Cupcake conversation leads to a new career

This is an amazing story: From unemployment to owning a cupcake business. I was not aware of such a program. This program should have been implemented in all of the states. We don’t hear enough about these life changing programs.

Cupcake conversation leads to a new career 

Woman opens her own business after entrepreneur ‘boot camp’

 Nanaimo’s Medina Mayes never dreamed a conversation about cupcakes with her employment counsellor would lead to her opening her own business in the city’s downtown core.

Mayes, owner of Fitzwilliam Street’s A Wee Cupcakery, was unemployed after working a series of jobs, ranging from being a yoga instructor to a furniture saleswoman, and was looking for direction in her life when her counsellor suggested she participate in a federally funded program to help those collecting employment insurance establish their own businesses.

The 10-week self-employment program is offered through Business Works on Skinner Street, a subsidiary of the Ethos organization which has eight federal contracts to offer the program in B.C.

Mayes attended a two-week “boot camp” in which she and other budding entrepreneurs are taught about what’s involved in starting their own business and how to develop a business plan.

She then spent the next eight weeks developing her plan with the assistance of program instructors and it was approved by a panel, consisting of local business people and program coordinators, which allowed her to open her business while still collecting topped-up EI benefits plus financial assistance from Business Works.

“I’m celebrating my first year in business on Jan. 20 and I’m just so pleased and excited that Nanaimo has embraced the cupcake craze that I hoped it would when I started,” Mayes said Thursday while preparing her sweet treats as customers dropped by looking for their favourite snacks.

“It’s pretty scary to start your own business, especially when you’re unsure just how to go about it, but collecting EI proved to be a saving grace for me. Business Works taught me how to do it and saw to it that I had an income for much of my first year in business. I had a dream and they helped me make it a reality.”

Jamie Lawlor, co-ordinator of the program, said about 300 people collecting EI from the central Island region have participated in the program since it was established in Nanaimo four years ago, and about 85% of those who received approval from the panel to begin their businesses have proven successful.

RBarron@nanaimodailynews.com 250-729-4234 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              250-729-4234      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

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