Local Love Blog Series – Sauvage

Local Love Blog Series – Sauvage

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series!

I’m looking forward to sharing this week’s feature on one of Canmore’s most innovative and creative chefs, Tracy Little from Sauvage

Tracy’s perfect customer is someone looking for adventure, to make beautiful memories, and ready to eat delicious food. 

Inspired by the likes of Rene Redzepi, Wyle Dufresne, and Thomas Keller, Tracy is obsessive about doing her best in all her endeavours. After rebranding and reimagining the restaurant, Sauvage now offers the most intimate form of dining focused on foraging local ingredients that most people haven’t even heard of! 

Tracy takes her customers on an adventure with every bite in every dish. 

Motivated by providing the absolute best experience that she can and using her surroundings as her inspiration, Tracy opens the eyes of diners to local ingredients that they are likely unaware even existed, especially in an edible form! 

Sauvage serves as Tracy’s safe place to express herself fully and share that with others. 

Using the kitchen as her playground, she lets her child-like imagination run free and explores how she can put together the most delicious creations daily. Ultimately, she’s been working incredibly hard to create an entirely unique experience for Canmore and the Bow Valley – something you won’t find anywhere else. 

Always bringing a playful and imaginative approach to food, Tracy brought this feeling to the kitchen in a unique opportunity. 

When Tracy worked up north at a remote fishing camp, she was limited to scheduled deliveries of ingredients with the closest grocery store being a mere 800 km away. Given the realities of remote living and cooking, Tracy brought her creativity to the kitchen by using ingredients that grew in the area in the kitchen. 

Tracy has big dreams and goals for her career and for Sauvage! 

She hopes to be able to make a national mark for our community with her work and Sauvage. Obsessed with using colours, textures, and flavours, Tracy loves taking a wild ingredient that has a familiar flavour and incorporating it into a dish in a nostalgic way. 

Originally from Fort McMurray, Tracy is happy to now call the Bow Valley home. 

In Tracy’s early 20s, she found herself working in front of house at a restaurant where she discovered the magic of the kitchen. Watching the chef and cooks move around the kitchen like a choreographed dance, she found herself hooked to the experience and felt the opportunity to feed the fire she felt inside to pursue her culinary passion. 

As a strong advocate for our community, Tracy has lots of local love to share! 

This starts with shout-outs to head chef at Crazyweed Kitchen, Eden Hrabec, and amazing photographers Georgi Silckerodt, and Kris Lowes. She also wanted to shed some light on Project A Shop and Where the Buffalo Roam. She also wanted to bring attention to two amazing organizations that are doing incredible work supporting those in need, Spirit North and The Skipping Stone Foundation

It’s no hidden fact that the hospitality industry was among the hardest hit by the pandemic, which made the past couple of years the most brutal but also the most beautiful for Tracy and her team.

They are grateful for the amazing recognition they’ve been given so far! 

Being one of the only places in our busy tourist town that offers a tasting menu can be a challenge, especially when customers show up not expecting it however it’s all part of the immersive and extraordinary experience they offer. Tracy hopes to invigorate a little bit of life into the dining experience of her customers. She hopes to see people shift away from seeing food as being a simple source of sustenance to really experiencing good food and creating an all-around sense of nourishment for the soul and body. 

Be sure to check out the most unique dining experience around by stopping by for an incredible meal at Sauvage. Let Tracy’s imaginative menu take you on a tour of what we have locally at our fingertips brought together in a way only an expert can. You can make a reservation online and follow along with Tracy’s culinary journey on Facebook and Instagram

Interested in being featured in the Local Love Blog Series?
Check out more information here and make sure to follow us on Instagram!

Lou Doyon Freelance also offers copywriting, editing, content marketing and social media services. Reach out for more info!

Local Love Blog Series – Kristy Wolfe Photography

Local Love Blog Series – Kristy Wolfe Photography

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series!

We’ve got a great feature this week on the amazing digital storyteller, Kristy Wolfe!

Photo Credit: Alexis McKeown

Her passion lies in teaching kids and adults how to narrate their own experiences through photography and digital storytelling. Kristy believes everyone has a story worth sharing, and her background as an educator inspires her love for mentoring others. 

Kristy’s business is much more than just photography. 

Despite her business being named Kristy Wolfe Photography, Kristy is largely focused on working with individuals and organizations to create digital stories. These are 3-5 minute movies that artfully blend carefully curated images with the storyteller’s voice and music to create an immersive experience. Watch and listen to Kristy explain all this in her own words here. While Kristy may not always be taking all or any of the photos included in a digital storytelling piece, her mastermind abilities in putting together these videos in a way that perfect expresses these very important stories is pure art.

When Kristy is taking photos, she takes a pretty unique approach. 

Instead of taking posed photos or headshots of her subjects, Kristy will join the individual, family or group to capture a better sense of the entire experience as opposed to just the subject. Getting involved in the activity of the day allows Kristy to immerse herself in the experience and better convey that through her photos. Make sure to check out the current artsPlace exhibit, the Îyârhe Nakoda Youth Project where Kristy joined a group of students field trip and captured their experience. 

For Kristy, her work is all about supporting people in telling stories about the meaningful moments in their lives. 

She loves meeting new people, learning what they do, and discovering what their story is that they want to tell. Kristy thrives on seeing how conversations can lead to amazing new connections and collaborations. Her favourite part is immersing herself in the story being told and then building the digital story to best present it. 

Kristy’s inspiration comes from a deeply personal experience as a “medical mama”. 

