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Calgary

Strong communication is the difference between success and failure

Robyn Braley is a Brand Specialist, Writer, and Speaker. He is also the President and CoFounder of UniMark Creative Inc., a Calgary-based agency. Robyn has been transitioning into the role of writer and speaker known for content that helps people be better communicators. He draws on experience as a brand specialist, broadcast professional, music producer, event planner, and community volunteer. He began his career as a High School Drama teacher. Robyn has published over 70 posts on his blog site, ‘Brandit with Robyn.’ He has written articles for newspapers, trade, and lifestyle magazines. He is about to publish his first book.

Robyn Braley is a sought-after media guest and has appeared on CKNW Vancouver, CHED, Edmonton, CHQR, Calgary, CBC Alberta, CBC Saskatchewan, CJOB, Winnipeg and stations Newstalk 1010 and 640 in Toronto. He has also been interviewed on CTV, Global TV, City TV and CBC TV in various markets. Unimark Creative was launched in 1994 and helped several companies grow into multi-million dollar operations. The company has worked with commercial construction, oil & gas (service), manufacturing, and some retail companies. Unimark has also served not-for-profit organizations. Unimark Creative’s work won building industry marketing awards. Robyn has been nominated for several national music awards and in 2007 led a local team that won the Rotary International (worldwide) Public Relations Award. Robyn lives in Calgary, Alberta, and is a proud husband and father. As a doting grandpa, he regularly spoils 2 grandsons. He is also a Rotarian committed to the ideal of community service.


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Shooting for success in Canadian basketball

Jason Ribeiro is a father, community advocate, and Doctoral Researcher at the University of Calgary. He is a fixture in local and national media providing public affairs commentary and serves on several corporate and not-for-profit boards. His latest business venture is helping bring a Canadian Elite Basketball League franchise to Calgary. Ribeiro is Vice-Chairman and President of the Calgary Surge.

His past experience has included a role with Calgary Economic Development.


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Calgary-Based Entrepreneur is Changing the Way We Sleep

If you ask Lara Smith what led her to create Lusomé, she would tell you it was partly circumstantial, partly destiny.

She kicked off her 20-year career at two of the biggest fashion houses in the world – Ralph Lauren and Gucci – and quickly worked her way up as a senior executive at some of Canada’s largest retailers. There, she traveled the globe to discover and create innovative apparel solutions that would make a difference in the lives of consumers.

But it wasn’t until Lara watched her sister battle with breast cancer and the uncomfortable, long-term side effects that resulted from her treatments that she set out to find the most important solution of all – a solution to preventing overheating and night sweats in the clothing that is meant to make us feel beautiful. Lara looked throughout North America and Europe for a sleep brand with beautiful style and fabrics, but they were using 100% polyester and chemicals in the finishing process. Not to mention, their cooling technology never truly worked.

That’s when Lara decided to create her own solution, one that fuses beauty, comfort and science. Her vision came to life through Lusomé, a new pajama brand that promotes the health and sleep of its wearers through first-of-its-kind technology that stops night sweats before it starts.


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RBC: The micro-entrepreneur economy survey

Don Ludlow, Vice-President of Small Business, Partnerships & Strategy, RBC, provides strategic oversight and leads a team that is responsible for delivering marketing-leading solutions, partnerships and client experiences that go beyond traditional banking to help Canadian entrepreneurs successfully start, manage and grow their business.

He also manages the development of RBC’s strategy for the broader Business Financial Services portfolio, including the group’s client experience, CRM, and data analytics strategies.

Don joined RBC in 2001 and has 20 years of experience within the financial services and banking sector. Prior to joining RBC, he served as an Infantry Officer in the Canadian Army where he led soldiers on a number of domestic and international operations and worked in both staff and training roles.

Overview of Key Data Points

Led by the younger millennial and Gen Z generations, a ‘micro-entrepreneur’ economy is emerging across the country, as Canadians look to adapt to a changing landscape dominated by rising inflation and digitization

  • 74 per cent of Canadian small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs are motivated to start a small business or side-hustle due to the increasing cost of living – With this number rising to 84 per cent among Gen Z respondents
  • A strong majority (77 per cent) of current and aspiring entrepreneurs report that their chief aim is to create a source of income to support themselves – Millennials (86 per cent) are even more likely to cite this as their main reason for starting a business

Key factors supporting the emergence of the micro-entrepreneurship economy.

  • Emerging technologies allow them to reach new markets and explore new ways of doing business (47 per cent)
  • Being able to conduct their business or “side-hustle” online remotely lowers the overhead costs associated with starting and running a business (47 per cent)
  • Digital solutions reduce the efforts for administration and back-office aspects of running a business (42 per cent)

A shift in customer preferences is also creating fertile ground for small and micro-businesses.

  • 89 per cent of those surveyed agree that small businesses are able to provide products and services tailored to local needs
  • Another 72 per cent stated that they believe small businesses have the ability to innovate at a more rapid rate than larger organizations
  • Moreover, 71 per cent were more likely to support businesses with an active presence in their local community
  • For current and aspiring business owners, the rising preference and increased willingness of Canadians to shop local has contributed to their overall desire to become an entrepreneur, with 39 per cent of those surveyed stating that this shift has motivated and made it easier for them to start a business.

Read more on Newswire


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Offering an authentic gelato experience with family roots from Calabria, Italy

Dino Falvo is VP Business Development, Alberta-East for Mario’s Gelati and Director, Brand & Strategic Development and Owner/Operator of Amato Gelato Cafe. The two businesses operate together in providing authentic gelato to stores and restaurants across Canada as well as offering an authentic Italian experience in its cafes. The cafe brand is now ready for franchise opportunities across Canada.


