SMARTstart businesses are off to a great start!

Eighteen entrepreneurs representing 16 businesses are working their way through the 2017 SMARTstart program.

The program provides entrepreneurs with online business skills training, in-person workshops and mentorship. Connecting the entrepreneurs with a local mentor is one of the most important aspects of the program.

This year’s participants have already completed a draft business, feasibility or strategic plan. By the program end in October, that plan – along with pro forma financial statements – will be complete, providing the entrepreneurs with a solid foundation from which to launch or expand their business.

Let’s meet a few of this year’s entrepreneurs. For a fun Q&A with each, visit


Planning a wedding? Jennifer Lisoway wants to help. She’s a Certified Wedding Coordinator, and the owner of Pure Creations Events & Design. Her business takes care of all of the details, from invitation design to décor packages. Jennifer’s dream is to one day move her business into a full-service wedding and events destination venue. Helping her realize her potential is mentor, Jennifer Benner of Benner Database Designs.




As Kari Fulton’s love of craft beer brewed, so did her desire to share her passion with others. In early 2016, Kara opened Western Canada’s first and only craft beer store in Airdrie. Thumbprint Craft Beer Market features 600 beers from around the world and a growler filling station. Kara joined SMARTstart to balance her beer acumen with business knowledge. Assisting her is mentor Jacqui Jepson owner of The Pink Wand Cleaning Services.

Deborah Proskow has more than 30 years of art education, designing art exhibitions, and teaching painting and design fundamentals to college students. Her dream is to share her artistic talent with others by creating custom digital abstract paintings for the home and office. Guiding Deborah in the entrepreneurial journey is mentor Gary Armstrong of Empowered Employee Education.

Kerri Kuefler has worked in the decorating and drapery industry for almost 15 years. This February, she purchased the Made in the Shade South Central Alberta franchise which spans from Sylvan Lake to Medicine Hat. Kari is working hard to grow the business and recently won fourth in sales for the US and Canada! Teamed up with Kari is mentor Lorelei Talbot, owner of Astoria Asset Management.

Drucilla Heighton & Ashley Williams have teamed up to open Byoode Bar in downtown Airdrie. Bringing together their individual businesses of BrowPro and Sugarwink Eyelash Extensions, the studio offers 10 beauty services by expert, certified practitioners under one roof. Their model includes adding additional practitioners, and they’re excited to further grow their already successful businesses. Joining them is mentor Wendy Wiebe, owner of The Hair Lounge.

Dana Remillard opened Mosaic Learning Solutions last fall. Helping her own children realize their potential in spite of learning challenges propelled Dana to develop this specialized business. More than just tutoring, Mosaic’s services address the underlying challenges of learning, and personalized, one-on-one programs help clients acquire literacy skills and improve their focus. Helping Dana learn more about business is mentor Robyn Pearson, owner of A Friend Indeed.