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Episode Guide

Episode #125 with Kay Peacy from Slick Business

Episode #124 with Marc Toews from Gateway Web AR

Episode #123 with Sherry Pratt from Sherry Pratt Health Coaching

Episode #122 with Aaron Strauss from Cache Tactical Supply

Episode #121 with Cedric Delavaud from Ludoland Regina

Episode #120 with Jasmine Patterson from BDC

Episode #119 with Jeff Harmel from Realty Executives Diversified Realty

Episode #118 with Shahzad Khoja from IBITS

Episode #117 with Kathy Sabo from QC Gifts

Episode #116 with Andrea Lo from the Toronto Dating Hub

Episode #115 with Karey Kapell from Next Level Coaching

Episode #114 with Joel Sopp from Socially Acceptable Marketing

Episode #113 with Annabel Townsend from The Penny University

Episode #112 with Cathlyn Melvin about her Tedx Coaching

Episode #111 with Corey Liebrecht from Zippity Zip Courier

Episode #110 with Quinn Nikulak from Kustom Kitties Canada

Episode #109 with Tess Boehm from Totally Tess Tradeshows

Episode #108 with Shane Chapman from the Ultimate Deck Shop

Episode #107 with Dan Celis from Tommy's Speakeatery

Episode #106 with Ann Corcoran

Episode #105 with Louise Yates & Jennifer Berg

Episode #104 with Jule Gilchrist from Cuppa'T Teas

Episode #103 with Annika Mang from TrailCollectiv

Episode #102 with Ronley Arnold from OSI-CAN Sask

Episode #101 with Susan Robertson from Susan Robertson Pottery

Episode #100 with Victor Roman from the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation

Episode #99 with Faith Alyssa Peter from Stressed Out Mamas

Episode #98 with Leah Mazur from Carousel Creative

Episode #97 with Carmen Johanson and Kimberley Baldwin from PayTrail

Episode #96 with Meg Casebolt from Love at First Search

Episode #95 with Karen Kobussen from CanBall Games

Episode #94 with Wilson Acton

Episode #93 with Carla Browne from Real Property Management Canada

Episode #92 with Donna Ziegler from South Sask Community Foundation

Episode #91 with Scott Love from Store to Door Canada

Episode #90 with Mark Heise from Rebellion Brewing

Episode #89 with Brendan McGuire from Affinity Credit Union

Episode #88 with Tyler Clark form Prairie Benefits Solutions

Episode #87 with Craig Reed from Virtus Group

Episode #86 with Daria Malin from Boost Strategic Coaching

Episode #85 with Bill Thorn form Regina Humane Society

Episode #84 with John Vuong from Local SEO Search

Episode #83 with Linda Boryski from Saskatoon PhysioYoga

Episode #82 with Tracey Poffenroth Prato from RAD Talk with Tracey

Episode #81 with Janet Kotylak, YWCA Woman of Distinction

Episode #80 Your Ultimate Guide to Get Found with Local SEO

Episode #79 with Jennifer Fox from Auto Electric Service

Episode #78 with Janet Akre and Susan Robertson from River & Rail ArtVenture

Episode #77 with Karen Smith from Better Business Bureau of Saskatchewan

Episode #76 with Julie Naismith from SubThreshold Training

Episode #75 with Josh Haugerud from Regina Folk Festival

Episode #74 with Barb Stefanyshyn-Cote from Black Fox Farm and Distillery

Episode #73 with Cory Furman from Furman IP

Episode #72 with Tracy Archer from Knight Archer Insurance

Episode #71 with Tim Nickel from Fifth Business Consulting

Episode #70 with Taylor Weisgerber from Spartan Mechanical

Episode #69 with Lisa McIntyre from The Optical Shoppe

Episode #68 with Santa Claus

Episode #67 with Kait Waugh from Fat Plant Farm

Episode #66 with Natasha Vandenhurk from Three Farmers Foods

Episode #65 with Dianne Beauchamp from PuroClean Regina

Episode #64 with Adele Buettner from AgriBiz Communications

Episode #63 with Mary Weimer from Conexus Credit Union

Episode #62 with Winter Fedyk from Silo Strategy

Episode #61 with Heather Day from C.S. Day Transport & YWCA Women of Distinction Nominee

Episode #60 with Amber Goodwyn from Regina Folk Festival & YWCA Women of Distinction Nominee

Episode #59 with Cari Bode from South Country Equipment & YWCA Women of Distinction Nominee

Episode #58 with Donna-Rae Crooks from Brain Snacks Co & YWCA Women of Distinction Nominee

Episode #57 with Michelle Grodecki from  Deaf Crows Collective & YWCA Women of Distinction Nominee

Episode #56 with Sarah Tkachuk from KPMG & YWCA Women of Distinction Nominee

Episode #55 with Dr. Sharon Leibel, YWCA Women of Distinction Nominee

Episode #54 with Doug Yaremko from Paddock Wood Brewery

Episode #53 with Madhu Kumar, YWCA Women of Distinction Nominee

Episode #52 with Eric Oelson from Mortise & Tenon Store

Episode #51 with Kim Korven from The Gentle Way Divorce

Episode #50 with Erin Vaughan from Kinetic Auto Service

Episode #49 with Lisa Brice from Brice Photography

Episode #48 with Colleen Strauch from Luther College at U of R

Episode #47 with Doug Pattison from Pattison Health

Episode #46 with Erika Gayle from Erika Gayle Photography

Episode #45 with Carly Patryluk from House of Paws Pet Boutique

Episode #44 with Erin Caleval from Erin & Associates Insurance

Episode #43 Part #2 with Nikki Jacquin from Nikki's Portraits of Childhood

Episode #43 Part #1 with Jess Tiefenbach from Stay n Play Parenting

Episode #42 with Nadene Joy from Nadene Joy

Episode #41 with Richard Arockiasamy and Sanjana Kumta from GreenMache

Episode #40 with Jodi Barrett, CEO of Kettlebell Kickboxing Canada

Episode #39 with Erin Kinder from Kinder Surprises Antiques

Episode #38 with Tanner Goetz from Munz Media

Episode #37 with Jessica McNaughton from memoryKPR

Episode #36 with Wendy Turner-Larsen from Turner Larsen Consulting

Episode #35 with Jill Poulton from Transformational Leadership

Episode #34 with Janci Templeman from Walker Wakefield

Episode #33 with Denise Anderson, Author, Divorce in a Small Town

Episode #32 with Anne Gibbons from Gibbons Travel Consulting

Episode #31 with Charlene SanJenko from PowHERhouse Media

Episode #30 with Dr. Vianne Timmons from the University of Regina

Episode #29 with Margaret Kisikaw-Piyesis, from All Nations Hope Network & YWCA Woman of Distinction

