Perry and his team in their wood lot

Taylor Hubert, Town Shop Gifts, Wakaw

By: Cassi Smith

At just 25 years old, Taylor Hubert has already made the difficult decision to change her career path and follow her dreams. “I remember sitting down and thinking, what am I doing?” says Taylor. “I just went to university for four years to work in Human Resources. I got my dream job, earning a great wage, all the benefits and a great pension plan. Am I going to drop all of that to start a business?” Luckily for everyone in Wakaw, Saskatchewan, the answer was yes.

As the owner of Town Shop Gifts, Taylor says that being a young woman in the industry comes with its hurdles. “To this day, and I am sure this will go on for quite a while, I have people who walk in and ask me where the owner is,” laughs Taylor. “When I tell them it is me, they look completely shocked. I have to say that their surprise makes me feel like I am on the right track!”

What started with her own candle making, soon grew into a full-fledged business and store front. “I bought Town Shop Gifts on January 1, 2022, and ever since then I have been full time running the store and my candle company,” says Taylor who now offers a wide array of products from handbags and soaps to jewelry and home goods. Taylor purchased the store from her mother with the help of CCDF’s Women Entrepreneur Loan Fund, a program specifically designed for Indigenous women-owned businesses. “I went to a Batoche Metis local meeting, and I was recommended by their president to contact CCDF,” says Taylor. “Once I heard they had a program for women Metis entrepreneurs – I knew I found the right fit.”

According to Taylor, the people at CCDF were also a great fit. “Oh my gosh, Maxine is literally a dream to work with! She is thoughtful with her recommendations and really takes time to understand and make sure that you and your business are fully looked after.” And the support CCDF offers women in the industry, specifically Indigenous women, carves out a unique space for people like Taylor. “CCDF is changing the future by giving opportunities to those who maybe could not make it without them,” says Taylor. “They are championing a future that is more inclusive and progressive.”

With CCDF by her side, Taylor says Town Shop Gifts has been thriving and keeping its focus on local made goods. “I can genuinely say that my local products are my best sellers. Consumers are starting to understand how crucial it is to shop local,” explains Taylor. “I feel grateful to be in a space where I can support and encourage other local makers by helping them reach new customers.”

Being a business owner in a small town can seem intimidating to some, especially a resort town like Wakaw, whose population can double from winter to summer. But for Taylor, that’s exactly what makes her company what it is. “I always say I feel like a little bit of a special case when it comes to starting a business in a small town.” The community is not just Taylor’s market, it’s also her home. “Growing up in Wakaw, coming back and buying my own home here, I am incredibly blessed to have support from the community, which honestly makes it possible for me to keep my doors open year-round and that to me, is incredibly special.”

This past summer, Taylor was able to expand her business even further and capitalize on the summer rush by adding an ice cream shack. “I had a shed and a deep freeze and decided to give it a whirl and see what happened,” says Taylor. “It was a huge success. Many locals could walk to it, kids would come on their bike, people would come from the lake, it was widely supported.”

Taking a leap of faith and trusting your instincts is something even the most experienced entrepreneurs struggle with. “You need to trust your gut,” says Taylor. “Starting a business, or stepping into the entrepreneurship space is very hard. You need to know that you can do what it takes to see your dream become a reality.” And of course, with resources like CCDF, anything is possible. “Ask for supports, lean on those around you. You will be astonished at what you can create.”