It all started in 2012 when her son, Kane, was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit as a way to normalize the medical experience Kane was dealing with. Through this, Kristy was able to use her photography as an important and creative outlet to help her work through the challenging times. As she shared their story publicly, she also started photographing other medical families in and out of the hospital. 

As Kane got older, Kristy recognized the importance of sharing her own story and experience. 

This is when Kristy started teaching others about the benefits and importance of telling their own stories through photography and started working with people to find their voices through digital storytelling. Kristy is now a Level 2 Digital Storytelling Facilitator through Common Language Digital Storytelling

Kristy finds a lot of inspiration from her own experiences.

Photo Credit: Alexis McKeown 

Anytime she leads a workshop on photography or digital storytelling, Kristy shares part of her own story as a way to connect and show the beauty of vulnerability in her own storytelling. As she continues to share the benefits of digital storytelling, she hopes to work with more non-profit organizations to share this amazing gift. 

Photography started mostly as a hobby for Kristy, before becoming a proper side-gig passion project! 

Having taken a couple of photography courses before Kane’s birth in 2012, she built her skills as she documented her own family’s experience and as a volunteer photographer working with Ronald McDonald House families. In 2019, when her family relocated to Canmore, Kristy decided to take it from a side-hustle to her focus. 

Since her time in the Bow Valley, Kristy has made some amazing connections and wanted to be sure to share some Local Love of her own. 

First up on her list to acknowledge are Alexis McKeown, Kelly Vanderbeek, and Bryony Toon. She also loves the work being done at Alberta’s Own Marketplace, Rocky Mountain Adaptive, artsPlace, and Moselle Dibdin from Bow Valley Marketing. Kristy also partners with Sarah Freeman and Andria Lauren to put together their RAW Collective Podcast. She works with Helen Rose and Mary Michailides on Leading Through Stories, and with Mike Lang on Common Language Digital Storytelling

Kristy had a long list of amazing organizations that she loves to support, that are focused on accessibility and equity, and has had the opportunity to work with, including the Wolfe Pack Warriors Foundations, Banff Canmore Community Foundation, Rocky Mountain Adaptive, artsPlace, Project All In, Bow Valley Immigration Partnership, Bow Valley Connections Centre, YWCA Banff.  

In her journey with digital storytelling, Kristy has learned some amazing lessons.

Kristy with her Leading Through Stories partners, Helen Rose and Mary Michailides.
Photo Credit: Alexis McKeown

One of the most important ones is to talk about what you’re passionate about, be it good or bad. The more you’re willing and open to talking, the more likely and easily you will find your people. Shifting from her identity as a teacher and discovering where she fits and identifies herself now has also been an important learning experience. 

Stay tuned for more in-person workshops with Kristy to dive into digital storytelling where she hopes to see them in the fall at artsPlace – be sure to check the artsPlace program guide this fall! The best place to stay up to date on everything Kristy is up to is by signing up for her newsletter, you can also follow her on Instagram and Facebook, or check out more about her work on her website

Interested in being featured in the Local Love Blog Series?
Check out more information here and make sure to follow us on Instagram!

Lou Doyon Freelance also offers copywriting, editing, content marketing and social media services. Reach out for more info!

Local Love Blog Series – Bow Valley Locals

Local Love Blog Series – Bow Valley Locals

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series!

This week’s feature is a super exciting one that I’ve been looking forward to for such a long time! I’m thrilled to share with you the story behind a local favourite Instagram account, Bow Valley Locals and Natasha Lay from the Bow Valley Immigration Partnership (BVIP). 

Natasha Lay

Natasha works closely with the lead storyteller, Tannia, to bring us closer to our community one story at a time. 

The Bow Valley Locals project team also includes representatives from the Town of Banff, artPlace, Canmore Museum, Bow Valley Immigrant Advisory Group, and a variety of local residents. 

#BowValleyLocals is a campaign for all residents across the Bow Valley, including Kananaskis, Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise and the Western MD of Bighorn. 

The goal of the campaign is to celebrate diversity within our local community by sharing the stories of those in our community no matter how long they have lived in the Bow Valley. In sharing these stories, community members are encouraged to share in their own words how they came to be in the Bow Valley, why they love the community, and tips for new arrivals! 

 A main goal of the #BowValleyLocals campaign is to provide a platform for locals to create connections that will ultimately strengthen the Bow Valley community. 

By sharing helpful, anti-racist content about different groups and cultures within the Bow Valley, the #BowValleyLocals campaign and the BVIP in large hope to present more opportunities to build community. In doing so, the stories they share have fostered increased understanding between Bow Valley residents, strengthened community connections, and reduced discrimination. 

There’s more in common than just a love for the mountains in all of us! 

In sharing nearly 100 stories of Bow Valley residents, what has really hit Natasha and her team is the inspiration they feel in reading and sharing the stories of locals who have come from all over the world, how they have settled into the Bow Valley and made it truly their home, and what keeps them here. While everyone has their unique story, it may come as a surprise to find more common ground than anticipated with most of the locals in our community.

When I asked Natasha where the idea came from, a changing diversity landscape proved part of the inspiration. 

The Bow Valley now serves as a home for people from over 60 countries which #BowValleyLocals wanted to capture and celebrate this incredible diversity. After a 2014 study conducted by the Bow Valley Immigration Partnership found barriers to immigrant integration into the community including issues such as misconceptions and stereotypes, Natasha’s team wanted to find a way to combat these barriers. 