Episode 28 with Dr. Renatta Varma, Vitreo-Retinal Surgeon & YWCA Woman of Distinction

Episode 27 with Jo-Anne Dusel from PATHS & YWCA Woman of Distinction

Episode 26 with Dr. Emily Bamforth from Royal Saskatchewan Museum & YWCA Woman of Distinction

Episode 25 with Nigora Yulyakshieva from City of Regina & YWCA Woman of Distinction

Episode 24 with Pam Klein from Phoenix Group & Miriam Johnson from Saskatchewan Roughriders

Episode 23 with Gr. 5 & 6 Students from Argyle School

Episode 22 with Tiffany Wolf from Helium Communications

Episode 21 with Jeff Kinash from Peregrine Farm

Episode 20 with Charlene Oancia from Springer & Oake

Episode 19 with Dan Benesh from BarterPay Regina

Episode 18 with Prabha Mitchell from WESK

Episode 17 with Terrie Dunand from REMAX Crown Real Estate

Episode 16 with Kim Zacaruk from Stone’s Throw Coffee Collective

Episode 15 with Luke Rossmo from Luke Rossmo Music and Gareth Bawden from

Episode 14 with Kristen Hill from Kristen’s Cultures

Episode 13 with Cyndie Knorr from Cynergy Coaching

Episode 12 with Paul Burch from EchoLotto Inc.

Episode 11 with Rea Faber from Amaranth Designs

Episode 10 with Brandi Good from BLG Business Solutions

Episode 9 with Dr. Gina Grandy from Hill | Levene Schools of Business

Episode 8 with Candyce Fiessel from The Style Academy and Shear Escape Salon and Spa

Episode 7 with Michelle Strawford from Bella Chic Fashion & Decor and What Women Want

Episode 6 with Jordan McFarlen from  Conexus Business Incubator

Episode 5 with Cheryl Giambattista from Health Coach Cheryl

Episode 4 with Joanne Frederick from Prairie Centre for Mindfulness

Episode 3 with John Hopkins and Amanda Baker, Regina Chamber of Commerce

Episode 2 with Christina Carlson from Queen City Collective

Episode 1 with Sherry Knight from Dimension 11

Secret Life of Entrepreneurs on Apple Podcasts Secret Life of Entrepreneurs on Google Podcasts Secret Life of Entrepreneurs on Breaker  Secret Life of Entrepreneurs on Pocket Casts  Secret Life of Entrepreneurs on Radio Public Spotify   Secret Life of Entrepreneurs on Anchor

Karen was born an entrepreneur, but didn’t realize it until she was 45 years old when she took the leap and bought a failing business in an industry she knew nothing about and turned it around into a profitable venture with her daughter as her partner.

Since that time, Karen Kobussen has started 3 other businesses, with failures and mistakes just as common as the wins and successes, which has made for a wild roller coaster ride on her entrepreneurial journey!

It was also during this time that she realized a family member had a serious substance use problem, and she became a vocal advocate for evidence based resources that support families to move from helplessness and hopelessness, to understanding and empathy through kindness, compassion and science.

Through sheer determination, a handful of ‘ignorant bliss’ and a massive amount of willpower and fortitude, Karen creates opportunity in every moment, and tackles her life and business challenges head on… with both the wins and losses contributing to her personal growth and her humble nature.

Connect with Karen at Canball Games:
LI @kkobussen
Tw @KarenKobussen
FB @karen.kobussen
IG @karenkobussen


Barb 0:01
Our guest today is a born entrepreneur, but she didn’t realize it until she was 45 years old when she took a leap and bought a failing business in an industry she knew nothing about. She turned that business around and made it profitable with her daughter as her partner. Since that time, Karen Kobussen has started three other businesses with failures and mistakes, just as common as the wins and successes, which has made it a roller coaster ride on her entrepreneurial journey.

Barb 0:34
It was during that time that she realized she had a family member with a serious substance abuse problem. And she became a vocal advocate for evidence-based resources that support families to move from helplessness, and hopelessness to understanding and empathy through kindness, compassion and science. Through sheer determination, and a handful of ignorant bliss, as well as a massive amount of willpower and fortitude, Karen created opportunity in every moment and tackled her life and business challenges head on, both with the wins and losses contributing to her personal growth, and the growth of her businesses. With all of that, welcome, Karen, such a pleasure to have you here. Oh, hi, Barb.

Karen 1:31
Thanks for having me.

Barb 1:33
It’s an absolute pleasure. So you do have to kind of start with the story. Three businesses since the age of 45. And because I can see you right now, but no one else can. I’m guessing that 45 was about six months ago. So you’ve been busy for the last six months.

Karen 1:49
Yeah. Thanks, girl. So cute. Um, yeah, no, it was a few years ago. Um, it’s actually crazy how time flies like when you just said that? And I’m like, man, it does feel like six months ago. But it and that roller coaster have been just to go on ever since. So yeah, it’s been a few years. But wow, what a ride.

Barb 2:10
Exactly. So tell us a little bit about each of the businesses. I of course know Kanwal because we’ve had a chance to talk about Kanwal before. But let’s give everyone else just a really broad landscape for the businesses that you’re involved with.

Karen 2:23
Yeah, I think so. I’ll maybe just go in chronological order. That’s kind of the easiest thing to do. Yes. So I actually used to live in Regina. I live in Saskatoon now. And I was working on a contract for a company down there back in the 2000. And aughts. I don’t know how everyone says that about 2005-2006. Okay. And a girlfriend of mine invited me out to Regina beach for the weekend, and I had never been there. And I thought, oh, man, that would be so much fun.

