SBEC Success Stories

The Richmond Hill Small Business Enterprise Centre (RHSBEC) assists entrepreneurs and small business owners with reaching their goals of starting and growing their business. Here are a few success stories:

Summer Company Success Stories

Summer Company is an entrepreneurship program that provides students a grant of up to $3,000, business training and mentorship to start their business over the summer. This program was started in partnership with the Ministry of Growth, Job Creation and Trade. Learn more about previous participants below: 

Orange Juice the Brand

Orange Juice the Brand - Summer Company Participant 2020.

 

Inspired by the changing world of fashion and women's rights movements, Josh started his clothing brand with his partner to help young women become more comfortable with how they express themselves. They decided to create a brand and style centered on getting out of one’s comfort zone. Without the necessary mentorship and resources, they anticipated that the brand would grow slow and steady. This all changed with the help they received with Summer Company.

The program provided an excellent opportunity to help their company properly set up operational foundations and improve their core product quality and packaging. Throughout the program, the duo created private label designs, re-invented their logistics channel, and launched their best-selling 'flaming duo' collection. All of these improvements were made possible with the push and support of Summer Company

The growth initiatives contributed to a massive uptick in monthly revenue from June to August. By the end of the summer, Orange Juice the Brand also received $24,000 in capital investments from Canadian owned ClearBanc and Shopify Capital.

Joshua believes that Summer Company has offered him a “steady foundation to commit to his journey towards entrepreneurship full time."

Josh's next goal at Orange Juice The Brand is to continue to build upon its community of customers and expand its marketing efforts internationally.

 

Adagio Lettering

Adagio Lettering - Summer Company Participant 2020.

 

Vanessa Yu decided to start her business, Adagio Lettering, in the summer of 2020. Adagio lettering is a company specializing in hand-lettering and modern calligraphy, offering services such as customized goods, live calligraphy and event signage. Adagio is an Italian musical term meaning slow; the term is often associated with lyricism, grace and elegance. With her business, Vanessa strived to create the same ‘adagio’ effect: the slow, breath-taking magic of written grace; the smooth flowing of ink; the therapeutic loops of charm. Vanessa felt that there was a gap in today’s world for a calligraphy service.

Vanessa believes that, “In our modern, technologically-advanced age, there is something particularly endearing about elegant penmanship and customized gifts that shines through the monotony of the impersonal, digital haze. Adagio Lettering seeks to capture these precious moments and immortalize them through elegant calligraphy.”

Vanessa was able to grow her business in multiple ways. Her Instagram page has over 120,000 followers and features content on bullet journaling, art and lettering. Vanessa also held workshops, giving her the opportunity to teach over 300 students and collaborate with companies such as MUJI, Coursera, Arteza and Pentel.

Vanessa found Summer Company mentorship opportunities to be extremely helpful for learning to sell and market her products and services to clients. From cold-calling/cold-emailing strategies to social media outreach and email wording, Vanessa learned how to attract reader attention and convert leads to sales. Summer Company also taught her about the importance of making connections and maintaining relationships. This guidance was especially useful while she was creating custom menus and signage for local restaurants.

Her advice for other aspiring business owners?

“Go for it! It’s daunting, confusing, and sometimes frustrating, but you learn so much – not only about finance or operations, but about yourself, the world, and relationships with others. You start seeing things through different lenses as a creator, owner, and do-everything-worker. Wearing so many hats teaches you more than most entry jobs – it’s not so much about how much you make at the beginning, but the lessons you learn.”

Summer Company was the push I needed to take a step into the business world, as opposed to simply exploring a hobby and earning a little on the side. The program has helped me pursue my goal of turning this into a business I can build in university and beyond. While I had always wanted to do this, this program gave me the experience and motivation needed.”