By Chris Marchand
A great night for local entrepreneurship unfolded, Oct. 3 at The Centre, as Dryden’s Morgan Shepherd was named the winner of the Dryden District Chamber of Commerce’s $12,000 Win This Space contest.
The 23 year-old mother of three captured the imagination of the local panel of judges with a comprehensive presentation on her plans to expand her ‘Little Mod Nest’ line of organic and earth-friendly clothes for baby out of her home and into a boutique and production space.
With a social media presence of 22,000 followers between Instagram and Facebook, Shepherd’s growing home-based business is already running a brisk trade online.
Shepherd won 12 monthly instalments of $1,000 to put towards rent at a downtown Princess St. location she chose from among several potential properties.
“There’s been a lot of late nights,” said Shepherd who had to write a business plan and attend business training courses as a part of the contest. “Many nights between changing diapers, feeding baby, sick and vomiting kids. I’m just very excited and relieved because I was so nervous tonight. But hard work pays off I guess.”
Shepherd’s worthy competitor, Garth Gillis, pitched his plans for a local craft brewery, called CanoeBrew, for which he told judges he’s already raised significant interest among local investors.
“I love Dryden. I love brewing beer. I want to brew beer in Dryden,” began Gillis in a well-received presentation that included samples of his own Oktoberfest brew for judges, testimonials from fellow local brewers of his competency and detailed plans of his proposed operation and the capacity to compete in Ontario’s fast-growing craft brewing marketplace.
Gillis who has spent time as a brewer’s assistant with the nearby Lake of The Woods Brewing Company says Dryden is uniquely positioned to be a hub for distribution and he hopes to gain a foothold with regional restaurants to help build his brand.
Regardless of the outcome of the evening Gillis says he plans to keep pursuing his business plan, a dream he’s long shared with friends in the local home-brewing community.
Judging the two business pitches for the evening were local business personalities: James Cochrane, Dawn Jones, Peter Smith, Karen McDonald and Terry McKay.