Karen 2:50
But honestly, we’re gonna get a little personal here today, Barb, I hope that’s okay. Yeah, absolutely good. And anyway, she invited me out to the beach for the weekend. And I thought, oh, man, that would be so fun. But so here I had a little problem personally, I have kind of really weird chicken skin on my legs. I’ve always called it my chicken skin.

Karen 3:12
Okay, and so I had a really hard time shaving my legs, even as a tean youth in a team. And I was very, very, very self conscious about that always my whole life very, very, I lacked so much confidence in my ability to wear shorts or a bathing suit, and I just almost never did. Okay, so anyway, that’s how this whole story gets started. And yep, kind of interesting.

Karen 3:36
So, my coworker said, Oh, my goodness, I said, I can’t go. And I sort of told her why such, you know, very sheepishly, and she said, Have you ever been sugared? And I said, I don’t even know what you’re talking about. Yeah. What is that? Yeah. And she just didn’t even let me answer. She picked up the phone. She called her girl who sugars which I had no idea. Yeah. And made me an appointment right then and there and said, basically, you’re coming with us go get go see this girl right now. Yep.

Karen 4:08
So I’m okay. So like half an hour later, I have this appointment, I jump in my car and drive to east Vic I get into this place. And this girl picks up this big gooey glob of paste. And she places it on my leg. And she kind of rubs it in and then she kind of pulls it off and all the hair is gone.

Barb 4:30
I just happened

Karen 4:31
It was such a cathartic moment. I almost started to cry. I was like what is happening right now and why am I just finding out about this? Yeah, now. So that was my first experience with sugaring.

Karen 4:46
I was so blown away and like literally the confidence in my appearance and my body came back instantly Barb it was oh, I believe it. It was bonkers. Yep, so anyways, so that was in 2006 I continue to get sugared. In Regina for a couple years, I was actually driving from Saskatoon to get sugared in Regina when I moved back because I couldn’t find anyone here.

Karen 5:12
So then finally I said to my girl in Regina, Hey, can you find me someone in Saskatoon that does this with this particular brand. And so she did her research and she said, yeah, here’s a girl’s number called the girl up. So now we’re in about 2008. Can I meet a girl here in Saskatoon, I start getting sugared. And then, and I’m like, her biggest fan, right? And I’m telling everyone, Italy. Yeah. And I helped, like, so I had a lot of business experience, just from my work. I was working with the industry association, membership based Industry Association. And so, um, you know, just talking to people, I’m a natural extrovert.

Barb 5:52
I can’t tell it all actually.

Karen 5:54
just came very naturally to me if you can believe it, but yet on the inside, I was super self conscious of confident body shape, you know, ashamed person. So this really helped me and I thought we are doing so much more here and just this treatment, this service. Like it honest to God, it just blew me away. And that’s what so that’s why I said when I sent you some of those little points for that introduction. Yeah. Like, I mean, the minute it happened to me, I’m like, Oh, my God, who needs to know about this? How can I help? How are we growing this? And it wasn’t even my business.

Barb 6:33
Yes, exactly. At least not at that point in time. Exactly. Yeah.

Karen 6:38
So the girl who had been sugaring here, um, she, she wanted to open her own salon. So I was like, Yeah, I’ll help you like, what do you need? What do you need? What do you need? So, you know, just making connections sourcing supply chains, doing different things like that for her doing some social media back in the day, which was completely different.

Barb 7:01
Changed last week, never mind if it was a year ago. Yep.

Karen 7:05
Yeah. So she started her business in about 2012-13. Somewhere in there. And then all of a sudden, probably within about two years. She got married, she got pregnant, she got divorced. And oh, the personal upheaval of her personal life at that point in time. She just couldn’t manage it all anymore. Yes, exactly.

Karen 7:26
And her business started to fail. And I didn’t want to see that happen because I was such a disciple. Yes. So in 2016 while my daughter then I said you should learn how to do this. I think that you’d be really good at it. And she did. And she was okay, so I had her. I still have my friend even though she kind of wanted an exit strategy. And I bought her business for $10

Barb 7:50
Oh my goodness. Oh my Wow.

Karen 7:55
Right. And what I didn’t realize is it was in a big place and it was so deep into debt. Yeah. I bought all the assets and all the liabilities, okay. And, and I thought, Oh my God, what did you? What have you done? Yeah, what have you done? You’ve literally set yourself up to go bankrupt. Oh, my goodness.

Barb 8:15
Okay. And so did she have a physical space store front or just inventory?

Karen 8:23
Yep. Huge space full service salon. You know, everything: hair, Pedi, Mani, massage, laser, like everything ever. Okay, so So but I mean, I didn’t go into it blindly. I looked at the books. And it was kind of interesting her income statement for I think that would have been her fourth or fifth year in business. But it was like pedicures zero. Medicare’s zero gel nails zero. Then it was like sugaring at $85,964. And I was like, I know, right? I know. So I just knew it was just inside me. It absolutely was the thing. The thing that Brilli busted me out of my shell was yes. Skin for the first time. Mm hmm. I can’t even explain to people how that felt.

Barb 9:25
Why and you I have a hard time imagining it because I’ve never tried sugaring to me, it’s just a bunch of goop that’s gonna pull the hair off and like her like wax, so I can think

Karen 9:39
And so the other thing that when you spoke in your, in your intro about that creating opportunity, you know, that that’s just another thing that’s very natural to me. So we, so I just look at her books, and I look at the place she’s at and don’t think that I ripped her off by paying $10. She still worked with me. Okay. You know, I mean of our X number of clients, you know, 90% We’re still her clients.

Barb 10:05
Right? Exactly. Oh, plus you actually bought her all of her liabilities and her debt. Right. And so she was debt free and died. Yes, that’s a huge value right there. So

Karen 10:16
and you know, it was a little bit of a little bit. It was certainly probably more than generous, but it was just a burning thing inside me that I just wanted. I basically needed to share this experience with everyone in Saskatchewan.

