Local Love Blog Series – Cravings Gelato

Local Love Blog Series – Cravings Gelato

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series!

I’m so excited to be featuring the amazing Charlynn Odegard from Cravings Gelato this week! 

Charlynn is an Alberta-born girl who has a deep love for adventure and continuous learning. 

With family and friends at the forefront of everything Charlynn does, creating delicious treats is something that comes naturally. Inspired by other female entrepreneurs who take risks and live out of the box, she relies on her strong ties to family and friends to keep her going. 

Cravings Gelato was originally born in Edmonton in 2011. 

After a family vacation brought Charlynn to Italy in 2010, she came home knowing she’d developed a life-long love for Gelato. Every spoonful of gelato enjoyed throughout the trip had Charlynn more and more obsessed with the sweet treat. Walking around in the local square during their trip, Charlynn noticed a sign advertising a gelato making course. She quickly signed up and before she knew it, Charlynn was back home putting together the pieces to her small business.

Charlynn first started with a mobile gelato bar. 

This flexibility allowed Charlynn to attend a variety of events such as special family events, weddings, school functions, corporate events, golf tournaments, and music festivals. Charlynn even spent several years at local farmers markets in Edmonton. 

In April 2021, Charlynn and Cravings Gelato moved to Banff!

She’s now got her full-time kitchen in the Banff Industrial Compound, where she experiments with new flavours and ingredients. Charlynn is now set up in the perfect location to catch local traffic from other companies in the compound, or even lure some passerby cyclists from the Legacy Trail looking for a quick treat!  

One of Charlynn’s favourite things about her business is the variety.

Not only does she get to experiment with seasonal ingredients to create delicious new gelato and sorbetto flavours, Charlynn loves the freedom of time that operating her small business allows her. Of course, seeing customers enjoy her creations is by far the best part. 

Charlynn loves continuing to learn about gelato anytime she can. 

Her latest trip to Italy was just last month, March 2022, where Charlynn participated in an Intermediate Gelato Course from the Gelato University in Carpigiani. She’s now back home and ready to take the Bow Valley by storm with her delicious gelato. 

So if you’re looking for a delicious treat, a unique addition to your next special event, or a fun surprise for you friends and family, be sure to reach out to Charlynn for some great gelato!

Follow Cravings Gelato on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on the latest flavours Charlynn is putting together! 

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 – Elevation Hot Sauce

Local Love Blog Series – Elevation Hot Sauce

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series!  

This week’s feature is coming in hot – literally! I’m so excited to share the story of Ryan De Alwis, chef and owner behind Elevation Hot Sauce Co.!

Ryan is always looking for people who need to add a little spice to their life.

Elevation Hot Sauce Co. specializes in small batch, handcrafted hot sauces. Ryan loves creating delicious foods that sticks to your ribs and pleases your soul. As a long-time lover of spicy food and his background as a chef, it only seemed natural for Ryan to launch his own hot sauce business.

For Ryan, cooking is about so much more than just eating!

He loves being able to interact with people and have an open dialogue about food. Cooking for other people is his favourite and he really uses food as a form of communication with others.

Inspiration for Elevation Hot Sauce came from another chef friend who did something similar

Ryan had been operating a food delivery business called Curry’s Curries when he started experimenting with ideas for hot sauces. Eventually he came up with the Pineapple Fire Reserve and made it available as an add on to food delivery orders.

Soon he was ready to get his hot sauces on store shelves…

However, he was told that hot sauces tend to do better when there’s more than one flavour in a line-up, so he got to work on creating some other flavours. You can now find three different varieties of Elevation Hot Sauces, the flagship Pineapple Fire Rescue and Ryan’s two newest additions, Mango Bang-Oh! And Death by Pineapple.

Inspiration for Ryan comes from a few different places!

Growing up watching Martin Yan and Emiril Lagasse cooking on TV always seemed like fun to Ryan, from there that has evolved into Ryan’s continued love of watching cooking shows. He also draws inspiration from talking to other chefs and food industry people, especially drawn to those who are willing to take a leap of faith into the culinary world.

When Ryan is away from Elevation Hot Sauce he’s still busy cooking up a storm!

While he lives in Banff and has for the past 10 years, Ryan spends a significant part of the year working in remote areas like backcountry ski lodges and big game hunting outfits cooking for guests and staff out there. On his free time, he loves to experiment with new ideas for more hot sauces.

Ryan recently rebranded his company to focus solely on the hot sauces.

Not only does focusing the business on hot sauces create a good balance between Ryan’s time away working as a chef and still having something of his own, Elevation Hot Sauce has turned into quite the passion project. He loves the process of creating the recipe, bottling the sauces, getting them labeled and ready for the store shelves.

Having been in the Bow Valley for 10+ years now, Ryan has plenty of Local Love to share!

First up on his list to shout out are Julie from Glowfood Creamery, artist Marcos Molina, Norm and Martin from Banff Roasting Company, and Shoichi Murakami – the man who keeps Ryan’s knives sharp! He also loves all of these local businesses doing great work: Banff Yoga Practice (and their new branch Banff Wellness Practice), Red Gables Deli, Valbella Gourmet Foods, Paintbox Lodge, Talus Backcountry Lodge, Bow Valley Food Alliance, The Tune Shop, Rusticana Market + Deli, Nutters Everyday Naturals, Juniper Bistro, Mount Norquay, and Banff Gift Baskets! He also holds a soft spot in his heart from the work being done at Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue, where he found his own best friend, Bob.

