Business Highlight

To promote the sharing of ideas, support, hope, and recovery, we’ll be highlighting a different Stony Plain businesses’ pandemic story every month. What has worked, what hasn’t, and how they’re managing. If you’d like to share your business’s pandemic story, please email our team at ecdev@stonyplain.com.

Our Jouney Through the Pandemic

Written by: Heidi & Gail, Kick Ass Caramels

What can I say about our business traverse through COVID? I could talk about fear and uncertainty. I could talk about copious amounts of tears shed. I could talk about the countless discussions with fellow entrepreneurs who have had their hopes and dreams crushed. I could talk about righteous public anger over enforced rules, our crumbling economy or the loneliness that has engulfed so many. But no, I think not! Even though we went through many emotions like everyone else, we were also privy to amazing experiences, incredible growth, new business partnerships, and new opportunities!

When the world first came to a grinding halt last year, we decided to shut down for about two and a half months. We didn’t have to do this as we fell into the Province’s category of essential due to the food production nature of our business. However, since our main revenue stream came from markets, trade shows, and craft fairs, we didn’t have our typical arena to sell our product. Things looked grim for our little fledgling caramel company. We did have about 15-20 retailers, but they were all suffering in the same boat. Then one day, we got a phone call from a random lady. Our retailers were about 40 last year, and this past week we hit 100. This gal started off the conversation with, “You guys are such jerks, and I blame you for a couple of extra pounds that took up residence! Do you wholesale?” The actual vocabulary utilized was markedly more coloured with expletives than I can’t write! She was a sales rep for the last 17 years. She was interested in marketing our product to see if her other retailers were interested. They were! Suddenly we were busy again, selling as fast as we could make it! This woman was a powerhouse and a force to be reckoned with! Not only did she refuse to take our money that first year for commissions, but she mentored us, taught us so many things about business that we had no idea about! She gave us suggestions on how to grow and improve, contacts that might help with our shipping, packaging and sourcing cheaper ingredients. In short, she was our COVID angel! She was a firm believer in women-helping-women and showed us unbelievable drive and dedication.

 She put us in touch with reps in Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Manitoba, and we are now shipping across the country! We’ve increased our fundraisers as well, which has brought more local interest. We went from doing farmers’ markets to primarily only wholesale and are staying above the waterline! The local support that we’ve experienced has been incredible and has been what has kept us afloat. Our little community has pulled together in ways that are heartwarming and miraculous! Though all around us might be a quagmire of hopelessness and misery, if we look hard enough for all the fantastic things transpiring, it helps keep hope! We’ve seen the bright and beautiful side of humanity over and over again by way of support, assistance, emails, and encouraging phone calls. 

Last month we moved across the street to a larger production site (where the Perks coffee house used to be) and are loving our new digs! We also have plans to expand to a second location in Red Deer next month. This again was a fortuitous meeting of a businessman with vision who wanted to help us grow as well!

“It’s overwhelming to think back to when I started this little side gig almost four years ago. A friend I worked with at the Stony hospital had faith and trusted me enough to literally hand over $50,000 without paperwork or collateral to start my caramel empire! I’m flooded with gratitude to all the people around me who have helped because it would not have been possible! My sister-in-law who owns the company with me and is the epicentre of our organization, our families who have been patient and pick up the slack when we work late, our staff who work tirelessly alongside, my fella that does all the maintenance and servicing of our machines, our reps, our retailers, and our amazing friends and family that often volunteer to help us out.”

We’re filled with gratitude! Thank you! 

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