Success stories

Success Stories

Community Futures is pleased to showcase some of the many good news stories in rural Alberta. Everyday we help people like you start and grow successful small businesses.

Pink Tie Events

Ashley Walker and Whitney Christensen
Lethbridge, AB


Ashley Walker and Whitney Christensen are two young, vibrant women who have the passion to pursue their entrepreneurial dream. They love business, they love helping people and they love creating happiness.  So when they identified a niche in the wedding planning market in Lethbridge, starting Pink Tie Events was an easy business decision for them.

“Wedding planning is stressful; there are so many ideas, so many opinions and so many choices. We just wanted to remove the anxiety and save some tears by offering a ‘one-stop shopping’ storefront for the bride,” says Whitney.  When the two friends were planning their own weddings, they found there was a lack of selection and availability of everything décor wise under one roof. 

They started small, renting decorations from their home basements but the demand for their services required more space. So they left their marketing and accounting jobs and took the entrepreneurial risk, moved to a storefront and increased their services to include rentals, decorations, gifts, wedding and special event planning, and event setup and takedown.

Even though both women had Business Management degrees, Ashley and Whitney thought they could benefit by registering for the 8-week business training offered by Community Futures Lethbridge.

“Each week there was a new topic taught by a professional from the community,” states Ashley. “We were eager to learn and excited to do the classes. Meeting other people starting their own business was priceless.  We learned from others.  The experiences, the feedback, the advice from the other participants helped us improve and define our business plan and clarify our vision, ” advises Ashley.  “It opened up a whole new direction for us to go,” explains Whitney. “The program helped us improve, helped us validate our plans and gave us confidence.”

The pair is creative and embraces innovation to keep their market fresh.They are often the same age as their clientele and nurture the business relationship. Every event offers a new experience, a new challenge as the little hiccups on the event day are certain to happen.  But the strength of the partnership brings a sense of calm for this “take charge” duo, and the laughter and fun pulls them through the intricacies.

In less than a year, the business expanded to incorporate event planning for fund raising, bridal showers, and a variety of other special events.  When asked if they feel successful, Ashley and Whitney replied in harmony “Yes we do!”  When asked what has contributed to their success, they agree networking and being involved in the community is key.  “And you have to have the passion for what you are doing.”  

The two women are definitely passionate about their business, and passionate about creating happiness.  And yes, most importantly they both agree ‘they are passionate about the color pink.’

Website: pinktieonline.com

Isis Geomatics

Steve Myshak and Owen Brown
Lethbridge, AB


Steve Myshak had an idea; he shared the concept with a fellow University of Lethbridge classmate, Owen Brown, who agreed the idea could work.  So with a great deal of tenacity, brainstorming, feedback from associates and encouragement from family, the two young men built a multi-faceted company that focuses on aerial imagery data to employ in various industries.

Isis Geomatics Inc. was founded in 2011, and uses a Quadcopter, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone, to fly into the designated area to gather the specified data using a variety of sensor packages.  The gathered data is compiled to give a detailed visual aid providing a site record at the time of the image capture.

The sensory packages include infrared, thermal, visual, HD video and zoom video.  The process employed captures imagery data traditional survey techniques would not. “It’s like building a mosaic,” explains Owen. “We set the flight plan for the drone, define the area coverage and slowly stitch the pieces of imagery together to create a digital surface model through photogrammetric processing.”

The variety of services offered by Isis has attracted companies from the agricultural, oil and gas and transportation industries, both locally and internationally, so far.  Brown further states, “We have completed vegetation health mapping, livestock head counts, stockpile inventory imagery and even snow dune imagery required for a recent research project at the University of Calgary”.  The businessmen get excited when they discuss the possibilities as endless from accident reconstruction to environmental disaster management.  They see the solutions offered by Isis Geomatics as timely, cost effective and a safer response alternative for company personnel.

The two young entrepreneurs share similar working backgrounds in agriculture, oil and gas, surveying and geographic information systems (GIS) making them a dynamic partnership, who are confident in each others strengths and skills. They both desired a career that would allow them to be independent and to work outdoors. Forming Isis Geometrics Inc. seemed like the next natural step for their career paths after their Master’s degrees. Steve expresses he likes the great feeling you get when you know the business is your own. “With your own business you have the freedom to pursue new ideas and push your learning curve well beyond your knowledge base. ”

“Working with Community Futures Lethbridge was a benefit to help us get started,” the young men explained.  “They believed in us” said Myshak, “and when we told them ‘to trust us’, they did.”  Community Futures was willing to listen to the technical concepts, assist with the ever changing business plan, secure funding opportunities and provide support.

