Cheers to Paul's Tomb

F - Aug 4, 2016 / 1:27 pm | Story: 172384 From Castanet

It's been seven years in the making, and now a locally-produced gin is ready for drinking.

Urban Distilleries is releasing a product that highlights one of Kelowna’s most celebrated locations – Paul’s Tomb.

Founder Mike Urban says he produced Paul’s Tomb Gin seven years ago; however, it didn’t have the flavour he was looking for.

“I was going after a particular target market of non-gin drinkers,” he said. “So when I made my first gin it was a little too juniper, not as floral and citrus as I wanted, so I put it aside and let it sit here for seven years.

Instead Urban decided to produce another gin geared towards the non-gin-drinker with more flower botanicals.

“That was Spirit Bear Gin and it was a runaway success for us and hit that target market,” said Urban.

Spirit Bear Gin is named after West Coast Kermode bear, B.C.’s official animal, but when Urban decided to release his new product he wanted a more local focus.

“Paul’s Tomb is just a 15-minute walk from our distillery, we explain what Paul’s Tomb is on the bottle and we put a map on the back from the distillery to Paul’s Tomb.”

Rembler Paul was a Kelowna pioneer, remembered as an eccentric man who built a large tomb for his family in the early 1900s.

While Paul’s Tomb Gin may contain more juniper notes than the Spirit Bear Gin, Urban says many are shocked to know that gin is an infused vodka.

“We just re-distill vodka with the spices to create gin, and when we get people to try it who have never tasted gin or hate gin they are very surprised to see that hey it’s not that bad it is a really nice drink.”

Paul’s Tomb Gin is a limited time product with only 48 cases produced, but Urban says if market wants it he will produce more.

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Kelowna Resident Named Student Entrepreneur National Champion

Posted from Kelowna Now May 11, 2016

A young Kelowna entrepreneur has received a very prestigious award as he has been named 2016 Student Entrepreneur National Champion.13102696 474800996057300 5929682239404164969 n

Dustin Erickson is the owner of Float Space and is a full time student at the University of British Columbia. Erickson was recently named as the national champion by the country’s largest student leadership development organization, Enactus Canada. Erickson received the title of Student Entrepreneur National Champion after beating out hundreds of other student entrepreneurs from across Canada through provincial, regional and national rounds of competition.

A panel of Canada’s top entrepreneurs and business leaders voted Dustin Erickson national champion because he truly embodies the essence of his business.

“Bringing home the Stanley Cup for student entrepreneurs today! Enactus national student entrepreneur champion 2016!” exclaimed Erickson on social media. “Floating is the most powerful tool for self-development, manifesting, thinking, creating, and evolving. Period.” 

Float Space is a four tank float centre in Kelowna that is designed to explore and enhance the act of weightless floating in total isolation from major sources of external stimulation. This empirically-based stress relief and total optimization technique is known as saltwater isolation or floatation REST (Restricted Environmental Stimuli Technique).

“Dustin Erickson has managed to turn something he truly believes in into a viable business and that is the entrepreneurial spirit which built this country,” said Enactus Canada president Nicole Almond. “We want to encourage and celebrate this in a new generation of young leaders across Canada.”

As National Champion, Erickson received a $10,000 cash prize and took home the John Dobson Cup.

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A Dragon's Nook

Posted from Castanet May 7, 2016 by Jennifer Zielinksi

Louis-Philippe Penner and his wife Ruthy are on the road to Toronto after their homemade business caught the eye of the Dragons.

The duo auditioned for the CBC show Dragons’ Den back in March and didn’t hear back right away, so thought they were out of luck.

“Out of the blue, we got a call saying, ‘We want you to come down and film – we have you in for May 15.’ So we have two weeks to prepare,” said Louis-Philippe.

Their business spawned out of a trip to the thrift store three-years-ago to buy shoes for their new baby. It was there they uncovered a pile of cashmere sweaters that would ignite Ruthy’s passion.

