What defines a Cowichan Changemaker?
Our Changemakers are the influencers, activators, connectors and innovators within the Cowichan Valley. Whether working in business or volunteering for community organizations, they are the builders and collaborators who embody new ways of doing things. Changemakers see the potential that others miss and they connect the dots between people and ideas. Join us in celebrating and learning about the people who are shaping the future of the Cowichan Region.
Victory Barber & Brand North
Cutting the boundaries between business and community
Forward-thinking entrepreneur and barber, Ian Smith, was commuting daily to the Victoria Victory Barber & Brand from his hometown in the Cowichan. He had a vision to bring his passion closer to home and on June 15, 2017, this became a reality when he opened his own location in downtown Duncan.
The store offers typical shaves and barber-styled haircuts for both men and women alike. However, what sets them apart from other barber shops is their trendy yet authentic atmosphere, quality and stylish product line and full service coffee bar. The coffee bar proudly serves local Drumroaster coffee and was Ian’s personal touch to the business model.
Since opening, the store has been thriving with a consistent flow of customer’s far exceeding Ian’s initial expectations. The pool table, unique vibe and friendly staff make the shop a perfect venue for events and this has transformed the store from a typical barber shop to a vibrant hub for community gathering.
Merging fashion and function to become a destination
Jean Cardino, originally from New Zealand, made her way to the Cowichan Valley nearly two decades ago. Jean saw an opportunity to apply her expertise in the fashion industry to build a destination shoe store in the heart of downtown Duncan. Cardino’s Shoes takes customer service to the next level by providing visitors with a truly unique shoe experience. Jean and her staff take the time to understand the people living in Cowichan and this passion for connecting with customers is reflected in the store’s inventory.
Cardino’s offers internationally renowned styles that are exciting yet practical, which resonates with local customers. Jean’s background in nursing also allows her to provide an educational component to her business. She teaches customers about alignment and the relationship between footwear and overall health.
Cardino’s Shoes continues to attract visitors from across Canada, contributing to a vibrant downtown.
Libre Naturals & Purica
Partnering to build brand synergy
Cowichan’s Libre Naturals is an international success story. Its founder, Alana Elliott, who started out creating allergen-free granola bars that her kids could eat, is now one of the world’s most sought-after food allergy experts and owner of one of the only large-scale allergen-free manufacturing facilities in North America. Purica, a family-owned nutraceutical business, creates supplements and wellness products sold across Canada. Now these two have created a product that unites their strengths and will create mutual benefits such as cross-marketing, expanded distribution and increased recognition for each other’s brands.
Taking skill and pride to new levels
Promac Manufacturing has had roots in Cowichan for over 40 years, building parts that are sold across North America. New owner Gary Powers, a highly successful entrepreneur, is ready to build on the company’s achievement and expand its capabilities to reach even more markets. Promac is renowned for its technical knowledge, fabricating capabilities and customer service – in other words, for the exceptional standards that all its employees maintain. Cowichan is the perfect place for Promac: its central location is ideal for servicing local forestry businesses, and its affordability and lifestyle help attract the 60 highly skilled employees that are the company’s greatest asset.
South Shore Cabinetry
Choosing Cowichan to grow business
Roy Sandsmark is so confident of the growth of his business in Lake Cowichan that he is expanding his warehouse to five times its current size. He came to Cowichan to retire, but instead started up a high-end cabinetry company, quickly becoming so busy that he opened a showroom in Victoria as well. However, he has realized that Cowichan, not Victoria, is the place to expand. The growth in the region’s cities and towns has created exceptional demand, and the central location makes it easy to ship up and down the Island. Add in Cowichan’s affordability and lifestyle, and you’ve got the perfect mix.