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Bringing La Dolce Vita to Canadians with Cool Italian Products

Gennaro Silvestri, President/CEO, Apé Canada and Tag Intercontinental, discusses some of the cool things his companies are bringing to Canada so people can enjoy la dolce vita. The Apé is the original Italian three-wheeler, an icon that continues to evolve while remaining true to itself. Presented to the general public as a concept on November 23, 1946 at the Milan International Cycle and Motorcycle Show, the Apé made its debut as a pre-production special in late 1947 and went officially into full-scale production in 1948. Known all over the world and with a unique cheeky appeal and unrivalled versatility, this vehicle is now approaching its 70th birthday. But the Apé is also an unexpectedly contemporary product that has sparked curiosity and won the affection of countless persons who express their involvement through events, projects, blogs, websites and many other initiatives. No other commercial vehicle in the world has as much history as the Apé. Through Tag Intercontinental, Silvestri sources quality products to reduce carbon footprints while inspiring entrepreneurs to pursue innovative business opportunities.


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The artful mending of pain and mental health through psychedelic-assisted therapies

Heesoo Cho, Co-Founder and Managing Director of SABI Mind, is an operational leader who previously worked in operations & strategy at large Canadian companies. He has extensive experience in strategic planning and the execution of high-complexity and multi-disciplinary programs. With over 10 years of leadership experience and a track record in successfully managing and operating over $30 million in assets, he is known for developing and delivering service-driven solutions, providing outstanding client service, and driving profitable revenue growth. As the Co-founder of SABI Mind, Heesoo is responsible for the company’s growth and operations strategy, ensuring that SABI Mind provides industry-leading processes and management techniques that enable best-in-class patient care.


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Championing an elevated plant-based cuisine

Conceptualized by Canadian chef, Adam Ryan, Fire & Flora offers an immersive dining experience, underscored by elevated plant-based cuisine and Canadian-grown ingredients. This fine dining establishment is both a destination for discerning foodies and a celebrated local hot spot for residents of the Beltline neighbourhood. As interest in plant-based dining continues to grow, chef Ryan’s innovative menu aims to reassure diners that this culinary trend is here to stay.

Located in Calgary’s newest entertainment hub, The District at Beltline, Fire & Flora focuses on Canadian grown ingredients first and foremost, starting with local Alberta farmers, artisans and producers. The restaurant combines chef Ryan’s passion for sustainability with elegant, ingredient-driven dining. Dishes highlight certain fruits, vegetables or other ingredients as they are at their seasonal peak and chef Ryan’s team will work closely with producers and farmers to create in-season menus that incorporate more whole ingredients and refrain from using meat substitutes or processed foods.


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Creating a time saving, economical, customer focused car washing experience

Chris Friesen currently serves as the President & CEO of Mint Smartwash, a company that owns and operates a chain of exterior express car washes predominantly in Canada and one location in the United States. Mint Smartwash is now the largest Express Car Wash chain in Canada with seven washes open and an eighth scheduled to open in July. Chris is a born and raised Calgarian.

He is a Professional Engineer registered with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA). Upon graduating from the University of Alberta in 2003. Friesen spent nearly 10 years working in the oil and gas upstream sector. In 2013, he joined his father Don Friesen in the family office, the Friesen Group of Companies, and serves as the Chief Operating Officer of the family office. The Friesen Group is involved in several active and passive investments including several operating companies in a variety of sectors. Don Friesen, was a founder of Hazco Environmental Services Ltd., which sold in 2004, and was an industry leader in environmental contracting and cleanup across Western Canada. The Friesen’s were introduced to the Express Car Wash model by their now partner, Taylor Nelson, who is based in Lethbridge and serves as Mint Smartwash VP of Construction and Facilities. Chris’s interest in the car wash business comes from a family legacy of clean fanatics and a passion for efficiency and optimization. Mint Smartwash is not just a regular old car wash. The key differentiator is the ability to effectively wash cars at speed. Mint can wash between 180 to 200 vehicles per hour.


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It’s Happy Mamas and Babies Guaranteed

Leanne Rzepa, owner and founder of Nourish Lactation Consulting, became a Registered Nurse in 2000 after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from the University of Calgary. Rzepa quickly developed a passion for breastfeeding support when she began her career as a postpartum nurse at the Rockyview General Hospital.

In 2006 Rzepa began to focus her nursing practice on breastfeeding support and started studying to become a certified lactation consultant. Rzepa successfully passed her exam in 2007 and became an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).

In 2008 Nourish Lactation Consulting opened for business to provide in-home breastfeeding support and education to families in Calgary and surrounding communities. Rzepa, always an entrepreneur at heart, saw a need for in-home support after years of working in the hospital setting. “Women spend such a short time in the hospital after giving birth. Most new mothers are exhausted and aren’t able to retain the information shared by hospital staff. Breastfeeding is a learned art. It often takes days or even weeks for a new mother to feel confident feeding her baby. Nourish provides support in the home setting which is more conducive for learning and confidence building.”

Nourish has helped countless mothers meet their breastfeeding goals by providing quality, caring, evidence-based support. Most women Rzepa supports struggle with latch, pain, tongue tie, milk supply issues, poor weight gain, or feeding multiples. In addition to providing in-home support, Rzepa has an online store that sells a variety of breastfeeding related products, apparel, and supplements. Nourish also offers a breast pump rental service, monthly workshops, virtual consults, a drop-in clinic and a multitude of services provided by other healthcare professionals such as a sleep consultant, registered dietitian, pelvic floor physio, and postpartum support provided by a Doula.

Rzepa is passionate about her job and receives much joy from supporting mothers to achieve their breastfeeding goals.


Entrepreneurs are the backbone of Canada’s economy. To support Canada’s businesses, subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn and Twitter.

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