Sometimes, the urge to stay down after you have been knocked to the canvas could be very enticing. Rest assured though, you will be admired and respected by the speed with which you pick yourself up, dust off and keep on fighting.
You will also feel much better about yourself as Rose Nixon can attest to.
Two years ago, she lost her full-time job when the retail company she was employed with for 11 years restructured and moved part of their operations that utilized her skills to Calgary. To add insult to injury, she fell ill and had to undergo an emergency procedure to drain fluid that was accumulating around her heart.
Those were dark days, but there was light at the end of the tunnel.
Nixon stumbled upon MicroSkills that provides aspiring immigrant and visible minority women entrepreneurs with a space to acquire business skills, operate their business, network and share resources, information, experiences and expertise.
The 17th annual awards ceremony took place last week in Brampton.
“That was one of the best things that happened to me,” she said of her association with MicroSkillls. “Even though I had a full-time job, there came a time when I was not having fun doing it. Of course, you are earning a salary, but I am a creative person and I felt like if I was just stuck in one position. I always had it at the back of my mind that I would like to become my own boss one day and MicroSkills offered me the tools to do that.”
The principal owner of Really Organized Now (RON) which is a professional organizing company, Nixon was the recipient of a MicroSkills Entrepreneur of the Year Award that honours graduates who overcame obstacles and successfully realized their dream of starting a business.
“I grew up in a home where my mother ensured that everything was in the right place,” said Nixon. “So I know what it is to be organized. I also know from experience that when people are organized, they are far more pleasant to be around and they smile more. They enjoy their lives with greater ease and comfort and they become much more focused on what’s important.”
Just over a year ago, Nixon received a call from a married mother of three requesting her help.
“She’s a lawyer, her husband is a professional, they travel a lot for personal and work reasons and they have office space in their homes in addition to their places of work,” said Nixon. “The wife was however involved in an accident that immobilized her for a lengthy period of time. I went in and helped her from top to bottom to clear her clutter and mind and get organized.”
Born in Dominica, Nixon migrated at age seven to join her family. She graduated from North Albion Collegiate and pursued public and corporate relations studies at Centennial and Humber Colleges.
Her entrepreneurial passion was fuelled in high school when she was one of five students selected to start a store for students to purchase snacks, school supplies and team merchandise. She also operated a creative jewellery and home accessories business.
Clients requesting her service can send an e-mail to email@example.com or call (416) 341-1367.
Nixon shared the spotlight with Jamaican-born Olivia “Moy” Fung who also arrived in Canada at age seven.
After graduating from York Memorial Collegiate, Fung took a year off to figure out a career goal. She got pregnant in that period and spent the next few years caring for her child.
“I was a single mother at a young age with no support,” she said. “So, I endured some challenging times before landing on my feet again.”
Finding writing as therapy, Fung developed a love for reading and shared inspirational messages with relatives and friends.
In 2009, she launched Card in a Frame Inc. that offered inspirational messages and greetings.
Without a business plan, the venture did not take off as she expected.
“I quit my full-time job four years ago to grow my business, but I struggled because I did not have the business acumen or tools,” said Fung. “That’s exactly what I got from my involvement with MicroSkills Women’s Enterprise & Resource Centre to move me up to the next level.”
Fung can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (647) 834-8938.
Six years ago, MicroSkills started a youth leadership award program to celebrate and recognize the contributions and achievements of young people in the community.
This year’s recipients are Seneca College student, Qurratul Ain and Shannon Henry, who is enrolled in Humber’s College’s Early Childhood Education program.
“This is the first time that I have received such a big honour, so I am very happy with the recognition,” said Henry, who sought assistance from MicroSkills’ Homework Club to help her graduate from Central Etobicoke High School.
Henry aspires to be a social worker.
“We always say that our youth are our future and understand that we have to nurture them so that they can grow into upstanding citizens,” said MicroSkills executive director, Kay Blair. “The two young people we are honouring tonight prove that they have the capacity to lead us to a better future.”
Starting 30 years ago with four staff members and a budget of about $450,000, MicroSkills now employs just over 100 full-time staff members and 200 volunteers in seven locations across the Greater Toronto Area.