Success stories

Success Stories

Community Futures is pleased to showcase some of the many good news stories in rural Alberta. Everyday we help people like you start and grow successful small businesses.

Red Bag Style

Red Bag was incorporated in November of 2007.  Our very first storefront was located downtown High River, right next door to where we are currently on 1st ST SW.

My son had just graduated with a degree in International Business and I was still working for a corporation as a district supervisor, overseeing multiple store locations in Calgary.  I had commuted to Calgary for 17 years while living in High River and wanted to live and work in the same town.  My son loved to travel and was enthusiastic about sourcing products and building relationships with small family run businesses overseas.  It was our goal to ethically source all of our products and ensure that our buying dollars would have a direct impact on other entrepreneurs, like ourselves, in underdeveloped countries.  We also wanted to bring unique fashions, accessories and handicrafts to the residents of High River and surrounding area.   It has been satisfying for us to build these relationships and see them grow over the years.

In the spring of 2009 I left my position in Calgary and we decided to open a second location. This allowed both my son and I to be full time in the business.  For us, our slogan “Love to be Unique” and “Inspired Fashion for the Creative Mind” have been guide posts.  We currently have three stores, two in Penticton and our High River store as well as an online store.  Over the years we have done many fashion shows, advertised in local theatre programs, sponsored local musicians and given donations to more silent auctions than we could possibly count.

After the flood of 2013 we attended an information session for residents and businesses affected and Community Futures was represented there.  However, it wasn’t until a few years of reconstruction in the downtown core had so drastically affected sales that we were forced to seek financing to ensure we had product for our upcoming season.  The flood loan we were able to access was exactly the amount of revenue we had lost due to construction.
The assistance we received through Community Futures enabled us to get our goods into the country in time for summer. That summer we were able to begin to recover.

We have just had the second best year that we have ever had in High River.  We had the opportunity to do a vendor booth at Spruce Meadows Christmas Market this year which greatly increased our sales.  This would not have been possible if we did not have the injection of capital that we had thanks to Community Futures Highwood.  We are optimistic and enthusiastic about what the future has in store for us.  When the cash flow stress lifts a little, the creative mind can take over and dream up new possibilities.


Chem Free Cleaning

Okotoks and Foothills area

I started cleaning to add a second income to my household in 2006.  As the calls for the cleaning service started to be more consistent, I started cleaning full time on referrals alone. The company grew very quickly once word got out that I did not use harsh cleaning chemicals as, at that time I was only using products labelled “Green” or “environmentally friendly”.

Within 6 months I incorporated my company and called it “Chem Free Cleaning” to market myself as distinct for anyone who had chemical sensitivities.  My grandparents settled here 65 years ago and created very *solid business roots, so felt strongly that I should continue to focus on the Okotoks and Foothills areas.

Around 2010, now acquiring employees, I did more research on the products my Chem Free cleaning company was using. Were these truly “Green”, “environmentally friendly” cleaning products?  No. They were not.  I came to the realization that I needed to consider creating my own product. I put my “no name” cleaners to the test on my home, as well as my clientele’s. My clients started asking where they could buy the products I was using.  I began marketing under the label, “One Three Tree”:   mind, body and spirit represents Three, Tree represents our mother earth.

I approached the local health stores and because I have an amazing and supportive community, they took my products. But I wanted everyone to have an alternative choice of products they expose to their family. So I thought I would approach my locally owned grocery store.  The owner was right on board.
When it came to expansions with the cleaning service and now, the cleaning product line, I needed some education, guidance and of course, working capital. I met with our local Community Futures and explained my plan. The entire staff were supportive and lovely.  Recently, I have benefitted from attending learning seminars that have been set up for budding entrepreneurs. Community Futures Highwood knows my company, my dreams, aspirations and my name when I walk in the door!

I am on to my next venture with both Chem Free Cleaning & One Three Tree. With Community Futures assistance I was able to buy my ingredients in much larger quantities.  I have provided samples to groceries, pet stores, clinics, restaurants, hotels, fitness centers, and car detailing locations. The list is endless!!

Being an entrepreneur takes patience, insight, persistence and faith in your company/product.  I have learned my strengths and gained from my weaknesses. Support, love and faith from my family and friends is very important, but when you have your entire community behind you as well, it truly makes your heart a whole lot fuller!

Collison Solutions

Joel Cannon

Joel Cannon, owner of Collision Solutions, & his team offer high quality auto body repair services in Okotoks and surrounding communities.

Joel’s family has been serving the Okotoks and surrounding area for over 3 generations.   They opened the first body shop in Okotoks back in the 60’s and now, with Collision Solutions, Joel continues that trend and has no plans on stopping. Joel and his team believe that customer service is a huge part of the success of Collision Solutions.

