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St. Albert celebrates butt-lifting entrepreneur

Dragons' Den update leads to Latin street party

By: Anna Borowiecki

  |  Posted: Tuesday, Jul 15, 2014 04:46 pm

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  • HEATING UP – Megan Reagan (left) and Bianca Cimino play to the crowd during the fashion show segment of the Latin-themed event on Perron Street Sunday afternoon.
    HEATING UP – Megan Reagan (left) and Bianca Cimino play to the crowd during the fashion show segment of the Latin-themed event on Perron Street Sunday afternoon.
    BEN LEMPHERS/St. Albert Gazette
  • WALKING THE WALK – Models show off Monjeloco Jeans products on the runway during a makeshift fashion show in downtown St. Albert.
    WALKING THE WALK – Models show off Monjeloco Jeans products on the runway during a makeshift fashion show in downtown St. Albert.
  • ON FILM – Clothing entrepreneur Nora Furber speaks to a crowd during a Latin-themed street party and fashion show on Perron Street Sunday afternoon as a CBC  television crew films for the Dragons' Den reality show.
    ON FILM – Clothing entrepreneur Nora Furber speaks to a crowd during a Latin-themed street party and fashion show on Perron Street Sunday afternoon as a CBC television crew films for the Dragons' Den reality show.
  • TAKIN' IT TO THE STREETS – DJ Orlando Martinez leads a salsa dance Sunday afternoon during a street party hosted by Monjeloco Jeans, a business being profiled by CBC's Dragons' Den.
    TAKIN' IT TO THE STREETS – DJ Orlando Martinez leads a salsa dance Sunday afternoon during a street party hosted by Monjeloco Jeans, a business being profiled by CBC's Dragons' Den.

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It was sweaty hot in downtown St. Albert on Sunday afternoon. But it was more than just the 29-degree temperatures that spiked the heat quotient on the barricaded Perron Street.

Close to 100 people joined in a sexy, bootie-shaking salsa lesson and Zumba class for the benefit of CBC cameras filming the upcoming season of Dragons’ Den.

Nora Furber, owner of Monjeloco Jeans, had appeared on the popular reality business show in 2013. Although Furber failed to receive financial backing, she was flooded with requests for jeans from as far away as Newfoundland.

The upcoming ninth season will have a revamped look with two new dragons and clips containing updates on the 19 most successful ventures that appeared on the show.

“We looked over our list to see who had made the most progress and had resonated with the Canadian public. We looked at the store and it multiplied five-fold in a year and we said, ‘We need to come to St. Albert,’” said producer Adam Avrashi.

He noted that Dragons’ Den averages 1.5 million viewers weekly and offers incredible publicity opportunities to startup entrepreneurs.

“We found the Dragons’ Den effect is still very much alive. It’s amazing how after someone appears on our show, their business explodes.”

The Latin-based fiesta started with Furber standing on a fashion runway wearing a pair of jeans and a big smile.

“This is so overwhelming and I’m so happy,” she said to the crowd’s unbroken applause.

“Just two years ago I was at home wondering how to change things. I started a small boutique and now it’s all over Canada.”

Furber’s Brazilian-style jeans lift the butt and flatten the belly, creating a more sensuous look on the wearer. They are bought in her home country of Colombia, and are hand-sewn in a factory that employs single mothers and provides them with a steady income.

Mayor Nolan Crouse presented Furber with a special certificate noting she had distinguished herself as a “role model for all businesses.” In a laughter-filled moment, he commented that she not only cultivated commerce but also beautiful butts.

And in a surprise move for the viewing audience, Mayor Crouse declared July 13 as Monjeloco Jeans Day, a celebration he hopes will become a tradition. His announcement was greeted with wild applause.

As the applause died down, 18 models sashayed down the runway wearing jeans and bikinis and making the most of their bootie-shakin’ moves.

DJ Orlando Martinez, who specializes in Cuban music, quickly spun I Want You and led a sweat-breaking salsa dance that attracted nearly 75 dancers. A quick-stepping Zumba class quickly followed.

Visitors who attended the event were unanimously positive.

Full-time parent Anna Wong dropped by with her children to check out the fashion show.

“We can pick this up and it will be one more summer festival for St. Albert. I love the music. It’s great. It’s lively.”

Sturgeon County resident Rennie Cimino was most enthusiastic about the event.

“It’s awesome. It’s great. There’s a lot of energy and smiling faces. It’s a gorgeous day.”

Like Wong, he too felt the fiesta would be a boon to the city.

“St. Albert is a really good community for planning things for kids. But there’s not so much for adults. This would show it’s a well-rounded community. Only you can’t organize it by just one person. If there was a committee, like the downtown revitalization project, it could be something they could put on.”

Chantal Lafreniere, a Grade 5 student at Father Jan Elementary said it most succinctly.

“It’s a good idea. I like to dance and it’s really fun.”


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