Community is the Key At Metspace

Owner Stories, Caterina Mazzone, President, Metspace, Montreal, Quebec

Late last summer, we joined Metspace West Island to network and access the lounge. The minute you walk through their doors, you feel at home. That’s the sense that Caterina Mazzone and Paolo Catania have worked so hard to create at their two co-working locations. Mission accomplished. Starting in April. we’ve moved into a closed office and couldn’t be happier with the arrangement. We now have a wonderful space to work out of that’s private, but also still very much associated with the community. Our interview with Caterina delves into their plans for now and down the road, and includes an inspiring message for those looking for positivity as we move deeper into our new normal routines.

Our interview with Caterina is below. Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Also, make sure to read our Owner Stories series and remember to support local businesses in any way you can while these physical distancing restrictions are in place.

10|20 Marketing: Hi, Caterina! Thank you for agreeing to this interview! We’re excited to have you participate. Can you give us a little bit of background on how Metspace was started and walk us through your business concept?

Caterina Mazzone: Thank you for the opportunity!

How Metspace started was quite a natural process. In 2013, we closed a family business and we had an office that was empty. My husband decided to go to real estate school in 2014 and as his courses went on, his fellow students started coming to the office to study or to work. Shortly thereafter, the questions were asked if they could rent an office and voila, Metspace was born!

Our business concept is simple, we are building a community and offering the space as a tool to help you feel empowered, to help with your growth and to help with achieving your goals!

10|20 Marketing: Can you walk us through your locations, give some context on why the two locations were chosen? Why St. Leonard and the West Island?

Caterina Mazzone: St-Leonard is the first location and it is where we had the empty office so it just happened! As for the West Island, it is part of our expansion plan. We are aiming at the 4 corners of Montreal and then increase the radius nationally and eventually internationally!

10|20 Marketing: Have your plans changed over the last year in terms of expansion? How did the pandemic change things for Metspace? And how did you see it affect your tenants?

Caterina Mazzone: At Metspace we try to make all our members feel comfortable. When the pandemic first hit, we had to make necessary adjustments. We took every precaution to ensure our members felt secure but most importantly safe in our workspace. One of the values we uphold in our community is that once you join Metspace you become family. We adopted habits and rules that took care of not only our members but our staff as well. In terms of expansion of course some of our plans were delayed. We had to put a pause on some projects.

As we now continue in our new normal, we are starting to once more branch out and begin new ventures and partnerships. We have adjusted and have maintained a clean and healthy workspace for all our members and tenants by having routine cleaning, monthly sanitization treatments and hand sanitizers distributed throughout the space. This not only made our members feel safe but our tenants and staff feel comfortable as well.

10|20 Marketing: That’s amazing, Cat! What’s the profile of a typical member? Metspace caters to people and businesses of all sizes, but what do you think they all have in common? And what type of business really thrives within your Coworking concept?

Caterina Mazzone: The typical member profile is an individual or small group that is an entrepreneur or works for corporate. We have seen that the common factor of them choosing to come to Metspace is that they want a place where they can work yet feel like they are part of a community. In the past 6 years, we have witnessed so many friendships, partnerships, and business transactions happening between our members!

10|20 Marketing: Speaking from experience, I agree that you and Paolo have done a great job of making everyone feel a part of a community! Can you describe some of the events you put on that help create that community feel?

Caterina Mazzone: Thank you Mark! We are doing our best to make everyone’s experience at Metspace, an exceptional one! One of our events that everyone looks forward to is our monthly lunches! It gives our members the opportunity to meet one another while having lunch provided by us! Our community loves this event so much that they ask us for the dates a few months in advance to block off that lunch hour!

10|20 Marketing: Yes, the lunches are great! Any last words of encouragement for our readers as they try to find the light at the end of the tunnel regarding the pandemic?

Caterina Mazzone: Yes, absolutely! What I know for sure is that we are all in this together. The beauty of our Metspace community is that the common values are focused on 6 c’s! To connect, to collaborate, to create, to cultivate, to conquer, and of course, to celebrate! I invite your readers to come by Metspace and take a tour or to come work for the day! We will make sure you feel right at home!

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This interview is part of our Owner Stories series. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to mark@10-twenty.com. And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.

Carolyn Auger inspires others to live healthy

Owner Stories: Carolyn Auger, Health and Wellness Entrepreneur, Pointe Claire, Quebec

Carolyn Auger is one of the easiest people to talk to. When we met over a year ago, we just seemed to hit if off and what amazed me most was her ability to listen and add value to our conversation. What spoke to me was her understanding of health issues, especially as they relate to the role of your stomach in maintaining a healthy, balanced feeling of wellness. Steve Blagrave, Carolyn’s husband, is also a friend of 10|20 Marketing. As a fitness trainer, Steve fulfills the other half of the healthy living lifestyle and, along with Carolyn, the two make a dynamic duo for those looking to keep well.

