Halifax Letter

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					                                                                              1888 Brunswick Street, Suite 819
                                                                                 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 3J8

I began my business in 1977. I had worked in retail for ten years and the opportunity came to enter
into the retail business on my own terms. I had wanted to be self-employed for quite some time. It has
allowed me, through these past 34 years, to help so many people and projects. I’ve been able to help
kids earn their way through college, assist in community endeavors, and participate in service and
youth groups. It allowed me to keep in close contact with my community.

Jon Lawrence
Fortress View Restaurant
Louisbourg, NS

I became a small business owner for two reasons. Firstly, to be my own boss, and secondly, I had the
unique opportunity to turn my avocation into my vocation. Every day I interact with other winemakers
and share knowledge and experience. I am a very lucky guy. Now if I could just get the Government
to stop putting up roadblocks I would be a happy camper (or winemaker).

Ross Harrington
Wine Kitz Halifax - Pemberley Wine Inc.
Halifax, NS

I am Jamie Hartling of Leathersmith Designs in Dartmouth, NS. We have been making personalized
and production leather products such as leather belts, guitar straps, key tags, dog collars, dog leashes,
coin purses, bookmarks, coasters and wallets since 1975. We also do custom leather work and sell
leather craft supplies.
    I have always been interested in the craft movement since I was a child. As a child I went with my
family to craft shows and art exhibits and they explained why the exhibited pieces were so unique. I
wanted to sell my various handcrafts at shows but I was told as an elementary school child, I was too
young. Honestly my work looked very crude. However by age 12 that changed. My interest in leather
craft started. I quickly learned and became good at what I did. By age 13, I started selling at
professional craft shows. By mid teens, I started selling at shows that required craftspeople to submit
their work for jurying in order to be allowed to sell in the shows. At one craft organization they
discussed if a young teenager should be allowed to join the craft guild of adults and they agreed as
long as my work met their standards.
    My desire to keep learning improved my work and increased my business. My parents said that
every vacation was a leather vacation as we had to visit anything that was leather related on our trips
throughout Canada and the United States from leather craft studios, tanneries, shoe repair shops,
harness makers to shoe factories. I used to bike to a local shoe repair shop whose owners allowed me
to come in after school to observe and use their equipment since I was so interested in leather work. I
was given special permission as a young teenager to attend classes with adults for a leather working

course that was offered through the Dartmouth Continuing Education System at the time. Owners of
two leather stores in Halifax and one in Pictou County were very helpful in teaching me different
aspects of leather work. Adults could have easily ignored me as a very young person trying to learn a
trade but I was lucky they didn't. Instead they took an interest in me because of my keen interest and
desire to learn.
    At an early age I started to learn about bureaucracy. Many forms had to be signed by my parents
that allowed me to operate different aspects of a business since I was under age. One of those was
being registered with the provincial sales tax commission. I properly kept records and gave receipts
from an early age because when I registered with the tax commission, someone there had taken the
time to explain what record keeping was required of me. Because of that, I did not have any problems
when someone came knocking on my door years later. At high school age, I was audited by the
provincial sales tax commission who spent the day going through my books and records at my home
    I earned my spending money and paid my way through university with this part time business I had
created. When I graduated with my Bachelor of Commerce Degree, I thought I would get the typical
commerce job. I worked for a year at some minimum wage jobs promoting two craft shows, working
in a retail shoe store and promoting credit cards. Many of the commerce jobs at the time required me
to move away but my desire was to stay in Metro because my family, relatives and friends were in this
area. My other desire was doing my part time leather working job. Some interviewers frowned on
that because they said having a part time business could interfere with working for them.
    I wanted a job that I would be excited about going to work everyday and not think of it as work.
What I really wanted to do was leather work full time so I took the scary plunge. I traveled to
Montreal, Toronto and New York to learn how to use some production machinery. I purchased the
production equipment so I could become more competitive. My family allowed me to build a
workshop on their property. The first five years were the hardest because I had to increase sales from

part time work to what was required to earn a full time salary. My wife, supported my financial outlays
that were required for equipment and a further move to a bigger workshop on our own property. My
wife and family helped me sell at shows throughout the Maritime Provinces. For 30 years I sold
regularly at craft shows until the internet made me take the next plunge of selling on the web instead
of at shows. For the last six years I have sold leather products through my website as well as through our shop in Dartmouth.

   Did I go into business for myself so I could get rich and have lots of time off? No those were not my
goals nor my experience. I work many hours more than the typical employee. Yes there have been
times I have worried about making ends meet as there are many expenses in running your own
business. My love of creating and producing a beautiful leather product from raw material was my
passion to do it. However you cannot live on love of your work. On the odd occasion I have thought
of other employment only when there was a downturn. However I was lucky enough to find ways to
increase sales, develop new products or became more efficient which allowed me to weather
downturns in the economy. I enjoy what I do so much that I have told my wife I do not plan to retire
but just cut back at age 65. Time will tell.

