Dawn Skwernuik founded Aeonian Esthetics & Massage in 2019 with big plans for the business, and she and her business partners were off to a great start. They’d hired three employees and were nominated for the Regina Chamber of Commerce 2020 Paragon Awards for New Business of the Year and Young Entrepreneur.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
For nearly three months, they watched their emergency savings dwindle as they continued to pay rent and bills with no income coming in. And Dawn knew that when they opened up again, they would have to restock their products.
“We couldn’t pull any money out of the business for personal use,” Dawn said. “By the time we got back, we knew we were going to be at zero and we would have no safety net.”
Because they’re a new, small business, they didn’t meet the qualifications for the federal emergency business loans.
Then she found out the Clarence Campeau Development Fund (CCDF) offered an emergency support grant. She was thrilled that a program like that was available.
“If we would have gone back to business without that support, we would have had no safety net whatsoever.”
CCDF supports both new and existing Métis-owned businesses and community development by providing funding and capacity-building.
Aeonian used the funding to buy personal protective equipment like masks, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, covers for the chairs and beds, and for creating a sitting area outside the spa to allow for physical distancing.
When they were allowed to open up again, they were able to hire back all their staff, and it was very busy due to pent up demand for services. Then, later in the summer and early fall, more special occasions were happening again and business remained brisk. Through the fall, they’ve continued to be steady, with new clients coming in who’ve heard of the good work they do.
She says she’s “100 per cent” confident in her business going forward thanks to the help from the fund.
“I can’t express how much they’ve supported us. I really don’t know what we would do without them.”
About the Clarence Campeau Development Fund
The objective of the Fund is to stimulate economic development activities of Métis people and communities. As the first stop for Métis entrepreneurs and communities in Saskatchewan, we leverage relationships with funding partners, industry, and communities to meet the evolving needs of Métis businesses.