Ryan is always keen to learn more about food and cooking and has been fortunate to have great opportunities to do so!

In the summers, you can find Ryan working as a chef at Big 9 Outfitters where he’s learned how to cook wild game and how hunting provides options for living a more self-sufficient lifestyle. In the winter he’s working at a backcountry ski lodge which adds a layer of logistical complexity when he’s planning a week of meals around helicopter schedules and needing to adjust as things come up. While the toughest part of this job is being away from home for so long, he’s grateful for the amazing support from his partner, Emily Gionis.

Ryan loves the positive response he gets to his hot sauces.

While he knows nothing happens without hard work and patience, hearing from his customers that they love what he’s doing makes it all worthwhile! The toughest part of his business has been finding retailers in Banff. While he’s well stocked at plenty of locations in Canmore, finding somewhere in Banff to sell his products has been tougher.

Ultimately, he would love to see the Bow Valley become more supportive of small food businesses.

More spaces like the Co+Kitchen in Canmore would help food entrepreneurs get going, where they can rent a commercial kitchen and share the space to allow for more food-industry small businesses operate. This would also encourage more collaboration amongst these small businesses.

 With a smile on his face, Ryan is grateful for every opportunity that has come up and excited to keep sharing his hot sauces with everyone. He hopes to get Elevation Hot Sauces on as many store shelves as possible and continue to make new flavours including some limited batches of seasonal sauces!

So keep an eye on his Instagram and Facebook for more updates on retail locations, store updates, and how you can get your hands on some of these amazing hot sauces!

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 – Indeygo Fundraising

Local Love Blog Series – Indeygo Fundraising

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series!  

I’m excited to share this week’s feature all about Cathy Harris, the new owner of Indeygo Fundraising

Photo Credit: @izzy_pullen

Indeygo is all about fundraising action and impact. 

Photo Credit: @izzy_pullen

Indeygo supports schools, clubs, and associations put together successful and repeatable fundraising events! Indeygo provides tips and tricks for how to ensure each fundraiser is as successful as possible, from the order forms, online store, and simplified product delivery. With a huge selection of products for running a fundraiser, there’s a little something for everyone. Their product options include their most-popular cookie dough, muffin dough, cinnamon & sticky buns, coffee & tea, beef jerky, harvest veggie bundles, and spring planters & herbs – not to mention their specialty doggie cookie dough! 

Since 1996, Indeygo’s scoop-and-bake cookie dough has been their most successful fundraising product. 

Indeygo’s Fundraising team is dedicated to supporting groups whose amazing volunteers strive to raise funds to support their programs. Cathy and her team love supporting hard-working, time-starved, and super-friendly volunteers to reach their fundraising goals whether at schools, dances, or gymnastics.

Photo Credit: @izzy_pullen

Cathy and her husband, Andy, took over Indeygo on July 1, 2021, from original founders Lisa Downing and Shanne Leavitt. 

Photo Credit: @izzy_pullen

Having been friends with Lisa and Shanne for decades, it felt natural to take over when Lisa and Shanne felt it was time to hand over their aprons. With the support of their two daughters, Emily and Madeleine, Indeygo has turned into a great family business.

Photo Credit: @izzy_pullen

Cathy even found the perfect title for their pup, Isla, as the head of Doggie Dough Quality Control. 

Photo Credit: @izzy_pullen

Cathy uses her personal fundraising-mom experience in her work. 

Inspired by hard-working, super-engaged volunteer parents, Cathy can pull from personal experience having been that parent while raising her daughters. To this day, Cathy is still humbled at seeing how hard parents are working to raise funds for their local school, team, club, or organization.  

Home for Cathy and Andy is now Canmore, AB where Indeygo is based. 

However, Canmore hasn’t always been home. Cathy was born in the UK and grew up in East Africa before emigrating to Canada in 1997. Since then, they raised both their girls amongst the Rocky Mountains and are grateful to still call the Bow Valley home. Throughout their time in Canmore, they’ve made incredible friends and long-lasted relationships, including their friend, neighbour, and personal inspiration Beckie Scott.  

Of course, Cathy had plenty of Local Love to share with everyone! 

Her shout-outs start with Mountain Blends, Canmore Tea Company, Rusticana Grocery & Deli, and The Yoga Lounge Canmore. She also wanted to shout out a few local businesses doing great work, mentioning jeweller Rudi Peet Goldsmith, evocative artist Fraser McGurk, and woodworking genius Bill Hunt at River Duck Designs. When Cathy and Indeygo get to choose a charity to support themselves, their number one pick is always Spirit North. This is an organization that enables outdoor sport and play to empower Indigenous youth to face new challenges, learn and develop key skills, improve their health, and explore new talents. 

Photo Credit: @judithfvique

Hearing back from fundraising groups after they’ve used Indeygo is Cathy’s favourite part of the job. 

Photo Credit: @judithfvique

Being able to play a part in the success of volunteer fundraisers when they reach, or even better blow right past, their fundraising goals is a great feeling. The whole Indeygo team loves celebrating wins with their fundraising customers, and loves hearing the stories of how the fundraisers these groups have put on have supported their communities!

Cathy has learned a few important lessons since taking over Indeygo last summer. 

The most important lesson learned is that if you can find purposeful work, do it! Indeygo has proven there’s a very real need for volunteer-led groups in our communities and being able to support those groups is so incredibly rewarding. This also leads perfectly to two things Cathy wishes people did more regularly – first, move outside in nature for your own physical and mental health, and secondly, volunteer in your community for the health of your hometown! 