Barb 10:34
Exactly. Well, let’s get back to that business. I don’t mean to cut you off. Let’s come back to that one. But let me tell you about the other two as well.

Karen 10:41
Yes. So I was feeling pretty good about myself back then. And, um, my. So almost at the same time, my husband and I decided, so my husband had been in the printing industry for 30 years, okay. And we knew that that was kind of dying. And his company had come to him and said, hey, you know, we, we don’t know how long, much longer you’re gonna be here. We’d like to retrain you in something. Oh, so you have a suit? Because, you know, we weren’t that old. Right? We were like, yeah, like, in our late 40s. Okay. Uh, yeah. So, we thought about what we want to do? And we’ve seen some, we’re, we’re collectors of things and stuff like neat. Like

Barb 11:27
sports collect art, okay. Yep.

Karen 11:30
Well, when you hear the business, you’ll understand what we do. So we ended up buying a laser engraving machine. Okay, so we have a laser engraving business. So this machine is massive. I always joke that, you know, 45, 48, 50 people are buying both quads.

Barb 11:51
You guys bought an engraver?

Karen 11:51
And I’m like, Yeah, but just your boat and your quad. Does that pay you back? Exactly. make you any money?

Barb 12:00
Yep. Yeah, exactly.

Karen 12:02
And so you know, yep. So we bought a laser engraving machine. And then my husband actually went down to Texas to learn it. And because that’s where they’re manufactured. And just learn, learn, learn, like it was just all this learning curve. Like, for me in my real first business with the with, with the salon and the sugaring side, and then my husband and the laser, so we both got into businesses we knew nothing about okay.

Karen 12:28
But it was just this opportunity in this passion. And so the things that we can make on a laser engraving machine, like coasters, and we can engrave coffee cups, so now everyone in my whole entire circle of friends has, you know, an engraved travel mug.

Barb 12:48
Yeah. So like a coffee like ceramic or coffee, like stainless steel.

Karen 12:53
Like yeah, like a, like a powder coated like a blue God, tumbler, you know, for water bottles and whatever. So just funny things on them and whatever. So we started off with that. And we didn’t really know how to sell it and we didn’t really know what we were gonna do. But then what happened was, so I have this full service storefront, salon okay. 5000 square feet. It was ridiculous. And I’m slashing everything. Like everything is gone. Yep. So we had a spa room, a pedicure room and this big space and we put our laser engraver in there. Yep. So okay, cool. Now, we’re all one big happy family. It was a lot of happy family time there.

Barb 13:39
No sarcasm at all in those statements.

Karen 13:45
And, yeah, so the laser engraving, so then, you know, everything just progressed. On the sugaring side, I reached out to the brand that we represent Alexandria professional, okay. And I had gone into contact with the CEO of that company. And she was absolutely delightful. And then we and then I became a distributor. Okay, yeah. So now I have a western Canadian distribution. My daughter became an educator and actually flew to New York every year and, and the CEO of the company trained her to teach because it’s not easy to do.

Barb 14:21
No, not having the skill is one thing. To have the skill to teach is another thing. Totally. Yep. And so that’s where your course came from. Because you actually have a course that came out of the work that your daughter does as an educator as well. Right, right.

Karen 14:37
Yes. So we offer training, we offer distribution, wholesale distribution, and the neat thing about that is, as we train more people we train, we are training our customers, because we’re very brand aligned, okay. And because there is a difference in the formula There’s lots of lots of different products on the market. But it’s kind of like the difference between going to, you know, a beauty supply or your hairdresser, right and buying that shampoo, as opposed to going to Walmart and buying that shampoo.

Barb 15:14
Right. Okay. Right.

Karen 15:15
So we obtained the distribution, we have the education. We have Western Canada from Manitoba West. And so we do. Yeah, so we train people in this. And what we do, though, it’s so cool, because what we do is, especially during COVID, we’re helping people who may just want a side hustle. Yep, it’s extra money, they can do it at home, they can set up a neat little space. In a spare room. We’re helping women, that feeling of gaining that confidence. Yeah. Is what we try to instill in every single person that we train.

Barb 15:51
Exactly. Yeah, it’s absolutely huge. And, you know, the beauty industry has come a long way in terms of how women are portrayed. But there is still one hell of a long way to go. Because you don’t see a single magazine in a stand when you’re checking out for your groceries. That shows a middle aged woman who’s you know, carrying that spare tire and, you know, has lines cuz she hasn’t slept decent for a week. You don’t see that?

Karen 16:22
And my thing is always do chin hair, girl. Oh, we all have them. Yeah, come and see us. We’ll help you. I promise you. This is who we work on. We have significantly increased our male clientele.

Barb 16:38
Oh, that’s dragging chests.

Karen 16:41
We do their ears. Eyebrows. nape nose. Men’s noses. How

Barb 16:48
Do you know and know? You just

Karen 16:50
sugar. Oh, girl, I have no sugar. It’s fantastic. It doesn’t even hurt.

Barb 16:55
Oh my god. Okay. Yeah. Okay, so there was a third business, the teaching or is there still? Of course, no. I know. The third business. Yeah,

Karen 17:05
So that’s all under one umbrella. Okay, we did the sugaring got that all going? Got out of debt. It was a good day when that happened. Yeah, I believe in your engraving machine. But now. So we got rid of that space, that big, huge space. Okay.

Karen 17:18
And now we got to take the laser engraving machine home. So we’re a home based business? Yep. You know, it’s not the most ideal situation. Then, and through it all, as I mentioned earlier, I’m dealing with my other daughter, having some substance use issues, and having to, like, drop everything, to, to find her or to help her out of a situation she may have gotten herself in.

Karen 17:48
And you know, that’s really where and then plus sort of discovering new, different evidence based approaches to substance use and how to do it differently. So I’m learning all this. I’m growing this business and trying to get out of debt. But I got my but here’s the thing all along, too. So I have my daughter, I have my husband, and I have my dad. And I have my step mom, right. And everyone is coming along. And what do you need? What do you need? What do you need? Like, just picking up so and that wasn’t even like, planned? And that’s also part of that roller coaster where, you know, there were just some of the lowest days in those early days. And it was like, what am I done? Like, what? What have I got myself into? Yeah, why? Karen, you left a $100,000 a year job? To do what?

