While the broader economy and many businesses have taken a hit through this pandemic, smaller businesses have pivoted, expanded or begun across the country and Sylvan Lake is no exception.
In this three part series we will look at three local entrepreneurs who have changed who they do business during the global pandemic. Kelly McMillan, Sacha Bojda and Janice Fogarty are the three women who will be spotlighted during this series, but there are many other female business owners in Sylvan Lake who have pivoted, expanded or begun a business in town.
According to StatsCan, small businesses make up 98 per cent of employer businesses across Canada. While small businesses have been more likely to experience a decrease in revenue and have less liquidity, and are more likely to be considering bankruptcy in the current economic environment, these women provide a glimpse of an entrepreneurial spirit that continues to grow. Despite the extra struggles, these women are striving to look at the bright side of things.
McMillan and her husband Ronald Contreras of White Frog Cafe have not let the challenges of COVID-19 halt their plans. While the pandemic has affected their business, as they rely on vendor markets and craft fairs for their business, the two decided to take the plunge and open their own brick and mortar location.
“It has always been our dream of expanding to a commercial location where we could roast our coffee for the public and have coffee available for purchase by the cup and fresh beans by the bag,” McMillan said.
“So despite the craziness of everything happening, when the perfect location came up for us, we knew we had to do whatever it took to get that building for our coffee company.”
McMillian and Contreras purchased the Stone House in Sylvan Lake’s downtown to become more ingrained in the local community.
Without vendor markets and craft fairs, McMillan says they are unable to have potential customers not only taste their coffee, but to hear their story.
“When we do tastings, we tell people that we are the farmers and the coffee is grown on chemical free soil; we can really go into our story which people love. If we can’t tell our story, people are less likely to purchase a new brand of coffee,” said McMillan.
The couple tried to maintain sales by offering contactless doorstep delivery, doing fundraisers for organizations in need and trying to get their coffee into the hands of new customers, but McMillan says it has been difficult.
“We’ve just done our best and managed to keep going. We tried to maintain sales by offering contactless doorstep delivery, doing fundraisers for organizations in need and trying to get our coffee into the hands of new customers,” she said.
McMillian and Contreras own three hectares of land in the province of Boyacá in the municipality of Chinavita, Colombia, where they grow their own coffee beans.
White Frog Cafe’s new location is now open at the Stone House, 5025 46th St.