So next time you’re looking for help putting together a fundraiser for your kid’s school or sports team, community team, or volunteer-run group make sure to check out Indeygo! Don’t forget to follow them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to stay caught up on all their latest news and updates, or connect with them online to start the process for hosting your most successful fundraiser yet! 

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 – Sarah Freeman Coaching

Local Love Blog Series – Sarah Freeman Coaching

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series!  

I’m excited to share this week’s feature with you all highlighting the great Sarah Freeman from Sarah Freeman Coaching

Sarah is a woman who wears many hats, and looks great in all of them! 

Self-identifying as a wife, step-mum, life coach, endurance swimmer, 3x podcast host, Fearless Warrior Swim Squad coach, lover of coffee, constant music listener, and dog mom to adorable Leo, it’s easy to see that Sarah leads a busy but fulfilled life. In her business, she primarily helps women in their 30s and 40s, as well as adult swimmers. 

Sarah seamlessly blends her life coaching and swim coaching tactics to inspire those around her. 

As a dreamer with lofty goals, she’s not afraid to put things into action and work hard to achieve them. She often sees things before others do, which has given her a grounded and wise perspective of life. Sarah spends more time listening to those around her than they often realize, which allows her to pick up on all the subtleties of our motivations and barriers. By experimenting with her own human design as a projector, specifically with her swimming athletes, Sarah can share her knowledge with like-minded, active women. 

Sarah Freeman Coaching includes a variety of services all designed to guide women. 

Her life coaching branch is called RAW, for Rad Active Women, which focuses on guiding women to stand in their power, set healthy boundaries, own their voice, and inspire more action for themselves and those around them. Within this, she also offers RAW masterclasses and a RAW podcast! But that’s not all, Sarah is also an adult swim coach with 10+ years of experience. With options for private swim coaching, small group coaching, or joining the full-on Fearless Warrior Swim Squad, Sarah is guiding swimmers through not just the technique of swimming but also the emotional and mental space it takes to be effective and successful – whatever that might look like to you. 

All of this started from Sarah’s dream of starting a swim squad in the Bow Valley. 

As an avid and experienced swimmer herself, Sarah originally created the swim squad to target open-water swimmers and triathletes. She’s even doing her own training for endurance open-water swims and has realized her dream of bringing a Fearless Warrior 1900m Swim Event to Elevation Place this May 8th (registration is open now!) Evolving her business to include life coaching, Sarah loves the freedom and creativity her job provides her, along with the ability to set her own schedule. 

The most rewarding part of Sarah’s work is seeing the women she works with diving into their dreams and owning their voice. 

She loves getting to meet new people and helping them achieve their goals, be it in the pool or on dry land! Her passion is really influencing other women to step into their brave, badass, big-hearted selves! Sarah finds a lot of inspiration for her work from doing what fascinates her and sharing it with others. She loves learning from like-minded women who are a step ahead of her. Lately, she’s professionally looked up to Jak and Rob from For The Wild Femme, and Siri Lindley

Sarah officially launched her business in 2018 but had been at it much earlier than that! 

With over 10 years of swim coaching experience and having started her life coaching journey in 2016, Sarah is armed with all sorts of great experience and wisdom. Today she continues to inspire others to take action, which includes influencing and supporting her two step-daughters to keep growing into the amazing young women they are already becoming! Sarah absolutely loves what she does and thrives on seeing other women owning their voice in the world. 

Sarah had plenty of local love to dish out herself! 

Starting with a few badass women she loves, she had to mention Joelle Scott from Joelle Design Co. and Tatiana from Beads + Babes. Sarah is also a huge supporter of Alberta’s Own Marketplace, CanMore Together, RNEST Endurance, and Elevation Place. She also loves her partnerships with Kristy Wolfe and Andria Lauren, her co-hosts on the RAW Collective Podcast, her swim partners Katrina Rosen and Lisa Guest, and Jordan Bryden for being a kick-ass coach! 

As a young girl (like 6-months young!) Sarah’s mum put Sarah on her very first horse and her love for horses first started. 

Through this, Sarah’s mum passed along lessons of independence, love for nature, and compassion for humans and animals. Years later, these important lessons still stick with Sarah and for these reasons, she strongly believes in the amazing work being done at the Believe Ranch and Rescue in Boulder, Colorado. Here they rescue horses from abuse and neglect and give them a much-deserved second chance at life through medical care, training, and lots of love. 

Throughout her own journey and business, Sarah has learned a lot of important lessons. 

Most importantly, she now knows the importance of rest and taking care of herself so she can show up as her best self for others around her. Without this, she wouldn’t be able to share her wisdom with the world. She encourages everyone to spend a little more time listening and empowering each other to be the best versions of themselves they can be. 

So, whether you have big swim goals or life goals, next time you’re looking for a little guidance be sure to give Sarah a call! Her passion for learning, empowering, and seeing other women own their growth and voice is the perfect recipe for success. Also, be sure to follow her on Instagram and Facebook for regular pump-up inspiration and find out more about her full services online

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 – Mountain Littles

Local Love Blog Series – Mountain Littles

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series!  

I have been eagerly awaiting this feature because I love everything about this shop and the amazing co-owners and operators, Kim and Brian Morvan of Mountain Littles

Kim and Brian returned to the Bow Valley three years ago with a dream of opening their baby and kids boutique. 

However, the idea for the store really started 7 years ago when their oldest daughter, Minah, was born! Their original idea for their business was to also incorporate a space where local families could gather and connect with each other through drop-in groups, events, and workshops. Of course, COVID-19 threw a wrench in all of those plans but didn’t wipe them off the table entirely. 