#BowValleyLocals is also inspired and partially a re-launch of a previous campaign, #MeetTheLocals. 

Originally started in 2015, the BVIP partners with Humans of Bow Valley to launch the #MeetTheLocals campaign. This call-out to Bow Valley residents encouraged them to learn more about one another and celebrate local diversity. Created by Azerbaijani-born Canmore local, Javan Mukhtarov had a passion for meeting his neighbours and wanted to share this with others in the community. Javan was ultimately inspired by Brandon Stanton’s 2010 project Humans of New York.

Just like those whose stories they share, the #BowValleyLocals team is from all around the world. 

Natasha hails from southwest Sydney, Australia and Tannia is originally from Mexico. Together with their team, they are committed to sharing resident stories, breaking down barriers for immigrants, challenging existing stereotypes, and creating stronger connections between neighbours and community members in the Bow Valley! 

The Bow Valley Immigration Partnership is doing important work to ensure the Bow Valley is a welcoming and inclusive space for all. 

BVIP research from 2019 showed the ongoing need to build understanding between locals to break down barriers, stereotypes, and misconceptions. The #BowValleyLocals campaign provides a space for locals to share their personal stories in their own words while also serving as a platform for others to learn about the diversity that exists within the community. 

Natasha hopes that #BowValleyLocals helps residents inherently feel that they belong in the Bow Valley, regardless of where they come from, what language they speak, or what cultures and religions they are connected to.

Whether you’re a longtime resident or have just finished your first season in the Bow Valley, take a moment to help newcomers to the Bow Valley feel welcome here. Many people arrive without family or friends which can be an incredibly isolating experience. The simple act of inviting a new friend to a social gathering, sharing a piece of local knowledge or tips and tricks, or making an effort to learn more about them, where they came from, and what they’re missing can make a huge impact! 

If you’re not familiar with the #BowValleyLocals campaign or the Bow Valley Immigration Partnership, be sure to check out their work on Instagram and Facebook. If you’re interested in getting involved with #BowValleyLocals and the BVIP, be sure to get in touch with them and even become a member!

Interested in being featured in the Local Love Blog Series?
Check out more information here and make sure to follow us on Instagram!

Lou Doyon Freelance also offers copywriting, editing, content marketing and social media services. Reach out for more info!

Local Love Blog Series – Banff Yoga Practice & Banff Wellness Practice

Local Love Blog Series – Banff Yoga Practice & Banff Wellness Practice

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series!

I’ve been really excited to share this feature with you for a long time and I’m so glad to have the opportunity to finally share with you the amazing story of Hayley Molina, co-owner of Banff Yoga Practice and Banff Wellness Practice

Established in February 2020, Hayley and her co-founder, Emily Gionis, have managed to succeed against all odds (namely COVID, of course)! 

Hayley’s passion is helping others find peace and connection with their mind, body and spirit through which they can become the best versions of themselves. She’s a woman of many talents, including a Registered Massage Therapist, Reiki Master and teacher, a Cranio Sacral Therapist, Yoga and Meditation teacher, and Birth Educator. 

Hayley’s approach to her work sets her apart from other therapists. 

She chooses to lead her practice and teachings by seeing the good in people. By being intentional with her words and actions, Hayley is able to come from the heart in seeing people through a trauma-informed approach and create a safe space for anyone who walks through the door of the studio. 

Hayley always wanted to open a wellness practice and Emily always wanted to open a yoga studio – together they make the perfect pair!

The yoga studio provides a space for anyone seeking a space to connect with the community and themselves in a grounded practice focused on personal development. The wellness studio is perfect for healing practices that target a wide range of clients from those dealing with trauma, those recovering from injuries and concussions, and those seeking physical and spiritual treatment to create healing and balance in their lives.

Fueled by a steady mindset and a seemingly never-ending amount of energy, Hayley sees the world and life as full of opportunities! 

With a stacked schedule at the yoga practice providing tons of options for students of all experience levels, they have also recently reintroduced rooftop yoga classes, outdoor yoga at the Juniper, and host 12 live virtual classes per week! Whether it’s through an enriching yoga class, a valuable workshop, or a healing therapeutic treatment, Hayley loves being able to support locals in the community and beyond! 

Community is really at the heart of what Hayley is doing with the Banff Yoga Practice and the Banff Wellness Practice. 

Not only have Hayley and Emily built a great crew of supporters of their businesses, but they are truly feeling a strong sense of community that is constantly growing and building stronger connections. They’ve created a space where it’s okay to show up as you are and know that’s enough. Seeing students progress and grow in their yoga practice and mindfulness is one of the most satisfying parts of their work. 

Originally from the Gold Coast, Australia and now based in Banff with her family, Hayley has big dreams to offer services globally. 

Obviously, the easiest way for them to achieve a global reach is with live virtual classes so that people across the world can access an amazing practice and infuse the energy of the Banff Yoga Practice right into their own homes. As things open up as well, Hayley and Emily are looking forward to hosting their next international yoga retreats in Greece, Costa Rica, and Australia. 

Raising her two beautiful daughters with her husband, Marcos, Hayley has become a key part of the Banff and Bow Valley community. With that, she’s got a lot of amazing Local Love shout-outs to make! 

First up hits close to home since Hayley had to make sure she mentioned her husband and amazing oil painter, Marcos Molina. She also loves Clare McCann from Bikescape Mountain Bike and Winter Adventures, Mystee Maisonet of Om Cooking and Jen Butterweck from dRSTiBanff. Three local small businesses Hayley wanted to shout out are Paper Road Studio, Botega Hair Salon, and Westrock Jean Co. When it comes to a charity or cause, Hayley’s focus is on anything that supports the environment from the David Suzuki Foundation to True North Aid, an organization that provides practical humanitarian assistance to northern and remote Indigenous communities in Canada. 

