Uptown Waterloo BIA 50th Anniversary Video Series

by | Feb 3, 2023 | Blog Posts

Episode 1: The Risk Takers

We are beyond thrilled to present the first in a video series celebrating the Uptown Waterloo BIA’s 50th anniversary!

We celebrate The Risk Takers: Emily Peat of The Underdog Dance Corp. and Gosia Jurgiel of Unique Boutique. Opening your own business inherently comes with risk and these are two very different stories of both risk and reward.

Emily opened The Underdog Dance Corp. during the pandemic and, against many odds, has not only taken her own advice to just go for it and take a chance but along the way cultivated a welcoming community of people with a zest for life, excitement and exploration.

Gosia opened Unique Boutique over 20 years ago. A young, single mother having emigrated from Poland many told her that her business wouldn’t last when she started, but she believed and trusted in herself and more than 2 decades has proven her instinct right.

Episode 2: Family Business

In this episode, we celebrate Family Business: Ritesh and Rini Bargava of Masala Bay and Cecelia Johnston of The Bakery by Ce Food Experience. This one is special as Ritesh and Rini recently retired (leaving Masala in good hands with new management). And The Bakery is near (literally) and dear to us having opened this year steps away from our office in the same building!

Ritesh and Rini always knew they wanted to open an Indian restaurant together. While they were cautioned about Canada’s cold winters, they decided to move here and make that dream a reality. After 2 decades of hard work and grueling hours (not to mention a heart attack along the way) their passion for food, and for each other have made the sacrifices worthwhile as they retire to enjoy life with their family at a slower pace. Congratulations to Ritesh and Rini on your retirement and everything you’ve built over 20 years!

Ce knows how critical food allergies are in her own family and takes great pride in being able to provide delicious creations that are inclusive to people with a variety of dietary restrictions- offering them things they may have never had the opportunity to buy before. Recognizing that her industry is not conducive to having a family Ce has worked hard to build a business that allows her to have a work/life balance and be present with her husband and kids.

Episode 3: With a Little Help From My Friends

In the third installation of our video series celebrating the Uptown Waterloo BIA’s 50th anniversary and featuring Uptown business owners meet Linda Vongkhamchanh and Tim Goodwin of Champa Kitchen and Janine Saunders of Babylon Sisters Wine Bar.

Linda moved to Canada from Laos when she was 14. With her mother back home and her father often away as a truck driver, if Linda was craving something she had to learn to make it for herself. When the pandemic hit Linda and her husband Tim started providing traditional food recognizing not many people were providing Lao home-cooked meals. Since opening, Linda and Tim have found a lot of comradery and community coming out to support them. The overwhelming support they’ve had helps to keep them motivated as they work 90-100 hours/week while also trying to raise their children.

Janine focuses on consignment wines you won’t find elsewhere while also trying to have as many female wine producers on their list to provide customers a truly unique opportunity to try something new. Opening during the pandemic brought its fair share of hardships and scary moments, but along with it came an attitude of ‘let’s help each other out’ with others in the hospitality industry. Rather than compete for customers the experience of ‘being in it together’ has Janine encouraging her customers to support other businesses beyond her own.

Episode 4: Finding What Works

In our final in the series celebrating our 50th Anniversary, and highlighting the stories of 8 unique businesses we explore ‘finding what works’ for Emilio & Samantha of KW Professional Organizers and Hannah of KW Headshots.

How do you create something where you have fun, use every skill you have, help people, have control of your time and energy AND make a living? This is the question Emilio Jose Garcia and Samantha Kristoferson set out to answer together. The answer? To build a company that allows them to use their combined skill sets helping people to declutter, support them with mental help and create a transformation in people’s homes that has a ripple effect in every other area of their lives.

Hannah took to photography at a young age, trying to freeze moments in time, knowing that what her lens was capturing would inevitably change. In the early years of her business Hannah had a number of deaths very close to her, leaving her feeling like she had little left to give beyond her photo shoots. In addition, having been diagnosed with ADHD as a teenager Hannah eventually decided she needed to take a break, realize what didn’t work for her and study different photography business structures to find what would work best. This ultimately led her to headshots as the future of her business.

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