Brian and Kim have clear roles within the business that make them the perfect pair!

While Brian loves the gear and manages all of the operations for the business, Kim’s love for apparel and accessories has made her the ideal one to manage buying and merchandising. Mountain Littles carries all sorts of products tailored to parents from pregnancy to early childhood. Kim and Brian carefully select gear considering safety, performance, and environmental impact. They seek out heirloom-quality Montessori and Waldorf toys that encourage open-ended, free play and inspire learning through play. They also focus on purchasing lots of Canadian brands with products made of natural and organic materials that are safe for a baby’s sensitive skin. 

For anyone with littles in their life to buy for, it’s easy to lose hours browsing at Mountain Littles. 

Kim and Brian strive to offer approachable, friendly, and personalized customer service with zero judgment! They often go out of their way to exceed expectations with things like fast and free local deliveries or meeting customers outside of regular store hours when they’re looking for something. They take the stress out of searching through an overwhelming amount of choices in products so that busy parents can have easy access to amazing quality products close to home! 

Mountain Littles is inspired by Eric and Jolyn Swain, owners of Nurtured in Halifax.

With home ties for Brian, who is originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia Eric and Jolyn have been amazing advisors for Kim and Brian in opening their own store. Their oldest daughter, Minah, was born in Halifax and in turn, the family spent a lot of time at Nurtured falling in love with the small, more personal shopping experience, as well as the opportunity to meet other young families. Eventually, the family decided it was time to move back and settle long term in the Bow Valley! 

Delayed by COVID, Mountain Littles finally opened their doors in November of 2020!

Opening during the pandemic taught them a lot but also allowed them to ease into entrepreneurship. Now that they’ve been open for over a year, they find the community support and relationships that have been formed, and the trust that’s been built with their customers keeps them going. 

Family and community are really at the root of why they started their business and why they keep doing it! 

Kim and Brian also welcomed their second precious daughter, Danie, in August 2021, who was born 12 weeks premature and spent 69 days in the NICU. During the first couple of months of Danie’s life, Kim and Brian had to manage unexpected closures and wonky hours for the store while caring for their family in a very trying time. The support they received from the local community was overwhelming and incredibly heartwarming. 

Danie is now a bright and beautiful babe growing up healthy and happy, and even recently enjoyed a well-deserved family vacation in Jamaica!

Since opening, they have made some great connections in the local community and definitely had a few shout-outs of their own to make. 

First up were Uprising Bakery, Kake by Darci, and Sue at Salon 1463 who performed her magic on Kim’s post-partum hair mess (Kim’s words, not mine)! They also couldn’t miss mentioning these amazing local businesses doing great work: Carmella Consulting, Crock-a-Doodle Canmore, HiJinx Toy Shop, Wildheart Shop & Studio, and The Pro Image Signs & Printing. They have also been lucky to support the Bow Valley SPCA, Spirit North, and Eagle’s Nest Shelter through their business. 

And lastly, a charity that lies near and dear to their hearts is Phoenix Youth Programs based in Halifax, NS. Here they provide critical and trajectory-changing support and programs for youth, families, and communities.

Kim continues to work with Phoenix Youth Programs where she first led the fund development team for 11 years and is now working on an exciting capital campaign.

Despite a tough opening during the pandemic, the Bow Valley is lucky to have a store like Mountain Littles around!

Not knowing what lay ahead made it hard for Kim and Brian to plan, but they learned to trust their gut throughout the process. Entrepreneurship has no standard or normal process to follow but they were able to pull it all together and the result is nothing short of amazing! Despite sometimes having a bit too much going on, they have found a work-life balance that works for them and are grateful for everything that comes up!

Eager to see the pandemic ease and kids return to being kids, Kim and Brian are looking forward to seeing what comes next. 

They are also dedicated to advocating for better representation in the baby/juvenile industry. Unfortunately, as it stands now, the media and brand imagery they receive with their products are predominantly non-diverse. Mountain Littles is committed to providing a space where diversity is welcome and promoted in the Bow Valley! 

So, next time you’re searching for the perfect gift for expecting parents, new arrivals, or for the littles in your own life, make sure to pop into Mountain Littles! Locals can also shop online and choose in-store pick-up or free local delivery to make things even easier! Be sure to follow them on Instagram and Facebook for all their 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 – Craig’s Way Station

Local Love Blog Series – Craig’s Way Station

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series!

I’m so excited to share this week’s feature on Nicole Craig, Michele Craig, and Dan Blanchard from a local Canmore institution, Craig’s Way Station.

This trio are Canmore locals, community members, parents, and breakfast lovers!

Craig’s Way Station is a staple in the Canmore community! As a family diner, Craigs is the perfect place to enjoy a Traditional Canadian Breakfast, a classic burger or an awesome sandwich. I can even attest to having skipped a couple classes in high school to get a sneaky hangover breakfast or two… but don’t tell!

For Nicole, Michele and Dan this is more than just a restaurant.

They are an integral part of our community and work hard at continuing the legacy built by their father and uncles who owned and operated Craigs for nearly 40 years! After having started off working in local restaurants in the 70’s, they eventually opened Craig’s Way Station in 1983 which in turn led to more locations opened throughout Alberta.

The great view they have from the restaurant windows are second to none!

What keeps them going is serving the local community, their incredible long-term staff, and their customers, local and visitors alike. They’re passionate about keeping a piece of authentic Canmore alive while offering their customers an affordable and delicious meal.

