TORONTO — Abby LeMasters, the owner of Tri B’s Coffee Shop, wanted to recognize the many new local businesses launched by women, and she did so in a big way by inviting everyone to gather inside her business and outside of it on Clark Street on 15 Oct.
The cafe’s opening on North Fourth Street in January coincided with that of Meraki Made, a custom clothing store just down the street, and their owners shared each other’s business cards with their patrons.
The cross-marketing effort, while not extensive, reflected a willingness among many Gem City small business owners to help each other out, LeMasters said.
– That everyone supports each other is very important. It will benefit everyone, she said, adding that she hopes to hold similar events for each season next year.
Working with city officials, a small section of Clark Street was blocked off and a stage set up for live music from the Two Friends Trio.
Among many with booths on the street was REC Fitness, a physical fitness center that was opened by Korey Clegg within the Karaffa Recreation Center at 1307 Dennis Way in 2020 but was forced to close soon after due to the pandemic.
Crystal Wickham, one of three instructors there, noted that the gym continued to serve the public through online instruction delivered through social media.
“As soon as we could reopen, we did” She said.
Open Monday through Saturday, with workouts available during the day and evening, the center’s offerings include spin classes, which use stationary bikes for muscle strengthening; and step routines that use light weights and tempo for low or high intensity.
Visitors to the center range in age from 21 to 71, and modifications are available for beginners, Wickham said.
Alicia Troski, who owns Primary Print and Design with her husband, Jeremy; said the business opened in 2011 but moved in recent years to 1102 Franklin St.
She noted that embroidered items, including custom Christmas stockings, jackets and other apparel, have been added to its product line.
Also on hand was Leslie Robbins of Leslie’s Dog Grooming and Doggie Things at 906 Banfield Ave.
Robbins said she has been grooming dogs for 30 years, 20 of them in Toronto, after returning to her hometown to raise her child.
A 1974 Toronto High School graduate and Army National Guard veteran, she said her focus is on small to medium-sized breed dogs and that she is available weekdays, evenings and Saturdays to accommodate working people.
Not all businesses featured have brick and mortar locations. Some work from their homes and others bring their services to their clients.
Among the latter was Pretty Rad. It’s owned by sisters Mallory and Nicole Radvansky, who provide cosmetic care, including injecting Botox and dermal fillers to address crow’s feet, wrinkles and other signs of aging.
The two explained that they are board certified nurses who partner with a local physician, as required by law, to provide their services. They have established a website and Facebook page to reach out to potential customers, adding that more people are seeking such treatments than people think and they are happy to make them available locally.
Kayla Wedlake also attended to spread the word about the photography business she runs under her name. She said she has been working from her home in Toronto since 2019, getting a good shot at weddings and other special occasions as far away as Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
Wedlake, who graduated from Edison High School in 2010, provided photo portraits of high school seniors and infants, among others, and offers, free of charge, photos of pets known to be in the final days of their lives.
Kara Eltringham of Makeup of Kara has played a role in weddings and other special occasions, including proms, by helping women look their best through cosmetics. She has been helping students prepare for their senior pictures.
More information about Eltringham can be found on Instagram at MakeupbyKar_a.
Alex Taylor of Pretty Poppin’ Parties and Kathy Sabol of KJ’s Unique Party Setup both offered ways to make a birthday or other party special.
Taylor has created balloon towers and walls for everything from weddings to graduation or retirement parties and, since opening in May, has booked many for this year and next.
A former television newswoman and Toronto resident, Taylor said she established the business while taking some time off to focus on her family.
A 1975 graduate of Toronto High School, Sobol said she can bring low tables, plush pillows and other accessories for adult-themed parties or provide elegant tablecloths, runners and other decor for clients’ own decor.
For children, she offers small teepees with blankets and pillows, creating a camping effect for parties with themes ranging from superheroes and dinosaurs to mermaids and ladybugs.
Marketing items they sell from their homes, through online businesses or at local festivals were: Krista Beswick and Alicia Myslinsky of Zazazu Boutique, who have sold women’s clothing and some children’s clothing to customers throughout the United States; Mira Payne of Mira’s Miraculous Plants & More, which sells an assortment of potted plants, scented brooms, handmade wreaths and other items; and Jessica Winters of Stella Creek Candle Co., who makes an assortment of scented candles in her Toronto home.
Winters said she had considered starting her own business, named after her grandmother, and after selling all the product that came to the Toronto Art Festival in 2016, she realized it was a good move.
Troski said the event is a sign that a new generation of entrepreneurs is interested in running businesses in Toronto, a positive development for the city.
Alberta Chesney was among the residents who were delighted to see the event and the range of businesses, saying: “We need things like this in Toronto.”
(Scott can be reached at [email protected])