In the last couple of years through building a business and raising two teenagers during COVID, Hayley has taken the opportunity to learn as much as she could. 

This includes learning to be flexible with her goals, intentions, and expectations. She’s been grateful to have the surrounding mountains and fresh air to take advantage of when she needed a break the most and feel the rejuvenation of the outdoors. She’s recognized the toll these tough times have taken on her teenage daughters but is proud to see how resilient they both are. 

Moving forward, she hopes to see more people practice yoga and prioritize taking care of themselves and their surroundings. Hayley wishes to see more protection of wildlife and fauna in the Bow Valley, which includes seeing a shift in our collective mentality to reduce the need for consumption and protect the environment and the earth. 

So next time you’re in Banff looking for a spot to practice or are just curious about what the Banff Yoga Practice and Banff Wellness Practice are up to, make sure to pop your head in! Don’t forget to follow both channels on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date with the latest classes, workshops and healing sessions. And if you see Hayley around town, be sure to say hello! 

Interested in being featured in the Local Love Blog Series?
Check out more information here and make sure to follow us on Instagram!

Lou Doyon Freelance also offers copywriting, editing, content marketing and social media services. Reach out for more info!

Local Love Blog Series – Take a Hike Market

Local Love Blog Series – Take a Hike Market

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series!

This is a feature I’ve been so excited about and also a Local Love Blog Series first – we’re featuring an upcoming local business that I can’t wait to see open! 

Let me introduce you to Jonathan Duguay and Amanda Winston – the power couple and masterminds behind
Take a Hike Market!

Together since 2015, Amanda and Jonathan started talking about opening a restaurant as early as their first date! They met while working in Nunavut and knew that their goal would be to find a way to work together. The reality of the pandemic shifted their vision a little bit from opening a more traditional restaurant to looking at a multi-channel business model that Take a Hike Market has evolved into. 

Take a Hike Market will be a completely unique spot for Bow Valley locals and visitors excited to see something new! 

Perfect for those who are curious and open to trying new things, Take a Hike Market will rotate through seasonal menus as Jonathan explores flavours and plays with new products. Once they open, you’ll find a café, made-to-order breakfast and lunch options, a decadent cheese counter, grab-and-go hot and cold options, and a delicious deli counter. 

Take a Hike Market is the perfect culmination of Jonathan’s culinary genius and Amanda’s whimsical imagination. 

They share a passion for learning and exploring, two values that are at the forefront of Take a Hike Market! They can’t want to welcome cheese lovers, tourists looking to try some amazing Canadian dishes, and Québécois longing for familiar treats. When you step into Take a Hike Market, you’ll be guaranteed to find quality, technique, and curiosity in anything you pick up or taste! 

For Jonathan and Amanda, their love language is watching people enjoy their food so they can’t wait to get going! 

Jonathan was born in Sept-Iles, Quebec and grew up seaside where he would find himself at his grandmother’s house for a breakfast of fresh lobster and scrambled eggs. He would eventually end up spending lots of time submerged in one of the best food scenes in Canada, Montréal. Amanda is a first-generation Canadian, with her Belgium-born French-raised mother and English father. Amanda was born and raised in Toronto and spent lots of time exploring the incredible food scene in the city, as well as being lucky enough to spend lots of time in France, England and Spain growing up. 

Jonathan’s culinary mind is what blows Amanda away on a daily basis. 

Inspired by the likes of Anthony Bourdain, Jonathan has a truly spectacular way of making food more than just nutritious and delicious but rather turns each bite into an incredible experience that leaves you wanting so much more. Whether he finds natural inspiration from his surroundings or from countless hours of flipping through the pages of his 100+ cookbooks, Jonathan will come up with the most amazing culinary creations and find a way to perfect them. 

While a restaurant was originally their goal, Amanda and Jonathan saw their struggles through COVID so knew they had to pivot slightly. 

Take a Hike Market is the result of that pivot, and after finding their location in Solara Resort and Spa they can’t wait to see what else the space and the business can become! Amanda and Jonathan’s combined passion is people, so ultimately they are excited and working hard to create a safe and healthy space for their team to learn and grow as they open! 

As they settle into the community as business owners and make more connections, Amanda and Jonathan have found plenty of amazing locals they wanted to shout out! They have lots of love and respect for Danny from Ankor, Blake and Kale from 4296, Pascale from Le Fournil, Josh from Sheepdog, Chris from EpiCanmore, and Makaylah and Fia-Lynn from Frankie D’s Donuts! They also definitely wanted to highlight the great work at the Bow Valley Food Alliance – food insecurity is a real issue, especially with the rising cost of food and while a great meal can completely make your day, that’s not a guarantee for everyone. 

As they continue to put all the pieces together for their grand opening, they’re grateful for the opportunity to keep learning. 

The learning curve is steep, but Jonathan and Amanda also know that everything can be figured out! They’re learning to figure out how to settle into the happy middle of the roller coaster that is entrepreneurship. Opening a business is incredibly hard work so they’re also learning that people are keen to help when asked, to be humble, and be open to other people’s ideas. 