Nicole, Michele and Dan took over the restaurant recently from their father and uncles.

With the property Craig’s currently sits on soon to be redeveloped, they are hoping to be able to find a new location for Craigs in the next couple of years. Determined to take over from the older generation when they decided to retire, these three are eager to continue running the family business and be a key part of our community.

With such a rich history in the Bow Valley community, they had lots of Local Love to share!

Their shout-outs starts with mentioning Tiffany from Wonderland Jewelry, artist Chrissy Nickerson, and Francis Savage. They also have lots of respect and admiration for the work being done at the Rocky Mountain Bagel Co., the Canmore Fishing Adventures, and Heart Mountain Store and the Heart Rock Cafe in Exshaw. Along with Canmore Fishing Adventures, Craig’s has a great partnership with Cabin Contracting. As parents themselves, they also have lots of love for the Canmore Preschool.

Having been in the family business for such a long time Nicole, Michele and Dan have been lucky to learn lots of important lessons.

This includes being trusting, having flexibility and going through life with gratitude. They’re especially grateful for having been able to lease the restaurant space again after the property was sold recently. It is tough knowing that their time is limited in that space, but they’re hopeful to find another location in Canmore to continue offering their delicious meals to the community.

As for many others, the past couple of years have been a tough go.

They are looking forward to getting back to the community connection that we’ve all been missing for such a long time. Part of what they love about their restaurant is seeing friends and family gather together over delicious food in a cozy environment and enjoy each other’s company! So next time you’re looking for a nice spot for brunch or a delicious burger, grab your best buds and make your way to Craig’s Way Station. Make sure to follow them on Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date on all the latest news!

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 – Emily Beaudoin Art

Local Love Blog Series – Emily Beaudoin Art

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series!

I am so excited to share this week’s feature with you because I have the pleasure and honour of featuring amazing artist Emily Beaudoin

Emily and I got to know each other working together a few years back and immediately I was captivated by her artwork. Before meeting Emily, I hadn’t seen a pen and ink artist put together the amazing pieces that she does and I was so intrigued by this style. As I learned more about her and realized she also does amazing watercolour work and murals, I continued to be blown away! 

Emily is originally from Calgary but currently spending her winters in Revelstoke and her summers in Canmore. 

As a self-proclaimed mountain person, Emily’s love of the outdoors and everything it has to offer comes through so beautifully in her creations. She puts so much effort, thought, and time into being a full-time artist who finds inspiration in anything from breathtaking landscapes to amazing friendships. Emily takes pride in her human-powered adventures that lead her to amazing experiences and fuel her vision for so many pieces! 

Emily’s art attracts like-minded outdoor enthusiasts who look to her art as a way of immortalizing their experiences. 

Being creative and sharing her passion with the world is only part of what keeps Emily going. She understands deeply how rare and special it is to be able to share her gift with others, and have them appreciate it so deeply. 

But, calling Emily an artist doesn’t give her nearly enough credit for everything she’s achieved…

While she focuses on watercolour, pen and ink, and mural art Emily is also an incredible business-woman and passionate outdoor enthusiast. She has grown her business to include an online store, in addition to having her work showcased in galleries and artist cooperatives throughout Alberta and BC. But it doesn’t stop there, Emily has also licensed her work to outdoor companies and ski manufacturers. She also just launched a newsletter where you can stay caught up on all the latest updates – make sure to sign up here

The mountain lifestyle is something that Emily lives and breathes so genuinely.

She’ll be the first to admit she’s clumsy and goofy, which makes her so relatable, friendly, and down to earth. Despite being amazingly accomplished already, she doesn’t want to look like she’s got it all figured out. There’s a learning curve that she’s embraced and has come to accept that what is easy isn’t always what’s right. Emily is fueled by the knowledge that she will always be learning and growing as an artist and business owner. 

We could all take a page from Emily’s book in embracing a life-long learning mentality and a commitment to sharing our passion. 

Emily wishes people would tap into their creative side a little more often – shove aside the doubts or concerns of not being artistic and just loosen up. She wholeheartedly believes that no one is a perfect artist and that art is simply not a competition. Allowing yourself to play with your creativity results in amazing benefits that can’t be described but just have to be experienced first-hand. 

Now, despite her many talents, Emily’s heart lies with plein air painting. 

This style of painting allows her to really bring together her passion for the outdoors and her amazing ability to create beautiful artwork that resonates with her audience. Plein air painting requires Emily to pack her hiking bag with more than just the typical hiking essentials – she’s carrying all her art supplies as well when she’s going into the backcountry to find the perfect setting. Once there, she can spend hours in one location making sure she’s captured all of the magic in her artwork. However, it’s not always a perfect scene and certainly not an easy environment to paint it. She’s often battling with dehydration, hunger, and uncooperative weather conditions. Amazingly, Emily turns these sometimes trying experiences into amazing pieces of art that have more than just creativity poured into them but also her heart and soul. 

Getting outside is such an important part of Emily’s everyday life – something she believes everyone should do!

She’s grateful for organizations like the Alpine Club of Canada who have helped to make the backcountry accessible and fosters a community of like-minded individuals who enjoy outdoor adventures of all sorts. It’s no surprise that some of her fondest memories and most beautiful pieces of art have come from backcountry trips and time spent using various ACC huts as their basecamp. 

While Emily was always creative, she never could have imagined making art her full-time job. 

