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Lessons Learned – A conversation with Entrepreneurial Trailblazers

Business Sisters Conference – Sat. Nov. 3, 2018, 8:30am-5:30pm, Glengarry Sports Palace, Alexandria, ON

Join Us!

The All-Day Pass is $149 per person. This includes all education and networking sessions, breakfast, lunch, breaks and wine & cheese reception.


The final session for The Business Sisters focuses on Lessons Learned. This will be a conversation with Entrepreneurial Trailblazers about overcoming adversity, doing business their way and finding success. Their time in business ranges from 5 to 32 years. Each of our panelists has blasted through obstacles, beaten the odds and created jobs not only for themselves, but for their community as well.

We hope you will join us as we hear their stories – the good, the bad and the ugly! – leaving us with heartfelt lessons we can all apply in our own lives.

Christine Bonneau-O’Neill, Owner, L’Orignal Meat Packing

Christine Bonneau-ONeill speaker at Business Sisters ConferenceChristine is the proud mom of two children, Crystel, 19 and Jean-Daniel 17 years of age. She is the owner of L’Orignal Packing and has a B.Comm in accounting from the University of Ottawa. She grew up in the family enterprise and worked as an accounting professional for several years, returning to the family business in 2003. With her two brothers André and Benoit, she invested in the business and she eventually bought them out 2013. Now she is the sole owner of a business that is clearly in a male-dominated environment.

Christine is passionate about local entrepreneurship. In addition to being a member of the parents’ council at her children’s school, she sits on the board of the Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network since the early days of the Prescott Russell Community Development Corporation. This is on top of being Treasurer for both committees!

In 2017 L’Orignal Packing earned the Gala Excellence prize for Retail Business of the year in Prescott Russell. Christine herself was named Entrepreneur of the Year. At the same time their Kielbasa (a delicious Polish-style sausage) won First Place at the Ontario Finest Meat Competition.

Julia Graham, Chef & Founder, The Quirky Carrot

Julia Graham speaker at Business Sisters ConferenceJulia Graham is the Chef and Owner of The Quirky Carrot, a cafe, cookery school and catering company located on Main Street in Alexandria. Prior to opening the café, she taught a hospitality program to high school students. She loved championing and encouraging students to enter the world of all-things-culinary. It was through that teaching experience that an entrepreneurial seed was planted in her heart. Though it probably helped that her dad was a baker and even former food franchise owner!

Being a small-town girl herself, Julia believes in collaboration. Her business has created a hub for others to start up in the area. “Uptown” Main Street Alexandria is alive again thanks to The Quirky. Collaboration extends to her formal business practices. The Quirky Carrot is a certified member of FEAST ON, a criteria-based program of the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance that recognizes businesses committed to showcasing Ontario’s unique tastes of place.

Julia has been featured in countless regional media articles such as Ottawa Magazine, Edible Ottawa and even the prestigious LCBO Food & Drink Magazine. she is married and a mom to two lovely teen girls.

Estelle Patenaude, President, Impressions Inc.

In 1986, at the tender age of 26, Estelle Patenaude went from being co-owner of a dairy farm to starting her printing shop, Impressions Inc. She never thought twice about juggling a business in a male-dominated field with being a mom to two little girls. She involved her girls in the business and even brought them along on business outings. Fast forward 32 years, her girls still work with her, in an enterprise quite different from its early beginnings.

With printing technology evolving break-neck speed, Estelle showed vision and determination. She made major investments and forged strategic alliances to compete at a high level in direct mailing and personalized marketing. They now serve clients in Ontario Quebec and even the US.

Estelle has been very involved in the community as president of the Embrun Chamber of Commerce, the Regroupement des gens d’affaires (RGA), Le Banquet de la Francophonie, the Prescott-Russell Community Development Corporation and the Rural Business Summit.

She on the board of the Centre de leadership et d’évaluation and dedicates herself to developing female leaders with the Leadership Féminin en Action Prescott-Russell, an organization aiming to inspire women to step into leadership roles.

Estelle has won numerous awards and recognition including a certificate of appreciation from FedDev, Woman of the Year and Business of the Year from the FADER of Prescott-Russell and Business of the Year from the Embrun Chamber of Commerce.

Roxanne Rollin, Co-Founder, Quad Expert

Roxanne Rollin speaker at Business Sisters ConferenceRoxanne Rollin is the co-founder of Quad Expert, a dealership specializing in ATVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles and off-road vehicles based in Hammond, in the township of Prescott-Russell. Together with her husband Mark, she incorporated her business in 1998. It was a small motor repair shop, which they operated from their home. When asked about how she got her start in business Roxanne declares: “I have no university or college degree. I tried, I could not do it! But I think if they’d give a degree for street smarts I’d be on the honor list!”

She explains how, when working at a car dealership, she saw opportunity in buying off-road vehicles at auctions. And thus began their venture into buying and selling as well as repairs. With a talent for management and accounting, Roxanne began devising plans for a full-fledged dealership. After two years of crunching numbers and scouting locations, in 2009, the current Quad Expert concept was launched.

Roxanne describes the “secret” of Quad Expert’s success as their dedication to customer service. They have earned the prestigious 5-Start rating from Yamaha which assesses all aspects of their business from sales to repair turnaround time and even employee satisfaction. Quad Expert employs 12 people and Roxanne hints at big plans for the future! View an interview from 2017 here (in French).

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