Meet the new chair of local chamber
Lynn Carolei sets her sights on colloboration
By: Viola Pruss
| Posted: Saturday, Jan 26, 2013 06:00 am
Before selling bathing suits, Lynn Carolei made jewelry with her daughter. But after coming across an affordable set of cotton bikinis, a new business idea was born.
In 2003, they moved to St. Albert and opened Sublime Swim and Sunwear. Since those early years, the shop, filled with a colourful display of bikinis, suits and sarongs, has grown a steady customer base.
Now, sitting beneath a row of awards from the St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce, Carolei has taken on a higher role in the local business community. On Saturday, she will be officially sworn in as the 2013 chamber chair.
Here’s what she plans for the coming year:
Q: What does the Chamber mean to you?
A: It provides contacts. It gives you a great place to network with some really quality people and it can provide a voice for you should you need it.
They also provide a lot of perks. I had my merchant services through the chamber, probably since the day I signed up, and a banking program. When you are a small retailer you look for any way to save some money and they are really good at helping with that.
Q: When did you first become involved with the chamber?
A: Within the year of opening our business we became members of the chamber and then I went to some meetings and participated as a business. And at some point they asked me if I was interested in joining the Board of Directors and I moved up from there.
Q: What does the chamber plan to do for the coming year?
A: Something the chamber hasn’t tackled in the past is policy. One of the policies we are working on with the Chamber of Red Deer is physician attraction.
We are hoping to affect policy to allow more physicians to come into smaller, non-urban communities, such as St. Albert. Every community needs to have a good health system in place to keep workers healthy and employees happy. You need to have a healthy community.
We are also expanding our events, such as the farmers’ market. And we are looking to do more networking events. We are also heavily involved with the Villeneuve airport taskforce and that will provide opportunities for smaller and larger businesses in the area to expand business space into St. Albert and outside communities.
Q: Any priorities for the local economy?
A: I think that one goes to the politicians. We can only do what we can as a chamber for the business community while direction for what happens in St. Albert comes from outside the chamber. We can certainly ask for things, lobby for them, but the final decision of what goes on as far as community growth lies outside the chamber.
Q: How about your priorities as the new chair?
Collaboration. I see so much potential in collaboration with many of the different groups in town and in the district. There’s tremendous potential if we can get together and share ideas and resources, with the City and all kinds of groups.
I think we all have something to contribute to our community and the more we can put our heads together and work together the better we can make our community. We can form and strengthen relationships and provide the best of all worlds for businesses in St. Albert and the district.
Q: How many new members do you expect to join the chamber this year?
It depends on business growth, who is coming in and where can we attract from. We already attract businesses who want to become members and who are just outside our immediate trading areas.
The growth of experience is phenomenal and it’s because we have such a strong chamber and a strong CEO (Lynda Moffat). She’s an amazing person, she has a vision for where we want to go and we help her with that.
Q: In your own words, what makes you a good candidate as this year’s chair?
It’s an enthusiasm and excitement for business and optimism. St. Albert is a great place to do business. We have a great community and I can’t think of a better place to have a business.
I guess that’s where my enthusiasm lies for this community. The people here are loyal, they will recommend you and they are not shy about it and if you have a good business you treat your customers well and they do the same in return.
Q: On a site note, how do you sell bathing suits in a climate like this?
A: I did a business plan (when I started out) and at the time there were nine travel agents in the area and I thought “not all of these people are travelling for business.”
Winter is our busiest season, far busier than summer, simply because a lot of people travel. They go away to Mexico or Hawaii and they want something special to wear and they want to look great. So voilà, here we are.