Success Stories

Like Magic – The Pink Wand Story

Jacqui Jepson 

Airdrie, AB

Jacqui Jepson knows there’s no wizardry involved in starting a business. The magic happens through a combination of hard work, grit, determination, and not giving up too soon. Her philosophy has paid off, and she’s grown her residential and commercial cleaning company from a one-woman enterprise into a profitable franchise opportunity.

Hailing from a family of entrepreneurs, Jacqui was always attracted to the idea of controlling her destiny.  Life presented the opportunity to grow a part-time cleaning gig into a full business in 2008 when Jacqui and her husband separated.  She needed to make money but still be there for her kids, and the idea for The Pink Wand was born. Choosing a name wasn’t difficult: “I like the colour pink! And people sometimes said it was like a miracle after we cleaned their houses, ergo the magic wand.”

Bow Valley BBQ – a Canmore business with sizzle

Jamie Ayles & Chris Dean
Canmore, AB

Jamie Ayles R and partner Chris Dean L BVBBQ

When chef Jamie Ayles first set out almost a decade ago to market his sauces and condiment blends, he hardly envisioned he’d end up as a multi-line, award-winning food industry producer.

In 2012, founder and CEO Jamie left his job as executive chef at a northern resort to start his business:  Bow Valley BBQ in his hometown of Canmore, Alberta.

As his company grew, Jamie decided to partner with Chris Dean, a long-time industry colleague. In 2015 they acquired Boccolino Fine Foods, adding a line of fresh, refrigerated salad dressings to their products.

“At first, we manufactured everything in our Canmore facility, but outgrew it within six months and started working with a co-packing facility in Claresholm. I learned how our model could be scalable, so we focused on development in Canmore and external co-packing/production – now done in Mississauga and Abbotsford.”

The company now has four product lines: The original Bow Valley BBQ series offers bottled sauces and condiments.  A recent addition is single-serve packets of popular sauces targeted to the deli “grab & go” industry. “Individual servings are a great testing ground, and to be in artisan eateries expands our reach,” says Jamie.  

Sauce Boss, another line, includes 37 private white labels developed for the largest food retailers in Canada. Boccolino Fine Foods offers top-quality plant-based, vegan salad dressings in major grocery stores. Parkway Beverage Company - Parkway Mixology includes non-GMO, gluten-free drink mixes, tonics, and simple syrups for the restaurant and retail trades. Jamie shares, “we’re also working with Park Distillery in Banff using their gin and vodka to create a line of premixed drinks.”

Bow Valley BBQ is recognized internationally as a producer of award-winning products. “The World Hot Sauce and World Series of BBQ are significant events where we’ve been honoured several times, but even better are the relationships we’ve developed, leading to a collaboration for an eventual US launch.

Growing the business has included its share of challenges. “We’ve made some tough decisions over the years - one of the hardest was to move on from our regional brokers when we outgrew their services. We still have a solid relationship even though we had to make a tough business decision.

Cochrane entrepreneur's cookies are a Real Treat

Jacqueline Day
Cochrane, AB

Jacqueline Day Real Treat image IMG 0840

When your gourmet organic cookies win two prestigious food industry awards in 2021 and are sold in over 400 locations across North America, seven years of hard work is paying off. 

Jacqueline Day of Cochrane, Alberta, started Real Treat, her food-based business, through frustration at being unable to find good-tasting, organic cookies. A long-time healthy food enthusiast, she is committed to organics but also believes in food for pleasure. "I come from a family of cookie monsters!"

Her path to becoming a recognized force in the organic gourmet cookie realm was a winding road, a journey she feels is often the experience of many entrepreneurs. " I always knew I would start a food-based business one day, even when working in other fields."

It was a random day in 2014 when the perfect business idea materialized. "I was looking for organic cookies that also tasted good and couldn't find any. An anvil hit my head - I need to make them myself!" An avid recipe developer, Jacqueline scoured her files for inspiration, then refined her favourites. "I started selling at the local farmers' market, and when they regularly sold out, I knew I was onto something. My original plan to take a year to write a solid business plan and do some number crunching while still working in oil and gas was immediately accelerated when I was suddenly laid off."

Free to concentrate full time on her business, by November 2014, ten stores carried her cookies – a great start, but far from the international distribution her brand enjoys today.

Jacqueline's dedication and passion for her product received recognition from two prestigious food industry associations. She is the 2021 Expo West – Nexty award recipient, the highest honor for organics and natural products.  She also is the 2021 recipient of the Specialty Food Association (SFA) Gold SOFI award in the cookies and bars category – earning a stamp of approval from Michelin chefs.

Since then, orders and inquiries have taken a leap, a welcome turn after challenges of the pandemic temporarily affected her operations. "It's great to be on the upswing after a difficult time. Covid allowed us to look for efficiencies, and we've become leaner and better at what we do." Her team produces and packages all products in their production facility in Cochrane. 

Jacqueline credits her local Community Futures Centre West office for their support before and during the pandemic. "The group at CFCWest has been integral to our success. Whenever I call them, they are interested in me – and my business. They were there when I needed financing to buy equipment for growth and expansion.

Returning to the "why" always guides me - I believe supporting organic agriculture is critical to helping our ailing planet. By offering indulgent and delicious products, we might persuade more people to choose organic. People eat what makes them happy, so let's create organics that spark joy!"

Two significant awards later and with a growing clientele, Jacqueline is on the right path.

Real Treat cookies and coffee image IMG 9873 best

KCP Energy

Geoff Domenico
Canmore , Alberta

geoff domenico roof horz

When he started KCP Energy in 2007, three factors motivated Geoff Domenico: to be able to tell his children he was part of the answer to climate change, a desire to start his own business, and support from his wife Kendra. “Without her encouragement and understanding of the effort required, it wouldn’t have happened,” says Geoff. “It’s one of two pieces of advice I share with anyone who asks about starting a business: make sure your life partner is on board 100% and knows they are along for an interesting and sometimes bumpy ride. The second thing I share is that although I knew it would be hard to start up and grow a business, it was even harder than I imagined.”

KCP Energy focusses on renewable energy systems and has witnessed increased awareness and need for their products over the last few years. “Back when we first started, we talked about global warming,” says Geoff. “Now, it’s full-fledged climate change. Starting a new business and introducing a new product at the same time was quite an eye opener. I chose a service the market was not quite ready for, but one I believed in.  You learn how to adapt. We pivoted to different services that still aligned with our goal of helping customers use less and save more.  Residential energy assessments and home heating kept us going, while the idea of renewable solar energy was developing. Now that climate change is more widely acknowledged, the demand is growing for residential and commercial rooftop solar electricity solutions and that’s been our focus over the last 24 months.”

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Communities Served

Airdrie, Balzac, Banff, Bearspaw, Bottrel, Bragg Creek, Canmore, Cochrane, Crossfield, Dead Mans Flats, Elbow Valley, Exshaw, Ghost Lake, Harvie Heights, Madden, Morley, Redwood Meadows, Seebe, Kananaskis Improvement District, Improvement District 9 (Lake Louise and surrounding area)