Peace Arch News
November 25, 2014
By Sarah Massah

Two White Rock entrepreneurs have been recognized for their efforts and strides in the business community by the Small Business BC Awards.

Project Aftershock Thrift Store owner Laura Mawhinney and White Rock Skimboarding founder Alex Dobbie have both been nominated for the province-wide competition.

Mawhinney, who first started her charitable White Rock thrift shop in 2010 after visiting earthquake-ravaged Haiti during a humanitarian mission, is nominated for Best Community Impact.

Funds from her Marine Drive thrift store benefit Haitians still reeling from the chaos four years ago.

“I feel so incredibly blessed and humbled to have been nominated,” Mawhinney told Peace Arch News last week. “I already feel like I’ve won the hugest grand prize just knowing that my community believes in me this much.

“The people of Haiti’s lives are being forever changed, and it’s just so great to be able to watch it all turn from a dream to a reality.”

The award nomination comes on the heels of discovering that Mawhinney’s charity had won its second Lush Cosmetics Charity Pot grant – $8,000.

Proceeds from the Project Aftershock lotion, created by Lush, benefit the growing organization.

Dobbie, 19, has been nominated in the Best Emerging Entrepreneur category for his skimboarding business, which he created last February after difficulty landing a summer job.

The Western University student received a call this month letting him know he had been nominated and the message spread through social media, with Dobbie even passing on tips for budding entrepreneurs to the Huffington Post.

“It’s really great to have all this support, it makes me want to keep going,” he said, noting he is planning to expand.

“Next summer, I’ve partnered with a friend, and we are going to manufacture boards to sell, and run more camps.”

His business’s seemingly overnight success is still a shock to the Southridge School alumnus, who initially expected three to four students to sign up for classes.

“The fact that (all the classes) except one sold out, and I got such an awesome response from the kids… I never expected it,” he said.

The teenage entrepreneur – who has until Nov. 30, along with Mawhinney, to garner online votes to secure a win – said that just the nomination is an honour.

“It would be amazing to win the whole thing, but I’m kind of striving for the top five or top 10 area. It’s great to be a part of the Small Business BC awards along with all the other great businesses,” he said.

“It’s just been such a learning experience as a young student still in school.”

To vote for a nominee, visit www.sbbcawards.ca

The top five will face a panel of judges to pitch why they should be named the best in B.C.

Winners will receive $1,500, a one-year all-access pass to Small Business BC education and resources and one-on-one business mentorship opportunities with notable advisors.