Barb 18:50
Yep, exactly like to run around like a chicken with your head cut off. But have more fun than you had ever had the entire time. You were in a corporate role. I’m guessing. Yeah.

Karen 19:03
I can have fun in a prison town. So there’s a little bit of that. Okay. However, I think I have the ability to share my vision. And my vision is my vision now, right? And to share that vision, share that opportunity, share the synergies that I want to create with other people. That’s really where it was right. Okay.

Karen 19:28
Then I also have the times where I’m like, curled up in the fetal position in the bathroom crying, because I’m like, can I make my mortgage payment this month? Yeah. And that’s very real. Right. And I think and I think entrepreneurs need to hear that new entrepreneurs, especially, I think, I think you need to know that when you’re backed into a corner.

Karen 19:51
It doesn’t mean you have to, you know, drop down into that corner and stay there. You just need to start thinking around the things that are holding you there. And think of it thinking out thinking out thinking, oh, yeah, so anyway, so then. So deal with all that kind of get this kind of, I think kinda because it’s never, you know,

Barb 20:11
never, always changing. Yeah, it’s

Karen 20:13
always changing. It’s always moving forward. And I got to kind of get things to a place like, okay, we can breathe now you can breathe, right? Then I got in 2020, not COVID related. I got crazy sick. I of course did not go to the hospital for, I don’t know, six days probably should have done that a little bit sooner. Okay. And when I get to the hospital, they are like, Oh, you need to have surgery immediately. And I had four surgeries and ended up having to remove my colon. Oh, wow. And I was in the hospital for 27 days during COVID. So no, but honestly, girl, it was really peaceful.

Barb 21:07
Why did they take your technology? Wait, how can that possibly be peaceful? No colon in surgery COVID. happening? How can I…

Karen 21:15
because there were no visitors. There were no visitors allowed? Oh, I suppose Yep. Right. And I couldn’t go out. Like for the first couple days I was there before they did the app started to do the actual couple surgeries that they did to me, I could I could still manage to get myself outside so people could come visit. And we would sit outside and visit it in the middle of summer. It was beautiful outside. But after that it was nothing. So like three weeks no people. And honestly, I didn’t. I didn’t think about my business really once.

Barb 21:46
Oh, wow. What a relief that must have felt like to be able to walk away. And I presume your daughter kept it going and your husband kept it going. And yeah.

Karen 22:00
And here’s the thing with CanBall. So CanBall Okay, so so just literally two months before that happened yet we I ended up going to or there’s our family is also huge, huge, huge sports fans. Like we literally have two TVs in our garage and we’re, you know, screen and screen watching two or three different games at a time and streaming one on the computer and whatever. And the baseball season was canceled.

Barb 22:31
Oh, yeah, it would have been okay. Yeah. 2020. Right.

Karen 22:33
So we were devastated. And I looked at our laser engraving machine. And I was like, oh, no, I know what happened. Someone tagged us in a Facebook post. And there was this version, this homemade baseball game on an old cutting board. Yes, stick-ins for batters and marbles for marking the score and I and someone’s akitas to better can you make this nicer? And I was like, Of course we can. Yeah.

Karen 22:57
And so we came up with CanBall. Okay, and we posted it in a private Facebook group in April of 2020. After we had done a few iterations of the design, we sold like 65 across Canada. Yep. And we were like, Man, this is awesome. So we worked on the design, I thought, well, maybe we should do something with this.

Karen 23:17
So that was April 2020. May 2020. I reached out to marketing guy No. And I’m like, hey, what do you think of this? And he goes, That’s awesome. Let’s do all the things and stuff. Yeah. And then in June I got sick. And then I’m in the hospital till July. So Campbell took a very slow entry into the world. Exactly that baby that you’re in like 40 hours labor with.

Barb 23:40

Karen 23:42
And then I went on to 2021. So we did very well in 2020. Without any real packaging without any real marketing strategy without any financing. We bootstrapped the whole entire thing. And then in 2021, I got connected with st at the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority and was invited to become part of their love local box. And then I went on to present at the Go money pitch competition, which I won.

Barb 24:13
Awesome. Oh, God Powerball that.

Karen 24:16
I came in second, but I still think I won because of 80 applicants. I came in second. Okay, so that’s a win. Yeah. And from that, we just got a ton of exposure and now we’re heading into 2022 and we’re ramping up for hopefully baseball season the players are locked out again this year, which might actually be good for us again, because if there’s no baseball and we might sell

Barb 24:38
directly, then you sell a ton of baseballs.

Unknown Speaker 24:40
Exactly opportunity, all the opportunity. Exactly. Oh my God. And that brings us up to today.

Barb 24:48
You seem to have a very unique ability to see opportunity. For some people. They have to see it on a piece of paper the numbers have to jive, but you really have that gut instinct ability to see an opportunity. So can you talk to me a little bit about, you know, what does that feel like? How do you maybe refrain yourself? And sometimes it doesn’t go as planned. So let’s have that conversation too.

Karen 25:18
Yeah, good point, you know, it is very difficult to have just to see things, the potential and the possibility and the future of things. And honestly, Barb, I’m just a person who believes that, when you see the future, you can create that. Right. So what you’re seeing are things that are like, Oh, we could take this, and we could go here, and we’ll just make it happen. Like, it’s just not a question for me. And that is not very well received by many people. And it’s been especially challenging in my world. Because the people that I work with are my family.

Barb 26:04
Oh, yeah, that adds a whole new complexity, doesn’t it? Right.

Karen 26:08
So I get a lot of Oh, Karen, you’re so extra. And, okay, that’s never going to happen. And right. And I and I love my people don’t get me wrong, but it absolutely. Is. There, it can be a wall. And it’s not because they’re doing it on purpose. They just don’t see it. Yeah. Right. That makes sense. Yeah. So I still get carried away. Often, and you know what, that’s why it feels very inauthentic to me to not

Barb 26:44
be carried away and have a big picture. So who brings you back? Your parents, your daughter, your husband, who pulls Karen back?

