The COVID-19 pandemic has created a year of fear, uncertainty, lockdowns and loss. But it has also created resilience and, for some, new successful business models.
These four entrepreneurs have made big changes to adapt, and some of them are thriving. Watch the videos to see how the pandemic started and how it is going for them.
From nylons to face masks
When the lockdowns took effect and people stopped going anywhere, Xenia Chen’s Toronto-based online hosiery company, Threads, found itself in jeopardy after two years in business.
The company switched to making masks at the suggestion of its Italian manufacturer. Chen launched them the day Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer, recommended that Canadians start wearing masks to prevent transmission of COVID-19.
WATCH: Teamwork helps the company move from hosiery to masks:
From wedding supplies to mask making
Rick Brink had to lay off half of his 120 employees at his wedding accessories company, Weddingstar, as events were quickly closed.
“I’ve been in business for 40 years. I know that if something hits your business you have to be able to move fast,” he said.
Within months, the Medicine Hat, Alta., Company began manufacturing masks. Its workforce has grown to 150 employees.
WATCH | Switching to masks saves the wedding supply business:
From fitness classes to fitness performance
MJ Shaw opened Soul Fuel Fitness in Toronto as an in-person experience, but six months later the studio morphed into a fitness suite for online classes.
The new business model allows it to attract customers from outside its neighborhood and the number of members has increased. Shaw plans to switch to a hybrid model when the pandemic ends.
WATCH | Online workouts are a godsend for the boutique fitness studio:
Cross-country movement classes
Working from home as a movement instructor in a one bedroom condo in downtown Toronto with her partner and dog was not working for Jasmine Smiley.
She spotted a century-old home outside of Digby, Nova Scotia on Instagram and the little family moved across the country.
WATCH | From the cramped condo to the spacious country house:
With files from Carly Thomas, Jill English and Nicole Riva