2022 Corporate – Start-Up Winners

Photo submitted by Jessica Bulldog, Bäre Activewear

Bäre Activewear Athletic Apparel, Calgary, AB

Bäre Activewear is a family-owned Indigenous business that sells activewear while creating a platform to collaborate with BIPOC talents such as models, photographers, consultants and affiliates.

Bäre Activewear may have begun as a small project, but it has grown into a full-time family venture. The family-owned activewear company launched their website in March of 2020, the same month that COVID-19 locked down Canada. Although there was a great deal of stress and uncertainty for the newly launched company, the community came through, supporting the local shop.

Bäre launched with a vision of creating a platform to feature Indigenous models and affiliates to address the scarcity in the mainstream media and specifically the fitness industry. In 2020, the company donated a portion of its profits to the Indigenous Women’s Fund of Canada. In 2021, they focused their donating/fundraising efforts towards the Residential School Survivors.

This family-run business is more than just that – they are part of the community, working hard to use their platform to support so many.  

“It goes without saying that winning this award is truly an honour, and also, it helped us take a second and recognize how far we were able to come during a pandemic.  Sometimes you can get so caught up in the grind that you neglect to take a moment to celebrate your accomplishments.  Thank you for helping us do this, and congratulations to all the other recipients.”

Jessica Bulldog, founder

Photo by Dawn Bowman, submitted by Fyonna Vanderwerf, Hive Muskoka

Hive Muskoka Inc. Fitness Centre, Bracebridge, ON

Hive Muskoka is an award-winning, inclusive, gender-neutral, fun and engaging facility offering 7300 sq ft. of studios, gyms, cardio equipment space, health services and a private Hive Hot Yoga studio.

In January 2020, Hive Muskoka began renovations on a 7300 sq. ft. space to build a fully adaptive facility for movement and wellness in Muskoka. With the facilities opening in August 2020, Hive Muskoka could only operate at 15 per cent capacity and was forced to close during three lockdowns.

Fyonna Vanderwerf, owner of Hive Muskoka, not only worked hard to advocate for local/provincial gyms as a member of the Fitness Industry Council, but she pivoted her canfitpro PRO TRAINER courses online, helping certify 169 people during COVID-19.

To aid those struggling with the pandemic, Hive Muskoka offered 15 energy memberships, exchanging three hours of help at the gym for a membership that they could otherwise not afford. 

Hive Muskoka also had a food bank drop box and personally collected products and housing supplies, as well as provided access to washrooms and showers for Muskoka families that were forced to live in tents.

Beyond the incredible community work of Hive Muskoka, Vanderwerf won a canfitpro award for her leadership and resilience through the pandemic. She also built a partnership with the local health unit to ensure Hive Muskoka exceeds government guidelines for COVID-19 safety.

“Our mission statement is to help people find their WERF0 wellness, exercise, RESILIENCE and fun.

It has been two years of five lockdowns and reduced capacity, and trying to create a consistency of optimism was incredibly challenging.

Resilience means being aware of changing situations, composite emotions and being aware of the behaviour of people around. This gave me the chance to think of new ways to tackle challenges. A growth mindset became imperative and exciting, and the idea of an entrepreneur of WHY NOT became my mantra.

Being recognised for endurance and engagement under pressure and still always being of service to others was a much appreciated gesture, and HECK, I AM STILL HERE BUZZING!”

Fyonna Vanderwerf, owner and trainer

Photo submitted by Jaime Starchuk, Plantsie Plants

Plantsie Plants for Health, Calgary, AB

Jaime and Jeff founded Plantsie to bring a modern look and new approach to houseplants. Jaime and Jeff’s goal is to create a real connection between people and their plants—to promote positivity. Plantsie operates in Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan.

Jaime and Jeff decided to pivot their business and used the downtime during the pandemic to start Plantsie, offering people the unique experience of building their very own plant pal. Choose the plant, the pot, a name and a personality.

The idea behind Plantsie was to create something thoughtful and meaningful to bring joy to people and remind them that they are never alone, a message that was extremely important during the lockdowns.

However, starting a business of this sort was not without its challenges during Covid, with plants becoming so popular that it was difficult to keep up with demand.

Last year, Plantsie partnered with the United Way to promote United Way month. Throughout the month, $10 from every United Way Plantsie sold was invested back into the community. Plantsie followed that up by donating 100 Plantsies through the United Way for seniors experiencing social isolation.

With a goal to make the world a little better (and greener), $1 from every Plantsie sold is donated to one of five charities chosen by the customer at checkout.

“Winning the Business Resilience Award from IMPACT is a great honor and is an important reminder that we all need to keep moving forward with our journeys.  Whatever dream you’re chasing, never give up, and find a way to make it happen.  Having IMPACT recognize the efforts of others is inspiring and sincerely appreciated.”

Jaime Starchuk, co-founder

All Winners