Most Famous Canadian Small Business Owners Who Will Inspire You

Most Famous Canadian Small Business Owners Who Will Inspire You

Uncertainty appears to be the ‘new normal’ these days. The COVID-19 has put many businesses at a standstill and many do not know what the future holds. Entrepreneur ingenuity grows out of this uncertainty, and entrepreneurs around the world took advantage of this particular time to show their business savvy. 

Successful entrepreneurs come from all spheres of life and all over the world, but Canadian entrepreneurs are jewels worthy of attention. Most of them show pure determination and faith in their ideas, going beyond the “norms” of working 9 to 5 professions to make a living.

Canada is not known primarily for its entrepreneurial spirit but has produced many gems that have successfully achieved success through drive, intelligence, and candor.  Canadian entrepreneurs in particular do not want to give no matter what obstacles come in their way.

According to Statistics Canada reports (as of 2021), approximately 98.1% of all businesses in Canada are small businesses with up to five hundred employees. Only 0.03% of Canadian businesses are eligible for large corporations, elucidating that entrepreneurs creating businesses of all sizes are essential to the Canadian economy. The resilience of these small business entrepreneurs is noteworthy and their journey towards entrepreneurship is inspiring for many aspiring entrepreneurs to come.

Here are some of the famous Canadian small business entrepreneurs who have made the world stand up and brought their work to the spotlight.


Tara Bosch the founder of SmartSweets
  • Tara Bosch

Tara Bosch’s prosperous story of being the CEO of SmartSweets comes from a Hollywood hit. This young and spirited entrepreneur founded SmartSweets at the age of 21 and successfully made sweets with 79 to 92% less sugar than conventional sweets. By 2016, Bosch had left UBC and was selling her candy in the trunk of her car to a retailer she emailed. SmartSweets, in 2019, exceeded $50 million in revenue, selling more than 29,000,000 candy bags via more than 18,000 retailers. Her ingenuity provides sweet lovers around the world with a healthy alternative to forever quench their sweet sugar cravings.


Profile photo of Sheri Lerat
  • Sheri Lerat

Sheri Lerat is the woman behind Karys Layne Candles. Her extreme love for creativity and her interest in designs are combined with attention to every detail in her candles. The name “Karys Layne” was coined in honor of the grandmother of her children. After years of testing and experimenting, Leni Sherar finally released Karys Layne Candles in 2017. Karys Layne Candles is a praise to the amazing change that can only happen through the power of healing. Since then, Sheri Lenat, along with her team, has been manufacturing soy wax candles and is in total demand across Canada.


Profile photo of Cassandra Vantriet
  • Cassy Vantriet

After Casey’s trip to South and Central America with her husband, she submerged herself in diverse cultures, had new experiences that opened excellent possibilities for her to view how wellness is so interwoven in different parts of the world that are embedded in the culture. Since then, she decided to give shape to her life and founded Woash Wellness in 2018. Woash Wellness has become a lifestyle brand in and around Canada. She still stressed every ingredient of her product and has no plans to go beyond the philosophy when extending her product line in years to come. Cassy Vantriet is definitely an inspiration for many aspiring entrepreneurs to come.


Profile photo of Tonia Jahshan
  • Tonia Jahshan

Tonia Jahshan created Steeped Tea after drinking Cream of Earl Grey. Totally inspired by the loose tea leaves and rich flavor, she decided to start her own company along with her husband. Her prime aim was to enable other tea lovers like her to enjoy high-quality products with rich and aromatic flavors. After appearing on Dragon’s Den, she bagged investors like Jim Treliving and David Chilton, along with several other investors. Today, Steeped Tea has grown into a thriving company in Canada and the United States.


Profile photo of MIKE ATEMA
  • Fred and Debbie Atema

Fred and Debbie Atema founded Altek Supply in 1999. They saw a market need and instantly saw an opportunity. Building on their industry experience since the mid-1970s, they founded a company with a robust desire to pay attention to the needs of their customers. Since then, Altek has prospered by developing a dedicated customer network that stays true to its family values, hires and retains the best workforce, has a wide range of quality products, and knows that Altek delivers on all its promises. Altek Industrial Supply Inc. has been ranked as one of Canada’s Best Small Businesses in 2021.


Profile photo of julie yoo
  • Julie Yoo

Julie Yoo is the face behind Toronto’s premier destination store when it comes to label consignment shopping, I Miss You Vintage. With an industry experience of over two decades and fifteen years of running a traditional retail boutique store, Yoo is a veteran when it comes to the world of resale fashion. Julie Yoo specializes in authentication, appraisal, and identification of the 21st-century contemporary luxury designer label resale fashion and vintage couture. She has a range of top-level clientele including Lady Gaga, international museums, runway fashion designers, and fashion archives. She has been interviewed by many publications related to female business entrepreneurship, fashion styling advice, eCommerce for small businesses, fashion as a financial investment, and fashion buying tips. She also appeared on the Report on Business Magazine’s cover, representing 4.1 million Canadian small business owners, bagging the ‘CEO of the Year’ award by Globe and Mail. She has also been featured in Paypal Women Entrepreneur Study 2019 and has been profiled as the face of Canadian small business in eBay’s 25th-anniversary marketing campaign.


Winding Up

What all these Canadian small business entrepreneurs have in common is that they have all achieved incredible heights in the business world. They created opportunities, took risks, and overcame many obstacles to achieve their dreams. A successful business takes time, patience, and great determination to get the job done. You too can join this list of famous entrepreneurs as Canada’s next game-changers.

For more such amazing features on Canadian entrepreneurs, do not forget to subscribe to our CanadianSME Small Business Magazine.

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