Steve Myshak the Chief Executive Office of ISIS Geomatics acknowledges that he knew at the beginning of his educational pursuits, he wanted to start his own company; he just wasn’t sure what it would be.  While Owen Brown, Vice President of Isis says he is able to fulfill his love of the outdoors.

It all started with an idea, shared with a friend.

Umami

Patricia Luu, Alex Luu and Sven Roeder
Lethbridge, AB


The ideas for the Umami Shop developed over time between siblings and friends while all were living abroad as young professionals working in the fast paced corporate world.  Although their work histories were diverse, they all agreed they were good at one thing – food; they all loved food!  But they wanted the concept to be different; to challenge the norm, to be original and eventually in 2009 the UMAMI Shop concept was first born in Chalon-sur Saône, France. And then in 2013 Umami Shop Canada, in Lethbridge, AB.

“Everybody eats”, states co-owner Patricia Luu as she described the thought process around the business concepts. “We grew up with organic, natural food that we cooked for ourselves.  Our parents owned the Asian Supermarket in North Lethbridge and they ensured we knew how to cook, to understand ingredients and mostly the importance of freshness and that is what we bring to UMAMI Shop.”

Umami is used to describe food that is “delicious” and was discovered by a Japanese professor, explains Patricia. “It expresses the deliciousness of food; the pairing of food to please the palette.” “We focus on fresh healthy products. We broke the global norm, and placed our kitchen at the front of the store. The Chef prepares the food; show cases the ingredients while the client watches. It is completely transparent, open and visual,” explains Patricia. The menu incorporates local ingredients, the customer observes, tries the flavours and can buy the ingredients at the store and then can go home to recreate, to play.”

“Our mission is to offer our customers a world food experience that supports our philosophy of eat, play, and laugh. Together.”  At UMAMI Shop the happiness is bringing people together to enjoy food.

The Umami Shop offers a lunchtime menu, a bakery, a deli, fresh local produce, a global grocery boutique, catering, as well as cooking classes in the evening.  The business caters to fresh food, prepared daily.  There are over 6,000 products in the shop with a diverse ethnic variety.

The three partners of UMAMI Shop, Patricia Luu, Alex Luu and Sven Roeder bring their own unique experiences to the business and the group has learned to leverage their skills to complement the success of the commercial adventure.  The opportunity arose to work with Community Futures and the business partners chose to take it.  Patricia stated “Community Futures took us seriously, they believed in us and helped us with the perspective of local business.  The business sessions help us understand the process of financially starting our business and the people were easy to work with.”

Umami Shop Canada employs a staff of ten.  “Our crew is amazing” beams Patricia. “They know all aspects of the business and are motivated by the everyday activity.”  Everyone believes in eating fresh, being healthy, understanding food and educating others about the food products in the shop.  “At first, one of our biggest business challenges was the hiring, but once we were open, people came to us.  They loved the new concept and wanted to be part of it.”

Patricia’s advice to young entrepreneurs is to seek and understand the opportunities in the community and take advantage of them for you never know where they may lead you.  “Then duplicate yourself” emphasizes Patricia. “Share what you learned and success comes back in folds.  It is about community and bringing people together.”

UMAMI Shop creates a space to eat, play and laugh while you enjoy fresh food, wonderful aromas and even a café latte if that is what your palate desires.

A new concept, new experiences, new adventures combine to make a savory taste of success by three young entrepreneurs doing what they love. 

UMAMI Shop
814-4 Ave South
Lethbridge, Alberta

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Community Futures Lethbridge Region
2626 South Parkside Drive
Lethbridge, AB T1K 0C4

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Communities Served

Barons, 
Blood Band Reserve, 
Broxburn, 
Coaldale, 
Coalhurst, 
Del Bonita, 
Diamond City, 
Iron Springs, 
Kipp, 
Lethbridge, 
Magrath, 
Monarch, 
Nobleford, 
Raymond, 
Shaughnessy, 
Spring Coulee, 
Stand Off, 
Stirling, 
Tempest, 
Turin, 
Welling, 

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