Having spent much of her childhood in the nearby mountains of the Bow Valley, Emily was naturally an artsy kid. After years of working on her skills, studying the business side of art, and dedicating as much of her spare time as possible to her art, Emily finally made the decision to pursue it full-time at the beginning of the pandemic. When work, rent, and roommates seemed to be slipping away, Emily turned to her art and gave it everything she had. The pandemic effect of focusing on shopping local and spending more time investing in home decor (since we were all spending more time at home than ever before) all factored into Emily’s success. 

With her time split between the Bow Valley and Revelstoke, Emily has lots of love for local businesses and was sure to spread out her shout-outs! 

In Revelstoke, Emily wanted to be sure to mention the amazing work of Siobhan O’Connor who is an amazing linen seamstress through her business Stringybark Handmade. There’s also Ariel Hill, an amazing glassblower and jeweler who recently moved from the Bow Valley to Revelstoke. And, of course, Emily had to mention the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre. In the Bow Valley, Emily’s shout-outs go to acrylic landscape painter Steph Von Neudegg, ArtsPlace Canmore, and Fireweed Glass Studio. She also wanted to make a point of a couple of companies that she’s partnered with that needed a mention including Nelson-based hat company, Ambler Apparel, and Canmore-based silk screener Andrew from Flooded Ink

One of the highlights of Emily’s career so far was her involvement in the amazing documentary Rockies Repeat

Focusing on six emerging female artists on a journey to recreate the amazing paintings of Catharine Whyte, Rockies Repeat showcases the impacts of climate change in the Canadian Rockies and how these amazing ladies are dedicated to education and preservation of these traditional landscapes. Emily’s participation in this project brought her dream of being a part of the Banff Mountain Film Festival to light and getting to see the film on the big screen provided one of the most amazing moments of her career to date. 

So, what’s next for Emily? 

She’s got an incredible residency roadtrip planned that will take her through the Western United States in May 2022. Her goal is to capture the amazing scenery of the deserts, mountains and coastlines while she hikes, camps, and paints her way through various landscapes. Once her month of adventuring wraps up, she’ll be setting up an art show to display her work. 

Be sure to connect with Emily on Instagram and Facebook to follow along her adventure this spring and everything else she’s got going on! And next time you’re looking for the perfect piece to add to your art collection or need that memory captured forever be sure to check out Emily’s online store, or reach out to commission a completely unique piece of art! 

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 – Mountain Handmade

Local Love Blog Series – Mountain Handmade

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series! I’m so excited to share with you Melanie Brehon’s story behind her amazing creations at Mountain Handmade

Melanie is as local as it gets in the Bow Valley. 

Born in Banff to musician parents who were working at the Banff Centre, Melanie was raised in Canmore and is now raising her own family here. She brought Mountain Handmade to life when she was on maternity leave with her daughter Olivia, who is now 5 years old and attending kindergarten in the same elementary school Melanie attended! 

Mountain Handmade focuses primarily on unique kid’s clothing, with a few teen and adult pieces thrown in the mix. 

Melanie’s signature piece is a grow-with-me hoodie that features fold-down cuffs and is designed to grow with kids over three years. But it doesn’t stop there, she’s also creating adorable slouchy toques with pom-poms, grow-with-me hooded dresses, baby jogger sets, rompers, and the newest creation, a zip-up playsuit! 

Melanie’s work often catches the eye of parents and relatives looking for unique pieces for the little ones in their lives. 

Because of this, Melanie focuses on making individual items that are completely unique and special to each individual. She not-so-secretly loves lively and colourful prints, especially those by Sharon Guwan of Prairie Love Knits, and Esther Fallon Lau. Pairing this thoughtfulness with the incredible high-quality of the products, each piece Melanie creates is bound to find a perfect home. 

Most of Melanie’s inspiration comes from her late grandmother. 

Melanie admired her grandmother’s ability to approach life with quiet grace, something Melanie tries to channel as best she can in her everyday life. Her grandmother wasn’t only an incredible cook, but also an enthusiastic and ambitious seamstress, always coming up with a big sewing project to give to her seven grandchildren. These projects ranged from jackets to jeans, or mukluks lined with cozy Sorel liners! It’s not hard to see where Melanie’s creativity and inspiration come from in her unique and high-quality creations. 

As a mom-preneur, Melanie also loves supporting fellow moms pursuing their passions! 

She made sure to name a few of her favourites including Chelsea from Canmore Cookie Co., Aleks Zablotni-Schantz of Compass Design Co., and Crystal Kamenka Taylor of Vermelho Hair

Melanie loves seeing customers enjoying her creations! 

Fueled by coffee, wine, and lots of music and podcasts, Melanie loves the time she gets to spend at her sewing machine and cutting table. Despite working a full-time job, she’s always looking forward to the regular workday to be done so she can get to sewing. And of course, seeing photos of kids wearing her pieces is what makes it all worthwhile! 

Starting during maternity leave, Melanie took to the sewing machine as a way to fill time while Olivia was napping. 

Having been gifted a sewing machine by her mother at her baby shower, Melanie started with smaller items like baby blankets and car seat covers. As she started enjoying it more, Melanie spent more time on YouTube learning about different fabrics, stitches, cutting techniques, and so on! Born partly out of necessity since finding clothes that fit her daughter properly was no easy task, Melanie’s first piece of clothing was a pair of joggers that she made using thrifted sweatshirts cut into fabric scraps. 

As Melanie started making more clothes for Olivia, her friends caught on and started requesting items too. 

