establishing an alternate elder care facility.
“The difference between a big facility and a small facility, it’s huge,” said Shazia, adding she and her husband didn’t start Elders Home as a business. “We explored ourselves, who we are, what should we do. It brought us to help people, love people… It’s so rewarding.”
Sumayya & Co.
Sumayya Khan had a university degree and worked in insurance, but she discovered what she called her “true passion” - beauty and aesthetics - in 2009.
Living in Bradford West Gwillimbury since 2013, Khan has built up a loyal clientele for her at-home business, Sumayya & Co, offering an array of services from make-up and hairstyling, to eyebrow shaping, for individuals and groups such as bridal parties.
“I often hire other artists to work with me, if it’s a large party,” Khan said.
She said some clients have encouraged her to branch out and offer a wider array of services, but right now she limits herself to “the things I love – makeup, brows, microblading. It’s mostly concentrating on the face. I want to keep my passion.”
Khan told the dignitaries at the grand opening that she has enjoyed building her client base “in a beautiful town. ... In the future, the goal is to have a storefront.”
Sumayya & Co. operates seven days a week, responding to calls from clients.
A day off? “I don’t know what that means right now,” Khan laughed.
Natasha Leskiw described herself as a “virtual assistant,” and her at-home business, Personally Yours, as a tool to navigate and effectively use social media.
In fact, Leskiw said, she got into the field three years ago.
“Surprisingly, it was a favour for a friend” to help them get set up on social media, she said.
Since then, she has helped other individuals and businesses, become a member and now president of Successful Women Always Networking (S.W.A.N.), and, in the past year, launched Personally Yours as a business.
“I’m hoping to branch out in the community,” Leskiw said, thanking the Town of BWG for a virtual grand opening for home businesses. “It’s absolutely amazing to have this opportunity.”
Coming out to the library, and meeting with town councillors, dignitaries and the public at the opening was a nice change, Leskiw said.
“I didn’t envision spending so many hours in my house in my pajamas on the Internet.”
After the introductions, the speeches and the presentations, all of the home business owners symbolically cut a red ribbon.
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Midweek Mugging is a regular series profiling local businesses or interesting people in Bradford West Gwillimbury. Want to be featured? Email email@example.com.