Jackie DeWit prevails in third Win This Space competition - Nov. 2, 2017
BY DENNY SCOTT
Jackie DeWit and her business JD and Company are the winners of the Brussels Win this Space competition which took place at the Brussels Legion on Friday.
The event featured the top three competitors from a field of 12. Huron East Economic Development Officer Jan Hawley explained that some had already decided to open their shops, feeling that the journey offered by the program prepared them to go it alone.
DeWit won a $25,000 prize package including $9,000 for rent in a storefront on Brussels main street as well as educational opportunties and assistance from local businesses.
The final three included Grace Scutella who was seeking to open a yoga studio, Penny Mulligan whose plans involved a second-hand, consignment fashion store focusing on clothes for teens and DeWit who was seeking a space to sell her all-natural products and refinished furniture and a place for other entrepreneurs to run programs.
Scutella explained that, having moved to Brussels recently, she had gained a new target audience and was focusing on senior yoga which she found worked best as ‘chair yoga’.
She explained that everyone could participate, even if the moves had to be done from a chair and said she had found success encouraging people to follow the yoga philosophy.
Scutella said she was her own brand and led by example, sharing her story of being involved in three separate car accidents and saying she could have died in the most recent. She said yoga had helped her recover from her trials and she wanted to share it with the community now.
Her business model included increasing from the two classes a day she teaches right now at the Brussels, Morris and Grey Community Centre, to five; being able to rent out her business space and offering health products, personal training, lectures, event training and nutritional advice.
Mulligan’s store, which she called Wild Child Exchange, would allow teens to trade in their own clothing on consignment and also buy clothes from the store.
She explained that the need for such an establishment, especially in a place like Brussels that is a distance from larger shopping centres, came to her every time she went shopping with her children.
“I would leave the mall, doing the math, and think we must have lost some bag somewhere,” she said. “There would be three to four bags of clothes for $700 and that’s 35 hours of work for me.”
That price was compounded by the fact that often parents would have to drive to Guelph, London, Toronto or to the United States to shop according to Mulligan.
She said her store would have a ‘cool atmosphere’ and she would be very selective of the brand and condition of clothing coming in.
According to her research, Mulligan said she had a potential audience of 7,460 students in the local public school board alone, saying she planned for online sales to help.
Finally, Mulligan said that, with local economic booms in Brussels and Blyth, she wanted to be involved.
DeWit’s company would focus on her natural brand No Nonsense Natural Products which features 80 different products in 10 different categories from cleaning to health products.
She explained that she had also started a furniture refinishing business as a way to fund the natural product line to make sure her family wasn’t taking out a loan for the business.
DeWit plans on opening this weekend at 422 Turnberry Street in Brussels and will showcase her own products as well as a space that can be rented by people looking to host creative endeavours or business events.
Prior to DeWit being announced as the winner, MP Ben Lobb, MPP Lisa Thompson, Huron County Warden Jim Ginn and Huron East Mayor and evening emcee Bernie MacLellan congratulated the contestants.
Former winners and contestants were also welcomed to the stage to speak while the judges finished their deliberations, many of whom lauded Hawley for her efforts in making the event a success.
DeWit was announced as the winner by Hawley and her collaborator for the event Alison Lobb. Both said they thought all three contestants did a great job, giving the judges a difficult decision to make.
The event, which was originally scheduled to be held in Seaforth, was moved after councillors reported receiving negative feedback about a Brussels-focused event being held in Seaforth.