Eventually, Mountain Handmade was created! At first, Melanie focused on custom orders but soon was ready to create a website for her creations. She also spent time at local markets, starting with the Canmore Folk Festival in 2018 and 2019, and then growing to be a staple vendor at the Canmore Mountain Market in 2020 and 2021, and most recently, made her debut at the 2021 Banff Christmas Market! 

Of course, as a born-and-raised Bow Valley Local, Melanie has plenty of Local Love Shout-outs to make! 

To kick things off, Melanie had to mention Bec from Bec Designs and Kerry from Kerry Langlois Art. She also couldn’t miss mentioning Wildheart Shop & Studio who kept her sane through the pandemic with their online platform, Alberta’s Own Marketplace where she would love to have her clothes, and Tanya at The Loft who Melanie considers an artist in her own right with the amazing eyebrow work she does! 

Melanie has big dreams for Mountain Handmade! 

She would love to keep her business as a one-woman show on a full-time basis, allowing her to attend all regional markets and festivals. Of course, the reality of production time and life may impede on that slightly, but that surely won’t stop her from trying! Ideally, Melanie would love to sell her creations Canada-wide through her online store and would love to see Mountain Handmade be a go-to brand for moms across the country! 

Through her small business, Melanie has applied lots of life lessons learned as well as learned a ton of new ones! 

This includes saying yes as often as possible at the beginning but also knowing that it’s okay to say no and learning what your limits are. She often thinks back to a couple of key pieces of advice from her dance teacher of 18+ years that help her get through endless situations: “You can’t call yourself a dancer until you’ve fallen down and gotten back up 100 times,” and “Know your body, know your limits.” 

So, next time you’re looking for a unique gift for a baby shower, birthday, or a just-because kind of present, make sure to check out Melanie’s beautiful creations at Mountain Handmade! Don’t forget to follow her on Instagram and Facebook for all the latest updates, and make sure to catch her this summer at the Canmore Mountain Market

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 – CanMore Together

Local Love Blog Series – CanMore Together

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series! I’m so excited to share with you the amazing vision and passion Lucie Darshan has for CanMore Together!

Lucie considers herself an accidental entrepreneur.

As the founder of CanMore Together, Lucie truly believes we Can do More Together. Lucie’s vision for CanMore Together was to create a way for locals to connect, share skills, and collaborate in a more effective teaser way. In addition to creating a stronger sense of community, Lucie has plans for a complementary currency called Together$ which would allow for sharing and trading skills, expertise and so much more within the community. She also has big plans to develop more membership groups around entrepreneurship, health wellness, and more!

CanMore Together just secured a physical location in Downtown Canmore which will now serve as the CommUnity Hub. 

From here, Lucie will be able to offer classes, workshops & events in all areas of life. She also sees the space as being ideal for a co-working space, event rental, to a small retail section to support local creators. Stay tuned for more information about the Grand Opening on Tues, Feb 22, 2022 – you don’t want to miss out on this great event! Lucie also joined Rob Murray on Mountain FM to chat about the opening of the CommUnity Hub, make sure to give it a listen here.

Lucie is originally from the Czech Republic and arrived in Canada in 2012. 

Eventually, Lucie settled in Canmore as her home-away-from-home and fell in love with the mountain community. She loves bringing people together to collaborate in a fun and innovative way, always believing that we’re stronger, smarter, and more effective when we work together rather than separately. 

Why is community so important to Lucie?

Ever since she arrived in Canada, she was taken by the kind nature of Canadians. The willingness to accept and help others with open arms was something Lucie hadn’t come across in the same way anywhere else in the world. The Canmore community reminded her of the importance of helping others and giving without the expectation of anything in return. 

Lucie is motivated by seeing the positive impact her work can have on the lives and businesses of others in her community. 

CanMore Together has introduced her to so many wonderful people in the Canmore community that she otherwise would not have had the opportunity to connect with. Not only has she created great business relationships, but she’s also found some true friendships that are destined to last a lifetime. 

The seed was planted for what would eventually become CanMore Together on one fateful day at the Banff Farmers Market.

On a slow day at the market, Lucie was working as a mobile massage therapist.

As she walked around the market checking out the different vendors, she noticed that many of them seemed discouraged by the lack of interest in their products or offerings that they’d poured so much work and love into. Since Lucie’s massage tent was slow as well, she thought to offer a free massage to the other vendors in exchange for something of theirs. By the end of the day, Lucie had received nearly $300 worth of traded goods, and soon tons more market vendors were talking about Lucie’s trade system. 

From there, Lucie started a venture called “Share Your Gift”. 

Fueled by the belief that everyone has a special and unique gift, Lucie created an exchange system originally geared toward Bow Valley newcomers. This demographic resonated with Lucie since she’d been there in the past and faced the struggles with affordability, social disconnection, and cultural barriers among so many others. Soon enough, Lucie was managing a Facebook group that was facilitating “gift” exchanges in the form of bread baking, snow shoveling, and so much more! 

Eventually, this idea gave way to what will become known as Together$, CanMore CommUnity Currency. 

Together$’s will compensate for products, services, skills, time, and acts of kindness throughout the community. With a focus on facilitating meaningful connections within the local community, creating a collaborative, cash-free exchange through Complementary Community Currency where the value is rooted in human potential instead of a monetary price tag. 

CanMore Together truly has a little something for everyone. 

Lucie believes that everyone can find a little something that would enrich their lives through CanMore Together. Whether it’s participating in a workshop, attending a community event, or connecting with other like-minded people or entrepreneurs, CanMore Together has you covered. Lucie is especially passionate about connecting and supporting local women entrepreneurs. She’s created and led weekly networking events where aspiring and established local business owners could come together to learn and grow together in their businesses and their lives. 