As they keep working on opening, keep your eyes peeled for updates on their Instagram and Facebook pages. Personally, I can’t wait to see how Take a Hike Market comes together at Solara Resort & Spa. I’m lucky enough to have gotten the chance to taste-test a couple of things you’ll find at Take a Hike Market and I can’t deny dreaming about Jonathan’s amazing food – I can’t wait for everyone to finally get a chance to taste their delicious food and visit the space in person! 

Interested in being featured in the Local Love Blog Series?
Check out more information here and make sure to follow us on Instagram!

Lou Doyon Freelance also offers copywriting, editing, content marketing and social media services. Reach out for more info!

Local Love Blog Series – Vermelho Hair

Local Love Blog Series – Vermelho Hair

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series!

I’m so excited to be sharing the truly local story this week of Crystal Kamenka-Taylor, owner of Vermelho Hair

Crystal is proud to be a fourth-generation Canmore local – a rare find in the Bow Valley! 

Inspired by her mother who also worked in the hair industry, Crystal learned so much from their time together working side-by-side. Even early on, she was always the go-to friend for hair styling advice in high school and university. She’s certainly come a long way from her very first haircut during a backpacking adventure in Melbourne, Australia. 

Vermelho Hair will celebrate its 16th anniversary this August! 

Over the years, they have drawn in a mixture of clients searching for adventure, wanderlust, community, and self-love. Crystal and her team offer everything from personalized cuts to barbering, editorial looks to dimensional colours, balayage to lived-in-colours, and so much more! 

Two driving factors lead to Crystal’s approach to running Vermelho Hair. 

The first is focusing on relationships with their clients. She loves learning about their lives and what makes them feel respected and beautiful so that they can tailor each person’s experience in the salon to them specifically. This has led to loyal clients who have shown Crystal and Vermelho Hair their continued support over the years. 

Secondly, Crystal makes sure to prioritize the growth of her stylists. She has incorporated seminars on ergonomics for body health and life coaching, planned fun weekends away, and lots of education sessions that further their growth as individual stylists and as a team. 

Crystal opened Vermelho Hair when she was only 22 years old. 

After being born and raised in Canmore and then spending some time away for school and travelling, she came back to her hometown to live out her dream of opening a salon. Her vision was to create a safe space where creatives and individuals would have a career that honoured work-life balance. She saw herself in a place that would allow her and her peers to continue to be curious about their creativity and professionalism. 

Nearly 16 years later, Crystal is still excited to go to work every day. 

She loves that every day brings new growth, laughter, and interactions. She also loves having a business in Canmore that allows her team to create the life of their dreams in the Bow Valley. At the end of the day, the connections she makes with people every day are what keep her going. 

Of course, Crystal’s long history in Canmore leaves her with plenty of Local Love Shout Outs but here are a few she felt compelled to mention. 

Crystal’s amazing day home provider, Patti Dyment, doubles as a talented painter and you can see her work at the Fallen Leaf Art Gallery. Crystal also wanted to shout out the amazing team that helped bring her salon renovations to fruition, starting with Ashton Construction and Compass Design Co. She also wanted to mention Century 21 who helped her find the great location for Vermelho, and Cascade Mechanical for ensuring they always have perfectly warm water for their hair washing stations. 

Crystal also holds a special place in her heart for the work done at Crohn’s and Colitis Canada

Crystal has lived with Ulcerative Colitis for over 20 years and became an Ostomate in 2017. Although her journey hasn’t been easy, she has an amazing gift of looking at her situation in a positive light. She feels that she’s been regifted her life and loves to connect with others going through their own IBD journey. Of course, there have been challenges along the way, such as learning how to run a business and listening to her body when it needs rest. 

Since opening her business, Crystal has learned to trust her gut instincts. 

The last couple of years especially has given her time to reflect and learn. Her greatest lesson has been allowing herself more self-care time in the great outdoors. As things start to return to normal again, Crystal hopes to see more people be genuinely polite and positive. Think opening more doors for one another, saying good morning as we pass by on the street, and exchanging more smiles and laughter. 

So next time you’re looking for a spot to not only get a haircut but also to connect with some amazing people and feel a real sense of community, be sure to stop by Vermelho Hair and say hi to Crystal and her team! You can book or see a full list of their services online, and be sure to keep a close eye on their Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates! 

Interested in being featured in the Local Love Blog Series?
Check out more information here and make sure to follow us on Instagram!

Lou Doyon Freelance also offers copywriting, editing, content marketing and social media services. Reach out for more info!

Local Love Blog Series – Back At It Sports & Wellness

Local Love Blog Series – Back At It Sports & Wellness

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series!

This is a feature that I’ve been so excited to write and share with everyone! I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to feature Vanessa Joosten from Back At It Sports & Wellness this week! 

Vanessa’s focus is on helping locals along their health journey, be it recovering from an injury, focusing on stress reduction, or helping an existing health issue. 

Across three different Bow Valley clinics, Back At It offers massage therapy, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and Chinese medicine. But for Vanessa, it’s about so much more than just the services they provide. Her focus is on more than just growth or financial gain, but rather on creating a place where people feel like they belong and specifically for her team to feel proud of their work and where they do it. 

Vanessa’s dedication to her team is second to none! 

She’s collected some of the best talent and most amazing humans to join her team at Back At It, making it the most sought-after place to get treatment in Banff and Canmore. Vanessa also prioritizes spending time with her team outside of the clinic, finding ways to get outside together for a ski day or volunteering for the community at a trail building night.

For Vanessa, her team is really what keeps her going through thick and thin. 

Another highlight of the job for Vanessa is getting to interact with Bow Valley locals. 