Karen 26:51
Um, I don’t think they pull me back. I don’t allow that to happen as much as they just like, throw a wall up in front of me. Okay. Yeah. And there are so many variables. Like, I think my daughter now of all of the people so yeah, like, my dad’s just kind of a grouchy old man. Um, but he gets it.

Karen 27:14
He doesn’t really pull me back. He kind of shoots me this look, you know, like the dad look. Yeah. Yeah. Like the eyebrow kind of goes up. And he was just kind of under his breath. Yeah. Hello, grant. And then I’m like, man, you’re smart. You can do it. Yeah. Because my dad actually designs all of our games for cannonball. So we don’t. Yeah, we have a football game.

Karen 27:35
And we have a golf game in prototype right now. And my dad’s actually the one who will play baseball. It’s just the game of baseball on a board. So it is yeah, there’s nothing there. But for football and golf, there’s nothing like it on the market at all. Okay, you’re nothing. So my dad designs all that gameplay and he is a master at tournaments like setting up because we have like a family golf tournament and all different kinds of keys a master like setting up like round robin play. And then, you know, a side wins and beats like, that’s his job. Wow. So if I have a crazy idea and vision, he’ll grunt and groan and give me the dad look. But what he’ll do, he’ll, he’ll try to get there.

Barb 28:18
Exactly. As soon as you plant the seed that I bet his wheels start spinning. And he’s like, Okay, I gotta figure this out. Right. So yeah, I can see where that comes from.

Karen 28:28
Yeah. And my daughter is the one that’s okay. She calls me Karen. She’s called me Karen since like, she was six. I don’t know, I think it makes me think it made her feel cool. Back in the day. And actually, we meet people now. Or we see people now that we’ve come in contact with in the past, they’re like, Oh, my God, I didn’t know you guys. That was your mom. Like, they just think that we’re friends.

Karen 28:52
But anyway, she has gotten better at kind of letting me have that. You know, that wide open ability to just talk things out and see things through. And then when she’s in the mood, I guess it’s a good point. Um, and then my husband, he’s just, he’s not really visionary. He’s the operations guy. He’s the maker of things. So once so on the CanBall side and the laser engraving side. You know, once I have an idea, or what my dad has no idea. He will sit very quietly and very patiently and bless his soul. We I don’t know, I don’t know. I think you work with your husband too Barb.

Barb 29:32
I do. Yes. Yep. its ups and downs. And yep.

Karen 29:38
Yeah. And I learned a long time ago. I’m just like, Karen, I need to just you need to walk away and let him work. Because we work at different paces. We work in different ways. He has a different method. I would be like Boom Boom Boom. Yeah. And I just know that if I want the quality of work that he’s able to produce, we leave each other alone. So it’s all been a learning curve. And believe me in the beginning It was not this pleasant.

Barb 30:02
Yeah, it’s not no, in the beginning, you’re learning how you fit in a whole new way. Yeah, marriage was ever invented to fit. And then you kind of get a groove and something changes in the business. And so you’re feeling some stress, or maybe you’re feeling too comfortable, or like everybody just starts to flex their muscle.

Barb 30:24
Because in the workplace, you know, maybe you had somebody who helped you, or, you know, maybe you had a real boss that you reported to? Well, when you’re just working together, there is no boss. And so who makes what decisions? And how does stuff get done? So an entirely new world, and, you know, I kind of believe at this point, if you can build a house, build a business and stay married, like, pretty damn good nowadays. And I like each other, like still like each other talk to each other, you know, want to be seen in public?

Karen 31:01
Yes. You know, that’s interesting, when you said that about having a boss and, and, you know, I have always said to people, you always kick the crap uphill, right? Whenever I was in, in my previous line of work, I was basically almost in charge, but I still had a boss, and then my boss reported to the Board. So but I would always tell people, if you have a problem with somebody, you just say Karen said, right, I had no problem taking that heat, that flack that concerns that complaint, whatever it was, and I still don’t, but the difference is, you’re right. I don’t have anyone I can’t Oh, can you just blame? Can you take it up with it? That guy’s No, it’s me. Yeah. Clearly said, Oh, yeah. So I gotta stick by that. And it’s a very challenging environment, like you said, when you work with family? Because, you know, you’re not their boss. I mean, I might, kind of but I’m really not, we’re partners more than that. So yeah, you know, I will have to say, though, on the flip side of that, you can’t just fire them?

Barb 32:12
No, I know, you have to work it out. Exactly. You have to figure out, again, how you fit because you each bring strengths. And whatever the the two of you are missing, you have to fill in the gaps with either other family members, people, you hire, whatever that looks like,

Karen 32:33
right. And that is probably the single biggest growth. I used to think I had a problem communicating with people after not doing my job, I was like, not I’m, I’m the boss, I hire people who are better at what they do. Like, right. So if I hire a marketing person, yes, because I don’t, I’m not doing it. I’m not micromanaging you. I trust that you’re an expert in your field. And you’re going to do the marketing. Exactly. Right. Yeah.

Karen 32:58
But when you then you have your own business. And you and you know, you can’t afford I can’t afford to hire all. Oh, all the people that I had working for me at my job. Totally. Yep. So now I become that person who has made, you know, I’ve made so many mistakes. But it’s, and this really sounds cliche, that Oh, but you learn from your mistakes. Well, no, but you really do. Mm hmm. Right. Yeah. But they’re still failures, and they still hurt. Yeah. And they can still be embarrassing, and they can still make people mad at you.

Barb 33:34
Right? It can make customers mad. Yeah, it’s financial losses for the business, suddenly, they have a very different impact when it’s your business. Right. And that’s, I think, one of the interesting dynamics when you have spouses, because one person might make the decision, but you’re both going to feel it.