Having been in the Bow Valley for nearly 10 years, Lucie has plenty of Local Love to share! 

First up, Lucie had to shout out these three amazing artisans: Maude from Drop Caramel Co., Samira from The Wick’d Candles, and Emily-Rose from The ERL Leather Company. She also loves the work being done by Kristy at Kristy Wolfe Photography, Donna at eXp Realty Canada Inc., and Yuka as The Co+Kitchen Canmore. Lastly, she couldn’t fail to mention Jennifer from Ignite Health Coaching who she regularly partners and loves working with! 

Lucie strongly believes that together we can be a catalyst for positive change and impact through connection and collaboration. 

As the world keeps changing and we connect more online, we continue to become more and more disconnected in real life. With community building and human connection as pillars of CanMore Together, Lucie’s goal for a socially and environmentally sustainable social enterprise is not only attainable but inspiring. 

So, keep an eye on Lucie’s Instagram and Facebook for more information and updates about CanMore Together. And be sure to join her on Tues, Feb 22, 2022, as she unveils the new CanMore Together CommUnity Hub! 

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 – Jolene’s Tea House

Local Love Blog Series – Jolene’s Tea House

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series! I’m so excited to be featuring Jolene Brewster and Jess McNally from Jolene’s Tea House this week! 

These ladies are attracting active and on-the-go women who look to tea as the perfect healthy pairing to their busy lives. Locals and tourists alike can find Jolene and Jess at their Bear Street location to discover the blend to help them find a little bit of peace within the chaos of the world. 

With handmade tea infusions made locally in Banff, Jolene’s Tea House prides itself on quality. 

They focus on using certified organic ingredients, real essential oils, and zero artificial flavourings or sweeteners. At Jolene’s Tea House, you’ll find organic loose leaf tea and stylish tea accessories, not to mention locally made candies, gifts, and art! 

For Jolene, making and sharing tea is quite simply who she is and what she loves doing! 

Finding inspiration from women who find that balance between raising a family and passionately following their career goals, Jolene has two amazing role models she looks up to. First is Katie Tuff, COO of the Banff Hospitality Collective, and second is Karina Birch, Founder/Owner and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Soap Company. Jolene sees these two as the goalpost for being creative visionaries and nurturing mothers, all at the same time. 

The tea itself along with getting to connect with customers is what keeps Jess going.

And while she shares Jolene’s admiration for Karina, Jess also finds inspiration from her grandfather, Ed McNally who started Big Rock Brewery! Attributing much of Big Rock’s success to Ed’s commitment to high-quality Alberta-grown ingredients without preservatives, Jess and Jolene brought this mentality into their work with Jolene’s Tea House. 

Jolene and Jess are proud to provide a product that is as good for your body as it is for the environment. 

They’ve spent endless hours ensuring that all their tea is clean, organic and 100% natural, all without comprising the great flavours. They also offer a great variety, which means there’s a blend to fit any occasion or customer but also makes it impossibly hard to pick a single favourite. 

Jolene comes from an entrepreneurial family, so starting up her own tea shop had been in the cards for a long time! 

Drawn to the health and wellness side of tea, Jolene found herself learning about the quality that came from growing conditions and everything else tea had to offer. Jolene’s spiritual side has been captivated by the ceremony of tea. She wants to share something authentic that brilliantly shows off the spirit of our amazing surroundings, and a cup of tea seemed like the perfect way to do this. 

Jolene’s Tea House has been around since 2005, but you can now find them at their flagship store on Bear Street. 

Jolene first started the business in 2005 and focused on supplying restaurants and backcountry lodges in Alberta and BC with her unique tea blends. Jess joined Jolene in this project in 2020, and they’ve since opened their new store in Banff. Jolene’s Tea House has been a celebration of women in the Canadian Rockies since day one!

With Jolene and Jess both being Alberta-raised and long-time Banff locals, they both had tons of shout-outs to make! 

They start with a mention of wildlife photographer Brandon T. Brown, French-Métis fashion designer Andréanne Dandeneau, and Banff-local outdoor travel and adventure writer Meghan J. Ward. They also wanted to be sure to shout out the amazing small businesses whose products they sell at the Jolene’s Tea House, including candles from Camp Four Candles, pancake and waffle mixes from Lannie Rae Gourmet, and old-fashioned hard candies from Sweet Smith Candy Co. Jolene’s Tea House has also had great support from the Banff Hospitality Collective, serving and featuring their teas all around Banff. An important local charity that Jolene wanted to be sure to mention is the YWCA Banff, which provides emergency shelter and essential support services in the Bow Valley. 

Jolene has learned that relationships are everything, especially when it comes to business success. 

Not only did a great relationship with Jess bring amazing growth for the business, Jolene believes a successful business is built on the relationships you have with partners, employees, and customers! For Jess, jumping into a small business during the pandemic has taught her to stay optimistic and keep the long-term vision in mind to help her move forward! 

Both ladies recognize the hard work of their employees as being part of their success so far. 

Armed with a great team, they hope to see the return of more international tourism soon to help combat the tough times so many local businesses have seen in the past two years. They can’t wait to connect with customers in person at their shop and to see the smiles on their faces when they pick up their newest blend of teas! 

Next time you’re walking down Bear Street, be sure to tuck into the Crag Cabin in the Bear Street Courtyard to visit Jess and Jolene and pick up some new tea. Of course, you can always shop online as well, and make sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated on all their latest tea releases! 

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!