Brenda Andrews

I was a Commercial Lines Insurance Broker, I was in the billing department of another company, I was in Finance, I was in the Car sales world.  I tried it all and just never seemed to feel great about my job or the path my career was on.   I was right in the middle of applying to be a Police Officer when my husband phoned me up one day and said, “I found a business opportunity, and it’ll be perfect for you”.

A working mom with 2 young-ish kids, my ears perked up. Self-Employed? Make my own hours? Make my own path and make as much money as I wanted? Sign me up!

Off we went to the county to have a look. The second I walked in I felt it. It was a small, home-based business selling t-shirts and souvenir items to a few places down in the county. Nothing fancy, but I thought “Hey, I can build on this” And I did.

I moved some stock, an older heat press, and a vinyl cutter to my home in Batawa, changed the name of the business and Quinte Custom Promotions was born. I started by doing some fun t-shirts for bridal parties, due in part to the relationship I had with the prior owner in the county, and a few fun t-shirts/hoodies/hats for friends and family, and basic sports teams. As demand grew, I knew I needed more equipment, so in the fall of 2016 I purchased my first big ticket item. A Roland BN-20 Plotter/Cutter that allowed me to produce full colour graphics right in my living room. (Yes, I worked from my living room at the time) I had an increasing demand for Embroidery, so I teamed up with another local business and offered embroidery. The demand for that went right through the roof so in the summer of 2018 I purchased my second big ticket item, a single-head Tajima embroidery machine. It had the capacity to make patches and anything embroidery, but just 1 at a time. I figured it was a great place to start. My parents always taught me to start small and build. Both were entrepreneurs so I trusted their experience.

That machine worked literally around the clock so I reached out to RB Digital and asked a question: ” What’s the next move here?”

Their recommendation was a 4-Head machine made by the same company. Done. Oh wait, this thing being 8′ long is NOT going to fit down my basement stairs. I had heard a few stories from other local business people about Trenval offering start-up/expansion assistance to businesses. I worked with Barb and Eileen on a business plan, provided my financials, and after sitting in a boardroom filled with 6 respected business investors (sweating profusely) that same day of my pitch I was told I was granted a loan to help with my expansion. Cure my nerves.  My realtor cousin helped me find an incredible location in Trenton in a strip plaza on Metcalfe street, Willow Printing and Publishing created my signs, RB Digital put in my order for the machine, and before I knew it, on March 1st 2019 I was in my very own store front location.

When the Service Tech came to train me on the machine, I had 2 emotions, excitement & fear.

  1. I’ve got this, I’m excited, I can’t WAIT to offer these services to my existing clients and build this business.
  2. What have I done? Can I return this? Can I just go back home where it’s safe?

I’ve never been one to be safe and I’ve always wanted the very best for my kids who are heavy into sports so I put my brave face on and went hard at it.

I was busy with lots of different local businesses and sports teams. Everything was going fantastic.  Now we fastforward to Friday March 13th 2020: Covid-19 hits and the entire world is coming to a screeching halt. I’m literally 1 year into this and now my entire industry has been shut down. I drove to work in tears a few times, on the phone with a great friend and business owner in Trenton who also was a part of the networking group BNI I joined. Between him and my mom, who is my rock, they both told me to give my head a shake and think outside the box. Don’t dwell on what’s NOT open, think about who is STILL open.  Contractors! So I put that same brave face on that I had to put on 365 days earlier and nailed down some solid suppliers for a hi-vis workwear line. My husband has been in the construction industry for several years, and he knew exactly what this industry was looking for. He got accounts set up with suppliers and made a few PDF flyers I could send around.

I’m pleased to say that after 7 months of this pandemic, I’m busier than I have ever dreamed of being.  I never could have gotten here without the help and support of Trenval, my parents, close friends, and of course my husband and kids who have been understanding when I work late, miss dinner sometimes, and work weekends to keep up with demand.

Resources For Businesses During COVID-19 Pandemic click HERE

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