Connecting face to face with so many different people and getting to know them personally as their lives evolve in and around the Bow Valley is rewarding in and of itself. She loves seeing new people arrive in town that end up at her clinic and then over the years become an integral part of the community. She loves getting to see the growth of individuals working towards their big life goals!

Vanessa first started in 2005 as a mobile massage therapist. 

She would travel to races and events with her massage table in tow, ready to help athletes perform their best. As you can imagine, travelling with her massage table and gear was exhausting so eventually, it made more sense for Vanessa to find a space where clients could come to her. 

Although Vanessa had a unique vision for what would become Back At It! 

Massage therapy has been primarily focused on sports and injury-related treatment, but Vanessa wanted to create a space that would have a calm, clean, relaxing, and inclusive vibe while focusing on sports and therapeutic treatments where everyone feels welcome. 

Vanessa is always learning and making Back At It a more inclusive and welcoming space. 

In the last year, she’s been dedicated to educating herself and her team on trauma, diversity, and inclusivity. It’s important to Vanessa that no one feels that concerns over safety, inclusivity, or accessibility act as a barrier to seeking treatment at Back At It. 

Having been in Canmore for nearly two decades and being such an integral part of this amazing community, Vanessa has lots of Local Love Shout Outs to make! 

First up is the amazing Chrissy Nickerson whose art reminds Vanessa of exploring the Canadian Shield during her childhood, followed by interior designer Aleks Zablotni-Schantz from Compass Design Co. who did a great job designing the downtown clinic for Back At It and nailed it, and lastly, tattoo artist and owner of Aurora Tattoo, Von, whose art Vanessa and her team get to see on clients every day during massages and treatments. She also wanted to shout out three amazing local businesses doing great work: Rundle Physio – specifically owner Danielle who has been a great friend and supporter of Back At It from the beginning; Stonewaters – owner Mike Gordon has been a huge supporter of community and small business in the Bow Valley; and Frankie D’s Donuts – Frankie D and her moms, Makaylah and Fia-Lynn inspire Vanessa to be a better person, to put mental health at the forefront of her own business, and share what inclusivity means for others and within her business! Finally, Vanessa had to mention the YWCA Banff and the amazing people running it. Her team even took a course that specifically catered to the Back At It team to learn about pronouns, trauma care, and consent so they can better care for clients! 

In the past 17 years of business, Vanessa has learned many valuable lessons! 

The most important, in her opinion, is not to sweat the small stuff and to constantly keep learning and adapting. As long as you stay focused on your mission, the distractions that are bound to pop up along the way will only be minor in the pursuit of your end goal. 

Operating a small business in the Bow Valley doesn’t come without its own challenges, however. 

There are lots of obstacles to living in the Bow Valley, affordability being one that directly affects Vanessa when she sees her team members being forced to move away due to the incredibly high cost of living in the Bow Valley. She’s dedicated to investing in the success of her team and eager to find a way to work with the town so that she and other small business owners don’t have to struggle with this issue every year. 

Ultimately, Vanessa is endlessly grateful for the amazing support and loyalty of her local clients. 

She loves being a part of the Bow Valley community and seeing clients leave the clinic feeling better than when they came in. Vanessa is keen to continue being an active part of our community by volunteering with different organizations and encouraging her team to help others in the community whenever they can. She’d also love to see people take the time to say thank you and express gratitude for work well done more often, as it seems that we’re in a pattern of being quick to voice our dissatisfaction instead of our appreciation. 

So whether you catch Vanessa and the Back At It team around time, or you’re ready for your next massage, make sure to check out Back At It Sports & Wellness with two locations in Canmore and one in Banff. And don’t forget to stay up to date with them on Instagram and Facebook

Interested in being featured in the Local Love Blog Series? Check out more information here and make sure to follow us on Instagram!

Lou Doyon Freelance also offers copywriting, editing, content marketing and social media services. Reach out for more info!

Local Love Blog Series – Kumpfy Shoes

Local Love Blog Series – Kumpfy Shoes

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series!

I’m so excited to share the story of another power-couple business owner, Wendy and Karel Kumpfmuller from Kumpfy Shoes & Repair!

As Canmore’s only cobbler, Kumpfy Shoes is known amongst locals as the go-to place for shoe repairs.

However, Wendy and Karel have a personal goal to keep as much as possible out of the landfills so they also offer repair services for several other items, such as jackets, zippers, cross country ski boots, BBQ covers, bags, duvet covers, gloves – and they’ll even dabble in the unconventional repairs like a dog harness!

They also ensure to stock the best selection of footwear and accessories for locals and visitors alike.

Wendy and Karel are proud to carry one of the largest collections of hiking boots, climbing shoes, and Birkenstocks in the Bow Valley! For repairs, customers can visit in-store, mail their item to the store, or visit their drop-off location in Calgary at the Norseman Outdoor Specialist. Armed with Karel and Eijiro as their in-house cobblers, they’ve also added an alterations specialist to assist with tailoring, mending, and alterations! 

Karel and Wendy approach their business and lifestyle with one simple motto:
Resole, Repair, Reuse!

And they love that their customers eagerly join them in being committed to waste reduction! They truly believe that “Leave No Trace” can and should apply to your gear as well as your physical impact on your surroundings, and they both recognize that it’s a huge privilege to be able to recreate and live where we do.

Kumpfy Shoes & Repair had a very humble beginning, several years ago!

Ultimately, Kumpfy Shoes was born out of a hobby of repairing used climbing shoes in Wendy and Karel’s backyard shed. As time went on, they realized that Canmore hadn’t had a cobbler in nearly 20 years and found the perfect gap to fill.