“She was previously a seamstress on the Island, and she thought she could repurpose the material,” Louise-Philippe explained.

The sweaters were turned into soft-soled booties for children, the item that really kick-started the business.

screen shot 2016 05 06 at 2.28.30 pm p3124936Nooks, named after their oldest daughter Anouk, are shoes and clothing for children made out of upcycled material.

“We try to use as much as possible of old materials, so we will make pants out of men’s dress shirts, and booties out sweaters and blankets,” he said. “We hand-pick all of our material, we look for 100 per cent wool material, as we really try to focus on the natural fibres,” he said.

Then the material is felted at their home in the laundry machines.

Louis-Philippe said there are nine seamstresses that work exclusively for Nooks, which he believes keeps the product consistent.

They started selling their product at the Kelowna’s farmer’s market before gaining momentum on Etsy, and Nooks are now found in 28 stores across Canada.

But they want help from the Dragons.

“We are getting to the point now where we are limited to sourcing the materials because we can only hand pick sweaters to a certain point. Sometimes there is a lack or the wool isn’t good quality.”

Louis-Philippe says they are looking for a Dragon who can help them locate material and distribute the product.

“We can still make the product sustainably here in Kelowna and still appeal to larger retailers across North America,” he said.

So until Nooks makes it out of the Den, both Louis-Philippe and Ruthy have their full-time jobs and kids to keep them on their toes.

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"Project Mermaid" Launched by Bonne Belle Photography

Okanagan mermaids working to protect local lakes

Posted from Kelowna Now May 4, 2016 by Molly Gibson Kirby

Mythical sea creatures are being used to raise awareness of water issues in the Okanagan.

In honour of Water Week in British Columbia Bonne Belle Photography is launching an environmental awareness campaign titled “Project Mermaid Okanagan”.

The focus of the campaign is to show residents beautiful art, while showing very serious environment threats found in the lakes.

“The mermaid is a gentle water guardian, watching over the lakes,” said founder Bonnie Donovan.

“She is an ambassador between us and our environment and a reminder of how precious our waters are. Everyone loves her.”

One-minute commercials and print ads of mermaids on Okanagan beaches will circulate around social media and in local magazines.

2016_Project_Mermaid_Okanagan_ from Bonne Belle Photography on Vimeo

The portraits are drawing attention to issues like invasive mussel species. Donovan said the hope is to create a coffee table book next year that will feature well-known women in the Okanagan, posing as mermaids.

Each photograph has an official Project Mermaid Okanagan stamp and soon there will be photographs at different venues in the Okanagan to raise awareness about the campaign.

Even though stories tell us that mermaids are found in salt water not fresh, Donovan laughed that fact off.

“Do you really believe there are mermaids in the ocean? The mermaid is a fictional character, much like the Ogopogo, and we can put her wherever we want! We have a dolphin statue downtown, and we don’t have dolphins in Okanagan lake, either.”

Project Mermaid is supporting the current work being done by the Okanagan Basin Water Board.


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Devon Sailer 2016 Volunteer of the Year


devon and barbra 2016Community Futures Central Okanagan Past Chairperson Barbra Johnston presents Devon Sailer with the volunteer award.


For Immediate Release April 11, 2016

Community Futures recognizes 2016 Volunteer of the Year

From April 10 to 16, Volunteer Canada and Community Futures Central Okanagan are celebrating Canada’s 12.7 million volunteers during National Volunteer Week. This year marks the 13th year Volunteer Canada has delivered the campaign in partnership with Investors Group, a longstanding supporter of National Volunteer Week.

The Community Futures 2016 Volunteer of the Year is Devon Sailer. Community Futures Central Okanagan wishes to recognize Devon because he has actively volunteered and participated at Community Futures on the Youth Means Business Advisory Committee, Entrepreneurship Committee, Loan Committee and Board of Directors. In 2015, Devon was elected to be Chairperson. Devon’s rise to the top of the Community Futures in Central Okanagan can be attributed to his keen personality, business analysis ability, exceptional business knowledge and dedication to the organization.

