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:

Teamwork is leading the transition from hosiery to masks

Xenia Chen turned her hosiery business, Threads, into a Threads Helps mask business during the pandemic. 0:46

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:

Switching to masks saves the wedding supply business

Rick Brink believes Weddingstar’s shift from making wedding accessories to face masks saved the business. 0:56

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:

Online workouts are a boom for the boutique fitness studio

MJ Shaw had to move his workouts online and this resulted in an increase in Soul Fuel Fitness memberships. 0:48

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:

From cramped condo to spacious country house

Jasmine Smile has moved to a century-old home in the countryside of Nova Scotia from her cramped one-bedroom condo in Toronto. 0:59

With files from Carly Thomas, Jill English and Nicole Riva


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