Over the last several days we’ve gone back and forth with Carolyn via email to touch on her business, keeping well during the COVID-19 lockdown and generally staying in good health. Our interview with Carolyn is below. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Also, make sure to read our Local Business Owner Spotlight series and support local businesses in any way you can while these physical distancing restrictions are in place.

Interview with Carolyn Auger, Health and Wellness Entrepreneur

10|20 Marketing: Hi, Carolyn, thank you so much for agreeing to do this. We met over a year ago and connecting through our discussion about health and wellness. Can you describe some of your basic beliefs about eating, wellness and how it all connects to feeling good?

Carolyn Auger: Hi Mark, thank you so much for inviting me. As you learned quickly when we first met, I am passionate about the importance proper nutrition has on overall health. From personal experience and being someone who used to have a poor diet filled with processed and junk food, my health began to decline in my late 20s. When I was told I had and pre-cancerous cells, then diagnosed with many “diseases” including, hypothyroidism, I knew it was time to make changes.

Through proper nutrition, supplements, and exercise, at 55, I have become the healthiest I have ever been. I no longer worry about pre-cancerous cells, my thyroid is under control with a natural supplement, I’m free from the pain and discomfort from both fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome. With more protein in my diet, I have more energy and don’t suffer from the energy lows of hypoglycaemia.

10|20 Marketing: Wow, that’s amazing Carolyn! So in what ways has this affected or changed your career path?

Carolyn Auger: It was so difficult for me to find solutions, often being offered medications. I didn’t want to go that route. I took many nutrition courses, and did my own research. I struggled for many years. Now I can help others find solutions because of my experiences. Part of my journey towards wellness, included massage therapy, exercise and nutrition, which offered me a holistic approach to my overall wellness. Although I had graduated from McGill University in Physical Education in 1988, I made a career change in 2006 and became a Registered Massage Therapist. Helping people hands on to relieve stress and pain has been extremely rewarding.

With what is going on in the world today, I feel so grateful that I had made the decision in 2012, to begin my home-based business in Health & Wellness. My different career paths combine all my passions for helping others towards overall wellness, reducing their stress and physical pain, as well as a healthier overall lifestyle. With my home-based business, we offer an amazing nutrition program, very similar to the one my naturopathic doctor had me do many years prior. I have lived through the struggles, with the positive impact of making changes in my nutrition, so I can relate to those who are suffering, and offer hope and solutions.

10|20 Marketing: So walk me through how your approach with new clients. What’s your process?

Carolyn Auger: First and foremost, I make sure that new clients have seen their medical doctor, and don’t have any underlying health issues.

It’s important that they share their story with me. I need to know what they want, or need help with. For example, I would want to know have they been diagnosed with IBS, (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), have low energy, or want to lose weight. This way we can monitor changes, because ultimately it’s not just about weight loss. People need to realize that making changes to a healthier “diet” will lead to weight loss.

To be honest although many people suffer from low energy, gas, or bloating, and may have many other symptoms, their ultimate goal is usually weight loss.

The great thing about the program we offer, is that it’s a sustainable way of eating. It’s a 30 day commitment to make healthy, mindful changes. We exchange certain foods that may be creating issues. For example, as I experienced, I used to get easily congested, and once I switched from dairy to a non-dairy milk and cheese, those symptoms went away.

It’s not about deprivation, but learning to make healthier choices to fuel the body. We incorporate supplements along with healthy, nutritious foods that enhance the body’s performance.

Diets don’t work. Healthy eating does.

10|20 Marketing: And when you talk about health, you’re talking about overall wellness too. Can you describe the products you work with, including the beauty line?

Carolyn Auger: Absolutely Mark. Once I started my business, I quickly learned that what we put on our skin is of the upmost importance to our overall health and wellness. Our mission is to offer people Healthy Living from the inside out. Our skin is the first line of defence, and what goes on our skin, gets absorbed into our body. This is why nicotine, and hormone patches work so well.

The product line is extensive and offers everything needed for every day use from baby products, makeup, hair care, body care and skincare for all types of skin. We have two flagship lines: Nutrition and Healthy Aging. In the nutrition line, the vegan protein shakes are my favourite. My husband and I drink them daily! At 55, you may guess that the “healthy” agin skin care is my other favourite. 😉

The personal care and nutrition products are PETA certified, which means certified cruelty free. This ensures that the products do not contain any animal by-products and are absolutely, NEVER tested on animals. All products are also free of harsh toxic chemicals, some of these include but are not limited to parabens, phthalates, mineral oils, paba, dyes, perfumes, and fragrances. All products are also non-gmo, as well as, free of gluten, dairy, soy, and more. I could list all 2000 toxic ingredients that are banned from the formulations in the entire product line, but you may nod off.