Community Futures is a small business development organization – based in the community and for the community. We offer local assistance from experts who live in the same communities as our clients, and have 34 offices throughout rural BC. Our wide variety of services and tools are designed to help entrepreneurs and small business owners achieve their goals through business planning advice and loans and self-employment assistance. Community Futures provides financing alternatives to small and medium enterprises when access to credit is a challenge to starting or growing their business. To learn more or find an office near you, visit

For more information, please contact:

Larry Widmer, General Manager

Ph. 250-868-2132 ext. 223

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

Community Futures has achieved a major milestone, celebrating 30 years of service to entrepreneurs and communities across BC. As part of our 30 year celebration, we are publishing The Future of Entrepreneurship Series. Written by business leaders, this series of forward thinking articles will provide insights and opinions in regards to a number of key challenges and opportunities facing entrepreneurs in the future.

Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

Dr. David E Bond

I have been fortunate to know several successful entrepreneurs. All of them shared a number of key attributes that served them well as they launched and then managed enterprises. Over time, despite occasional bumps in the road, they became vibrant and profitable ventures.

First, when they launched their ventures, they were between 35 and 45 – or even older - and they already had significant experience. This is not to say that younger, less-experienced people cannot make it and make it big. Think of Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, both of whom achieved remarkable success with businesses launched when they were still of college-age. But they are the rare exceptions.

Someone in their 30s or 40s has experienced a lot of the ups and downs in life and business and has therefore gained a certain degree of stability. They have an ability to cope with changes in their personal and financial circumstances - which are very likely as they make the shift from working for a larger business or government to being self-employed.

Second, when they started on the journey of starting up an enterprise, their personal financial position was not compromised by, for example, maxed-out credit cards or a spotty record of servicing their debts. Their personal debt was at reasonable levels compared to their incomes. When a new enterprise is seeking original or other early financing, the main criteria lenders will examine is the financial and credit records of the principals involved.

In addition to these attributes, the successful entrepreneurs I know shared a high level of preparedness when approaching a start-up. They knew what they wanted to do and had a clear concept of the product or service they wished to provide. They saw an under-served market or unmet need and, after having carried out some initial research on feasibility, arrived at a belief there was an opportunity that they should seize.

As they progressed further, they assembled information on potential suppliers of products, on how to reach out to potential customers and identified the kind of resources - in terms of finance, facilities and, perhaps most importantly, personnel - they would require. And they were not shy about asking for advice and information and bouncing ideas off their friends and associates. They were all good listeners.

Determination is another essential characteristic because the road to establishing a successful business launch is seldom smooth. One of these embryonic entrepreneurs thought he had a deal with an American company through an affiliate in Canada - only to find out the owner of the US firm wanted total control. But, his company was floundering because he had expanded his operation with inadequate foresight. My friend realized he had had a lucky escape and quickly found another firm with which he could work. Through that firm, he made a series of contacts which allowed him, over time, to expand the range of products he sold. Knowing when to change course and being able and willing to make such an adjustment is essential for the successful entrepreneur.

Another friend wanted to start a consumer catalogue selling Canadian-crafted products. The idea came to her when she read a newspaper article complaining it was impossible to find a tea towel with a replica of a Tom Thomson painting. So she began going to craft shows and collecting names of people in the craft industry and then slowly built a business plan, putting together the component parts of a consumer marketing business which took phone and internet orders. The business hinged on being able to accept credit card payments but one bank feared the operation was a scam aimed at bilking them of vast sums. It took persistent lobbying - plus a more sympathetic banker willing to do real due diligence - to finally get the business growing.

Another entrepreneur, trying to establish a facility that would permit aboriginal communities to borrow in the money markets, encountered barriers with both aboriginal and government leaders that seemed virtually insurmountable. But she persisted and slowly built a series of institutions that would bring financial discipline to potential borrowers and establish a central organization that would be able to finance the loan portfolio at competitive rates.

