Rebeca Johnstone is the owner of seven Budget Blinds locations in Saskatchewan, serving the province in quality window covers and professional installation. Johnstone came to own the business based on the exceptional service she received as a client of Budget Blinds, and now prides herself on providing that same outstanding service.
“Budget Blinds is actually a franchise model that started 26 years ago in California. There’s eight Saskatchewan locations, and we own seven of them,” Johnstone said. “Our showrooms act as a hub and then we serve all of rural Saskatchewan too. My husband and I farm, and had a great experience with the company, so we love providing quality service to rural clients.”
Johnstone purchased her first location in January 2014, and has grown the business to seven locations with four showrooms in Moose Jaw, Saskatoon Regina and Yorkton. Johnstone says their presence is Kindersley and Swift Current has made those successful areas as well.
In June 2019 Johnstone purchased their first building in Moose Jaw, which is set to open fall 2019, and used the Clarence Campeau Development Fund’s Business Plan and Business Development Programs to help expand.
“This was the first time I used the CCDF. We didn’t really know the scope of what CCDF did before. In hindsight, I wish I had known because it’s certainly been a struggle at times to expand when we’ve seen the opportunity and didn’t want to miss it,” she said.
The CCDF works to assist economic development activities of Métis people in the province and was established in 1997 by the Government of Saskatchewan and the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan. They offer many different programs and services to aid in business development, and Johnstone says their strength lies in their incredible staff.
“The people at CCDF are so wonderful. I can’t speak highly enough about how amazing they are,” Johnstone said. “They were so quick to get back to me, they asked smart questions, they visited me at my locations. They took the fear out of it and helped me to be brave in making a long-term commitment.”
A key part of the CCDF’s vision is to increase the number of Métis females in business and entrepreneurship, and they have programs specifically designed for female entrepreneurs. Women in business play an important role in creativity, diversity, and inspiring other women to enter the business world too.
For Johnstone, who is a mom of three, balancing her business with her personal life has been a challenge at times. When she bought her first location, her youngest daughter was one year old, and she went from being a stay-at-home mom to working full-time.
“I love my business so much, but sometimes you want to have it all. I think it’s about finding a balance between giving the business what it needs, and giving my family what it needs. It’s finding that balance where both benefit from the choices I make. That’s hard, and I think as a woman there are social norms around how we think we’re supposed to be, whether it’s as a mom or in owning a business,” she said.
Johnstone says she has incredible women in her life who she can reach out to for support, and she likes to seek out opportunities that empower and educate women in business too. Some of her favourite things about her career are providing good jobs to great people, pouring into her team members, and having the opportunity to give back to the community.
“We’ve partnered with everything from the Food Bank to Habitat for Humanity, youth organizations, and more. We have to remember that we have a social responsibility in our communities and that’s been some of the most rewarding work I’ve done,” she said. “I think women are naturally care-givers and I think when we bring that into business it can be such a beautiful thing. I think more women in business will amplify that, because we can’t help but have that female touch.”
Johnstone strongly encourages anyone thinking about business to work with the CCDF and to not be afraid of taking risks.
“You can’t go wrong by partnering with the CCDF because of the guidance and people there — they just want to help you. If you’re starting out, be fearless and commit to it 100 per cent. If you really want to do it, it’s always worth a try!”
For more information on Budget Blinds visit budgetblinds.com/en-ca. For more information on the CCDF, visit www.clarencecampeau.com.