How these Canadian entrepreneurs hacked the pandemic: Stories of resilience 1 year in

The COVID-19 pandemic created a year of fear, uncertainty, lockdowns and loss. But it also created resilience, and, for some, successful new business models.

These 4 people are thriving by adapting their businesses to the pandemic

M.J. Shaw had to start teaching online classes at Soul Fuel Fitness after her gym closed during the pandemic. The model has proven a success. (CBC)

The COVID-19 pandemic created a year of fear, uncertainty, lockdowns and loss. But it also created resilience, and, for some, successful new business models.

These four entrepreneurs made big changes in order to adapt, and some of them are thriving. Watch the videos to see how the pandemic started and how it's going for them.

From nylons to face masks

When lockdowns came into effect and people stopped going anywhere, Xenia Chen's Toronto-based online hosiery company, Threads, found itself in jeopardy after two years in operation.

The company switched to making masks at the suggestion of its Italian manufacturer. Chen launched them the day Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam recommended Canadians start wearing masks to prevent COVID-19 transmission. 

WATCH: Teamwork helps company transition from hosiery to masks:

Teamwork leads transition from hosiery to masks

2 years ago
Duration 0:47
Xenia Chen turned her hosiery business, Threads, into a mask business Threads Helps during the pandemic.

From wedding supplies to making masks

Rick Brink had to lay off half of his 120 employees from his wedding accessories company, Weddingstar, as events were quickly shut down.

"I've been in business for 40 years. I know that if something hits your company you've got to be able to move fast," he said. 

Within a few months the Medicine Hat, Alta., company started making masks. His staff has grown to 150 employees. 

WATCH | Switch to masks saves wedding supply business:

Switch to masks saves wedding supply business

2 years ago
Duration 0:57
Rick Brink believes Weddingstar’s shift from making wedding accessories to face masks saved the company.

From fitness classes to fitness performances

M.J. Shaw opened Soul Fuel Fitness in Toronto as an in-person experience, but six months later, the studio transformed into a fitness set for online classes.

The new business model means she can attract clients from outside her neighbourhood and membership numbers grew. Shaw plans to transition to a hybrid model when the pandemic ends. 

WATCH | Online workouts a boon for boutique fitness studio:

Online workouts a boom for boutique fitness studio

2 years ago
Duration 0:48
MJ Shaw had to move her workouts online and it's led to a membership bump at Soul Fuel Fitness.

From movement classes to moving cross-country

Working from home as a movement instructor in a one-bedroom condo in downtown Toronto with her partner and dog wasn't working for Jasmine Smilke. 

She spotted a 100-year-old home outside Digby, N.S., on Instagram and the small family moved across the country. 

WATCH | From cramped condo to spacious country home:

From cramped condo to spacious country home

2 years ago
Duration 0:59
Jasmine Smilke moved to a century-old home in rural Nova Scotia from her cramped, one-bedroom Toronto condo.

With files from Carly Thomas, Jill English and Nicole Riva

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