Barb 33:52
And suddenly, that’s the family bank account, not just, you know, one person’s check or the other person’s check. Right? And so, like, how do you guys manage that? How are you? How do you make these decisions? Understanding that, you know, there’s always a risk of failure? Maybe you develop a new game? Maybe you do something with your online course, whatever it might be? How do you manage those failures?

Karen 34:19
You know, I, honestly I would I, I’m going to go back to what I see as the future and the possibilities, that is that I’ll just create that right. And I strongly believe and I’m not saying this to be like an egomaniac or pat myself on the back.

Karen 34:37
But I strongly believe that a number of the failures have occurred when I have stepped down or away because of so when I come up against that wall of Karen, you’re so extra oh my god, that’ll never happen. That’s not even possible. Right. So then I stepped back and I let myself believe that Yep. And that typically has been the time of failure. Ah, yeah. Okay.

Karen 35:05
So if I, it, you know, in retrospect, because obviously I analyze every day, okay, what, what? Not every day, but you know how this year how are we doing six months, whatever. What did we do last year with this? What did we do last year with that? And I’m always looking for that opportunity and I’m always creating the path to get there. Yeah.

Karen 35:29
And when I haven’t listened to my true self, when I haven’t listened to my heart and my mind, and my gut, yeah, that’s where shit goes off the rails. Okay. Yeah, like. But I also have to be cognizant of the fact that not everyone’s going to agree with me. My way is not the only way. Yep.

Karen 35:56
And I have to respect that of other people. But I think we’ve, it’s a balance, it really is. It’s about balance. It’s about me, like, like, I learned now, that if I see something, and I’m like, Oh, that’s a great idea. I’m gonna just I’m gonna, I’m not going to tell you guys like, I’m just gonna go put a few feelers in the other direction. Yeah, right. Yeah. So. So I need to, it’s I don’t know, it’s like, it’s trial and error it is. And, um, but I’ve learned that I’ve learned when to push forward, when to maintain status quo, and when to actually retreat a little bit. Yeah.

Karen 36:37
But I also know that for my own sense of purpose, and value and authenticity, that I’m not a retreat person, so I’m going to move forward, but I’m just going to maybe go a different way and not to upset the egg cart, if that makes sense.

Barb 36:52
No, that makes perfect sense. So have you by going through that process? Do you find that you’ve really learned what every one style is? And what I mean by that is, when we make decisions in our business, my expertise lies in the marketing area.

Barb 37:11
And so I will often say we need to do this, we need to that Dion doesn’t care. He doesn’t care what we do. If he trusts me that if I say we need to do x, then we go and do that. His style is much different. He will stop, pause, contemplate research, and just think about it for a period of time that drives me batty. I’m looking to just make a decision and let’s go. Yeah, right. Yeah. So have you seen that in your family where everybody’s got their own style? And they need to get there in their own time?

Karen 37:51
Um, oh, definitely. We, you know, we wouldn’t be where we were if, if, if we had all just decided that we couldn’t, that we just hate each other’s guts, and we couldn’t work together.

Karen 38:03
And, you know, we would have just folded everything right. So that in and of itself is a testament to how we can work together and how we can share the common vision. But like I said, it’s not all happy go lucky roses. And, you know, yeah, off the moms like it’s, it’s hard work, man. It is hard.

Karen 38:30
And it doesn’t even matter about family like everyone brings their own special unique value to our our, our collective many businesses. I am not a sugaring practitioner. I am not a sugaring educator. Yep. I can’t do any of that. But my business is based on teaching other people to sugar so that I can sell more products.

Barb 38:52
Right? Exactly right. And that’s so when you look at everything you’re doing from a business perspective, the engraving and cannonball, like that all kind of fits together. And then sugaring and your daughter and educating that kind of fits together. So in some ways, you’ve created businesses that, you know, we’ll continue to support you know, that second and third generation whether they decide to, you know, keep the cannonball piece once your husband’s not able to do the engraving, that’s a whole different thing. But, you know, you’ve got two very distinct like, there’s, there’s no crossover between these two businesses.

Karen 39:32
No, other than we’re all related. And again, going, you know, back to the time, I was very passionate about sugaring, just from a confidence perspective, and that’s what I wanted to share. And then on the laser engraving side, that was just what my husband thought, hey, that would be cool.

Karen 39:52
And we got an opportunity to get some training paid for. So you know, we kind of fell into them almost accidentally. Exactly. but it’s the ability to see that opportunity and see what the potential could be. I actually, this year, one of my I know, it’s also cliche. One of my New Year’s resolutions was, I want to work with a coach, ah, because I don’t when I do get extra, or when I do if my daughter listens to this, she’s gonna be like, Karen, I don’t sound like that.

Barb 40:30
Oh, God, don’t worry anybody to my podcast, he knows me, they’re

Karen 40:34
gonna share the crap out of this thing. But anyway, uh, so I decided, You know what, I need someone. And it’s a good point you make about when you’re in a work environment, and you have a boss and the name of whatever, but you have someone also lifting you up. Right.

Karen 40:54
And so that is also where like, again, the lowest of lows in this entrepreneurial journey and personal journey over the last number of years. Yep. The highest of highs, but the lowest of lows, like I’ve never experienced before in my life. Yeah. And, um, who’s there? I don’t have a boss, like, who’s there to come to me and say, You’re a valued member of our team. And we need you and you are this and this and this. And this. And I don’t really need that kind of coddling. But honestly, when you’re late, like I said, when you’re lying on the bathroom floor curled up in the fetal position, crying, it would be nice to have someone come in and say, You’re doing a good job.

Barb 41:34
Yep, come on. And you know what, you know, what I would add to that is, it’s one thing to have a supervisor say that to you and support you. But it’s another thing to have a team to have a team around you so that when you fall down, they can pick up the pieces.

Barb 41:50
Because when you were in hospital, it stopped. Yeah, when you do something else, it stops. And so that’s, that’s one of the most, I don’t know, frustrating, challenging, stimulating even aspects of owning a business. What if I stop? What if I can’t? Right? And if your whole business hinges on you, a huge risk and a huge pressure on each of us? Very much. Yeah. So have you guys had that conversation? Because that brings a whole new level of failure, possibly, you know, to the

Karen 42:31
Yeah, for sure. I mean, succession planning is always top of mind, especially after I got sick, like, didn’t really know the outcome, prognosis, whatever. I have always been interesting enough, my whole life has been very, very much I’ve been involved in professional personal development type of things. Never had a coach, though, this is a new experience for me.