10|20 Marketing: Any advice for people looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle while stuck at home during the lockdown?

Carolyn Auger: While it is so difficult to be stuck at home, I highly recommend finding healthier versions of foods and treats you may love. Eating too much sugar, processed foods, drinking too much alcohol, will only lead to feeling worse. There is a huge correlation between the gut and brain. So if you are feeding your gut with unhealthy foods and drinks, it will have a negative effect on your brain. How do you want to end this quarantine? Feeling better about yourself or worse? With more confidence or less?

Right now is the perfect time to make some healthy lifestyle changes. Look for healthier recipes and make cooking fun. If you who want some extra help, with 40% off the purchase of our 30-day program nutrition kit, you will receive free coaching, along with a community of people, in a private Facebook group, to keep you accountable and encourage you. It’s affordable, simple, easy and will also provide you with healthy recipes, and help you develop habits that will continue well beyond the 30 days. It’s not about perfection, but ways to help you make small changes over time. The focus is on healthy lLiving to improve mind, body and skin. Why not give it a try?

10|20 Marketing: And what about from a physical fitness perspective?

Carolyn Auger: It’s so important to be active and move your body. Physical activity is extremely important for the immune system, mind health, and your body. We were made to move. Please don’t be afraid to be outside in the fresh air. Of course, while being extremely mindful of social distancing. However, in addition to walking or jogging, you can also make yourself a routine at home. There are so many video options to choose from. Simple exercises, like sit-ups, squats, pushups, stretches, will all help keep your muscles active, and your body feeling better. Mark, you felt the benefits and enjoyed the workouts my hubby, Steve made for you, right? This was well before we were quarantined, and they were all in the comfort of your own home. Here’s a question for you Mark, are you still doing them?

10|20 Marketing: Now you’re putting me on the spot! Short answer: no, I haven’t been. Longer answer: no, I haven’t been but should and want to. Perhaps being publicly shamed will get me back on track! I want to take this time to thank you for answering our questions, Carolyn. You’ve been a great sport. Any last comments you’d like to make?

Carolyn Auger: Thank you for being a good sport too Mark! So I guess we will have to keep you accountable. I’ll get Steve on that. I guess I could mention that if anyone is interested in my full story,  I self-published a book, With All My Heart, under a pseudonym Elizabeth McClennan.
Thanks for the opportunity to share my experiences. I am here for those in need, and wish everyone health and joy, along with the motivation and inspiration to make small changes towards a healthier lifestyle.

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This interview is part of our Local Business Owner Spotlight series. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to mark@10-twenty.com. And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.

C is for Cookie. K is for Kimberlie. And without either, we wouldn’t have The Finer Cookie.

Owner Stories: Kimberlie Robert, The Finer Cookie in Montreal, Quebec

The Finer Cookie Kitchen

We met Kimberlie Robert of The Finer Cookie at a BNI event in midtown Montreal last summer and we hit it off immediately. Kimberlie is as passionate about her business as a person could possibly be. You can see it in her eyes when she speaks about reaching and delivering special moments to people across North America. Kimberlie just adores packing her little labours of love in beautiful gift boxes and getting feedback from those who are lucky enough to have discovered her jewel of a company.

With Kimberlie in her kitchen in Montreal, we took the opportunity to have an email exchange to discuss what inspires her work and the rush she gets every time an order comes in.

Interview with Kimberlie Robert of The Finer Cookie

10|20 Marketing: Thank you for agreeing to do this with us! So let’s jump right in and get some of the more obvious questions out of the way first. When did you launch The Finer Cookie, what were its origins and why cookies?

Kimberlie Robert: I launched The Finer Cookie several years ago with the intention of creating a website that offered hundreds of wonderful cookie recipes, complete with photo tutorials and detailed explanations. I took my time with my explanations, warned of common mistakes in swapping ingredients. I understood the importance of taking beautiful photos that showed the dough’s texture and consistency, thought bakers would appreciate it and believed that brands would eat up this kind of content, as photo tutorials provided so many branding opportunities. I truly thought that I could make money by attracting brand sponsorships, advertising and specialty items – and that doing so would be simple. After all, why wouldn’t major brands be attracted to a website with beautiful photographs?

