Everybody's business in Nelson

Proud to be involved in the local economy, Robert J Nestman shows off some of his fine woodworking. His new business Freeline sources wood from Harrop-Procter Community Forest and sells at the Craft Connection. - Kirsten Hildebrand photo
Proud to be involved in the local economy, Robert J Nestman shows off some of his fine woodworking. His new business Freeline sources wood from Harrop-Procter Community Forest and sells at the Craft Connection.
— image credit: Kirsten Hildebrand photo

When it comes to commerce, truth be told, my eyes glaze over and my mind wanders to matters not involving balance sheets, overhead, exports, wholesale – anything to do with numbers, really. So, when editor Bob Hall suggested I take on the business beat at the Star, I was leery. But last week I had the pleasure of sitting in on Paul Wiest’s retirement from his 23-year role as general manager of Community Futures. There I learned that even some of the most successful people in the Queen City didn’t embark in business because their talents lie in the realm of numbers. They had big ideas and entrepreneurial drive. Through agencies like Community Futures, people come together with their skills to share knowledge and build a stronger business community. Covering business in this town isn’t about those matters I’ve always avoided like the plague. It’s about people and community. Happily, these things interest me. In fact, they’re my favourite topics to cover. So here goes…


Tara Davis, owner of Tara Davis Studio Boutique, who splits her time between her 566 Baker Street shop and one in her hometown in Manitoba, is one of those interesting people that enrich our community. Others agree.

Ace Burpee of Virgin Radio recently named her one of the 100 most fascinating Manitobans.

“There were some great stories this year and some incredible people to recognize,” said Burpee who described No. 83, Davis, as follows: “A dynamic and creative artist, business women and philanthropist. Most importantly, a crucial and dedicated advocate of mental health, raising awareness, and promoting stigma reduction.”

Davis is a bit shy about the nod, but shared the Winnipeg Free Press online story via Facebook because it’s “pretty darn cool,” she said. Tara’s Nelson boutique has been open for four years and her Winnipeg store by the same name is just starting its third year.


There’s a new wood worker in town that’s really embracing the philosophy of building on local economy. Robert J. Nestman arrived here from Ottawa with his desire to shift from construction to smaller intricate work. He has Freeline furniture design and manufacture that sources wood from Harrop-Proctor Community Forest loving the colours and grain textures.

To make use of even the smallest pieces of wood, parquetry board is used, which creates a clear modern line. Nestman then sells his wares at the Craft Connection.

For more information check them out online at


Janet Skolka owner of Jilly bo Billy at 422 Herridge Lane and Bumblebee Toys ( owner Sabrina Baker are competing among a cast of over 200 for MOMpreneur award of excellence for 2013. It’s an annual online competition presented in part by ParentsCanada magazine and sponsored by Children’s Education Funds Inc.

Both women were inspired by motherhood to put their entrepreneurial spirit to work for them.

“I think if someone is born an entrepreneur, they will eventually find themselves walking down the path of business and marketing,” said Baker.

Starting her online store in 2007, Bumblebee Toys offers a unique collection of natural toys, crafts and playthings to inspire the imagination and nourish the senses, described Baker.

Skolka also had her start online at and after growing out of her home, she expanded to include a storefront in October 2012. The mom and businesswoman sells high-end boutique kids clothes at a discount taking advantage of past-season, samples and overstock sales.

To her being a MOMpreneur is the best of both worlds.

“I am able to spend more time with my kids, but I also get to do something for myself,” she said. “I think it’s important to have my kids watch how much goes into running a business. Those lessons are invaluable. It’s my favourite part of being a Mompreneur.”

To register and vote go to Jilly Bo Billy Boutique and Bumblebee Toys can be found in the pull-down menu. Judges crowning a winner will review the Top 10 Mompreneurs as voting closes on January 31.

First place prize is $30,000 in cash and prizes including an ad in ParentsCanada magazine and mentorships with successful Canadian business people, like the legal adviser to Dragon’s Den.


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