Connect. Learn. Grow. Mentor.


Bridges will look a little different this year, but we are excited about the program we have put together this year despite the circumstances.

Join us on JULY 30, 2020 for A Conversation with Barb Stegemann online from 4 pm – 5 pm

We are excited to chat with Barb about her philosophies about business and the idea that doing good is good business, a concept that we need more than ever as we work to reopen the Canadian Economy.

We are all experiencing the challenges of Covid-19. Barb will share how despite the temporary closing of her 600 stores and the inability to travel to the USA to train beauty advisors, her social enterprise has found new ways to go where the customers are. Barb will share ideas and ways she has implemented to increase online sales by 139% with her distribution channel and how new thinking and new specials tripled the sales on her own website for her Nova Scotia business. Barb will share ways of thinking that can be applied to any SME.




We are excited to welcome Social Entrepreneur and CBC’s Dragons’ Den Top Game Changer, Barb Stegemann, founder, and CEO of The 7 Virtues, as our special guest for Part One of Bridges to Better Business 2020.

Our online event has created a unique opportunity to introduce a speaker to the community in advance of an in-person appearance. Barb will join us for our Women in Business Celebration in March 2021 for a Keynote Presentation.

Barb first launched her perfume company, The 7 Virtues, out of her garage, armed with only a dream to help war ridden nations rebuild. Just eight year later, it is now an award-winning social enterprise – supporting suppliers in countries such as Afghanistan, Haiti, and the Middle East – and the first and only Canadian brand to be sold through Sephora’s “Clean at Sephora” fragrance space across North America. Through her inspiring entrepreneurial story , Barb shares powerful messages of triumphing over adversity, and empowers her audiences to embrace their inner disruptor.

A newsmaker, Barb first became known to millions of Canadians when she landed a venture-capital deal on CBC’s hit show Dragons’ Den — the first woman from Atlantic Canada to do so. She went on to become the “Top Game Changer” in the history of the popular reality show for creating her social enterprise.

 Since then Barb and her hypo-allergenic fragrance collection have been celebrated in major media outlets around the world, including Vogue, Elle Canada, Fast Company, Forbes, The Cut, Women’s Wear Daily, The Globe and Mail, as wells as CBC, CNN, Bloomberg, and more.

 Barb has been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by WXN; won the Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year Award” in the emerging Entrepreneur category for Atlantic Canada; was ranked as one of Profit Guide magazine’s “Top 30 Cool and Fabulous Canadian Entrepreneurs”; and was also made the first female Honorary Colonel in the history of 14 Wing Greenwood base, Royal Canadian Air Force, completing her term in 2015.

 Barb is also the author of the bestselling book, The 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen, now in its 7th edition, and the subject of the feature-length, award-winning documentary Perfume War, directed by Michael Melski.


The culinary landscape of Elgin County and St. Thomas looks a little different right now, but we are so fortunate to have such incredible independent a local food based businesses ready to serve our community. In the coming weeks we will be putting together a savings book that ticket holders will receive by mail as a way to show support for our small business community.
Use the savings to shop and dine (Take-Out or Delivery style) with these local businesses and show them some love to get a #tasteofstthomas and #savourelgin!

We are excited to have the ability to support local in this way while we wait until we can all be together again.

The book of savings is valued over $140 and features the businesses listed below.



Each year, we have the opportunity to meet with some incredible people and it’s exciting to be able to honour a few of them with awards during Bridges to Better Business. It’s another way to show the Elgin and St. Thomas Small Business Community our support. We are excited to present the following awards at the event!

St. Thomas Small Business AwardSaint T Fashion & Hair Design

Elgin County Small Business AwardOur Fields

St. Thomas Economic Development AwardDoug Tarry Homes

Elgin County Economic Development Award

Libro Small Business AwardEstablish Media

Inspirational Entrepreneur AwardJanis Harris, Harris Flower Farm

Under 40 AwardGenevieve Scarfone. Seed Confections

Starter Company Plus AwardTikka Tomato

Summer Company AwardAftertaste Style

Promising Start Up AwardFrom the Vines

Downtown St. Thomas AwardPeter Yurek, Yurek’s Pharmacy

Lifetime Achievement AwardCentury Sound


Events like this don’t just happen. It takes a village.

We are so thankful for Elgin County and St. Thomas for their ongoing support of the small business community and the support for events like this one. Thank you for supporting this event and the efforts of the Elgin/ St. Thomas Small Business Enterprise Centre to bring community together, even when we need to stay apart.


Gold Sponsors


Bronze Sponsors

SBEC Partners







378 Talbot St.
St. Thomas, ON Canada
N5R 3L7

519-631-1680 ext 4503

“Creating an ecosystem where small businesses in Elgin County and St. Thomas can connect, learn and grow their business.”







8:30 AM – 4:30 PM

8:30 AM – 4:30 PM

8:30 AM – 4:30 PM

12:00 PM – 8:00 PM

8:30 AM – 4:30 PM

MON: 8:30A – 4:30P

TUES: 8:30A – 4:30P

WED: 8:30A – 4:30P

THURS: 12P – 8:00P

FRI: 8:30A – 4:30P