2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the Business Development Department of Momentum. To celebrate, we collected 20 stories about past participants who have thriving businesses. Written by Marnie Schaetti of RaiDo Dynamics, these stories reflect the diversity, innovation and hard work of the inspiring participants who come through our doors every year to take one of our many programs.
This is one of those stories.
Entrepreneur Name: Tonja Berg
Programs: Peer Group & Micro Business Loans
Program Years: 2003, 2005, 2008
Business Description: Culturally-inspired body treatments.
Tonja Berg calls it a fluke that she owns a business at all.
With no career in mind or plans to continue her education, Tonja felt stuck and restless after graduating from high school. It was therefore easy to say yes when a friend suggested studying massage therapy together in Calgary. Tonja was soon absorbed both by the technical training and the introduction to Eastern philosophies like yoga and Ayurvedic healing.
The two friends wanted to own their own studio and, after finding and renovating a store-front location, they opened for business right after graduation. They simply stuck a sign out front and attempted to generate neighbourhood buzz by giving free massages.
Over time, Tonja and her partner began making connections, but they weren’t making money. The two 21-year-olds had no financial backing other than from supportive family, no credit rating and virtually no business experience. They were so passionate and felt so capable they could not understand why anyone would turn them down, but they found door after door slammed in their faces.
Then one day while riding on the bus, Tonja saw an advertisement for Momentum. Soon she was learning essential planning and financial skills and gaining the confidence to run a successful business. Simultaneously, a Momentum micro loan allowed her to build her therapeutic skills by studying with an experienced Ayurvedic practitioner.
The practice has expanded in the past 15 years, integrating new services and additional therapists. When her partner resigned from the business to start a family, Tonja took over as sole owner. Her focus is on providing excellent services in a welcoming, calm environment. With treatments that include the very popular Indian head massage, her schedule is booked months in advance.
From the outside, Tonja’s success looks less like a fluke and a lot more like dedicated commitment to a vision.
Learn more about Momentum’s Business Development programs.