It took more than 10 years, but the program is now successful and has resulted in significant investment by aboriginal communities in everything from sewers and water systems to community meeting halls and recreational complexes. Moreover, it has encouraged a significant number of similar organizations that administer housing, natural resource development and road-building on band lands.

In all three cases, these successful entrepreneurs were not afraid to seek help and to build alliances that would support their efforts as they launched their enterprises. Willingness to admit mistakes and change course is also a key trait. On the other hand, big egos and hubris don’t lead to start-up success.

One cautionary example: one of my friends found in a warehouse in the US eastern seaboard a particular product that he, as a former member of the armed services, knew and admired. So he bought a thousand, expecting a tsunami of demand. After 4 months he had sold only 4! The lesson he learned was to think long and hard to define the market for any product and to suppress his personal enthusiasm and use careful research and rational thought to avert disaster.

Assuming a successful launch, there are a few day-to-day operating practices that make long-term survival more likely. In virtually all of the successful start-ups I have known, good information has been a critical and central requirement. This includes not just detailed records of receipts and expenditures but accurate inventory records and good customer data, including any feedback they provide. As one entrepreneur said, “Flying blind is just inviting disaster. The information may not be complete but without it I will not grow or indeed survive.” All my examples spent a considerable amount of time searching out and installing information systems suited to their particular needs.

None of these successful entrepreneurs were concerned about getting their hands dirty. When something needed to be done, no matter how menial, they pitched in regardless of the hour day or night if there was nobody else available. Press checks for catalogs at 3 AM, or opening cartons and shelving products, or fulfilling and packaging orders - all part of the job.

Finally, successful entrepreneurs have always understood the important contribution made by the people they employ. Employees must be treated with respect and kindness and listened to attentively when they make a complaint or when they share some information gained from talking with customers or suppliers. Some of the most important ideas for success of endeavours come from staff members and savvy founders reward them accordingly. As one of these innovators said to me, “Our people are our hidden asset and without them I’d be dead in the water.”

Of course, not every aspiring entrepreneur has the full suite of talents and knowledge. Further, the chances for success will always be greatly influenced by the economic environment. But, a well-thought-out project with clear objectives and milestones, run by determined and focused individuals who understand the importance of finance, product, information, personnel, and customers will probably prosper even in the most difficult environments - especially with the help provided by the programs at Community Futures.

Community Futures is a non-profit community business financing organization created to support small and medium sized enterprises throughout rural BC, paving the way for diversified local economies and job creation.

Learn more (

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Kelowna Micro Home Business Plans Two Open Houses

Posted from Kelowna Now February 26, 2016 by Molly Gibson

A new micro home business is launching in Kelowna, and after the complete success of selling tickets for the launch, they’ve decided to hold two open houses.

Little House Contractingis a micro home building company founded by Tara Tschritter. Tschritter is working with Allison Ramchuck, who is the director of business development.

<who> Photo Credit: Tara Tschritter </who> Allison Ramchuck, right, and Tara Tschritter, left, have created Little House Contracting.

The two women announced at the beginning of February that they would be launching the business in March. The launch event will be held on March 11that Laurel Packing House and is for ticket holders only.

Tickets for the event were sold out ten minutes after published the article about the evening.On Facebook Little House Contractingannounced that they released another 50 tickets, which also almost sold out immediately.

Tschritter said the success of the launch tickets have made them decide to hold two open houses about the new business as well.

 The first open house will be held in Kelowna on April 2ndfrom 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m., at the Unitarian Hall.

The second open house will be held in West Kelowna at The Hatch Winery on April 5th. The open house will be held from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.

People can stop by for a cup of coffee and check out the business plans and talk to Tschritter and Ramchuck.

Little House Contracting’s websitewill be launched on March 11th, during the launch event.


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