Wendy and Karel are both originally from Calgary but have now been in Canmore for 20+ years!

They gather lots of information from fellow cobblers and repair specialists, often observing and checking in with others in the field. Without a formal school, being a cobbler is generally an inherited profession and skill so they need to be creative to continue learning and evolving their methods and techniques.

Having been in town for over two decades, they’ve collected a great community of supporters and now wanted to share the love.

When they’re not repairing shoes, boots, and gear, you can find Wendy and Karel around town enjoying a bite and connecting with their neighbours. Their favourite spots to hit up are Sheepdog Brewing, Patrinos Canmore, and Beamers Coffee Bar. They also wanted to give a shoutout to long-time friend, talented filmmaker, and climber Andy Arts. They have a great partnership with Norseman Outdoor Specialist in Calgary, where customers can drop off gear in need of repair. Lastly, they’re proud to have just installed new solar panels by Skyfire Energy!

You can now find Kumpfy Shoes & Repair in their brand new location in Canmore!

Since they officially opened in 2016, Kumpfy Shoes was located on Kananaskis Way. In November 2021, they moved to their new location in the Moose Meadows Business Park where they now have tons of room to showcase their retail products and a comfortable workshop for repairs.

To match their new location, Wendy and Karel hope to keep growing their business!

While they continue to work on business efficiency with their staff, the ultimate goal is to help other local businesses perform repairs that they would normally have to take to Calgary. This would save local businesses the gas and trouble of going to the city, and continue to support sustainability and recycling in the Bow Valley!

They’ve now repaired over 5000 pairs of climbing shoes!

And that number doesn’t include all of the other shoes, boots, and garments they’ve repaired along the way! While Wendy and Karel never intended to open a repair shop, it’s just naturally happened after years of repairing climbing shoes for friends. Now 6 years later, it all comes as second nature!

So next time you’re upset that your favourite pair of shoes are starting to show some wear or bust a zipper on your favourite jacket consider bringing it to Wendy and Karel instead of throwing it in the back of your closet, or worse, the dumpster! If you’re in need of a new pair of shoes, boots or Birkenstocks, make sure to check out their huge variety of products available – don’t see what you want? They’ve been amazing at special ordering certain products if they can!

Check out their website, stay tuned on their Facebook and Instagram for the latest shop updates, and be sure to stop in and say hello at their new location on Bow Valley Trail in the Moose Meadows Business Park!

Interested in being featured in the Local Love Blog Series? Check out more information here and make sure to follow us on Instagram!

Lou Doyon Freelance also offers copywriting, editing, content marketing and social media services. Reach out for more info!

Local Love Blog Series – Le Chocolatier

Local Love Blog Series – Le Chocolatier

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series!

I’m so excited to be sharing this feature about the brand-new owner of Le Chocolatier, Anna-Engel Lebiadowski!

A trained pastry chef, Anna-Engel is now donning her hat as a full-time chocolatier!

Anna-Engel is taking on the business from John and Belinda Spear who owned and operated Le Chocolatier since 2004. Since then, Le Chocolatier became a household name in the Bow Valley and its chocolate can be found in various locations across the country.

Specializing in merging creative concepts and whimsy with reality in her pieces, she’s excited to cultivate a sense of curiosity within with her sweet treats. She’s a true believer that playful nostalgia and outlandishness most often come in small, yet delicious, packages.

Targeting those who need a little pick-me-up or a moment to pause and savour the moment, Anna-Engel is excited to get started!

Luckily, she has a great framework to start with after John and Belinda’s hard work over the past 18 years! Le Chocolatier has become a staple in the Bow Valley, growing from the classic chocolate bars to the wide variety of confectionary treats now available at the shop. Anna-Engel is looking forward to bringing a new charge of energy to the creations, including experimenting with exciting new flavours while still honouring the well-known classics!

Anna-Engel’s ties to Le Chocolatier go way back to her time at SAIT.

The original founder of Le Chocolatier was originally a pastry chef who also happened to be Anna-Engel’s instructor during her Sugar and Chocolate Show-Piece course at SAIT. Fast-forward a few years and Anna-Engel was pursuing a commercial space for her pursuit of a chocolate business startup when she came across an ad that led her to John and Belinda.

Anna-Engel draws tons of inspiration from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory!

A career-long source of inspiration and excitement, she loves to experiment with creating treats that play with nostalgia, whimsy, and embrace the weird and wonderful parts of life. She takes her job very seriously and feels compelled to pique your curiosity by trying something new and seeing what emotions and experiences come out of it.

Originally born in Calgary, Anna-Engel has had anything but an ordinary path to bring her home to the Bow Valley.

Before celebrating her first birthday, Anna-Engel was already living in a different country and continued to move through various countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe until she was a young adult. At 19, she returned to Canada to attend the Culinary Institute of Canada in PEI. Despite her young nomadic lifestyle, when pressed Anna-Engel likes to say that she’s “from” the Bulkley Valley in Northern British Columbia since this is where she spent every summer and several winters throughout her childhood.

This coming July will mark 9 years in Banff and the Bow Valley for Anna-Engel, her longest amount of time in one place.

When she first got to Banff, Anna-Engel was working at the Eden in the RimRock Hotel where she was creating masterpieces for over four years. Since then she’s worked with various local companies and at CMH’s backcountry heli-ski lodges as an accomplished pastry chef.