Karen 42:51
So I’m very excited. But I’m just, you know, on leadership development, business planning, I’ve been a member of tech Canada for a little while. That was an amazing experience. And the one thing that has always stuck out to me in all of the years that I have listened and learned and, you know, researched and done all that, a fellow said once. Leadership plus leverage equals legacy. And l three, leadership plus leverage equals legacy. Yep.

Karen 43:27
And for that, I almost could not start this business or go into this business. Just for myself. It had to be about even if I had to bring everyone with me. Yeah. Because exactly for the reason you just said. It. I’m not doing this. So it just ends one day, you know? Yep. I’m doing it. And you know what? It might morph. But what if we sell Campbell? What if we sell it to Hasbro? Oh, do you know anything about Hasbro? Can you just call them up and be like, Oh my God, my girlfriend invented this.

Barb 44:05
Yeah, exactly. You have to see this! Yep.

Karen 44:09
You know, but like, so there’s always that kind of stuff. But it’s always about, everyone’s got to come along for the ride. And if you’re not alone for the ride, then you know, then you’re probably then you’re not. I love you. You’re part of my family, but you just maybe don’t. This isn’t your gig.

Karen 44:26
But the sugaring was always about my daughter, the laser engraving was always about my husband and the CanBall was always about the whole family. Yeah, so yeah. But um and leveraging who you know, resources who do you know who can help you with this?

Karen 44:44
Look at what SREDA had done with what I had done in the SREDA last year, not just me. There were a number of entrepreneurs involved in both projects, the love local box and the Go money pitch competition. You know, Have you ever seen a video of the winning if you ever look at it, so it’s neat.

Karen 45:04
So I, the guy that won first place, was so cute. And I was like, so there’s mean him standing. And I felt like I was at the Miss America Pageant. Like, where did he announce the runner up and then you just automatically know that the other person won. And then he got first place, but I got second place, but I grabbed him and hugged him and I was just like, oh my god, I’m screaming and crying. And he’s like, he was like a little well, he has a PhD first of all, he’s a very brilliant man. Yeah. Possibly from you know, maybe like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or something. And I could just look at his face when I saw the video. I’m just like, he’s looking at me going okay, crazy white lady like,

Barb 45:46
and I’m just thinking to myself, hey, wait a second. That means I won, come you’re celebrating he’s thinking you’re confused.

Karen 45:53
Yes. So you know, again, ups and downs, craziness, this and that. Just probably enough to make you puke. Somedays. But then enough to make you like, you know, want to just pop champagne and light fireworks, like, honest to God, it has been the craziest ride of my life this last like almost 10 years. And okay, bring. What’s What’s tomorrow? Let’s do it tomorrow. Now, let’s do it again. No,

Barb 46:21
good. Okay, so believe it or not, we’re out of time for our back to back episode we’ve already done to 25 minute episodes. And so here’s what I do think is you need to tell everyone who’s listening, how they find all of your businesses if they want to get a mortgage triggering if they want to understand CanBall. So give us the coordinates and tell us how to find all these businesses?

Karen 46:43
You bet. So for sugaring, we do have sugaring practitioners all over Western Canada. So the best way to look that up is to go to Okay, that’s our website for that, that also has all the details about education and our educators. And you can see some contact information there. And you can call me from wherever you live. And I will find you someone.

Karen 47:06
And then for CanBall, we have an online store, you can take a look at that. And think that videos on there of me crushing the winner of the SREDA thing, and that is Okay, and some pretty cool information there.

Karen 47:22
And, yeah, we have a laser engraving business, but we don’t really advertise. But if you need a coffee mug made, or somehow something else, you can just reach out to me through one of those other platforms, and we’ll come up with something real fun.

Barb 47:34
Okay, that sounds awesome. So, you can actually order online and you guys ship it throughout North America or through Canada,

Karen 47:42

Barb 47:43
Okay. So shipping throughout, and shipping is just added to the price, right on your website. And having played the game. So I told Karen the story. We got the game for our birthday. And we left it sitting on our counter. So you can imagine we’re a family of four, and we’ve got this kitchen island. And we just left it sitting there as we played. And so we would walk by in the morning when we’re having breakfast and we’d play an inning.

Barb 48:11
And we come back at lunch and we play another inning and we’d sit down at the table for a while and we play a couple innings. So it was like this process that happened over a number of days. And my son got totally ticked off because I was kicking his ass and he didn’t like that. Nobody, all those years of baseball apparently pay off even though I’m just rolling a dice, right? So it’s just that’s how the dice rolls.

Karen 48:35
It’s super fun, super simple. It is. They do get real mad when they lose, but then just play another game. Exactly.

Barb 48:43
And the beauty was like, it is just the game of baseball. And it’s so hard to wrap your head around. It’s like your tea, but it’s baseball and it really is. So anyway, here’s my testimonial. Totally, totally love the game. So I’m just gonna quickly wrap this up and I’ll get you to hang on for two seconds.

Barb 49:06
So if you would like to be a guest on the show, you can email me at or leave comments on our Facebook page in advance of the show.

Barb 49:17
I’m your host Barb McGrath, local business owner and #Googlegirl. Remember you worked hard for your success. Don’t keep it a secret. Bye for now.


Barb McGrath’s been cracking the online code for nearly 20 years. She helps local businesses get to the top of Google with digital marketing training, web design, SEO, online reputation and advertising. Most importantly, she’s earned the trust of Google.Barb runs the only Google-approved agency designed to show you how to turn the online “stuff” into in-store buyers.If you depend on in-person customers, you need Barb’s step-by-step, online marketing plan to generate a steady stream of onsite buyers and make it rain money. She is the host of the Secret Life of Entrepreneurs, a local radio show and iTunes and Google Podcast.