Jamie Hartling
Leathersmith Designs Inc.
Dartmouth, N.S.

I decided to open my business almost 30 years ago because I was too dumb to know that it is near
impossible to start a business with a negative net worth and a $100 car I bought from a junk yard; but I
did have a sharp pencil! I am still here after 30 years and I have most of what I started with left! That is
no joke either, the above describes my position exactly.

Jamie Grover
Allied Insurance Brokers Inc
Kentville, NS

In 1984 when I became newly unemployed, I figured if I was ever going to realize my dream and open
a business, at 32 years old, it was now or never. The bank part was easy (RBC, still with them today).
The tough part was convincing my wife!! Now, 26 years later, we have 2 Lumbermart locations, a
succession plan in place and 4 years to go!! My wife eventually “bought in” and has been my biggest
supporter. We`ve been working side by side ever since. Has it all been fun and easy? .....HECK NO!! But
we`ve had lots of wins, made some great friends, and enjoy a nice lifestyle and the freedom and
trappings of running our own show. Would we do it again? .....In a Heart Beat!!!

Fred O`Hearn
Lumbermart Limited
Halifax, NS

I had worked for my employer for over 20 years, starting at an entry level position and working my way
up to a mid-level management position. I had always worked as if I owned the company. When a
personality conflict with a new manger resulted in an "offer" of a lateral move to another province, I
decided to take a severance package and explore other options. After exploring local available
employment opportunities, I decided that I would rather decide my own future than allow someone
else to decide it for me. When the local hardware store opened 20 years ago, I said that someday I
would own it: now I do and I've never been happier, more successful or overworked!

John Glover
Redmond's Home Hardware
Upper Tantallon, NS

Well, I’ve been here for 32 years. I worked here with my father, who originally owned the business. I
bought the business from in 1991. He passed away in 2000, but I’m still here. I like it some days,
other days I could walk. But overall I like being self employed.

Dana Poehl
Poehl's Auto Salvage Limited
Centreville, NS

Hi there! Its Wendy Creese from Readers Haven in Windsor,NS. I stared my bookstore in 2003. After a
car accident ended my nursing career, I needed to get back to work. I have always had a love of books
so I looked into getting some help open a store. I went through the self employment /CBDC program.
I did not have any business training, just the crazy belief that it would work. How hard could it be?
Well seven years, and many hard stressful days later, I am still here and would not trade this for

Wendy Creese
Readers Haven,
Windsor, NS

Why did I start my own business? I did so because I was tired of having to change what I was telling
my customers while working with the larger companies. They would make market changes that didn't
reflect what was truly happening in my area. This was having a negative affect for my clients. I had sold
my clients on my honesty and being transparent to them. When I was no longer able to this, I knew it
was time to go it alone. Hence the reason I started Affordable Fuels Ltd, a small discount oil business in
Halifax. I now can keep my promise to my customers as well as to my employee's. In just a short 6
years we have averaged a growth of 40% per year and now are employing 7 people. The risk in the
beginning was great but the rewards have been positive as well.

Steve Williams MB
Affordable Fuels Ltd
Beechville, NS

 I am Mathew Talala I now own my 12th business. That is the LAKELAWN MOTEL. I started at the age
of 11. I had a toy importing company then. When someone asks me “what I should do when I grow
up?” my answer always is: Make a living performing your hobbies....That’s what I did. I only did what I
loved. I became a business owner because I like to create and see the results of my creations. I wanted
to be my own boss not because I do not like bosses, but because I like to control my own destiny and
future. I wanted to be totally independent. I want to make a living with my hobbies. I never pursued

money, yet I made a lot of money. I wanted to be an owner of a business to succeed and help those
who are in my life whenever they need help. I became a business owner to basically have a lifestyle as a
business owner and to exchange with the other business owners who are creative and proud of a job
well done. I wanted to teach and learn. I want to make everything that I deal with better by the time I
am done with it. I wanted to work hard and change the working world. How many of your hopes were
met and what did you discover? What do you like and hate about it? My answer would be NO
REGRETS. Although, I discovered that the biggest part of my work is that of a second class tax collector
- who incidentally is never paid, never respected, nor trusted. As well I find myself an occasional baby
sitter to some old babies on my staff team. Even though I found out that I have in many ways
compromised my dream, I still have no regrets. I do wish it would be more rewarding for our children
who will choose business.

Mathew Talala
Lakelawn Motel,
Yarmouth, NS

We were approached to start in a business venture while the company we were employed with were
going out of business. It seemed like a good idea. With many many sacrifices, long hours, some
sleepless nights, a very supportive family, and 15 years later we are still going strong.

Terry Morris
Lingan Builders (1996) Ltd.
Sydney, NS

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