Having spent nearly a decade in the Bow Valley, Anna-Engel has solidified herself into the community and has lots of love to share.

First up, she wanted to shout out local artisans including Opal Retzer of Deer Spirit Goods, Tiffany Teske of Preen Festival Fashion, and Mystee Maisonet of Om Cooking. She also loves the work being done by Kyle Obereke at Barber Shoppe Clothing Co., Lucie Darshan at CanMore Together, and Fonda Demelo at Fedora Cakes and Bakes. She also couldn’t miss mentioning her close friend, ex-roommate, and one of the owners of Nourish Bistro, Caleb Shorland. Anna-Engel credits Caleb with teaching her the value of time as an ingredient as they were making pie pastry and custard in their basement apartment kitchen together. When Anna-Engel isn’t working, you can likely find her enjoying a snack at the newly opened Epi.Canmore, grabbing a coffee from Eclipse Coffee Roasters, or sitting down for a bite at Shoku Izakaya Banff. Lastly, she wanted to make a mention of the Banff Food Rescue which is putting in the legwork to collecting unwanted or unappealing yet still good quality and edible food and goods to be recycled into our local community.

As she gained incredible experience working with great mentors and colleagues, Anna-Engel has learned there’s never enough time in the day so it’s important to prioritize.

This plays into her biggest obstacle of finding a work-life balance between her work at the store, the administrative tasks she completes once she’s back home in front of the computer, and still finding time to focus on her health and fitness goals.

Anna-Engel’s favourite part of being a new business owner in the Bow Valley is the sense of community.

She’s grateful for the amazing support received since the announcement that she’s taking over Le Chocolatier and loves feeling the connection to the Canmore community. She continues to feel a deeper sense of connection with the Bow Valley and the warm welcome she’s received has her feeling more at home than ever before!

So be sure to keep an eye out on Le Chocolatier’s website, Instagram, and Facebook for the latest updates and new creations hitting the slab, and make sure to pay Anna-Engel a visit at their location in Canmore. Life is short, eat more chocolate and embrace your curiosity to try that new flavour or the intriguing treat that catches your eye!

Interested in being featured in the Local Love Blog Series? Check out more information here and make sure to follow us on Instagram!

Lou Doyon Freelance also offers copywriting, editing, content marketing and social media services. Reach out for more info!

Local Love Blog Series – Feeling Allyve

Local Love Blog Series – Feeling Allyve

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series!

I’m so excited to share this feature with you and it’s a super special one because we’re bringing back a past Local Love Blog Series feature in a whole new light!

Michelle Brown is the owner of Feeling Allyve, a small local apparel line dedicated to inclusivity, change, and accepting everyone for who they are.

Feeling Allyve is more than just a trendy brand.

Michelle works hard to create a space that is thought provoking and encourages learning and change around important and relevant issues. With a strong passion for social responsibility, Michelle is setting herself apart by making this her mission within the Bow Valley.

Michelle’s goal isn’t just to promote and advocate, but also to give back.

5% of every sale is donated directly back to a non-profit organization doing great work. At time of purchase, customers are given the option to pick from a number of organizations, including The Eating Disorder Support Network of Alberta, Spirit North, Black Women in Motion, and Jack.org.

Feeling Allyve currently sells adorable tote bags and fun stickers.

But Michelle has lots of big plans to add to the apparel line including ball caps, crew neck sweaters, and more! Through collaboration with other businesses that align with Michelle’s mission, she hopes to grow the impact that Feeling Allyve can have in the world.

For Michelle, Feeling Allyve is much more than just an apparel brand.

She’s been able to combine her love for community, teaching, learning, business, and growth into one amazing venture. Armed with the amazing support of her family, friends, and community members, she’s seen the amazing reception that Feeling Allyve has gotten in the Bow Valley since it’s inception in February 2022.

You might remember Michelle from her former local business, Root & Revive Banff.

While Michelle had great success with Root & Revive, she felt a push to find a way to create a business that was more aligned with and better reflected her values. While asking herself some tough and deep-diving questions, she found that they all pointed back to promoting social justice, social responsibility, allyship, learning, and growth.

Having been a known local business owner and community member in the Bow Valley, Michelle has plenty of Local Love to share!

First up in her must-mentions were graphic designer Jaclyn Ap, photographer Maryanne Macgillis, T-shirt ninja Jim Kwan from Defending Awesome, and spiritual coach Heaven Leigh. She also wanted to mention Lucie Darshan from CanMore Together, local Métis artist Nahanni McKay, Colemen from Flow State Yoga, and Joissy at Glow Studio Canmore.

In opening her second local business, Michelle has learned a whole new set of lessons.

The biggest lesson learned from Feeling Allye so far has been that if you believe in your product, messaging and bottom line, then others will too. She’s been grateful to have the amazing support of the Bow Valley community, and products are already being stocked in local shops around town. You can find them at the following locations:

Of course the small business life can be unpredictable at best, but Michelle has managed to find the beauty in it all.

In addition to being a new homeowner in the Bow Valley and securing a permanent teaching position, she’s also proven to own and operate two successful small businesses! In alignment with Feeling Allyve, she hopes to see the Bow Valley continue to learn and improve their understanding of and ability to be socially responsible.

If you’d like to support Michelle or find out more about her work, be sure to visit her website and follow along on Facebook and Instagram for all the latest updates.

Interested in being featured in the Local Love Blog Series? Check out more information here and make sure to follow us on Instagram!

Lou Doyon Freelance also offers copywriting, editing, content marketing and social media services. Reach out for more info!