Opened in January 2015, the main goal at Collision Solutions is to provide customers with a positive experience during the repair process to go along with our professional auto body repair & paint. At Collision Solutions you are not just a customer. You become a member of the family. We fix every vehicle as if it was our own. This is what separates us from the rest!

Starting a new business can be a difficult process according to Joel.  “Community Futures Highwood gave us the tools and support we needed to get going.  We have the security of knowing that they always have our back. If we have any questions or run into issues, we know the staff at Community Futures is there to help us get through it.”

Since opening, Collision Solutions has been privileged enough to have had the opportunity to work in the TV/Film industry by producing over 20 vehicles for the TV show “FARGO SEASON 2”. As well as working on the Bowness Train project for the City Of Calgary and restoring the 4 train cars that were washed away in the floods. 

Collision Solutions believes in giving back to the community by showing support to local charities, schools & sport teams by donating services as well as multiple sponsorships. Such as the 2016 Rotary Golf Tournament and the annual Soap Box Derby. Collision Solutions are also members of the Okotoks Chamber of Commerce and Okotoks Rotary Club.

S & J Management

S&J Management Ltd. is a management company that focuses on being a foundation for our clients in all aspects of accounting, consulting, proper representation, training and tax planning.  S&J’s goals are to lend a helping hand in all areas of business structure by offering assistance on all levels from administration to bookkeeping and representation. Whether you are a start-up business, taking it to the next level or a growing venture, we are here to help!

When first starting my business, I found that I was a little lost in the steps of how to properly launch my company. We, as new business owners, have the drive to start but rarely have the “know-how” to start properly. Community Futures Highwood gave me the tools to do it right: with a self-employment course, assistance in writing my business plan and setting me in the right direction. 

When it was time to start advertising my company, I knew I didn’t have the working capital nor the start up funds to carry my company forward. I applied for a business loan with Community Futures Highwood and with the tools, knowledge and approval of my loan I was able to get my company off the ground. I started my home-based business July 2007.  In 1 year we were forced to move, due to the increase of clientele, from home-based to a more professional retail office. Since then, 11 years later, we still continue to grow, learn and shape the company within the community. As a firm, we have teamed up with local Bookkeepers, Accountants (CPA), Lawyer Offices, Trainers, Financial Advisors and Commercial Insurance Professionals. S&J Management is also happy to announce that after 11 years of dedicated service to local business owners we have now launched a Sales and Marketing Division. With our new division, we work in tandem with our existing S&J Management professionals to deliver a holistic approach to all business owners.

"Why shop in 10 different places when you can shop in ONE place and get 10 different services?"

In these 11 years, I could not have done any of it and could not continue to do it without the assistance, guidance and support of Community Futures Highwood.  They continue to be the support system and my mentor in the community. I continue to use the tools and knowledge that Community Futures Highwood has given me and give back to the community by assisting and providing a helping hand to our fellow business owners as they launch their companies on a successful venture.

Life with Marv & Community Futures

Black Diamond

Marv’s began its life in Black Diamond in 2000 as Diamond Treasures Antique Mall. This operated for several years and the antique business began to slow. The store slowly graduated from antiques to a candy store and ice cream shop. From there it started to become more food oriented. I needed to expand the kitchen and was on town council at the time. I had heard of Community Futures Highwood through council so I thought I would give them a try.

Our business now has become a staple of Main Street Black Diamond, attracting tourists from around the world. Because of our dedication to preserving mid-century history and our authentic soda fountain has become known in many countries. A steady customer for us is someone that makes the trip here once every year or two. 11 years ago, we started a car show, Marv’s annual Rock & Roll Classic that has grown that from 35 cars to over 300 this past year and attracting crowds of two to four thousand every year.

I have been involved with Community Futures Highwood on an ongoing basis for some 15 years and that is one reason we are still in business. As this is a seasonal boom or bust business there have been some bad years with floods, highway and underground utility repairs and numerous other setbacks, I have needed their help on several occasions. They have always been there when I needed them.

The recent opening of a nationwide competitor has hit the street pretty hard so we are looking at introducing new products previously not available in Black Diamond to help us survive the winter. We have introduced our own brand of Old South Fried Chicken in hopes it will fill the void once the summer traffic is over. There are and always will be obstacles to overcome, but with Community Futures Highwood’s help we have survived and life is getting better.


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Community Futures Highwood
14 McRae Street
PO Box 1599
Okotoks, AB T1S 1B5


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Communities Served

Black Diamond, 
De Winton, 
High River, 
Turner Valley, 


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