The reality is that big brands and advertisers are more interested in traffic than quality. One lucky day a colleague suggested that HE didn’t want to bake my cookies, he wanted ME to bake cookies for him to eat! I knew he was right. Cookies were just my thing. I seemed to have a knack for making delicious cookies.

10|20 Marketing: As we get to know one another, your passion for cookies is what really stands out whenever we meet or speak. So while I understand why your recipe-first site became an online cookie specialty store – for lack of a better term – I’ll ask you again. Why cookies? And, even more specifically, what is it about cookies that you love so much?

Kimberlie Robert: Why cookies? Because cookies are informal, two or three bites of sweetness. They can be shared, eaten one at a time (without ruining your regime), and made to suit any dietary requirement. Cookies don’t require a whole lot of discipline. Cookies by their naturearen’t a lot of commitment but satisfy a deep craving.

What’s important to understand about Finer Cookies is that they aren’t overly sweet or oversized (like, ahem, Costco cookies). Each cookie has its own texture and flavour profile. Yes, sugar is present, but it never will be the first flavour. Chocolate isn’t simply a dark brown cookie, but is fragrant and fudgy. Lemon remains lemony. You’ll be able to taste the difference between a pecan and a walnut. Eating three Finer Cookies at a time shouldn’t affect your blood sugar as an entire Costco cookie might.

Bottom line is that baking cookies become an ideal canvas to explore cravings, riff on tradition, and stretch across international borders.

Taking on the sugar-heavy Costco cookie, I love it! What is it about cookies that seemed like a viable business direction? 

Kimberlie Robert: Oh, that’s an easier one! Cookies certainly have mass appeal and ship with relative ease. Because they’re baked, they’re inert, not perishable, stable and don’t get caught in the web of horticultural and agricultural regulations. Weather permitting, they slide across the U.S. border very easily.

10|20 Marketing: Ok so let’s shift gears a bit and talk about the business side of things. What do you find are your biggest challenges in reaching new clients? How do you translate your passion for what you do into mass outreach, given that you’re selling cookies online?

Kimberlie Robert: Oh, my, there are several answers to this question.

At all times, I deliver the best product possible and the fastest, most responsive customer service that I can. My goal is to generate word-of-mouth. I need my customers to tell other cookie lovers about The Finer Cookie. Case in point, yesterday I spoke to a gentleman who, for the last 10 years, ordered from David Cookies (a well-known online cookie company). He told me that their chocolate chip cookie is his all time favourite. Once I learned this, I packed his box full of every cookie that included a chocolate chip. And I included a free bag of cookies. I want him to love his package and order from us for the next 10 years. I have many stories like this. One customer at a time.

Second, for as much as I want to believe I’m in the cookie business, I’m really in the gift-giving business. Finer Cookies are what friends and family send to each other. So the content across my social media and website focuses on the reasons why we send Finer Cookies. I want to convey my enthusiasm for sending gourmet cookies as a gift into the content on my social media and website. Always luxury and can’t-get-anywhere-else.

Third, our packaging also communicates my passion for the cookies we bake and ship. It’s the final statement. Or maybe the first statement since the customer initially meets our gourmet cookies at the box. The packaging tells the immediate story and sets the expectation for what they can expect to find inside.

10|20 Marketing: ok, last round! What are some of the things you do outside of work that inspire the work you do with The Finer Cookie? Can you describe the feeling you get when you see a new order come in? When you get that alert or call, how does it make you feel?

Kimberlie Robert: I admit that the line blurs between outside and inside work. I am consumed by my business. I think about it constantly. What inspires my work is seeing and experiencing the inspired work of others. Fantastic one-of-a-kind architecture. Storytelling that shows me a different perspective. Paintings that spotlight a moment that I wouldn’t otherwise have noticed.

The feeling when a new order comes in is absolutely wonderful. It shows me that there is a market for what I’m selling. I spoke to a woman this morning who loved everything about my site, everything about my menu selection. She couldn’t wait to get her cookies.

I have a project lined up for 410 boxes to be distributed at a conference – a conference about being excellent. A well known restaurant wants to place my gift boxes on their guests’ tables for dessert because the chef wanted his customers to experience the same wonderful feeling he got when he received his box through the mail. A major Canadian national company wants to send Finer Cookies to 450 of their employees.

Why all these great things? Because my cookies are wonderful. Working for customers like this – customers who get what I’m doing, justifies everything I know, everything I’ve learned, and all my skill sets. The circle is complete. It’s a feeling of wholeness.

10|20 Marketing: This is great, Kimberlie! Thank you so much for participating. We wish you nothing but the best. 

Kimberlie Robert: Thank you for including me in your series! Best of luck to you!

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This is the first in a series of Local Business Owner Spotlight posts. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to mark@10-twenty.com. And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.